Joined: 25 Jul 2005
Location: St. Pauls, Bristol, England
|Posted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:39 pm Post subject: July 1987: Police spy Bob Lambert bombs Debenhams in Harrow
|Probe into claim that police spy set fire to Debenhams could end by July
A court has heard that a police investigation into a claim that an undercover officer planted an incendiary device in Debenhams could be completed by July
Rob Evans robevansgdn
Monday 16 January 2017 11.25 GMT Last modified on Monday 16 January 2017 11.27 GMT
A Scotland Yard investigation into an allegation that an undercover police officer set fire to a high street department store while infiltrating animal rights campaigners could be completed by July.
Since April last year, the Metropolitan police have been investigating a claim that the undercover officer, Bob Lambert, planted an incendiary device in Debenhams in Harrow, London in July 1987, causing £340,000 of damage.
A court has heard that police estimate that their investigation could be concluded by the middle of this year.
Lambert, who used the identity of a dead child while he masqueraded as a radical campaigner for five years, has consistently denied the claim that he planted the device.
She aired the claim that Lambert had taken part in a plot with two animal rights campaigners to set fire to three branches of Debenhams in a protest against the sale of fur.
The two campaigners, Geoff Sheppard and Andrew Clarke, were jailed for four years and three years respectively for their roles in the arson attacks.
Lucas told MPs that Sheppard had alleged that Lambert had planted the device perhaps in “a move designed to bolster Lambert’s credibility and reinforce the impression of a genuine and dedicated activist.” (The transcript of her speech is here).
In a previous statement, Lambert has said that the aim of his covert deployment had been to “identify and prosecute members of the Animal Liberation Front who were then engaged in widespread incendiary and explosive device campaigns against vivisectors, the meat and fur trades.” He said he succeeded in getting Clarke and Sheppard arrested and imprisoned.
He has said: “It was necessary to create the false impression that I was a committed animal rights extremist to gain intelligence so as to disrupt serious criminal conspiracies. However, I did not commit serious crime such as planting an incendiary device at the [Debenhams] Harrow store.”
After Lucas aired the claim about Lambert in 2012, Clarke and Sheppard launched an appeal against their convictions.
At a preliminary hearing regarding their appeal, the high court heard that the Met team scrutinising the claim estimates that its investigation could end by July.
The lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who presided over the hearing at the end of November, said a decision on how the appeal would proceed would be made after July.
The Metropolitan Police has disclosed some details of the investigation, codenamed Operation Sparkler, following a freedom of information request by the Guardian.
Five officers have worked on the investigation which - according to the latest estimate - has cost £252,000.
The team had interviewed seven individuals as witnesses or potential witnesses and seized one exhibit. The Met added that no-one has been arrested or interviewed under caution during the investigation.
The team had consulted prosecutors four times - in May, August, September and October last year.
The investigation is headed by an officer in the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, the division responsible for examining allegations of misconduct by police officers.
Lambert fathered a child with an activist, Jacqui, while he was undercover in the 1980s and then abandoned them when his covert mission finished. For background on Lambert, see here and here.
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