Saturday, April 19, 2014

J18- the work of an undercover cop

June 18 1999 and the Carnival Against Global Capitalism was a day which shut down the City of London by activists which later led to massive rioting. What is being exposed now is that at least one undercover police man organised it.


JSB5 is the code name for Police Officer Jim Boyling who spied on Reclaim The Streets.

Boyling's abandoned Car
Boyling (on left) organising the carnival with RTS- maps and J18 mask to the right can be seen

PC Jim Boyling
In interviews by academic Dr Missumi (not her real name), whilst researching the new forms of social movement tactics employed during J18, police and city authorities at times seem to contradict themselves about the intelligence received leading up to J18.

“We didn’t know where the demonstrators were going,” said Chief Superintendent Kevin Sapsford of the City of London Police1,” we knew the meeting place was going to be in Liverpool Street Station but from there we didn’t know what was going to happen with the crowds and therefore it was very difficult….They were a very well planned group and as part of that planning we subsequently found out that they were using masks on the day which had information printed on the back about who they should follow... We had an idea, well not an idea that’s the wrong term; it sounds very washy. We had information from the MET and from their websites and from sources of information that initially we thought they were going to try and go to one area and hold that area up. However we didn’t have the information because they kept it so close to them.”

Also interviewed for the PHD was Eddi Botham2 a City of London Police officer on the day he is now the security advisor for the corporation of London. During the interview he shows Dr Missumi a 2 hour long police training video made up of footage from various sources during J18, including Special Branch, Forward Intelligence Team, Police Helicopter and main stream media3. “There was lots and lots of conflicting intelligence reports coming in as to what would be targets, what wouldn’t be targets, “ he tells Missumi, “The police knew there would be vast numbers, far bigger than anything we’d had before”. Yet when images appear of the crowd invading the LIFFE he comments: “We knew they were going to attack the LIFFE building but we didn’t know it was going to be this violent, in all fairness.


The day’s timeline (as documented in the Carnival Against Global Capitalism: Internal examination of police operation, published on the 28rd July 1999) exposes the extremely slow reactions of the police on the day. At 1.40pm the first set of demonstrators arrives at the LIFFE and simultaneously two cars (one of them driven by JSB5) block the road outside the LIFFE (upper Thames Street). Whilst one of the entrances is walled up, at 3.30pm the other is breached by protesters who flood inside and try to get onto the trading floor. The police do not arrive on the scene until 4.15pm.


It seems extraordinary that the LIFFE had no police protection. The chief executive and chairman of the LIFFE made complaints following the day, about the failure to protect the building, and the police report acknowledges this: “The external picture is complex and includes high levels of recrimination and concern about perceived and real failures in police action…A great deal of the external recrimination is predicated on the belief that the police knew about the nature and scale of the violence and its predictable locations before the event. On that basis, there is dismay and anger about what the police did and did not do.”6

Leading up to J18, a booklet and web site explaining the working of the city complete with Map was produced by Reclaim the Streets7. The map listed numerous targets on it, including LIFFE. The police report mentions this map saying: “The existence of the list was carefully considered during the pre-event planning and a number of premises were identified as potentially being more attractive to demonstrators than others. It should be emphasised that the refined list of premises was arrived at by an intellectual exercise and that no information existed which might confirm or deny this thinking. “8

The police report continues: “At the time of reporting it is not known definitively who all the different organisers of the demonstration are…. Importantly no information existed to identify a) the ultimate focus of the demonstration b) the tactical plan(s) of the organisers c) that a violent criminal assault on premises (of the nature and scale of the assault on the LIFFE building) was planned or likely.”9

Two years earlier JSB was in the “logistics” group organising the break away Reclaim the Streets action during the March of Social Justice, co organised with the striking Liverpool Dockers. The plan was to leave the route of the march and squat the old empty department of Environment (Marsham Street) turning it into the “real department of environment”, a space for workshops, discussions, parties etc. On the day itself the building was surrounded by lines of riot police and the “logistics” group had to turn to plan b which of course we had not worked on! In the end an improvised street party took place in Trafalgar square, which ended in scuffles with riot police and evening headlines (provided by police press release) of rioters charged with “attempted murder” when a sound system tried to drive to the party through police lines (the charges were of course dropped) 10 It is now pretty clear where the leak came from. There seems to be no reason that JSB did not pass on information leading up to J18.

The concluding remark of the report is that the police must take “Action to regain the confidence of the business City.”11 One cannot help wonder how the City community would respond 13 years on from J18 knowing that a police officer was at the heart of planning of the action.

This leaves one to speculate as to why, given the intelligence, the police acted as they did. Was it because they needed to criminalise the growing movement with ‘violent’ images of property damage. To ban the demonstration or repress it might have backfired on them and strengthened the movement ? (following J18 the plan for “attrition of groups involved” included several fictional leaks to the press such as the City anarchists stockpile arms story in the Sunday times four months later.)

Was it because this was a new type of action and protest tactics they needed to observe rather than repress, to learn for public ordern policing in the future ? (one of the comments on the Police helicopter soundtrack suggests this 12)

Did the age old turf war and the relationship between the City of London police and the Met have anything to do with it? Roger Gomm (head of Public Order) says that during the day the relationship “was difficult and there were some issues.”13 The City of London Police and the Met have often been in competition, on J18 there were two command structures (City and Met) which was identified by Anthony Speed in his report as “unduly complicated.”14 One of the changes to public order policing implemented by the post J18 review was a single command structure known as BEMBO. “Where-as before you’d have this element of us and them,” Chief superintendent Kevin Sapford of the City of London police told Dr Missumi. “now it’s all controlled from one control room, everybody is on the same channel.”15 Did the Met somehow keep the intelligence about LIFFE to themselves so as to create a crisis which they knew might negatively affect the public image of the City Police and ultimately end their relative autonomy giving the Met more control ?

Whatever the reason JSB’s role in all this is definitely something that the Met want to distance themselves from and it feels crucial that this information is in the public domain before the CPS has time to set a case against him.


Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions. http://www.undercurrents.org

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