The Threat Response Spy Files - November 2004
The Threat Response Spy Files - Report 2004
Eveline Lubbers for
Wil van der Schans for buro Jansen & Janssen
In the summer of
1998, the Amsterdam buro Jansen & Janssen exposed Adrian Franks as an infiltrator.
Adrian had attracted
attention when he tried to intensify his connections with Dutch activist groups,
such as the anti military research collective AMOK and the environmental network
The then 39 year old Frenchman from Equihen Plage in Normandy used several surnames, and the investigation showed him the owner of a private intelligence company that collected information on activist.
September 2003 the
research into Adrian Franks got an unexpected follow up. Sunday Times' journalist
David Connet stumbled on a case that bore many similarities with the 1998-Adrian
investigation. The Sunday Times revealed how Adrian's mother, Evelyn le Chene
was a pro in collecting information on thousands of activists in the UK and
abroad. Her company Threat Response International was hired by large corporations
to spy on opponents; Group 4 and British Aerospace have admitted to use her
Because of our earlier
involvement in the case David Connet from the Sunday Times granted Spinwatch
insight in the spy-files. The files we got to see - about 1500 pages - basically
consisted of printed reports to BAe, made by Evelyn le Chêne.
This gave us the rare opportunity to investigate a case of spying and infiltration from the inside.
This (long) report takes up the thread were we left it after finishing our investigation in 1998 with the exposure of Adrian Frank alias le Chene. It is best to read Part 1, the account of our 1998-Adrian research first, but the two stories can be taken in separately as well.
Adrian to be continued
After two months of investigating we were left with an open-ended story in 1998. Because it was clear to us that Adrian crossed the Channel on a regular base, we tried to engage British activist groups in the investigation. Although Caat and CorporateWatch as well as other organisations that Adrian claimed to be affiliated with had received warnings about Adrian from their Dutch counterparts, apparently none of them thought it important enough to follow up the English leads. Our resources were tight. For our Dutch friends, exposing Adrian was enough. The Internet was in its early days; the Rochester Chamber of Commerce for instance could be questioned by email, but did not have its data on line yet. Nor was it as cheap as it is nowadays to cross the Channel to carry on the investigation abroad. Not without the help, or the stimulus of worried grass roots groups.
Even Kevin Dowling's inquiry
a few months later, about the possible connection between Adrian and a woman
called Evelyn le Chêne didn't make us jump. This free lance journalist
specialised in security matters wrote us: "It may be interest you to
know hat a Mrs. Evelyn le Chêne, who claimed to be a veteran of the Special
Operations Executive (SOE) and the widow of a French Resistance hero of that
name, use to work for the British Ministry of Defence as a consultant on chemical
and biological warfare and, in particular, advised the Ministry on African affairs.
I don't know if Adrian is related in anyway to Mrs le Chêne, but I do
know that she used to live in or near Rochester, Kent. However the house has
recently been sold and the people now living there claim not to now where she
(or Adrian) have gone."
If only we had known how close we were
Five years later, in September 2003, Sunday Times' David Connet contacted buro Jansen & Janssen. He had found the account of our investigation on the Internet and urgently needed confirmation for his suspicions that Adrian Franks/le Chêne was indeed related to Evelyn le Chêne. He had uncovered a vast private intelligence-gathering network that collated the identities and confidential details of nearly 150,00 left-wing activists and offered them at a price to British industrial companies. The company is now called Threat Response International, advising corporations on security threats - and Evelyn le Chêne is on the board. British Aerospace (now: BAe Systems) first approached her to carry out surveillance work in the mid-1990s, according to a source. At the time, she had been running a company named R&CA Publications from an office in an industrial estate in Rochester, Kent. There we are: Risk & Crisis Analyses, Adrian's company. The company that closed and disappeared after the Dutch exposure of its director as a spy. When David Connet was shown our photograph of Adrian, the puzzle was solved.
At long last our 1998-Adrian research got its follow-up.
The Sunday Times published two long articles, based on a stack of files - thousands of pages -addressed to BAe. The files contain detailed reports on the comings and goings of activists joined in the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). The articles appeared on 29 September and 5 October 2003 and we quote from them here with permission.
At the time CAAT, a respected Quaker and Christian-based pacifist group, which believes in non-violent protest, was stepping up a campaign against the £500m sale of BAe jets to Indonesia. The campaigners protested that the aircraft would be used to crush resistance in East Timor, which was seeking independence.
By late 1996, when John Major's Conservative government was deciding whether to grant licences for the Hawk contract, the intelligence reports on CAAT's activities started flowing into BAe's offices at Farnborough, Hampshire, almost every day.
Calling herself "Source P", Le Chêne initially sent over her briefings on an encrypted fax to the BAe security offices on the ground floor of Lancaster House at the airfield. Later BAe set up software on her office computer so that the company could access the reports directly from her database, according to a source, who said the firm paid her £120,000 a year.
Le Chêne recruited at least half a dozen agents to infiltrate CAAT's headquarters at Finsbury Park, north London, and a number of regional offices.
Le Chêne made thousands of pages of reports to BAe. They poked fun at the protesters: one had "revolting habits", another was "seriously into saving the tortoise". But they enabled BAe to build a large file of activists' names, addresses and telephone numbers as well as always keeping fully briefed on their meetings, demonstrations and political contacts.
Some of the information was gleaned simply by attending CAAT meetings. However, one agent downloaded the entire contents of a CAAT headquarters computer including a membership list, personal folders and details of private donations. Bank account details were also passed on, according to a source, and Agent P's reports to BAE discuss sending computer discs and tapes obtained from CAAT.
