G20 Violence: Death at the Hands of the Police

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“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” Walter Benjamin, 1940.

For those who have followed mainstream media coverage – as it first unfolded – of the protests against the scandalous G20 (who are deciding to give the IMF, those with the Structural Adjustment Plans to steal from the poor, an enormous amount of money: The G-20 agreed to give the fund and other development bodies new resources of $1.1 trillion, exceeding most expectations, with the IMF’s coffers potentially boosted by $750 billion) might have missed a few things, but thankfully we have Indymedia and others.

This is not, however, about economics and politrix directly (this seems like an interesting introduction to those issues), but about police brutality.

UPDATE: The Guardian has now brought two stories, documenting police brutality leading to the death of Ian Tomlinson:

Police ‘assaulted’ bystander who died during G20 protests

and Video reveals G20 police assault on man who died: Exclusive footage obtained by the Guardian shows Ian Tomlinson, who died during G20 protests in London, was attacked from behind by baton–wielding police officer

FURTHER UPDATE: The mainstream media is now completely in on the Witch Hunt for “one bad apple”, who acted “out of order”. Channel 4 has a report here (curiously followed by an interview with “protests police commander Simon O’Brien” lying through his teeth: HE SHOULD BE ARRSTED TOO, FOR DELIBERATELY LYING TO THE PUBLIC TO PROTECT A CRIMINAL!) and the BBC reports that the “Metropolitan Police (Met) has now acknowledged Mr Tomlinson came “into contact with police” before he died.”

Compare the evidence to the first stories from the BBC and SKY (released three hours later; i.e. time for scripting) saying that he died of “natural causes” and that protestors prevented them from providing first aid. What really happened was that the police brutally attacked a random pedestrian and he died consequently.

violent1

With regard to the death reported in connection with the G20 by BBC and Sky News, a “natural death” was suggested – as natural as someone kettled in without food, water and access to a toilet and surrounded by aggressive riot cops can be. The disgusting or unwittingly satirical reporting by BBC News at 10pm last night  also included statements that the police tried to save the man, but had to retreat because they were being targeted by bottles and other “missiles” thrown by the evil protestors. Of course the reality is different, as we have also seen in the videos. Here is a typical scene when things are calm and normal:

So what happened then, you might ask, if we can’t trust the corporate media due to their vested interests and blind following of the state and police script??

Here are interviews with some of the eyewitnesses, courtesy of London Indymedia:

Various participants in the City of London demonstrations on April 1st have come forward as witnesses to the collapse of a man later identified by authorities as Ian Tomlinson.  Four different university students witnessed the collapse of Mr. Tomlinson.  “He stumbled towards us from the direction of police and protestors and collapsed,” said Peter Apps.  “I saw a demonstrator who was a first aider attend to the person who had collapsed.  The man was late 40s, had tattoos on his hands, and was wearing a Millwall shirt.”

While the first aider was helping the man, another demonstrator with a megaphone was calling the police over so that they could help.

Natalie Langford, a student at Queen Mary, said “there was a police charge.  A lot of people ran in our direction. The woman giving first aid stood in the path of the crowd.” The running people, seeing a guy on the ground, went around them.

Another demonstrator had already called 999 and was getting medical advice from the ambulance dispatcher. “Four police with two police medics came. They told her [the first aider] to ‘move along’.”, said Peter Apps. “Then they pushed her forcibly away from him. They refused to listen to her [the first aider] when she tried to explain his condition.”

The first aider, who did not wish to be named, said “The police surrounded the collapsed man.  I was standing with the person who’d called 999. The ambulance dispatcher wanted to talk to the police, the phone was being held out to them, but the police refused.”

Another witness, Elias Stoakes, added “we didn’t see them [the police] perform CPR.”

Other people who had tried to stay with the collapsed man were also pushed away.

All of the witnesses deny the allegation that many missiles were thrown.

According to Peter Apps, “one bottle was thrown, but it didn’t come close to the police.  Nothing was thrown afterwards as other demonstrators told the person to stop.  The person who threw the bottle probably didn’t realize that someone was behind the ring of police.” All the witnesses said that the demonstrators were concerned for the well-being of the collapsed man once they realized that there was an injured person.

Natalie Langford said “when the ambulance arrived the protestors got straight out of the way.”

