Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Photograph of Paul Mercer, Spy.


We went through our archive and found a video image of Paul Mercer circa 1995. Paul Mercer has a long history of 'infiltrating' groups and selling the info. He published Directory of British Political Organisations by Paul Mercer (1994), which had personal info/contact details on people and groups involved in Earth First! and other related eco-direct action stuff of the early 90s. He's done the same with the Close Campsfield campaign.

14 comments:

planning said...

The implication within this article is total Balls. As a fact Paul was the most trusted media person on many campaigns during the mid 90's, and would be invited by direct action groups to go with them on covert actions, never once were these actions divulged by Paul, with many of the activists very grateful that Paul was on hand as it reduced the ability of the security and police to use excessive force. Yes Paul is a journalist, yes Paul published various books, but after all he had to make a living, indeed so does Undercurrents who have published footage, which in my own case resulted in my having to sue Granada for liable because the wrong emphasise was put on the selling of this footage, so yes Paul made money out of the campaigns but so has Undercurrents.

Chris Maile

Paulo @ undercurrents said...

Hello Chris,
Thanks for your comments..First Undercurrents does sell footage to Tv to support campaigns (and yes Granada did disregard everything we told them and labeled you wrongly..their fault not ours as you know). Undercurrents is a reg charity, Paul Mercer is a hack with corporate links..big difference.Mercer earned £2,500 a month from BAe as the Guardian exposed a while back.

Rob Evans and David Leigh
Thursday April 19, 2007
The Guardian

A man spying on peace campaigners for the arms firm BAE was last night revealed to be closely linked to the Conservative party. Paul Mercer, a friend of shadow defence minister Julian Lewis, was exposed through court action by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).

He was revealed to have been paid £2,500 a month by the giant arms company's security department for his work against CAAT. He claims he was being paid to simply monitor the group and its activities. BAE is facing a wide range of bribery allegations.

Mr Mercer obtained a CD with details of confidential legal advice received from the peace campaigners' lawyers and at the end of last year passed it to Michael McGinty, head of BAE's security department.

The peace campaigners were planning a judicial review of the controversial decision to drop a police investigation into BAE's Saudi deals, made after pressure from the Ministry of Defence.

Their solicitor, Richard Stein of Leigh Day, obtained a series of injunctions forcing BAE to disclose the identity of the spy.

Mr Lewis, Conservative MP for New Forest East, denied last night having any knowledge of Mr Mercer's work for BAE. He said: "I worked closely with Paul in the 1980s. He became a Conservative councillor and he did a lot of good work exposing the far left."

Asked if he had been in touch with Mr Mercer during his recent undercover BAE work, Mr Lewis said: "I am in social contact with him. I regard him as a friend."

Mr Mercer claimed in court statements that he was unaware of where a CD containing CAAT's confidential material had come from.

He said it was left for him in a plain envelope. The litigation revealed that Mr Mercer, who had a history of infiltrating peace groups such as CND, had disguised his dealings with BAE from his home in Loughborough.

The court proceedings detailed how BAE's undercover methods work against those they regard as a threat to their arms business. Mr McGinty, and a colleague, Martin Carroll, ran the operation via another company, Global Open Ltd, which contacted Mr Mercer, who called himself LigneDeux Associates. This is the second time BAE, which refused to comment, has been linked to undercover operations against their critics: a security consultant called Evelyn Le Chene recruited agents to infiltrate CAAT.

The Mercer operation came to light because BAE passed the information to its lawyers, Allen & Overy, who decided they had to disclose it to the court. BAE then fought to resist disclosure of their agent's identity.

Last night CAAT spokesman Symon Hill said: "CAAT is an open and nonviolent organisation. BAE's underhand methods further call into question the intimate relationship between BAE and the government."

planning said...

I do not intend getting into a slanging match with you over this, but most of what you say is pure speculation, based upon the biggest headache to getting real alternative action organised on a national basis that of the conspiracy theorist. Paul has always been up front with his various dealings with the media and his other work for instance he was commissioned to compile a database of all direct action groups in the UK for the BBC, no secret it was common knowledge, indeed he told most of the campaign groups that were listed, yes he sold stories and picture to the media about campaigns, that is what he does for a living, he also supplied many pictures that were used to take action against the authorities, such as the Injunction that I obtained against AJ Harrower the Chair of Group 4 (which incidentally is still in force - as a consequence it is a sackable offence for any Group 4 employee to talk to me or any member of my family), and in the defence of many arrested activists, who as a consequence were found not guilty, look at the Blackburn 78 where only one person was finally found guilty, part of that was because of the pictures supplied by Paul. We gained many good media stories through the contacts of Paul Mercer, and through the stories that he sold.

My only reservation is why Paul has not sought an injunction against Undercurrents, had these allegations been levelled my way the ink would not have been dry before I would have taken action.

