The Guardian, hot on the tails of its Wiki-releases and informant-endangering NSA-leaks, has sought to capitalise on pseudo-anarchist (read: selective statist) sentiment by releasing a video of a police officer looking to recruit an informant at Cambridge University. The newspaper reported yesterday:
“An officer monitoring political campaigners attempted to persuade an activist in his 20s to become an informant and feed him information about students and other protesters in return for money. But instead the activist wore a hidden camera to record a meeting with the officer and expose the surveillance of undergraduates and others at the 800-year-old institution.”
What a clever little boy this Cambridge student is!
He realised, like a good, greedy little capitalist, that he could make more money selling the story to The Guardian, than the police could ever pay him. Fair enough, I suppose.
But the supposed “outrage” over a police offer basically doing his job in trying to protect the interests of the country and the public is risible. We’re supposed to believe of course, that this is some major incursion by a police-state, looking to crush dissenters who dare to criticise government policy. But er… it’s not. The police offer says so, on the covert video, himself.
Police are evidently looking to establish an informant network that actually supports peaceful protest, and cracks down on the sort of violent, civil-disobedience types that eminate from, “The EDL… UAF… UKUncut…” and more. The officer makes it clear, “do they come under peaceful protest… which is absolutely fine?” Funnily enough, the Guardian failed to mention in its report that the English Defence League was the first group the officer mentioned. Its ever-reliable journalism states:
“The other proposed targets of the surveillance include UK Uncut, the campaign against tax avoidance and government cuts, Unite Against Fascism and environmentalists. The Cambridgeshire police initially insisted that there were implications for “national security” but later dropped this argument when challenged.”
As if there were something wrong with the police wanting to know more information about a group that was derived from and maintained the same parts as the lot that smashed up private property at demonstrations in 2011 (UKUncut). Or the group that the terrorist murderer of Drummer Lee Rigby found himself a part of (Unite Against Fascism). Goodness only knows why the police may want to have decent intel on these groups. Do I really need to elaborate on this? I doubt it. You’re smart people.
So let’s get back to the Guardian’s disingenuous reporting on the matter. On the third video down, the Guardian claims, “Police officer offers Cambridge University activist money for information on political meetings”. But as you can see if you watch the video (which I suppose many won’t), he did no such thing. The student leads the questioning, trying to “catch” the officer doing something immoral: “I guess the money wouldn’t come into it until I was going to other things…” The officer responds, “…we will cover your expenses… it’s not about rewarding you financially… because that goes against… what we’re doing… all we want to do is help people… we help you with expenses”.
[Watch the videos yourself please, because I couldn’t make out all the words clearly].
In short, the real scandal here is how The Guardian tries to misrepresent the police officer, who it will seem to any rational person, is genuinely just trying to do his job which entails community cohesion and keeping the peace, and how the student tries to egg him on and catch him in the act of offering something illegal. He fails.
Of course, Rusbridger and co would no doubt have paid “John Armstrong” (pseudonym) and decided, “Well, we’ve got this footage. Just cut it up cleverly, throw in some ill-fitting captions, oh and leave the part about the EDL out, we want this to look like an attack on the Left” [not actual quotes]. Except it doesn’t. It looks like shoddy and duplicitious journalism. And if I were in charge of the Cambridgeshire police, I’d be running this one up the press regulation flagpole at first light.