These witnesses are happy to give media statements.

They can be contacted through this press liasion email: g20witnesses@gmail.com

Email Contact email: g20witnesses@gmail.com

FURTHER UPDATE: Although the police officer, who was wearing a balaclava and had taken his number off, has “turned himself in”, he has not been arrested for assault, merely suspended, writes The Guardian. The real problem, however, is of course that the case – should there ever be brought one – will be against the individual police officer. Although he has committed a crime – caught by several cameras – he has also just been doing what was expected of him, perhaps even what he was more or less ordered to. Anyone who has ever been at a protest  – and those who have ever bothered to scrutinise a bit of independent media reporting on policing of protests will know that this is not an unsuaul affair at all. The only difference is that this time – as in other cases every now and then – someone died from the treatment:

The police officer involved could face a manslaughter charge if a link between the assault and Tomlinson’s fatal heart attack minutes later is proved.

“There is no excuse for what he did,” a senior police source told the Guardian, adding that, at the very least, the officer had committed a serious disciplinary offence and a criminal assault.

Firing and prosecuting a manslaughtering individual police officer does not make the police force any less violent. Whenever capital, parliamentarians  and other representatives require protection the dark force will be with them. “Everybody knows that game is fixed”.

Another incident, which has generated much mainstream bullshit, is the window that was smashed in the bank (that was then entered and had “its computers trashed”). Well, that “bank” was apparently shutdown, the building up for rent, and as the only building in the area it which was not boarded up, according to a comment to a poor article in The Guardian:

Nolan, 02 Apr 09, 4:26pm (about 7 hours ago)
What many people do not realise is that when the windows of the RBS were broken, they found that there were police intelligence photographers the other side of the glass (e.g. see picture [below])
The police can’t just move in and out of empty buildings at will (the building was unoccupied and up for rent), they were obviously there in advance. The windows had mirrored glass and were the only ones in the area not boarded up, so presumably the place was being used as a surveillance point and the intention was to take pictures of the protestors from behind the 2-way mirror. Can’t imagine the police expected the protestors to come through the glass.

Suddenly a group of protestors, for a longer period of time penned in, kettled down, and moved about by the police find themselves in front of corporate windows with a mirror reflection and in the possession of something sufficient to smash these windows. Now how does that work? Under the intense scrutiny for hours – surveilled for months, even teenagers in Plymouth had their fireworks confiscated – and pushed about, yet suddenly in front of a corporate building that is not boarded up?!? If we take a look at what was inside the building we might get a better idea of the screenplay for yesterday’s events:

We can only speculate, but it probably went something like this:

“We hide in there, move them close, make sure they have something heavy they can throw through the window, we inform the Evening Standard et al., and then we have those pictures that can justify all the propaganda and budget money spent on our totalitarian measures against concerned citizens, sorry evil anarchists — failing that, we have a couple of agent provocateurs standing by with something that can smash those windows”.

Mission accomplished, – have we not seen these patterns a million times by now? At every Summit, especially since the G8 in Genoa, where all bets were off?

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17 thoughts on “G20 Violence: Death at the Hands of the Police

    colono responded:
    Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 22:29 (978)

    Another comment:

    “joeshoeare
    02 Apr 09, 9:46pm (about 1 hour ago)
    There where two hooded men in the kettle yesterday trying to get people to charge. I don’t know how one of the protestors knew, but he identified them as police (shouted police). I would not of taken this seriously apart from the fact that they quickly exited the scene. They walked to the police line had a quick word with an officer and made a sharp exit. This was a point when journalists and legal observers where denied exit. Nobody was aloud to exit i think a few people may have got pictures of them.”

    colono responded:
    Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 22:31 (979)

    and a comment on the youtube page:

    “jonpurkis (7 hours ago)
    I was there, it was the most disgusting act of violence I’ve ever seen. The police were thumping people with their truncheons like mad men.

    There was no need or reason for this violence. After 7 hours of a peaceful climate camp the police just stormed in without any provocation from the protestors.

    This sort of ridiculous policing has to stop.”

    colono responded:
    Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 22:32 (980)

    and for all the mainstream spin and the economistic facts:
    http://news.google.com/news

    bill stickers said:
    Friday, April 3, 2009 at 13:42 (612)

    Hang on – that thing about the cops being in the RBS building already is interesting but not neccessarily true. They’d have had good shots of everything from CCTV and the rooftops anyway. Certainly its likley they left it unboarded to get smashed, but considering people entered the builded, painted graffiti in it, and grabbed computers out of it (there are photos of all of this!) its fucking unlikely there were cops standing there in the building the whole time!

