Over at the Observer there is a slightly perplexing story of how the British police infiltrated an anti-racist group:
“His decision to tell his story to the Observer provides the most detailed account of the shadowy and controversial police unit that has provided intelligence from within political and protest movements for more than four decades. He believes the public should be able to make an informed decision about whether such covert activities are necessary, given their potential to curtail legitimate protest movements.
Officer A – with a long ponytail, angry persona and willingness to be educated in the finer points of Trotskyist ideology – was never suspected by those he befriended of being a member of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a secret unit within Special Branch, whose job is to prevent violent public disorder on the streets of the capital. Known as the “hairies” due to the fact that its members do not have to abide by usual police regulations about their appearance, the unit consists of 10 full-time undercover operatives who are given new identities, and provided with flats, vehicles and “cover” jobs while working in the field for up to five years at a time.”
Update 1: There is a reply by a leading YRE member, Police or provocateurs. It makes a very good point:
“Hackney activists from the time remember Officer A of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), or “Peter Daley” as we knew him, as hardworking. When he disappeared in mid-1997, saying he was moving to Greece, he suggested we sell the contents of his flat to raise funds for the cause.
More seriously, they also recall that Peter did not fully agree with our position on how to defeat the BNP. We explained that defeating racist and fascist groups is a political task which required patient campaigning in working-class communities, rather than street fighting. Peter wasn’t as convinced of our position as he could have been and tended to argue for brawling with the BNP. Was he sent in partly as provocateur?”