An article from Do or Die Issue 5. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 84-86.
An account of recent Special Branch harassment of militant greens by Oxford Green Anarchists.
Since March 1995, Hampshire Special Branch have carried out at least 17 raids against green anarchist and animal liberation targets, a dozen of which found their targets and four of which led to arrests for conspiracy to produce materials inciting criminal damage by fire.
The raids seem to have the goal of further framing ALF press officer Robin Webb. Robin was remanded in HMP Winchester after being arrested by Hampshire Special Branch in late 1994. This for the ‘crime’ of passing a Poultry Liberation Organisation (PLO) press release on the contamination of eggs on to the media. As Robin is the ALF press officer, some might think he was just doing his job!
At the time the cops admitted they’d pressed the charge to shut him up. Last year the Metropolitan Police had tried to frame Robin by planting a sawn off shotgun in the boot of his car during a visit to Sussex. Unlike previous ALF press officers Robin has been careful not to break the law himself, leaving the cops to make desperate and then more desperate attempts to frame him. For the cops it is a priority to maintain the idea of the ‘terrorist threat’ in the face of widely popular anti-live export protests.
Inside HMP Winchester the cops are continuing their attempts to frame Robin; they’ve forced him into an ID parade as a supposed bomb planter. Meanwhile on the outside they use pliant journalists to plant stories in the media about the ALF turning to firearms.
First Green Anarchist and then independent anti-fascist researcher Larry O'Hara  convincingly argued that Robin had been framed for the shotgun cartridge in an attempt to silence him as a press officer. When the cops raided his house they found a large quantity of Green Anarchist, GA was at that time the only magazine to advertise, albeit under disclaimer, ‘Into The ‘90s With The ALF’. Hampshire Special Branch then assumed that he was part of a sinister sabotage manual distribution network. This conveniently justified a warrant to raid Green Anarchist. The cops’ goal was to present the diffuse informal networks which pass information from hand to hand as a hierarchical organisation with Robin at the top.
At the start of March 1995 Hampshire Special Branch raided GA’s ex-public address with a warrant justified by the offence of ‘conspiracy to produce materials inciting criminal damage by fire’. They used info from that raid to turn over two more Oxford addresses a fortnight later. At one of these, they arrested GA’s editor and seized his computer, discs and records, including copies of 2000AD comic, dangerous material indeed!
GA’s printers  turned informer with two other figures on the edge of GA leading the people behind GA mail order and people involved with Lancaster Bomber and Eco-Vegan, were also arrested for ‘conspiracy to produce materials inciting criminal damage by fire’, and had computers, typewriters and records seized. They took all sorts of stuff including Lancaster Bomber’s copy of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, taken as ‘subversive’; maybe they liked the film.
Those arrested were put on police bail, the coppers’ goal had been to disrupt the production of GA. The GA subs list had to be destroyed and subscribers are advised to use a secure name and address when getting in contact in future. The cheque book was pinched and the bank manager had been fed with loads of lies about how the account was being used to fund ‘criminal activity’ - eventually he was persuaded to supply a new one. This did however give the cops the chance to go through cheques for addresses - readers are reminded that cheques are traceable. Mail interception at the Monomarks box has been intense so that now all GA contacts have been advised to acknowledge all mail received, so if your letter to GA isn’t acknowledged then it didn’t get there.
The next day, March 15th, there were two more raids on who the cops see as the new press officer and the editor of the ALF Supporters Group. Other people raided include two old ladies who’d just written letters of support to Robin Webb in prison - who’s the terrorist now?
Some eco-warriors out there don’t see animal direct action and eco-defense as having anything in common. This is foolish and the police certainly don’t labour under such illusions.
GA aren’t on the usual list of people pulled in the event of contamination hoaxes, so the tenuous links with Robin Webb don’t explain the cops’ behaviour. Our intelligent readers will no doubt have noted that this is the same Hampshire Special Branch that worked hand in hand with Brays security over Twyford in 1992-3 and probably the only South Coast force which hasn’t had a live export port on their patch.