Desks were rifled, diaries were read and address books photocopied so that the information could then be transferred to BAE. CAAT members were often followed.
One such target was Anna B., described in one report as a "good-looking" 25-year-old, who was a key activist and networker for CAAT and student groups.
A tape recording of a phone conversation between Le Chêne and a senior officer in BAE group security reveals that they discussed having Anna B. followed. Reports on Anna B. give details of her addresses, housemates, hairstyles, the contents of her diary and her alleged habit of smoking marijuana in the corridor.
Hull against Hawks
During the intense surveillance the pressure groups began to suspect that they had been infiltrated. One report relays fears amongst CAAT activists that a meeting would be "full of BAE spies".
They were not far off the mark. According to a source, Le Chêne infiltrated an agent described as "Brough" into a Humberside offshoot of CAAT called Hull Against Hawks.
The group was important within CAAT as it is on the doorstep of BAe's Brough plant where the Hawk bodies are manufactured.
BAe's security had a photograph of "Brough" and added to his credibility within CAAT by ensuring that he was manhandled during protests at BAe's annual meeting at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in 1997. Le Chêne invoiced BAE for the £280 a month rent for Brough's flat in Hull, and there is evidence that he was the secretary of the Hull group and used the name Alan Fossey.
He had become secretary of the Hull group shortly after moving to the town. He proved very useful, driving his fellow campaigners, a mixture of students and pacifists, to marches in his van and holding the group's meetings in his small flat in a new development by the marina.
His sound counsel was valued by other members of the group. When, at one meeting, a campaigner had suggested leaping over a fence to "occupy" an arms fair, Fossey had cut the subject dead by claiming he had heard the event was being guarded by paratroopers.
Quite how he knew, nobody asked. But then nobody knew the truth about who really paid the rent on his fully furnished flat, where they met, or who was really picking up the bill for the phone he used to arrange all the group's business.
The Threat Response Files
Because of our involvement in the case - the 1998-Adrian research - David Connet allowed us insight in the spy-files. We spent a day going through a mess of paperwork, not ordered in any way, but cleared from those files that could identify either Sunday Times' source or the spies within CAAT. Connet explained us how he got the files, and because the reports looked pretty authentic, we agreed that this had to be a genuine case of infiltration. The files we got to see - about 1500 pages and that was not all there was- basically consisted of printed reports to BAe, made by le Chêne.
We were allowed to make copies from what seemed the most important files; the quotes [always in Italics, and dated] in this Spinwatch dossier come from that selection. The quotes are to the letter, but cleared from obvious typos and from references that would invade the privacy of CAAT activists; names have been replaced with any given initials.
The early reports, dated end of 1995, beginning of 1996, are sometimes a bit sloppy. If you look at the numeration this could very well relate to the beginning of the cooperation between le Chêne and BAe - although there is no proof of that. Only later in the process would she make a clear separation between observations on the one hand, and analysis and words of advise on security issues on the other.
The many accounts of meetings are pretty detailed, describing people, their habits and their willingness to participate. Again this looks authentic, and not embroidered, the records of people not having much time to engage themselves and their reasons - illness, study, whatever excuse - sound pretty familiar.
A. is recovering from influenza and is not participating at all for the moment. She is still interested in doing CAAT "things". ( ) However, this year she has been crying off sick or as being too tired or that she has something else to do when she is asked to participate in meetings and liaisons.
B. is increasingly tied up with writing a research dissertation for a degree
and since her hernia operation has not been very active. She has been seldom
at home when contact has been attempted.
Le Chêne's agents were instructed to take particular interest in connections between anti-arms trade pressure groups and the House of Commons. Meetings and correspondence with MPs of all three parties was closely monitored and advance warning of any parliamentary events was always reported.
According to a source, the agents collected a series of letters, many private, which were sent through to BAe to read. They included correspondence to or from a number of leading Labour politicians such as David Clark, then shadow defence secretary, Ann Clywd, the MP, and Jack Straw, then home secretary.
When CAAT and two other pressure groups hired solicitors Bindman and Partners to seek a judicial review against the granting of export licences for arms companies, BAe was alerted to the contents of a letter sent by the firm to the then trade minister, Ian Lang.
A letter sent to CAAT in October 1996 by Jeremy Hanley, the Foreign Office minister, discussing British policy on the sale of arms to Indonesia, also found its way to BAe.
BAe's security department filtered the information and passed it on to their in-house government relations teams so that they could be one step ahead of the campaigners when lobbying in parliament.
Often the reports detail forthcoming plans for demonstrations by activists outside BAe's sites. But also the files contain exact information on how one small group is planning a so called 'incursion', a walk around a BAe plant, often to leave behind some signs, varying from symbols of protest to the destruction of a Hawk. In one case, we learn were the group will enter the terrain, the route of their walk, who will join, and what they will bring.
HULL. The HAH Group has organised an action for Brough after their meeting on Friday 13th. It is likely to be about five or six strong. It will be non-violent and there will be a banner and some leaflets, all relating to items in the recent TV programmes World In Action. The timing is likely to be 23.00 hrs. Entry into the premises will be via the footpath that cuts across the runway. They do not intend any criminal damage nor to remain there. Comment: Please discuss. [11 June 1997]
A map with the intended route to take was added to this report. However, further reports noted that the action was cancelled at the last moment, due to lack of people attending and that it would be better to do a daylight vigil from a public place. To continue with details about that event, and how disappointed some of the group's members were about the cancellation.