I do not know what campaigns you are currently working on but my work through CfPS sees hundreds of inappropriate developments being appropriately represented, with dozens defeated every year. Paul has been very helpful in the early days of the setting up of CfPS 1999 - 2000 in publishing the setting up of CfPS and in taking part in media training of activists, and that has helped us get to the nationally recognised position we are now at, with dozens of new communities contacting us every week for help, whilst Paul has not been directly (or indirectly involved) since about 2003 I will always acknowledge his input and the input of dozens of others in ensuring there is today a national helpline on planning and development issues, including issues that would be of interest to the likes of Undercurrents and Earth First the promotion of Adverse possession and the registration of Village Greens.

Yet you will set out to alienate those that have been of considerable benefit to the direct action movement, both during the dominant years in the mid 90's and ever since, this is not good, as it leads to these people deserting the movement, and that is a tragedy if we are ever to get a fairer society. I think it is sad that you have chosen to undertake a witch hunt against such useful and powerful allies.

Chris Maile

Paulo @ undercurrents said...

hello again Chris
I agree that Mercer has probaly done some good for campaigns but he also has done a lot of damage. The books he has written gave personal details about individual activists for corporate consumption. Mercer agreed himself to me that he was 'naive' at the time and it was a mistake on his behalf.

10 years later however and now we find he was paid £2500 a month by Bae to spy on peace activists. This fact you are seeming to ignore?

Or are you saying that is not true and the courts and the media and CAAT are lying about Mercer?
I am interested in hearing your views on that.

Paul, undercurrents

Anonymous said...

I used to know Paul Mercer very well in the middle of the 90s and can only agree with Chris. Back then (in 1996) he was offered an amount of money that by far exceeds the afore-mentionend 2,500. According to my knowledge McDonald's then wanted him to reveal potential "enemies" to them which he refused to do as he didn't wanted to be involved in such a "dirty" business. Being an investigative journalist like Paul certainly doesn't make you very popular. Considering Paul's past and the amount of people who have good reason to bear a grudge against him (he wasn't called the "red scare" for no reason)can certailnly help to explain the most recent events.
J.

Anonymous said...

Following my message from last night I would like to draw your attention to the following link: http://groups.google.de/group/uk.politics.misc/browse_thread/thread/d920458340f28c7a/afd9f6e8dfdcec3b?hl=de&lnk=st&q=%22paul+mercer%22+loughborough&rnum=2#afd9f6e8dfdcec3b
Although this link (and the relation to Adrian McMenamin) dates back years (1998!), it offers at least one explanation why Paul Mercer is now in the centre of an ivestigation. Usually I am not too keen on conspiracy theories but I am wondering now if someone finally got an opportunity to take revenge on the "red scare" by framing him?

Anonymous said...

What conspiracy?
What interests me is that no one is talking about the FACT that Mercer was exposed in a court case.BAE paid £2,500 per month to LigneDeux Associates, whose agent Paul Mercer passed information about the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Heres another report of the case from the independent. Or are all the media lying and CAAT? Please tell me if they are.


BAE paid agency to spy on peace group
By Saeed Shah
Published: 19 April 2007

The police have been called in after it emerged in court documents that the weapons manufacturer BAE Systems paid a private investigation agency to spy on a peace campaigning group.

BAE paid £2,500 per month to LigneDeux Associates, whose agent Paul Mercer passed information about the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) to BAE's director of security Mike McGinty.

BAE insists it expected Mr Mercer to operate within the law, but he has now admitted providing them with a legally privileged document internal to CAAT. This sensitive document concerned the impending judicial review brought by CAAT to challenge the decision late last year of the Serious Fraud Office to end an inquiry into bribery claims stemming from BAE's arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said: "CAAT is an open and non-violent organisation with thousands of supporters from all walks of life. BAE's underhand methods further call into question the intimate relationship between BAE and the Government."

CAAT has now referred the matter to the police. BAE's spying operation on CAAT came to light after the company's lawyers discovered the information that had been obtained on the peace campaigners and returned it to them. However, BAE refused to disclose how it came by the internal CAAT documents. It is thought that the information related partly to CAAT's ability to fund the judicial review. CAAT then went to the High Court, to force BAE to disclose its sources.

BAE said: "BAE Systems does not carry out, condone or approve of any activities which are unlawful or which could bring the reputation of the company into disrepute

Marcellus Hall said...

Spy? Agent?? I’ve only just hitched into this thread but it’s all a bit drastic isn’t it? Brings to mind tiny cameras hidden in pens and guys in long raincoats speaking furtively into their turned up collars. Come on, wake up and smell the vodka martinis here. I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of what you read or hear in the media has been shaken and then stirred before being blown way out of all proportion. You have to remember that words like these sell papers and make people listen to radio programmes.

Surely some of the responsibility lies with CAAT for allowing information to leak out in the first place (I don’t know about this Bond stuff but obviously someone very close doesn’t actually agree with their campaign methods!!) Wouldn’t it have been better for them to spend their time plugging the gaps and stop leaking stuff to all and sundry.

