Private agency put protest groups under surveillance

Statewatch Bulletin; vol 13 no 5 August-October 2003

A Sunday Times "Insight" investigation has revealed that a numer of private companies, including the defence giant BAE Systems and the security firm Group 4, were supplied with personal details on protestors by a a private agency run by Evelyn Le Chene, is said to have a database of 148,000 activists, peace protestors, environmentalists and trade unionists.

BAE is said by the Sunday Times to have paid the company £120,000 a year for information. One of the group placed under surveillance was the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) which opposed, for example, the sale of Hawks jets to Indonesia. "Agents" from the company are said to have joined the protest groups and : "dowloaded computer files, rifled through personal diaries, conducted surveillance and passed on bank account details".

Group 4, the security firm, also used the services of the firm particularly when it was engaged to protect road-building programmes from protests (like the Newbury by-pass). A Group 4 spokesperson is quoted in the Sunday Times: "We were getting information about where the protestors would be and what times in advance. We would have paid for that information".

There is no suggestion that BAE or Group 4 asked or encouraged the firm to carry out any illegal activity.

Sunday Times, 28.9.03 & 5.10.03.

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