In other cases Evelyn le Chêne provides BAe with elaborate advise on how to deal with certain situations.
March 1996 CAAT set up a Rapid Response Network to organise a 'die-inn' in front of the Parliament, the first Thursday after BAe had announced the delivery of Hawk-fighters to Indonesia. Le Chêne's advice is not to wait too long with the announcement. The longer you wait, she claims, the more effective the protest will be. Even the weather -better when spring enrols- is a factor to take into account for the expected amount of activists. She comes up with the best date for the BAE announcement, chosen to make sure that the following Thursday coincides with the first day of the Parliamentary recess. The effect of the 'die-inn', lying dead in front of the Parliament, would be reduced to zero.
The Rapid Response Network (RRN) is to be activated after it is "publicly announced that the first Hawks warplanes [sic] have left for Indonesia" and will take place on the "following Thursday". They have qualified the timing and said that, for instance, if the announcement is made on a Wednesday, then the action will be on Thursday of the following week, i.e. eight days later. The protest will be a die-inn outside Parliament.
The RNN has specified that the supporters will be divided into two categories, those prepared to be arrested and those not. They intend meeting outside Westminster Central Hall between 13.45 hrs and 14.00 hrs. where they will have a briefing and be divided into the two categories.
There will be legal representatives with the RRN activists and legal support available "at the end of a telephone". Everyone arrested "will be monitored and met when released from police custody." There will be follow-up meetings to plan courtroom actions.
Strategies for preventing the above problem. Simply by not announcing that the delivery has taken place will have the effect of (a) forcing them to change their criteria and, (b) possibly result in a protest directed at British Aerospace itself. Whether or not there are arrests, the protest will be used by CAAT as a means to draw in new activists and encourage them to participate in direct action against the company. BAe is therefore in a position to dictate when this protest takes place by releasing a press release one week before. There are four factors we believe the company should take into account:
1. Ignoring the protest by not making an announcement will not work; in any case, British Aerospace cannot pretend forever that the deliveries have not started.
2. The longer one waits the more effective the protest will become
3. The longer one waits the better the weather will become and more activists will be present.
4. If the announcement is made just before the Week of Action (25-31 March) it will make it more effective; if it is made some time afterwards, it will continue the Action's effectiveness.
The most logical date for announcement would therefore be during the "week of action" itself. Of course this runs the risk of making the protesters more determined to cause the company damage, but it also means that their response will come when site security is at maximum. There is another vital factor: the whole purpose of the Rapid Response Network is to direct attention towards politicians. At the moment those who have joined the Network are being sent maps and instructions and it would be very difficult for CAAT to shift the focus of the protest at the last moment. Parliament rises for its brief Easter recess on Wednesday 3 April. This means that if the RRN protest takes place on Thursday 4 April it will be a largely pointless exercise. It is equally important to give the protesters a minimum warning although leaving it too short would make them delay the date of protest. The ideal date would therefore be on 31 March or 2 April - 1 April runs the risk of CAAT believing it to be an April Fool's joke. [8 March 1996]
Every occasion requires a different tactic.
Where it is an activist' strategy to have themselves arrested in order use the upcoming court case to get more attention for their case, Le Chêne suggests to pressure the police to make as little arrests as possible.
It is also worth noting that the protest with RRN is intended to generate arrests and that the resulting court cases will be used by activists to argue (again) that they were trying to prevent a greater crime. It would therefore make sense to request that the police avoid arresting protesters, or at least not charging them. Unless the protest is very photogenic and\or results in arrests, it seems unlikely that it will generate much publicity. By the same token, if any activist are arrested for assaulting a police officer, it souls significantly discredit their cause. [8 March 1996]
The same dilemma comes up when dealing with the "Snowball"ing and the Rationale behind 'Hawks into Doves'. According to its leaflet, Hawks into Doves wants "to continue direct action against BAe" in the wake of the Seeds of Hope action on 29 January 1996, when a Hawk fighter was 'disarmed' by four women with hammers. The idea is that each action that results in arrests will lead to further and larger actions - like a snowball, getting larger as it rolls down a snow-covered hill. Another reason why activist wanted to be arrested was so that they could use the resulting court cases to argue that they were committing a crime (criminal damage) in order to prevent a greater crime (genocide) and that they were therefore not guilty. This defence was successful for Cris Cole in 1993, and Evelyn le Chêne is afraid that it would work for the four Seeds of Hope activists that had yet to be tried for their action on 29 January 1996.
The danger for British Aerospace from the Seeds of Hope\Hawks into Doves,
· It could result in more physical damage being caused to the Indonesian Hawks if they ever gain access to the sites
· It could undermine further Indonesian contracts
· As the campaign escalates it will create new and more potent threats to BAe and make other existing protests grow
We believe that the aim of any response to these actions should be to consider
its effects on the longer-term protest. The five activists at BAe Brough went
there to be arrested and were satisfied with the outcome; on 7 February however,
when [two names] went to BAe Warton with the same intention, the police merely
took their wire cutters away from them and they were consequently annoyed, not
the least because it generated no publicity. It is therefore difficult not to
conclude that arresting activists does play into their hands and leads ultimately
to larger protests in the future. On the other hand one does accept that to
offer no counter would be unsustainable from a company point of view. Alternatives
need to be discussed. [8 March 1996]
(N.B. A few months later, the worst scenario possible for BAe unfolded. The Seeds of Hope Ploughshares activists were acquitted in July 1996, on the moral grounds mentioned above. To keep the momentum going, the Liverpool Catholic working came into being, activists founded a live-in community with East Timorese exiles and an extended live out community with local scousers. When this initiative was at its height, 'Fossey' from Hull was brought in, to infiltrate and ultimately sabotage the project. Apparently these were the 'alternatives' that Evelyn le Chêne came up with.
