Undercover officer who deceived campaigner into relationship now working with Australian police
POLICE chiefs must give up hiding the identities of undercover coppers, campaigners said yesterday as an officer who deceived a woman into a long-term relationship was revealed to be training police abroad.
John Dines, a member of the Metropolitan Police’s elite Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), was found to be directing police training courses at Charles Sturt University in Sydney.
The explosive revelation came as a whistleblower undercover officer called on the upcoming undercover policing inquiry to rule out the Met’s petition for secrecy.
Mr Dines disappeared 24 years ago, after a career infiltrating protest groups.
As “John Barker,’ an identity stolen from a dead child, he had a two-year relationship with environmental activist and McLibel defendant Helen Steel.
Ms Steel was one of seven women given substantial payouts by the Met in November — when the force issued an “unreserved” apology for forming “abusive and manipulative” relationships.
The Met continues to “neither confirm nor deny” the identities of individual police officers involved in these covert operations.
Campaigners, who gathered outside New Scotland Yard yesterday evening, hope the inquiry, which is currently holding preliminary hearings before full sessions begin in the summer, could force chiefs to change this policy.
Protesters said that only 10 per cent of undercover officers’ “cover names” were known.
Reclaim the Streets activist Carolyn, who is a core participant in the inquiry, said she believed that her group was spied on by other coppers.
“No-one knows for sure if they were spied on,” she told the Star. “We’re asking for all the cover names to be made available — we’re not asking for their real names, it doesn’t affect their own security.”
But the Met has petitioned inquiry chairman Christopher Pitchford to maintain officers’ anonymity and sit in secret when discussing covert operations.
Now lawyers acting for Peter Francis, the ex-officer who revealed that the SDS had spied on trade unions, have urged Mr Pitchford to rule out this request.
They say that the Met’s argument that disclosure would contravene its promise to officers that their identities would be protected for life did not stack up.
Lawyers also say there are “no real national security considerations” in disclosing information on the targeting of activist groups — unlike undercover cops “used in relation to serious crime and to counter terrorism.”
Mr Francis previously issued a statement saying he had spied on members of five trade unions. The undercover inquiry is also examining evidence that police colluded in the blacklisting of construction workers.
GMB national officer Justin Bowden, who has been key to the anti-blacklisting campaign, said: “There is an obvious need for complete transparency on this very emotive issue.
“For there to be any kind of reconciliation and closure for people harmed by police activities, the truth has to come out.
“The police can either continue to be part of the cover-up, or be part of the clean-up.”
Ms Steel flew to Australia after discovering her ex-boyfriend’s new career, and confronted him at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport — where he was greeting a party of Indian police officers due to be trained at Charles Sturt.
She said Mr Dines apologised but added that when he had been sent in to infiltrate groups in north London it was to look out for “extremists.”
Ms Steel fears what his role might be with the Indian police training programme. New South Wales legislative council member David Shoebridge yesterday called for the state government to investigate whether local officers had been trained by disgraced SDS veterans.
Mr Dines was listed as a staff member on the course for Indian officers in university literature and as a “professor” in another academic document. But the university said his role was “solely administrative.”