Yesterday’s Observer newspaper reports allegations that G20 police ‘used undercover men to incite crowds‘.
The British Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Tom Brake is calling for an inquiry into the incident, which took place in April during the London G-20 meeting. Let’s hope there is a real inquiry that gets to the truth – and that the truth is made public.
Inspector Chris Dreyfus of London's Metropolitan Police: a most interesting cv
Some scepticism is merited – because there has been no apparent follow-up so far to a similar, corroborated allegation made after a demonstration in London last year.
In that case, credible witnesses reported that they saw a police officer – Chris Dreyfus – inciting the crowd during President Bush’s visit in June 2008. The story made a brief stir, but there’s been official silence ever since – even from George Galloway MP, one of the witnesses who initially named Dreyfus as the suspected agent provocateur.
Are London’s Metropolitan Police – and Britain’s entire political establishment and mass media – so corrupt and/or intimidated they can no longer fulfil basic investigative roles in cases such as this?
First, the current story. The Observer reports that a British MP, who was present at last month’s G20 protests in London, will call for an investigation into whether the police used agents provocateurs to incite the crowds.
Tom Brake MP: his eye-witness account suggested police provocateurs were active at the G-20 demonstrations
Liberal Democrat Tom Brake says he saw what he believed to be two plain-clothes police officers go through a police cordon after presenting their ID cards.
Brake, who along with hundreds of others was corralled behind police lines near Bank tube station in the City of London on the day of the protests, says he was informed by people in the crowd that the men had been seen to throw bottles at the police and had encouraged others to do the same shortly before they passed through the cordon.
Brake, a member of the influential home affairs select committee, will raise the allegations when he gives evidence before parliament’s joint committee on human rights on Tuesday.
“When I was in the middle of the crowd, two people came over to me and said, ‘There are people over there who we believe are policemen and who have been encouraging the crowd to throw things at the police,’” Brake said. But when the crowd became suspicious of the men and accused them of being police officers, the pair approached the police line and passed through after showing some form of identification.
These are extremely serious allegations. The British public relies on the Metropolitan Police to keep the peace at demonstrations in London. If, in reality, they work hand in glove with people deliberately stirring up trouble, a fundamental breach of trust has occured. Any such allegations must be investigated thoroughly – in a way that leaves no room for doubt that justice has been done.
But what happened on the previous occasion when similar reports surfaced last year – a mystery that was dubbed Britain’s own ‘Dreyfus Affair’? After a few brief mentions in the blogosphere, nothing at all has happened – as far as I can see.
Here’s an extract from the explosive story by respected British journalist Yasmin Whittaker-Khan in the Mail on Sunday, published back in June 2008 following the demonstration against George Bush in London that turned violent:
Yasmin Whittaker-Khan: witnessed the anti-Bush demo
These days it appears permissible to wave a gun at Britons exercising their democratic rights.
As a throng of protesters built up by the barriers, an extremely animated demonstrator in a white T-shirt caught my eye.
He was near the front screaming abuse at the police and trying to get a friend further back to join him. The second man sheepishly refused his encouragements to edge forward.
The man in the T-shirt was tall, well-built and handsome, smiling but with a hint of menace. He pushed aside children and elderly people.
He continued to shout slogans such as: ‘Pigs Out.’
On his back was a black rucksack and he carried a professional-looking camera with a large telephoto lens. Hardly the sort of kit for a few snaps of his day out.
My friends and I, standing a few rows back, asked him a couple of times to calm down, but he ignored us.
I wondered why I was drawn to him. Was it his dark good looks or was I worried for the safety of my 70-year-old friend and children nearby?
Then it dawned on me. I had met this man at a party. I tapped him gently on the shoulder and said: ‘Have we met before?’
Instantly he recognised me. ‘Hi, how are you? It’s really nice to see you here.’
My puzzlement grew. This chap wasn’t really the sort you’d expect to see shouting abuse at police officers at an anti-war demo. He was, after all, a policeman himself – and a high-ranking one at that.
I’d met the police inspector at a party around last Christmas. The local mayor was there, along with councillors from other parties and journalists. I’d been asked along by a friend.
He had a bolshie charm, was cocky and a little manipulative. He was also highly entertaining, bragging about his work in the police and how important he was.
I remained bemused about his presence at the demo. I asked if he would send me copies of his demo photos. He replied: ‘No, they’re to put on my bedroom wall.’
George Galloway, hemmed in at the anti-Bush demonstration in London, June 2008
‘Funny you chanting that,’ I said, ‘when you’re a policeman.’
They don’t have my sort in the police, love,’ he said camply, so I would assume he was referring to being gay. A few seconds later, he melted into the crowd.
I wondered whether he was at the demo undercover, deliberately whipping up trouble that he could capture on camera. That would then be used to malign anti-war protesters as dangerous and violent subversives.
Equally, he could have been legitimately monitoring the crowds, but again he surely would have been quieter.
I realise there are times when the police need to work undercover if they suspect a crime is being committed. But that is quite different to going into a crowd as an agitator to create disruption.