We'll come back to that later. See the account of Ciaron O'Reilly.
Larger protests ask for separate considerations. The insider knowledge she had about demonstrations outside more than 60 UK BAe sites was used to ambush trespassers and then serve injunctions preventing them from returning.
On various other levels CAAT's work is met with counterwork as well. When Evelyn le Chêne hears how CAAT always gets BA.e's press releases immediately after they have been sent out through the BBC, her advice is to stop that procedure right away:
Confirm that British Aerospace Press Releases are being sent to the CAAT office by fax by someone in the BBC's Foreign Affairs Unit the instant they are received by the BBC.
Comment: Don't send them or leave them to the last when it no longer matters. [11 June 1997]
When CAAT campaigners request a copy of the Defence Manufacturers Association members list a handbook, and Evelyn Le Chêne in consulted about this by the Director General of DMA, she advised him not to send it. In her report to BAe she comments: "I recommended strongly that he not comply. He felt that if he didn't sell a copy she'd get hold of one anyway and did not understand why she would require it. My reply was that having such a comprehensive and up-to-date listing of all the defence support industries would cut down their own research time by 100% and likewise their expenditure for it by 200%. We are of the e opinion that the recommendation was not heeded." [14 May 1997]
Names and addresses of activists were routinely run through the BAE computers to check if any were shareholders. The BAe switchboard was configured to flag up any calls from telephone numbers associated with the activists, so the Sunday Times heard.
On the other hand, Le Chêne does not react upon the knowledge she got about the plans to paintball a water canon ready to be exported to Indonesia. The plan can go ahead, because the manufacturer of the water canon is not a client of hers.
On several occasions Evelyn le Chêne proposes to put CAAT in a bad light, by feeding them disinformation. In February 1996 she refers to the climb-down Greenpeace had with the Brent Spar (exaggerate the damage to the environment of dumping the oil platform into the ocean):
On the question of sighting Hawks in the sky above Indonesia, we discussed
an idea or two I had some weeks ago. You will recall that Greenpeace had an
embarrassing climb-down recently because they cried wolf too often. It might
be time now to have another think on the idea I had about discounting the Hawks
in Indonesia story. [20 February 1996]
By the end of January 1997, CAAT joined the Clean Investment Campaign, a campaign identifying companies in public who own shares in military hardware production companies. CAAT prepared a public document with the help of - amongst others- CorporateWatch. Evelyn le Chêne comments: "Interestingly, they still appear not to have all their facts correct which could be a point worth encouraging." She claims that there is enough time before the Info Pack and press conference take place. She clearly suggests to feed false information back into CAAT, the issue is important enough.
"What lies behind the issue is a very serious one indeed where the company's financial and image viability is concerned and, in an election year, should not be taken lightly (as I am sure it isn't). We do need to make a special note to work on this for our Agenda on Thursday." [27 January 1997]
After predicting a total resurgence of the seventies and eighties peace campaigns, but "with teeth now" (which in hindsight seems to be a bit overdone), Le Chêne suggests the founding of a front organisation that should counter these campaigns. "I think that I mentioned to you WEDA, the West European Defence Association which I led and the organisation throughout NATO nations that it involved. It worked very well then. I think it might be a good idea to consider revitalising it in another form? Can we discuss that?" [November 1995]
It would be interesting to know what became of these suggestions, and what other disinformation operations have been taken into effect.
In the light of 1998-Adrian research into Adrian Franks, it is fascinating to encounter his whereabouts in these files from the other side.
To read how he is being introduced at introduced to the European Network Against Trade (ENAAT), and how he plans to contact the Anti Militarist Research Collective (AMOK) in the Netherlands.
To see how he uses the same kind of vague stories to explain his de facto non-existent group everywhere. When Adrian receives a letter from the French Assembly of Quakers, to welcome his involvement in organising the protests against the Paris' Eurosatury defence fair, the letter ended with a question: "By the way, I was surprised at not having heard of Eco-Action before as I have all the same well followed these things during the course of these last years. Please send me some documentation." Adrian, who translated this letter for Threat Response, added a remark to explain: "It is not surprising that George Elias has not heard of Eco-Action, because Eco-Action was not originally anti-defence but, as its name implies, an environmental group dedicated to halting road works across the Pyrenees." To us this is a variation on a theme, (see the 1998-Adrian research for more).
In our 1998-Adrian research we concluded that Adrian changed his cover when suited. In France he would claim to be very active in England, to be a member of Earth First! or to cooperate with CorporateWatch for instance. When in Britain, he would present himself as a representative of French groups.
From the Threat Response Files we learn that in fact the French U-turn is being used to arrange new 'entrees' in the UK working field as well. When Adrian receives a letter from yet another Quaker in Britain ("Our Church Council has already prevented an armaments exhibition in Birmingham".), Evelyn le Chêne, after carefully analysing the letter, comments: "This is the first time, however, that there has been a window of opportunity at that level with the Quakers. We need to speak about this on Thursday." [27 January 1997]
Gripping it is for us, to read the account of those occasions where Adrian irritated other activists with his proposals of a more radical approach of the demonstrations against the Eurosatury defence fair, here referred to as the Paris Air Show. He knew he risked his cover by pushing the issue, but he kept trying. All this was part of a larger plan, according to the Threat Response Files.