And before anyone accuses me of being Mercer’s cousin I shall say that yes, I do know him. I knew him quite well in fact about 10 years ago when I was involved in campaigning against road building. I lost contact with him because I moved overseas but I can categorically say that although I always thought he was a bit of an intellectual tosser he was always very straightforward with me and with everyone else in the campaigns. He was highly regarded as an asset and I never once saw him speak to the police and he never, ever compromised anyone or any direct action we were involved in.

In this CAAT affair it seems that it was they who went to the police, hardly the action of a radical anti-establishment campaign group is it … I mean setting the police on someone? I can imagine that this is perhaps a sign that all is not well in their offices and it might be time for a change of tack. I really think they should perhaps begin by putting their own house in order and clear out all the Ian Fleming novels from their bookshelves.

Pete said...

I not only remember Paul but I recall from where that Undercurrents shot came from - he was talking
to the police because he had just been arrested after an M11 eviction! Undercurrents may have
forgotten, but they used Paul for one of their videos: with his co-operation, they covertly videoed and
recorded him ‘interviewing’ a police photographer outside a company AGM. Paul was one of the first
people to notice co-ordinated police surveillance of activists and he obtained the original police
report from Statewatch which identified the creation of 'forward intelligence teams' over ten years
ago.

I recall several occasions when the police gave Paul a hard time and threatened him with arrest
(again) if he did no co-operate with them. He always told them to go away. He once told me that the
only occasion that he ever handed pictures to the police was during the M65 campaign when one of
the protesters was very seriously injured. Paul’s photos of the incident were successfully used by
the police to prosecute the digger driver for GBH - something I am sure Chris Maile will confirm.

So far as I can see, there is nothing to suggest that Paul was ‘spying’ on CAAT. Whilst I would not
defend being paid by BAE the fact is that many of those involved in radical protests in the 1990s
now work for big companies. One prominent former M11 activist even works for Rupert Murdoch!

Paul’s passion was always opposition to road building – not just for environmental reasons but
because, in his view, they destroyed communities. I once remember him having an intense
argument with the police during the M65 protest because, as local coppers, they failed to
understand the damage that new motorways ultimately did to them and their families.

He was also a libertarian and was always open about his active opposition to the Soviet Union in the
1980s. That is why he disagreed with CND. Again, having clear views which were at odds with many
activists was hardly the behaviour of a ‘spy’ or an infiltrator who surely would want to fit in and not
have such strong opinions.

He also had friends across much of the political spectrum. I remember when he started working for
the BBC, he told me that he had been given the job because he was a friend of Ken Livingstone’s
former chief of staff who later because Tony Blair’s head of research at Downing Street.

Having followed CAAT’s battle with Paul, the one thing that appalled me is that CAAT resorted to
using the police, after failing to find out who leaked the document. I don’t know what the police did,
if anything, but many of us would be mortified if a company, having failed to identify a leak, used the
police and the High Court. I remember CAAT was once given access to leaked BAE documents
which had been obtained by Murdoch’s Sunday Times. If CAAT had been given the same treatment
that it has given to Paul, it would be regarded as an outrageous violation of civil liberties and
Liberty’s lawyers would be leaping to its defence.

CAAT and its lawyers should be ashamed of the authoritarian way in which they have dealt with this
matter and Undercurrents should adopt a more conciliatory tone towards someone who never
hesitated to help them when they needed it.

Paulo @ undercurrents said...

It seems to me that people commenting here say that its ok that Mercer sold info about campaigners to Bae arms dealers because it was the environment he was really interested in.

Yes Mercer probaly was useful to many campaigns just as all spies have been. The Mc libel campaign was financed by spies, anti apartied campaign was funded by a spy working with Peter Hain. Miners strike and lots of others so come on wake up people. A spy has to make themself useful to a campaign.

People are ignoring the point that Mercers has sold info to a corporate arms dealer. (but hey he likes the trees so thats ok eh?)

Paulo @ undercurrents said...

http://www.caat.org.uk/issues/sfo/CAATvMercer-briefing.pdf

Above is the Link to the legal papers CAAT served about Mercer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Undercurrents Paul, thx for taking the time to post such clear and detailed links substantiating this story. Having known Paul Mercer for most of the 1990's as well as Chris Maile and others mentioned in this article, I now accept that Paul Mercer was spying on CATT and was probably also spying on EF! around the Hawk fighter jet protests as well as other environmental and peace work. He's got the blood money in his back pocket to prove it - nothing more needs to be proved.! Richard

Paul O' Connor said...

Reading the comments in this thread, it has become obvious that I believe the person who posted as 'Pete' is actually Paul Mercer himself.

Only Mercer would recall the details of 30secs from a protest in 1995 which we recorded the images of him with Police.

"Pete' also rightly states that Undercurrents used an audio recording of Mercer talking with a plain clothes cop in one of our films. Again only Mercer would have known about this.

So this shows how Mercer tries to justify his spying by using an alias.

Anonymous said...

I am a campaigner for transparency on Lyme disease. Myself and various colleagues have been subjected to years of death threats, harassment and surveillance and in some cases, worse.
I have now identified Paul Mercer in association with Bae as one of the individuals involved and will be taking appropriate action.

Elena Cook
www.elenacook.org