    Also, where do you get the idea the building was out of use? Certainly no one was working there that day, but out of use? Why do you say that?

    colono responded:
    Friday, April 3, 2009 at 14:07 (630)

    @ bill stickers – Well, if you read the post again you will notice the term “apparently” followed by an alleged eye witness report stating just that.

    There is nothing strange at all about the cops letting people smahs windows, they do that all time, and if people don’t smash the windows, the agent provocateur cops will (as someone suggests in the comment above, there were several of those, business as usual).

    Since there were cops ALL OVER THE COUNTRY for months and all around everyone for hours before the window smashing, running on your assumption, then, no one in the crowd would have been in possession of anything that could really smash that window, would they? That would be “fucking unlikely”, init?

    PC said:
    Friday, April 3, 2009 at 21:32 (939)

    Its quite obvious that the Police infiltrated the crowd as they always do. The press release from the Police prior to the G20 was we are up for it inciting rioting if they could. No doubt the chap in the green hoody well hidden was a young Police recruit and the media was provided this tied in with Police press releases later as significant arrests where made. This is a NLP tactic used by Police due to NLP training somewhat clunky given the weak protesting but you can see the media text that was wanted. I think it took the POlice by surprise that the protesters where peaceful and they look as usual like a bunch of facist meatheads in the process, so whats new:)

    colono responded:
    Monday, April 6, 2009 at 12:10 (548)

    Only those who live with their heads in the sand (that would be the majority of the people):

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/05/g20-protest-ian-tomlinson

    Police ‘assaulted’ bystander who died during G20 protests
    Comments (…)

    * Mark Townsend and Paul Lewis
    * The Observer, Sunday 5 April 2009
    * larger | smaller
    * Article history

    G20 protests: A street-level view of the peaceful gathering that erupted into violence Link to this video

    The man who died during last week’s G20 protests was “assaulted” by riot police shortly before he suffered a heart attack, according to witness statements received by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

    Investigators are examining a series of corroborative accounts that allege Ian Tomlinson, 47, was a victim of police violence in the moments before he collapsed near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening. Three witnesses have told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson was attacked violently as he made his way home from work at a nearby newsagents. One claims he was struck on the head with a baton.

    Photographer Anna Branthwaite said: “I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed.” Branthwaite, an experienced press photographer, has made a statement to the IPCC.

    Another independent statement supports allegations of police violence. Amiri Howe, 24, recalled seeing Mr Tomlinson being hit “near the head” with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show a clearly dazed Mr Tomlinson being helped by a bystander.

    A female protester, who does not want to be named but has given her testimony to the IPCC, said she saw a man she later recognised as Tomlinson being pushed aggressively from behind by officers. “I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he’d been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head.

    “He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall; it made me wince.”

    Mr Tomlinson, a married man who lived alone in a bail hostel, was not taking part in the protests. Initially, his death was attributed by a police post mortem to natural causes. A City of London police statement said: “[He] suffered a sudden heart attack while on his way home from work.”

    But this version of events was challenged after witnesses recognised the dead man from photographs that were published on Friday.

    An IPCC statement was due to be released the same day and is understood to have portrayed the death as a tragic accident. However, the statement’s release was postponed as the complaints body received information that police officers may have been more involved in events than previously thought. An IPCC spokesman said yesterday that in light of new statements it was “assessing” the information it had received before deciding whether to launch a full investigation.

    Part of the commission’s inquiries will involve the examination of CCTV footage from the area.

    Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth said: “Eventually there will have to be a full inquest with a jury. It is a possibility this death was at police hands.”

    A police source told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson appears to have become caught between police lines and protesters, with officers chasing back demonstrators during skirmishes. He was seen stumbling before he collapsed and died on Cornhill Street, opposite St Michael’s Alley, around 7.25pm.

    At around 7.10pm, protesters had gathered outside the police cordon to call for those contained inside – some for hours – to be let out. Officers with batons and shields attempted to clear them from the road.