Addressee - eyes only
PARIS AIR SHOW - An assessment. During the German reunion of anti-defence groups from 14 to 18 May inclusive, this theme was brought up three times. On each occasion, and while the attendees listened attentively, there was no sign of any interest. The preoccupations for all national delegations were elsewhere (see Europe report and extracts in this report). The ENAAT meeting is due to commence this Friday, 23 May until Sunday 25th. The subject of the Paris Air Show might be brought up again but until the venue has taken place no assessment can be made on that.
Comment: As at time of writing this report there would appear to be NO sign of any action taking place at the Paris Air show against any company including your own. ( ) The issue of doing something was raised three times. To have pressed harder would have been impolitic from a security point of few. Much will depend on the outcome of the ENAAT's conference but it is not considered that the chances are much increased of any action. [19 May 1997]
Adrian Franks/le Chêne made a habit of proposing more radical actions, he tried to incite people to more violence than they intended to use (which was mostly none at all). This could have been a tactic to provoke police action at a picket line and thus disturb the peaceful character of the protest. However, Adrian's proposals had a disturbing influence on the spadework: people got irritated and vital coalitions to be, for instance with Amnesty International, went wrong on the alleged lack of agreement on basic issues. In that sense, Adrian was more than an infiltrator; we could call this the work of an agent provocateur.
As we have seen Evelyn le Chêne tried to discredit people or groups more than once. Of some people it is known that they were sent into the group and paid for their activities, as an infiltrator. Others may have been genuine activists at first, seduced into passing information for one reason or another (money, excitement, ego to name a few), which would be classified as an 'informer' in the officialese jargon. However, in this dossier, we use informer, infiltrator occasionally alternated with spy, because the difference is hard to make based on the information we have now.
How to judge these files?
It is difficult to evaluate the material without having all the details. We don't know the people reported on, and we don't know who the informants are. To protect her sources, Evelyn le Chêne describes everybody as a genuine activist. Fossey in Hull for instance gets full reports on his whereabouts just as anybody else - although he was running the local chapter paid by BAe. Complicating factor is, we don't know what we've seen: all files on a certain period? And if not: what is missing? The Sunday Times screened the papers and kept some in the safe, but was he the only one?
However, from what we have seen, it is quite shocking to realise how much time and effort (and resources) British Aerospace invests in the respectable and honest group that CAAT tends to be. And to have so many people infiltrated in a relatively small network.
For the company CAAT's campaigning work signifies a great danger, not only for their reputation. A successful campaign could mean the loss of large orders. Apart from that, CAAT - and especially Martin Hogbin the main BAE campaigner who now is under investigation - was good at networking. Placing a spider in the web was a relatively easy way to access lots of information. And -seen in the context of the recent bribe stories that exposed how Saudian princes were fêted with millions of BAe's pounds in that same period - Evelyn le Chêne's bills were peanuts, negligible in the company's cashbook.
We may as well assume a strong connection with intelligence services. Seeing her history within the SOE and for the Ministry of Defence, she may have left the Service (together with her fellow directors in Threat Response - see below) to continue the work she did for the State on a privatised base. Her intelligence work for BAe could also be a spin off, related to work for state services - providing her with some extra income. The stakes that information is being shared with (former) colleagues are rather high.
Without the help of the people involved and the people working at CAAT, this research cannot be brought to a close. However, until further notice CAAT has chosen to avoid publicity on this matter.
In general, this reaction is typical for most of the groups that have been confronted with infiltration and spying. For most people it's very hard to believe that someone they have been working with for such a long time, on such a personal base, can be so utterly and completely on the wrong side, collaborating with the adversary. Those who refuse to believe this, often chose to blame the messenger instead - which obviously doesn't make an internal investigation any easier.
First CAAT put up a short statement regarding the 'spying' report in The Sunday Times. In February 2004 the internal investigation was finished, and in May the Steering Committee decided to make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner. We've copied both statements from the CAAT website to explain the steps they took.
Statement on the 'spying' report in The Sunday Times
CAAT is angry to learn that BAe has engaged a company to spy on its activities. CAAT will be demanding from BAe Systems that such activities are immediately stopped. It will also be demanding responses to many unanswered questions including 'who authorised the spying and the payment for it?', a question that will presumably also be of interest to BAe Systems shareholders.
In contrast to the clandestine world of BAe Systems and the allegations of corruption that regularly face the company, CAAT is an open organisation. Its broad campaigns are developed in the public domain and then publicised widely. Meetings to plan activities are normally advertised, as are demonstrations and protests which are always peaceful. Additional information about CAAT, including its accounts, is available to anyone on request.
It is distressing to think that information, both organisational and personal, was being systematically passed to BAe by people who CAAT staff, volunteers and activists trusted. CAAT will be following this up.
The alleged theft of the supporter database, by copying it, is illegal and entirely unacceptable. CAAT is considering how to pursue the allegation.
[CAAT 28 September 2003]
CAAT Steering Committee Statement regarding Martin Hogbin
CAAT Steering Committee has decided to make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner that Martin Hogbin during his employment at CAAT passed sensitive confidential information outside the organisation, which may have been a breach of the Data Protection Act. The complaint will commence a criminal investigation, and, possibly, the prosecution of Martin.
This has been a very difficult decision for CAAT Steering Committee to take, and has only been done so after careful deliberation.
