Doesn't anyone in Britain have a straight job? Last month we heard about the undercover agents who had infiltrated the eco activist groups. This week we have large energy companies hiring private investigators to snoop on environmentalists.
It turns out that three large and powerful energy companies have been paying a private security firm to monitor activists. In fact the police claim that there are more corporate spies in the protest groups than undercover cops. It's beginning to sound like every other person in the environmental movement is spying on someone.
Photo: the Guardian
According to the Guardian, which broke the story on the undercover agents last month, the energy giant E.ON, Britain's second-biggest coal producer Scottish Resources Group and Scottish Power, one of the UK's largest electricity-generators, have been paying a private security firm to do what we all do.
That is: put our name on email mailing lists and get notices of meetings and protest marches. The private firm used different email addresses to express interest in campaigns, subscribed to activist-only mailing lists and posed as a supporter going to meetings where tactics are discussed. In this way, the energy companies could be informed about where environmentalists were going to demonstrate.
The company, Vericola, which has been caught out through leaked documents, says that it is "business risk management company" which gets all its information from public sources, such as mailing lists or open websites, so what is the problem.
The owner of the company has some hot tips for her agents. One way to fit in was not to mention flying anywhere as "obviously" the environmentalists "hate short-haul flights". She also advised that saying "you have had girlfriend issues!!!" is a good way to explain absences from meetings.
Last month inquiries were launched into the activities of the undercover police. Now, in a case of the pot calling the kettle black, the police are astonished that the private sector spies are "uncontrolled and unrestrained." They claim that there are more "corporate spies embedded in the protest movement than police officers." Many are former police officers cashing in on their knowledge of surveillance.
More on Spying on Environmental Groups
Undercover Cop Who Posed as Environmentalist Tells All
Sex in the Environmental Movement is Everywhere, According to Agent
Environmental Activist Exposed as Undercover Agent