    Around 7.20pm, five riot police, and a line of officers with dogs, emerged from Royal Exchange Square, a pedestrian side street. Three images taken around this time show Mr Tomlinson on the pavement, in front of five riot police, and in apparent distress. He had one arm in the air, and appeared to be in discussion with the officers.

    Mr Tomlinson then appears to have been lifted to his feet by a bystander. Minutes later he fell to the ground. “We saw this guy staggering around,” said Natalie Langford, 21, a student. “He looked disorientated. About five seconds later he fell, and I grabbed my friends to help him.”

    Police have claimed that when paramedics tried to move Mr Tomlinson away for urgent treatment, bottles were thrown at them by protesters. He was later pronounced dead at hospital.

    Branthwaite added: “He [Mr Tomlinson] was not a mouthy kid or causing problems, but the police seemed to have lost control and were trying to push protesters back. The police had started to filter people into a side street off Cornhill. There were a few stragglers who were just walking through between the police and protesters. Mr Tomlinson was one of those.”

    The police tactics during the G20 protests were condemned in the aftermath of the demonstrations. The clearance of a climate camp along Bishopsgate by riot police with batons and dogs after nightfall on Wednesday came in for particular criticism.

    Protesters marched to Bethnal Green police station in east London yesterday to demand a public inquiry into Mr Tomlinson’s death.

    colono responded:
    Monday, April 6, 2009 at 13:21 (597)
    colono responded:
    Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 15:05 (670)

    The still very polished story from the BBC, now stating that, to paraphrase for better understanding, the Big Police Machine, killed someone on his way home from work, a worker in the City, a football fan, who would have probably not even been on the side of the protests, but focused on getting home to watch corporate football. That’s how inconsiderate the police force is – how it acts like a brute that cuts down the people wherever they stand in the way for profit.

    Witness plea by G20 death family
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7987616.stm

    The family of a man who died during the G20 protests in London have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

    Ian Tomlinson, 47, died of a heart attack while police were clashing with protesters in London on 1 April.

    The newsagent’s family said the “massive football fan” who was wearing a Millwall top was not a protester and was returning home when he collapsed.

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been overseeing an inquiry into Mr Tomlinson’s death.

    CCTV footage showed Mr Tomlinson, who was returning to his home in the area after work, collapsing in nearby Cornhill in the City before being given first aid by police medics.

    Witnesses have told the IPCC that Mr Tomlinson had “contact” with police officers before collapsing.

    CCTV footage

    A statement from the family said: “Ian was a massive football fan and would have looked distinctive in his Millwall top.

    “He was probably on his way back from work to watch the England match and got caught up in the crowds.

    “People are putting pictures on the internet, writing on blogs and talking to journalists.

    “But we really need them to talk to the people who are investigating what happened.”

    On 1 April thousands of people became hemmed in by police at Royal Exchange Square, opposite the Bank of England, as protesters converged.

    The IPCC Commissioner for London Deborah Glass said CCTV footage showed police officers refused to let Mr Tomlinson through a cordon opposite the Bank of England, prompting him to walk around the corner into Royal Exchange Passage.

    She said: “A number of witnesses have described seeing him there, getting caught up in a crowd and being pushed back by police officers.

    “This is the aspect of the incident that the IPCC is now investigating.”

    The IPCC said CCTV footage taken later of Mr Tomlinson walking back onto Cornhill before collapsing, did not show him trapped inside a police cordon.

    Investigators have also examined statements and police records and spoken to independent witnesses.

    Story from BBC NEWS:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7987616.stm

    Published: 2009/04/07 12:08:30 GMT

    colono responded:
    Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 19:05 (837)

    from a malinglist:

    “*G20 police violence contributes to death of passer by – captured on film

    *Check out this video clip on Guardian website.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/07/video-g20-police-assault

    This is the bloke who died during the G20 demo shortly after this incident.