On 28th September 2003 the Sunday Times published an article alleging that between 1995 and (at least) 1997 British Aerospace had paid a firm directed by Evelyn Le Chêne to infiltrate CAAT and collect information about its workings and activities. In an attempt to discover who provided Le Chêne with this information, CAAT staff carried out checks and items were discovered which gave rise to a suspicion that Martin Hogbin had been passing sensitive confidential information outside the organisation.
On legal advice, Martin was suspended on full pay on 3rd October 2003 pending an investigation. However, he resigned on 5th October before the investigation could begin. A meeting of CAAT Steering Committee on 11th October wished nonetheless to investigate and charged a team of four to carry this out. The investigation has now assessed all the available evidence and has been unable to clear Martin from suspicion.
During the course of the investigation CAAT Steering Committee saw evidence from some of the Sunday Times allegations, and concluded there may be a link between these and the activities of Martin at CAAT.
CAAT Steering Committee believes it is of the utmost importance to establish the truth both behind the Sunday Times allegations and the actions of Martin Hogbin that led to his suspension. Martin was twice asked to give his side of the story - once by the investigating group on Steering Committee, and again by the independent person appointed to review the suspension process. He declined to do so.
The Steering Committee has a legal and moral duty to CAAT's supporters to take the greatest possible care to protect sensitive personal data. Many of CAAT's staff, ex-staff, volunteers and supporters are extremely concerned that their personal security has been breached, and it is right that this is investigated by the proper authorities. CAAT Steering Committee has a wider duty to other groups to challenge such an abuse of power as that alleged by the Sunday Times, which has grave implications for such groups.
Having considered carefully all the evidence and options available to us, CAAT Steering Committee believes this course of action is CAAT's best chance of holding BAe Systems and Evelyn Le Chêne accountable for their actions, which is our ultimate goal.
[CAAT 26 May 2004]
Martin Hogbin, who is in his fifties, started working in CAAT's London headquarters
as a volunteer in 1998, and became a paid organiser in 2000. When he was appointed
to be the national campaigns and events coordinator he wrote that he had a background
in electronics, "including early work experience in the defence industry",
the Guardian observes.
The basis of CAAT's complaint is a series of emails containing information about its activities and activists, which Mr Hogbin sent to an individual outside the organisation. (the Guardian, May 29, 2004)
What needs to be investigated is how this individual who received the emails was related to either BAe or the security firm.
The investigation is carried out by the Office of the
Information Commissioner, who enforces the Data Protection Act well as the
Freedom of Information Act, and reports directly to Parliament. The Information
Commissioner is entitled to ask the help of the authorities to verify the claims
made in the complaint. He can ask telephone companies for their data, intelligence
agency for their information and Internet providers for identities behind email
At the moment of writing, November 2004, CAAT is still waiting for the Information Commissioner's decision whether or not their complaint will result in a criminal prosecution. CAAT does not want anything put in print that could prejudice the investigation, as this might jeopardise what they feel this is the only way to hold BAe and Threat Response accountable for their actions.
Understanding the choices the CAAT steering committee made, we certainly hope there will be a time for further research. It is not very often that you have the opportunity to investigate a case from both sides, so to say - there is a lot to be learned.
Now there are so many questions that remain unanswered.
CAAT has started procedures against one of the spies, but what happened to the five or even seven others? 'Fossey from Hull' disappeared from the face of the earth the day before the Sunday Times story broke; apparently he was tipped off. Who else was identified? Did they play a minor role within the organisation, or have they left CAAT since? Does that make it less important to find out where they have gone? Or is it too difficult to trace them after all these years?
It would be worth considering making a damage assessment, to draw up a report
that other groups could benefit from. How did CAAT deal with the internal frictions
the exposure caused? How much damage was done, or rather: where did they find
the resilience to continue their work?
These questions relate to security issues that many activist groups need to deal with. How to balance openness with paranoia? Do we need to screen every newcomer, and if yes how? How to live with the fact that you may be under surveillance, and refrain from getting totally numb?
And what happened to the other organisations mentioned in the files? Take the Newbury Road protesters. Looking at the close ties of one of the Threat Response board members with Group 4, we presume Evelyn le Chêne had more agents there, than just her son Adrian (see below).
Le Chêne claimed to target more hard line groups such as Earth First! (EF!), and Reclaim the Streets is mentioned as well. The close connections and mixed membership of such groups meant she acquired information on Friends of the Earth, the Greens, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and animal right charities.
The Sunday Times claims to have seen documents indicating that she ran an agent in the World Development Movement, an anti-poverty charity which campaigns against the arms trade to third world countries.
The very first anonymous letter we received in our 1998-investigation, exposing Adrian Frank's spying operations, mentioned other corporations he claimed to work for: a multinational oil company, Rio Tinto and a French defence manufacturer. It might be worth to revisit the list of meetings that we know he went to - to see if that sheds a new light on what he was after. More work to be done.
Threat Response International
Threat Response is based in Gillingham, only a few miles away from Rochester, where our 1998-Adrian research ended. According to the Chamber of Commerce the company was founded in August that year, the month after Adrian's connection with Risk Crisis Analyses was exposed.
Evelyn le Chêne and intelligence services go a long way back. She moved in government circles ever since as a young woman she married Pierre le Chêne. He was former British agent in Nazi-occupied France who survived the Mauthausen concentration camp and was awarded the Legion d'Honneur and MBE. She wrote books about his life. In 1987, eight years after her husband's death, she attracted news headlines by confronting his former torturer, Klaus Barbie, the 'Butcher of Lyon, who was on trial.
Le Chêne's membership of the Special Forces Club is telling, as membership is limited to current and former members of the military and intelligence elite from Britain, the United States, and selected allies.
