There is a slowly emerging twist in police spy scandal. The question of incitement and provocation from an agent of the police. Bearing in mind that it is an obvious escalation of paying people embedded deep in any activist organisation, it is something that an agent’s handlers should have been aware of and taken steps to prevent. However it appears that they may have been encouraging it.
Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager have a story “Activist considers court action against police informer” in the Sunday Star-Times.
Oosterman, pepper-sprayed by police during a 2005 anti-GE protest at the Forest Research Institute in Rotorua, was awarded $5000 damages after the judge decided the police had made unreasonable use of the pepper spray.
Oosterman said Gilchrist had also given exaggerated evidence and had provoked the security guards and police during the protest.
Gilchrist, who was the protest group’s liaison officer with the police even though he was working as a police informer at the time, had been “totally confrontational” during the protest. He was “pushing security guards around… he created a situation of tension” which in turn led to the pepper spraying.
When the case came to court
Oosterman said Gilchrist had agreed to appear as a witness for him in a case in July this year, but had turned up at court wearing a T-shirt with a gun on it.
The shirt had the words “This is my Glock, her name is Susan, there are many like her, but she is mine,” Oosterman told the Star-Times.
What the hell? Was he trying to deliberately piss off the judge? So not only was he ‘rarking’ up the protest to the point of confrontation, you’d have to ask if he was trying to pervert the course of justice. Since he also sent his affidavit to his police handlers, maybe he was also asked to try to destroy Oostermans case against the police. Perhaps commissioner Broad would care to comment on this?
Matt McCarten is also alleging incitement in the Herald On Sunday in “Spying on lawful organisations should set alarm bells ringing”
Gilchrist started collecting information on our union three years ago. At that time we were running our SupersizeMyPay campaign, set up to abolish youth wages and raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour.
This is a pretty normal type of campaign for unions, especially in the groups that Unite represents.
Are our spies seriously suggesting minimum wage workers and school kids working in fast-food restaurants were part of a budding al Qaeda network? My staff recall that Gilchrist inveigled his way into the union by boasting to impressionable teenagers on our picket lines how radical he was and how they needed to take more direct action to win their claims.
This is what I’ve also heard from a number of activists that have worked with Rob. He was directly involved in escalating protests. For instance from the origional SST story
At protests, Gilchrist was often the one taunting police, says Mark Eden of Wellington Animal Rights Network, who regarded Gilchrist as a friend. ‘If it didn’t involve adrenalin and confrontation, he wasn’t interested,’ Eden told the Star-Times.
‘He was always interested in who was keen on illegal actions and would often make it known that he was keen to be involved in anything illegal or undercover. On a few occasions he would take people out for a drive and sit outside a factory farm or an animal laboratory and encourage them to talk about planning a break-in or other illegal activity.
‘He would be really pushy and persistent about planning illegal activities and then would suddenly lose interest, claiming it was too difficult or that he was busy. He was always keen on planning dodgy stuff, but on the occasions when we did break the law [for instance, an open rescue of battery hens] he would always have an excuse and pull out at the last minute.’
In hindsight Eden believes Gilchrist was inciting people to talk about illegal stuff and then ‘reporting it to police to make us sound dodgy’.
The question has to be asked; how far were his handlers in the police involved in promoting this type of incitement to breaking the law? Who exactly are the real ‘criminals’? Activists or police?
[update: the boys in blue have asked me to take down the police crest we had on the post. Good to see they’ve got the big stuff covered. SP]