    Police lied about the incident, wrongly implicating protestors…”

    colono responded:
    Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 13:09 (589)

    More witness statements and information:
    http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/426083.html

    Last week during the G20 protests in London, a bystander – someone returning
    home from work in the city – died. At first the police claimed they tried to
    help a man they found and were attacked by protesters with bottles. After a
    week of searching for witnesses and pushing for an independent inquiry, a
    video has surfaced showing the police attacking the man from behind without
    provocation. Other witness statements show that not only did police attack
    the man from behind, but they also disrupted the first aid being given to
    him shortly afterward by several protesters. The Met (the police force in
    question) have a terrible track record not only for assaulting protesres,
    but more generally for highly racialised violence including shooting a
    Brzilian man they suspected of being an middle eastern terrorist, all
    without consequence. Please forward this message and where possible apply
    pressure on both the Met and the UK government.

    colono responded:
    Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 18:57 (831)
    colono responded:
    Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 19:12 (841)

    Just read “capitalism” instead of “fascism”:

    “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge–unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.”

    –Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” (Spring, 1940) trans. Harry Zohn.

    colono responded:
    Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at 13:10 (590)

    A 10 minute video clip that provides an overview of the Climate Camp in the City that took place on the 1st of April outside the European Climate Exchange. The Camp was timed to coincide with the arrival of the G20 leaders, and aimed to highlight the failure of carbon trading to address the threat of climate change.

    The video highlights the fact that the camp was colourful, creative and informative before it was violently cleared out by the police.

    The Climate Camp will take place again this Summer in the UK, from the 26th of August to the 2nd of September. http://www.climatecamp.org.uk – and numerous other Climate Camps are taking place all over the world.

    In the UK there has been a great deal of criticism of the police violence that took place during the G20. These are two opinion pieces that contextualise that violence with the repression and surveillance that climate change activists have been experiencing.

    The crushing of eco-protest brings shame on our police.

    Labour appears to agree with those campaigning against climate change, so why the vindictive action against them?

    Henry Porter

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/19/police-powers-abuse-henry-porter

    G20 videos won’t change the MetPolice officers seem able to use violence with impunity. But where the state has failed, demonstrators are refusing to lie down

    George Monbiot
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/20/police-g20-protests

    colono responded:
    Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at 13:35 (608)

    More here:

    http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/426083.html

    Plain text here:

    G20 policing caused man’s death: police coverup and media lies

    02.04.2009 09:29

    See Indymedia London for G20 reports, timelines and features.

    On Wednesday 1st April during a demonstration against the G20 in London, thousands of protestors were trapped inside a police cordon (kettled) where they were baton charged and crushed by the police. Ian Tomlinson, who appears to have been a passer-by, died during this demonstration outside the Bank of England. The police started a coverup immediately, claiming police and medics had been prevented from attending to him, although eyewitnesses reported seeing Ian Tomlinson being attacked by police shortly before his death. The corporate media parroted these police lies even though eyewitness accounts contradicted this [statement | video]. Now a video has surfaced clearly showing Ian was viciously assaulted by riot police from behind and violently pushed to the ground. Riot police and members of the Forward Intelligence Team looked on as a protestor attended to him. Minutes after moving away, Mr. Tomlinson collapsed in a nearby alley and died shortly afterwards.

    An assembly and a procession has been called for this Saturday 11th April assembling at Bethnal Green Police Station at 11:30 am to demand a public enquiry. A procession will move off at midday to arrive at the Bank of England around 1 pm. Another protest has also been called for Saturday 18th April at 12 noon in Redditch, the Home Secretary’s constituency town. A demonstration calling for an end to state murders has been called in Edinburgh

    Anyone with information they believe may help clarify the circumstances surrounding his death should, as soon as possible, write a full statement and contact the Climate Camp Legal Team: legal [at] climatecamp [dot] org [dot] uk

    N.B. If you have previously left any important legal information on an answering machine or sent to a different email address and nobody got back to you, please try again using the email address above

    Eyewitness accounts: Witnesses Statement: Death at G20 | Video: Interview with two Eyewitnesses of G20 Death

    Reports: IMC – about the death | Death At The Hands Of Capital | G20 protests video shows perfect example of police tactics

    Solidarity and Remembrance: New Zealand Solidarity Demo Against Police Brutality | Helsinki is supporting NO G20 | Vigil today ongoing at Bank of England | G20 Protest London – Memorial for the Dead | Photos – 2nd April memorial demo London

    colono responded:
    Friday, April 24, 2009 at 17:46 (782)

    and it just keeps on coming:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/24/strathclyde-police-plane-stupid-recruit-spy
    ============================================

    Police caught on tape trying to recruit protester as spy

    Plane Stupid climate change activist taped men who offered cash for information about group’s members and activities

    Listen to the tapes and read the transcripts

    * Paul Lewis
    * guardian.co.uk, Friday 24 April 2009 18.18 BST

    Plane Stupid protesters at Aberdeen airport

    Plane Stupid climate protesters break into Aberdeen airport last month. Photograph: PA/Plane Stupid

    Undercover police are running a network of hundreds of informants inside protest organisations who secretly feed them intelligence in return for cash-in-hand payments, according to evidence handed to the Guardian.

