A man who was born as part of an undercover officer’s deployment is suing the police, the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance announced yesterday.
The 32-year-old, known as TBS, was the planned child of ‘Bob Robinson,’ and an animal rights activist known as Jacqui. “Robinson” was in fact the alias of undercover police officer Bob Lambert of the Special Demonstration Squad. He knew at the time he would be abandoning his new family a couple of years later to return to his real identity, wife and children.
As with cases brought by women deceived into relationships, the Met police tried to have the man’s case thrown out entirely and won’t even meet TBS, according to his legal representative Jules Carey. However at the High Court on Monday Mr Justice Nicol rejected the police’s demands.
TBS was born in September 1985, when Lambert was two years into his relationship with Jacqui and they were living together. She told the BBC in 2014:
He watched me give birth remember and, to me, he was watching his first child being born. He was there throughout the labour. And that is something so intimate between a man and a woman. And I shared that with a ghost, with someone who vaporised.
Lambert was an undercover officer in the Special Demonstration Squad from 1983-88, infiltrating animal rights groups. Whilst undercover he:
- stole the identity of a dead child
- was arrested & prosecuted under a false identity
- co-wrote the leaflet that led to the McLibel trial
- was part of a group that firebombed shops
A detailed overview of his career by the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance was given as a talk at the University of St Andrews when he was still a lecturer there in 2015, and there is also an extensive profile by the Undercover Research Group.
When Lambert was exposed in October 2011 he apologised to another woman he had later deceived into a relationship, Belinda Harvey, but made no mention of Jacqui or his son. They only found out the truth when Jacqui stumbled across it in a newspaper in June 2012, as she detailed in harrowing testimony to Parliament. She told the Guardian “it is like being raped by the state.”
TBS was 26 at the time and the revelation has caused him to suffer Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood since. He told the Guardian of his shock:
It kind of messes with your identity and who you think you are.
He continued, saying that finding out that the chance of a father figure…
was denied to me because of the actions of the police is even more distressing because they are supposed to be upholders of the law… But they quite clearly are not… It is quite scary to me just how the police can dip in and out of people’s lives. They still seem to struggle with realising the impact of what they have done.
TBS is not suing Lambert, but the Met for their failures of supervision. The Met have already reached settlements with a number of women deceived into relationships – Jacqui was the first of these – so the principle of their institutional responsibility for abusive officers is surely established.
The long list of TBS’s damning assertions about his father is startling, including:
- a knowing or reckless abuse of the power entrusted to him as a public officer, which he knew was likely to cause the Claimant psychiatric injury, or was recklessly indifferent to this consequence.
- he was not and/or could not lawfully have been authorised to commence a sexual relationship with Jacqui, to father a child with her, to fulfil a father’s role under his false identity and/or to present a false explanation for his abandonment of the Claimant or was reckless as to the same, and that doing so was in plain breach of his obligations as a police officer and such guidance that was or should have been given to him.
- The circumstances of the Claimant’s conception, early life and abandonment by BL carried with it an obvious risk that the Claimant would suffer psychiatric harm.
The police’s defence is, if anything, even more astonishing. They claim abandoning a three-year-old who doesn’t retain an clear memory of their parent cannot cause harm. That is to say, a child isn’t bonded enough with a parent by the age of three to be seriously distressed by that parent’s disappearance.
They then defend Lambert’s leaving as a positive action, saying if he had stayed with Jacqui the damaging deception would have gone on longer and “would have made matters worse.”
TBS’ placing the blame on the Met rests on the fact that if Lambert’s managers knew about the relationship they were complicit, or if they didn’t they were negligent.
In 2013 Lambert was asked by Channel 4 News if his managers knew about his relationships. He refused to answer, and then refused to explain why he was refusing to answer.
This might be because he is in a difficult position. Lambert was later promoted to running the Special Demonstration Squad, where he deployed officers such as Jim Boyling, Andy Coles and Mark Jenner who also deceived women into long-term intimate relationships. So, whether the blame comes down to the individual officers or their managers, Lambert is guilty.
Whatever Lambert’s managers knew of his various abuses, they didn’t appear to mind. Abusing women and deceiving courts was textbook stuff for the spycops units and, rather than Lambert being reprimanded for his behaviour, whistleblower officer Peter Francis says Lambert’s colleagues felt:
He did what is hands down regarded as the best tour of duty ever.
As well as going on to run the Special Demonstration Squad, overseeing the spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family, Lambert was later rewarded with an MBE ‘for services to policing’.
TBS is, as far as we know, in a unique position. But with the vast majority of officers from the political secret police units still completely unknown, there may be more people like him, abandoned children of mothers abused by spycops.
With the Met admitting that their sexual abuse of women constitutes “torture, inhuman or degrading treatment,” it is past time for them to end their obstruction of justice. They must stop their obstruction of justice for people like TBS. They must name names so the victims can get answers and the wider public can know the truth of what has been done in their name.
This is a lightly edited version of an article first published at the COPS campaign site