Through publications like GA, Do or Die, Partizan, The Terraist and Into the ‘90s, which draws heavily on Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching, the state has seen a general convergence of militant concern for animals and active concern for the earth. Since 1993 the Animal Rights National Index (ARNI) has been extended to include eco-warriors. We speculate that Twyford was the first big influx of green info for Special Branch. Special Branch used their contacts at Reliant Security (Solsbury Hill, Bath) and the Sunday Times journalist John Harlow to plant the first major anti-green smear with the now famous ‘Green Guerrillas Booby Trap Sites’.  Having pumped the media with lies about ‘animal rights terrorists’ they thought they’d try the same tactic on the eco-warriors.
The end of the cold war and the cease-fire in the six counties have intensified interagency competition to stake claim to surveillance of the ‘eco-terrorist threat’ as a job preservation scheme. MI5’s interventions in the shape of agent provocateurs Tim Hepple and Stuart McCulleogh are dealt with by O’Hara  in his book, which outlines that agency’s attempt to use the green direct action movement to serve their purposes. ARNI has now been expanded to a national police unit. When ARNI was set up as nationally accessible database in 1984 the false arrest of Beds And Bucks Hunt Sabs under the Prevention of Terrorism Act justified the seizure of BUAV’s entire membership lists vastly expanding ARNI’s database. Only weeks after GA was raided so was Greenpeace. The raiding of the Greenpeace HQ was justified by the Aldermarston demo - the membership records taken will have added hundreds of thousands of names to ARNI.
Those who read this and find it surprising should read up on the history of the secret British state. These people see all dissent as dangerous and have no naive ideas about democracy. If they don’t like a government, they change it -the destabilisation of the Wilson government is now well documented. If the media smears upset you then remember it gets worse. The secret state has and will fabricate atrocities and then blame it on radical groups. The saddest thing is when people inside the movement repeat media lies as facts.
If we limit ourselves to civil disobedience and appeals to their ‘common humanity’, their response will be to throw everything they’ve got to preserve their power and privilege - draconian laws and dirty tricks, infiltration and misrepresentation, blacklisting and brute force, using both their own uniformed thugs and vigilantes, lumpen crims or fascist proxies.
Democracy is a ritual involving scratching crosses onto a piece of paper every five years. The last significant change in the ruling class of Britain happened when Cromwell kicked out the monarchy, and then they came back. The secret state exists to preserve ruling class privilege, to keep the rich rich and the powerful powerful. Its goal is to isolate discontent and then discredit it, if that doesn’t work it destroys it. The only solution is to KICK IT ALL OVER, not to install a new set of leaders but to destroy power itself - this is revolution. What’s needed in response to the violence of the powerful is revolutionary action to destroy their power - clandestinely like the ALF when necessary, openly through riots and general disorder when possible.
We make no apologies for our anger, we write this as people are on bail for an offence that has been used to jail the editors of the SG and Arkangel in the past. The next issue of GA, issue 38, has come out. GA have refused to be intimidated by the interference of the ‘security services’. This article is written to keep people informed, the most dangerous cop is the one in your head - the one who stops you doing something. Hopefully this article will spread prudence not inaction.
The movement has been held back by ‘hostages’. When Fisons were trashed at Thorn Moor in 1991, London EF!ers forgot their ‘neither condemn nor condone’ attitude and refused to approve the action because they feared they be raided. At Twyford, for example, the Dongas camp eventually forbade any action against road building other than their passive presence in case it brought retaliation from the road builders. Then came Yellow Wednesday and the campaign began again. People who insist on strict non-violence from protesters at other road camps are always quick to condemn protester violence but then accept violence of security and cops.
1) Turning up the
Heat: MI5 after the Cold War (Phoenix Press 1994).
2) Chiltern Offset of Amersham.
3) Sunday Times, 3 July 1994.