Police at the June 2008 demo
I also found out that he is no mere rank-and-file officer.
Stop The War has organised about 20 marches in the past, all of which have been peaceful. This is the first where there has been violence.
I cannot say this man was responsible for the trouble, but I saw him try his best to urge the crowd forward.
It is hard not to despair at the remarks of the Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison
But however you look at it, the thuggish behaviour of the man I saw is hardly what you expect of someone employed to protect the public.
Our civil liberties are being eroded daily. The likes of this man are playing a part in destroying the few we have left.
If our security relies on idiots like him creating their own evidence to reinforce fear, who can we trust?
George Galloway MP, controversial leader of the Respect Party, also attended the June 2008 anti-Bush rally. Shortly after Ms Whittaker-Khan’s Mail on Sunday article, he went public with the accusation that the man mentioned in her story (but not named) was Inspector Chris Dreyfus of the Metropolitan Police.
Galloway wrote an open letter to the British Home Secretary, Jaqui Smith. It was quoted in Inforwars.com at the time and began as follows:
Dear Home Secretary,
British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith: answers, please!
As you may be aware I wrote to Sir Ian Blair and Mayor Johnson calling for an inquiry into the policing of the demonstration against George W Bush on Sunday 15 June in Parliament Square/Whitehall. I enclose a copy of my letter to him. I should say I have since been visited by Superintendent Tim Jackson and have given him an account of the basis of my original complaint.
I did tell him, however, that subsequent newspaper revelations may indicate a far more sinister involvement of the police in actual law-breaking on the demonstration which sought to provoke exactly the ugly scenes which eventually ensued.
Since my meeting with the superintendent yesterday this issue has become clearer and obliges me both as a Member of Parliament and as a close witness to these events to write to you as Home Secretary demanding a full inquiry by the government into the extraordinary events and policy decisions surrounding the policing of this demonstration.
You will be aware by now of an article in the Mail on Sunday of 22 June by Yasmin Whittaker-Khan in which she recounts her shock at meeting a man, whom she knew to be a policeman from a previous encounter, who seemed determined to bring about a confrontation between the demonstrators and the police.
This man for at least 30 minutes was stood right next to me at the front of the protest and it is inconceivable that no police photograph will confirm this. I say this because several police stills cameramen and at least one video cameraman were constantly filming.
“I can now confirm that this man was Chris Dreyfus, an inspector in the police.
George Galloway: did his appetite for the truth suddenly wane? Why?
This man, to my direct knowledge, committed four criminal offences during the 30 minutes or so he stood next to me. First, he repeatedly chanted the arcane, antiquated Americana, “Kill the pigs!” This is a clear incitement to violence, indeed murder. If a Muslim demonstrator had been chanting it, say, outside the Danish Embassy, he would likely now be in prison. Secondly, he repeatedly (crushing me in the process) attempted to charge the crush barriers and the police line behind them. Thirdly, he repeatedly exhorted others so to do. Fourthly, he instructed a young demonstrator on the correct way to uncouple a crush barrier, which was successfully achieved and was subsequently thrown at the police, and was presumably one of the justifications for the deployment of a riot squad which eventually waded in to the protesters.
Home Secretary, there can hardly a more grave indictment of the conduct of the police force in a democratic country than this. People in the labour movement have often mythologised the state’s use of agents provocateurs throughout my 40 years experience and no doubt long before. But, to my recollection, we have never caught one red-handed before.
This inspector’s criminal actions must place all the other in themselves legitimate complaints about police tactics in a new light.
I wrote to Sir Ian – and to Mayor Johnson – questioning the competence of the policing on that day. It now seems that what happened was a deliberate conspiracy to bring about scenes of violent disorder, seen around the world and for purposes on which we can only speculate.
You, however, have clear responsibility to get to the heart of this matter. I do hope you will begin to do so without delay.
In any case,
George Galloway MP
Perhaps most disturbing of all about the June 2008 incident – apart from the complete lack of mass media follow-up – is the way the story seems to have been airbrushed out of existence. When I checked today, the original documents have disappeared from the Mail on Sunday’s website – and even from the Respect Party website!
George Galloway does much good work. His well-publicized advocacy for the Gazan people in the last year was very welcome. But he owes the public a proper explanation about the Dreyfus Affair. Above all, London’s Metropolitan Police and the British Government owe us all a full and honest explanation.
London Bombings July 2005, not yet the subject of an inquest or public inquiry: what was the role of Inspector Chris Dreyfus on the day?
When, in February 2008, Chris Dreyfus first came to national attention as an openly gay policeman with an indiscreet Facebook entry, the Daily Telegraph report included some interesting details (emphasis added):
As British Transport Police’s head of royalty and government protection, Insp Dreyfus is responsible for guarding the Queen, the Royal Family and members of the Government when they are using the transport network.
Insp Dreyfus also used to head the force’s Counter- Terrorism Proactive Unit, a role in which he was in charge of 30 officers. He was involved in the police response to the London suicide bombings on July 7, 2005.