She's also known as a dedicated anti-communist campaigner, she presided the West European Defence Association, which warned of Soviet infiltration (everywhere!) during the cold war.
Investigative journalist Kevin Dowling told us she used to work for the Ministry of Defence as a consultant on chemical and biological warfare, and in particular advised the Ministry on African affairs. She was very friendly with Jonas Savimbi of Unita. She was a member of the so-called 'Project Lock' team of the late Sir David Stirling's mercenary company KAS Enterprises, in 1986. Project Lock started out as a World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) project against poachers in Southern Africa, but with the cooperation of South African secret services soon evaluated into an operation against anti apartheid activists who used the same secret paths for bringing weaponry over the border.
Le Chêne was chosen by BAe because she specialised in 'human' intelligence. The Sunday Times quoted one source close to BAe saying: 'She wasn't very good at tapping phones or doing dustbins, but she was very good at running agents.'
Evelyn le Chêne is not the only owner of Threat Response International. With her on the board are Barrie Gane and Robert Hodges. Just like le Chêne, both Gane and Hodge have a history working for the Ministry of Defence as well as intelligence services.
Bob Hodges is a former major-general in the British Army and is the only one publicly quoted in the (in 2003 in the Financial Times) as "a director of Threat Response International, a company that advises businesses on the way they should prepare for emergencies". He commented the lack of effectiviness of emergency procedures in response to a biological or chemical attack - in the light of the attack on New York's twin towers. Hodges spoke at an event of the Institute for Business Ethics on Business & the Terrorist Threat.
Barrie Gane is a former deputy head of MI6, tipped to succeed Sir Collin McColl. However he decided to leave the Service on early retirement after a rationalisation in 1991, and open up his knowledge and network for privatised intelligence companies. CorporateWatch called Barrie Gane one of the most important former intelligence men now working for the private branch of the business. In 1993 he was hired by Group 4, Britain's largest security firm whose clients range from the prison service to the royal family and the government, and boasts of its ability to guard its customers against espionage, sabotage and subversion. A spokesperson for Group 4 confirmed, "his knowledge of international affairs is particularly useful in the development of our strategy and international growth".
Gane has been on the board of Threat Response from the very beginning, in 1998.
Group 4 and the Newbury Road Protest
In the light of these connections it is not a surpise that Group 4, the security firm hired by the government to protect its controversial road-building projects, admitted paying Treath Response to spy on protest groups like Reclaim the Streets and the Newbury Road Protesters. This revelation implies that government money paid to Group 4 was being used to finance Le Chêne's covertly obtained information.
The relationship between Group 4 and Le Chêne appears to have been most active in the late 1990s when the Newbury bypass became the focus of anti-roads groups when thousands occupied woodland earmarked for destruction.
The 8½-mile bypass finally opened in 1998 after years of protests delayed completion. The total cost of the project was £74m, of which nearly a third, £24m, was spent on security.
Tape-recorded conversations involving Le Chêne reveal that she regularly passed information from her network of agents to Group 4. She said she had agents posted permanently at Newbury and passed on highly confidential personal information about protesters to the company.
These included accommodation addresses, vehicle registration details, National Insurance numbers, unemployment benefit details and income support information.
Group 4, which carried out work on behalf of the Highways Agency as well as construction companies such as Costain and Tarmac, helped police many of Britain's most controversial road-building projects.
Last week a Group 4 spokesman admitted buying information on protesters: "We've certainly been obtaining information about protests at our customers' sites. It is the sort of information that would be obtained in the pub about activities that may affect our customers; people or property", he said. "We were getting information about where protesters would be and what times in advance. We would have paid for that information."
The Threat Response Files reflect the work for Group 4. When anti-defence groups are increasingly involved in the anti-road protest movement, Evelyn le Chene proudly promotes herself and her knowledge of both movements. She also tends to overstress the importance and the danger of the influence of the more radical road protesters for BAe.
Exactly who can be anyone's guess who had a good knowledge of the background to both BAe's problems and the anti-road protest movement. One thing is certain. No networking is conducted without quid pro quo. [19 February 1996]
After the so called "Third Battle of Newbury" that ended in a clash
with the police, who tried to make up for the lack of numbers by use of horses,
Evelyn le Chêne analyses how the anti-defence groups featured in this.
CAAT and STH were the first to register interest in having a stall at the occasion. It was again CAAT who suggested the linked-hands 'a la Greenham Common' to the Third Battle of Newbury. We can trace in involvement of the anti-defence groups with the environmental movement back to June of 1996 at the EF! Conference. ( ) However it could possibly be that K, whose first activist love is environmental, has seen the fading away of EF! and environmental-type demonstrations in the UK as the boredom factor sinks in and she is trying to cull the most militant of them to link hands with the anti-defence-groups. [13 January 1997]
Fossey and the Liverpool Catholic Worker
One of the few people to come out with their own experiences after the Sunday Times exposure, was Ciaron O'Reilly, active in the Liverpool Catholic Worker. He posted his experience with Allen Fossey, the full time infiltrator on BAe's payroll who started his paid-for activist career in Hull (as mentioned above), at Indymedia Brisbane.
First some background on the activist situation in Liverpool. Ciaron O'Reilly is an Australian activist who went to England in 1996 to organise around the "Seeds of Hope Ploughshares Trial" in Liverpool. At that time four women were in prison on remand after disarming a British Aerospace Hawk fighter (worth £2.5 million) to be exported to Indonesia to be used against the then occupied East Timorese. After the hammering work, the women danced in front of the surveillance cameras and used the plant's telephones to inform the press, before they called security to be arrested.
