‘Spycop’ scandal Hits new low with Claim that Officer exploited Elderly Activist as part of Cover

An undercover police officer allegedly befriended an elderly activist as cover for intelligence-gathering. She was partially blind and deaf. The ‘spycop’ went on to head Special Branch.

Exploitation

During 1980 and 1981, police officer Roger Pearce used the cover name Roger Thorley to spy on members of the anarchist Freedom Press in London’s Whitechapel. As ‘Thorley’, he wrote several articles [pdf] for the newspaper Freedom, attacking the police.

As part of his cover, he is alleged to have been a ‘chauffeur’ for veteran anarchist Leah Feldman. At the time, Feldman was in her 80s, was partially deaf and blind, and often needed help moving around.

The spycop

Roger Pearce went on to head the Special Demonstration Squad and oversaw the creation of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. He was later appointed Director of Intelligence; and Commander, Special Branch. On leaving the police service, he was appointed Counter-Terrorism Adviser to the Foreign Office.

Pearce was first identified as an undercover police officer in June 2014. In March 2017, Lord Pitchford (then head of the Undercover Policing Inquiryrefused [pdf] anonymity status for Pearce. The inquiry subsequently revealed that Pearce had infiltrated anarchist groups from 1979 to 1984.

In July 2013, when Pearce was asked about the practice of undercover police officers forming sexual relationships so as to gain intelligence, he said:

the [Special] Branch was inviting individual officers to live a false life for four or five or more years, the false friendship can develop and escalate into a sexual relationship. So it’s almost inevitable that these took place and I am making no moral judgement about them at all. Continue reading “‘Spycop’ scandal Hits new low with Claim that Officer exploited Elderly Activist as part of Cover”

Remembering our comrade Leah Feldman

 by kate Sharpley Library        Leah Feldman was one of the ordinary men and women who rarely get into history books but have been the backbone of the anarchist movement.

Born in Warsaw in 1899, as a schoolgirl she became interested in anarchism. She said that her mother used to hide her shoes so that she could not attend meetings, which were then illegal in Poland. Finally she ran away to her sister in London where she earned her living at the sewing machine.

Leah’s photo album

Working in the sweatshops of the East End she became active in the Yiddish-speaking anarchist movement that flourished at that time. When the Russian revolution broke out in 1917 the overwhelming majority of Russian male Jewish anarchists returned home. Many of those women whose husbands and lovers died at the hands of the Tsarists or the Bolsheviks, remained in England.

Leah, however, had made her own way to Russia. Upon arrival she saw the reality of Bolshevik rule and was not impressed. As a working woman she could see the effects of their dictatorship in a way that visiting intellectuals could not. Continue reading “Remembering our comrade Leah Feldman”