Plods' 'extremist' sheet included BAE mole
Grauniad protester-outing campaign takes new twist
The increasingly grumpy argument regarding who is allowed to photograph and keep files on whom in this sceptred isle - and who is then allowed to see such files - took a new twist today. It emerged that a person featured on a police headshot gallery of "extremist" arms protesters is actually believed by many activists to have been a spy for the weapons industry.
On Monday the Guardian published a copy of a police "spotter card", said to have been dropped by a copper at an arms-fair protest in 2005, featuring headshots of people the fuzz like to keep tabs on. This was said to have angered many in the anti-armsbiz activist community, who might not care to have their day-job employers or other people made aware that the plods class them as possible "domestic extremists".
Now it has emerged, as one would really expect with any group of possible activists, that at least one of the individuals pictured may have been a spy for the weapons trade. The Grauniad - which now seems to have blanked out quite a lot of the faces on its rogues/heroes gallery, presumably at the request of those featured - says that Martin Hogbin was on the card.
Hogbin, at one time an official at Campaign Against Arms Trade, has been accused of supplying information to corporate security spooks in the pay of Britain's number one arms firm, BAE Systems plc. He has always denied this, but no longer works for CAAT.
An armsbiz spy, then, may quite possibly have featured on the spotter sheet. Your correspondent in former days was assured by persons familiar with the matter that the actual government spooks also run agents within the ranks of various protest groups; it would seem likely that some of them, too, might be among the Guardian's faces - though as yet nobody but MI5/CTC seems to know who they are.
Also pictured was Emily Apple of FITwatch. Apple and her group feel that they should be allowed to monitor and photograph police Forward Intelligence Teams (FITs, hence the name), but strongly disagree with the plods' habit of photographing and monitoring arms protesters. The cops, interestingly, feel that their own snapping and surveillance is fine - but tend to forcefully object to being photographed themselves.
Another person classed apparently by the cops as one to watch (at least, the cops of some years ago) is the sidesplittingly funny campaigner-comedian Mark Thomas, who said he had been best mates with the possibly traitorous Hogbin.
"We were friends, I knew his family," Thomas told the Graun. "He became an integral part of my life."
"I am not an extremist," Apple told the paper. "I care deeply about an illegal and immoral [arms] trade."
The Guardian also mentions police harassment of those pictured on the card, apparently including such brutal tactics as "sarky remarks" from officers. ®
The UK currently ranks about 7th in the world league of arms exporters by dollar value, well behind - for instance - Russia. Most British exports are high-value items such as combat jets, warships etc. The UK no longer has any small-arms industry to speak of. Russia, by contrast, exports vast amounts of infantry weapons, ammunition and land mines - the primary kinds of weapons (other than machetes and home-made explosives) used and causing deaths in modern conflicts, genocides, aftermaths etc.
As in Blighty, the Russian arms biz is closely connected with the government. However the government brutality and spying there is of quite a different order, perhaps giving a clue as to why even the most deeply caring anti-armsbiz protesters usually prefer to focus on the arms industry of the West.
Old Soviet saying: "When four men sit down to plot revolution, three are police spies and the fourth is a fool."
A good ending to that article
Drives home the point that protesting about the arms trade makes no difference whatsoever to the arming of conflicts abroad. These protestors conveniently forget that every single defence company in the EU is required to comply with the EU exports criteria plus whatever additional restrictions national govermments want to add. That is why you will find most conflict zones armed with Russian or Chinese weapons with a few Western weapons sneaked through by the really dubious arms dealers, probably based outside the EU.
Unfortunately, these protesters actually do harm to the whole regulation of defence exports because they are too incompetent (and unimaginative) to make the defence companies bankrupt which would meet their objectives. Instead they go after the government departments involved in regulating this industry thus giving the defence companies freedom to operate with less oversight. Not a clever tactic!
As for the police having their mugshots, it all comes down to what these people did. If all they did was turn up to protests and shout rather loudly then yes this is out of proportion and should be stopped. However, a few of these people like to do other things such as jump onto and block raillines, vandalise things and 'acquire' other things ("all in the name of redistributing wealth man!") and so the police should be keeping an eye out for them. I think their definition of 'domestic extremist' should be known and if necessary, challenged. Anyone on the mugshots not within that definition has a justified complaint...
RE: Perhaps you should remember...
"... that when Emily Apple and her friends in Fitwatch photograph police officers, they do not then go on to enter the officers details into a central database...." No, actually you have no idea where the info goes, or what is added to it, or even if it is shared with even less likeable groups like the animal liberation freakazoids. Of course, I'm not saying the lovely Ms Apple and co are anything other than noisy morons hyperventilating about rights when of course exercising the very rights they say they have been denied, and are not first-grade nutjobs like the ALF lot that think they have the right to petrolbomb scientists homes or dig up dead grannies just because ALF members chose to inflict the idiocy of vegetarianism on themselves. No, the fact that Ms Apple uses such phrases as "...."I am not an extremist.....I care deeply about an illegal and immoral [arms] trade....", which is excatly the quasi-religeous bleating we hear from the ALF nutters to justify their illegal actions.
Clue for Ms Apple and co - it's not an illegal arms trade, it is in fact strongly legislated and policed. And why is it immoral? Is it immoral to sell a weapon to someone to defend themselves, or do you simply advise the victims of the Third World to turn the other cheek whilst some machette-wielding thug is hacking their limbs off? And even if you want to debate either, how is your blatent attempt to intimidate and interfere with Police operations anything other than childish? Please just grow up and go do something useful.