The Liverpool jury accepted their defence, that they had committed a crime to prevent a larger one -genocide. Following the acquittal of the women, Ciaron co-founded the Liverpool Catholic Worker where he lived and resisted with a group of East Timorese exiles form Los Palos. He returned to Australia in 1998 to carry out the Jabiluka Ploughshares disabling of uranium mining equipment.
(He went to Australia again in 2000 to complete his prison sentence there and participate in the S11blockade of the WEF in Melbourne. At the time of writing, October 2003, Ciaron was awaiting trial in Ireland charged with 2.5 million criminal damage to a US war plane at Shannon airport en route to the war against Iraq.)
This posting to Indymedia was his initial, immediate reflection on the Sunday Times revelations a week earlier and how they applied to the closing down of the Liverpool Catholic Worker.
[Ciaron O'Reilly, Oct 8 2003]
This story of infiltration is still breaking in England. The full extent of it has yet to be revealed. The significance of it to the Catholic Worker and Ploughshares movement is that the agent "Alan Fossey" was deployed to Liverpool to infiltrate the Liverpool Catholic Worker (1996-99).
The Liverpool Catholic Worker came into being on the momentum of the local organising around the trial of the "Seeds of Hope Ploughshares" trial and acquittal in July 1996. We decided to keep the momentum going by founding a live-in community with East Timorese exiles and an extended live out community with local scousers. We organised non-violent resistance at BAe Warton on a 3 monthly basis from September 1996.
Fossey moved his operations from Hull to Liverpool - as by the end of 1996 the Liverpool Catholic Worker became the most significant base during this period for non-violent direct action against BAe.
On my return to Australia in 1998 to participate in the Jabiluka Ploughshares, Fossey dovetailed into the agenda of a couple of resentful parishioners and some recently arrived opportunists to wipe out what had become a significant organising base against BAe and a rare experiment in radical Christian resistance praxis in England. Much of the destabilisation had to do with discrediting my character in my absence and marginalizing the working class scousers who had been the source of much of the hospitality and resistance organising.
At the start of 1999, a few weeks before the final eviction of the Liverpool Catholic Worker, Fossey met me at Heathrow Airport (on my return from Australia) delivering a banning order form the priest/landlord. I refused to open in it and he drove me to Liverpool. In the Catholic Worker house at the time were the recently bailed Bread Not Bombs Ploughshares, a new crew of East Timorese exiles and a very different vibe to when I had departed. Non-violent resistance had pretty much dried up and the lines were clearly drawn between the working class scousers who had been effectively marginalized, and the opportunists who had hoped to stage a coup and set up a comfort zone. The priest, the parishioner and Fossey's agenda was to close the place down.
They made their move a couple of weeks later as we accompanied the Swedish "Bread Not Bombs" Ploughshares to Preston for a day of reflection before their bail breaking at Barrow shipyards and return to jail awaiting trial. Fossey drove some of us to Preston and then returned to Liverpool to hook up with the crew facilitation the eviction of the Catholic Workers and East Timorese. On the Sunday, Fossey returned to Preston and on to Barrow with the Bread Not Bombs breaking their bail conditions and returning to jail. He maintained mobile phone contact with those back in Liverpool facilitating the eviction.
When we returned to Liverpool that afternoon, the locks were changed, the Catholic Worker and East Timorese evicted, the bank account ransacked and the rest is (albeit an unwritten) history.
That Fossey could over the course of two years infiltrate, operate betray, and profit from an environment that contained East Timore (who on many occasions fed, watered him) who had been tortured, witnessed massacres and lost many family shows the depth of evil we are encountering in this work. [Read the full article at Brisbane Indymedia or here on Spinwatch.]
It is not hard to see that the destruction of a Hawk plane with hammers, without anyone interfering, was a major security flaw for BAe. We've seen that the protection of the sites, and the question of how to deal with non violent activism and the so called 'incursions' on BAe site are returning issues in the Treat Response files. Whether or not to arrest the intruders is only part of the problem, at several occasions Evelyn le Chêne suggested that she had other ideas she would like to discuss with Security at BAe.
The Threat Respons Files indicate that the admosphere within the group is carefully assessed, and references to future steps are being made. (Unfortunally we don't have the Special Note and additional comments that are mentioned here).
Addressee - eyes only.
Post court appearance, Friday last. Ciaron O'Reilly is to return to Australia. There was no mention at the time whether this was because of being fed up with the UK of that he was about to take charge of Australia activity.
H.L. appeared listless and has aged. He genuinely does not appear to have any fence climbing ideas in his head at the moment.
Our comment. A Special Note is attached (not as Appendix) on "H.L.'s future plans" which is also an assessment of future activity on the rebound of last week's court case. Additional comment on O'Reilly is made. [27 January 1997]
In the same period, both Fossey "higher profile in order to centralise?" and "Proaction" are on the agenda for a brainstorm session between Threat Response and BAe security on 30 Janaury 1997. Proaction might refer to pro active strategies to be undertaken before any further damage has been done.
Moving in Fossey only had advantages for BAe. He could not only report on the situation there, but also ruin the project from within. He awaited his chance and, according to Ciaron, with him away to Australia, Fossey seized the opportunity to slowly destroy the carefully built up and very successful solidarity network. Mission accomplished.
Again, it would be interesting to investigate this case in greater detail, and compare the available documents against the actual experiences.
If you want to know more or have any information to share, don't hesitate to contact:
buro Jansen & Janssen or SpinWatch
Response Spy Files