‘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”