    In the material, the police claim to have infiltrated a number of environmental groups and say they are receiving information about leaders, tactics and detailed plans of future demonstrations.

    The dramatic disclosures are revealed in almost three hours of secretly recorded discussions between covert officers, claiming to be from Strathclyde police, and Matilda Gifford, an activist from the protest group Plane Stupid. The officers attempted to recruit Gifford as a paid spy after she was released on bail after a protest at Aberdeen airport last month.

    Gifford, 24, said she recorded the meetings in a bid to expose how police seek to disrupt the legitimate activities of climate change activists. She met twice with the officers, who said they were a detective constable and his assistant. During the taped discussions, the officers:

    • Indicate that she could receive tens of thousands of pounds to pay off her student loans in return for information about individuals within Plane Stupid.

    • Say they will not pay money direct into her bank account because that would create an audit trail that would leave her compromised. They say the money would be tax-free and add: “UK PLC can afford more than twenty quid.”

    • Accept that she is a legitimate protester, but warn that her activity could mean she will struggle to find employment in the future and result in her receiving a criminal record.

    • Claim they have hundreds of informants feeding them information from protest organisations and “big groupings” from across the political spectrum.

    • Explain that spying for police could assist her if in the future she were arrested. “People would sell their soul to the devil,” an officer says.

    • Warn her that she could be jailed alongside “hard, evil” people if she received a custodial sentence.

    The meetings took place in a Glasgow police station last month and in a supermarket cafe on Tuesday this week. Gifford used a mobile telephone and device sewn into her waistcoat to record the officers when they offered what they described as a “business proposal” that she should think of as a job.

    They intimated that in return for regular updates on Plane Stupid’s plans she could receive considerable sums in cash.

    When lawyers acting for Plane Stupid contacted Strathclyde police this week to establish the identities of the detective constable, they were initially told by the human resources department there was no record of his name.

    However, when the Guardian contacted the force, they acknowledged that officers had met with Plane Stupid activists.

    In a statement last night, Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said the force had “a responsibility to gather intelligence” and such operations were conducted according to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa). The force would not comment on the identities of the officers.

    “Officers from Strathclyde police have been in contact with a number of protesters who were involved with the Plane Stupid protests including Aberdeen airport,” he said. “The purpose of this contact has been to ensure that any future protest activity is carried out within the law and in a manner which respects the rights of all concerned.”

    It is known that at national level, a confidential intelligence unit has been set up by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) with the power to operate across the UK, mount surveillance and run informers, with the intention of building up a detailed picture of “domestic extremism”.

    Gifford’s lawyer, Patrick Campbell, said: “I have very considerable concerns about these events. There appears to be a covert operation that is running in some way with, or using Strathclyde police’s name. There appears to be a concerted effort to turn protesters to informants and possibly infiltrate peaceful protest movements.

    “The methods employed are disturbing, and more worrying yet is the lack of any clearly identifiable body responsible for this. These individuals seem to have some kind of police support or at the very least connections with the police – the access to police stations confirms that – but my concern is the lack of accountability and the threat to the individual and her right to protest.”

    Gifford intended to meet the officers for a third time yesterday, taking a lawyer with her. But the officers did not appear at the rendezvous. However, she said that later in the day she was approached by the detective constable, who said he was disappointed in her. The man got into a waiting car that drove off, leaving Gifford feeling shaken and intimidated.

    Gifford said today that the initial approach from the officers was “an opportunity that fell out of the sky”. “Recording them seemed like the obvious thing to do. I was keen to find out what they had to offer, what they wanted to find out, and feed that back to the group in case other members of Plane Stupid were approached.”

    But she added: “In a sense it rippled out to something much wider, in terms of not knowing who the two men are. It’s opened up in all these murky directions.”

    Listen to the tapes and read the transcripts

    Full details of this investigation in tomorrow’s Guardian

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