‘McLibel’ pair put their view on record
Skwawkbox reported last week that sources close to ‘McLibel’ activists Dave Morris and Helen Steel said that Keir Starmer, when he acted as their barrister, used undercover cop John Dines – known to them as John Barker – as his driver and ‘gofer’. Dines was ultimately exposed as one of two ‘spycops’ who infiltrated their organisation. Ms Steel had a two-year relationship with Dines’s alter-ego before he disappeared and she went on to be one of the key figures in the spycops scandal that revealed undercover officers abusing women activists and spying on their groups across decades.
The pair have contacted Skwawkbox to say that, to their knowledge, Starmer did not use Dines in this role:
We speak as the defendants in the 1990-2005 McLibel case, in which we successfully defended the public’s right to criticise the junk food multinational, McDonald’s. We were very surprised to read a story you published on 17th April 2023 entitled ” Exclusive: Starmer ‘used undercover spycop as driver/gofer during McLibel case’ “
The story, based on unattributed sources (which we would have quickly corrected if we had been contacted before the article was published), alleged that Keir Starmer used an undercover spycop ‘as his driver and bag carrier’ during the case.
The facts are these: At our request, Keir Starmer (a socialist lawyer at the time) had volunteered to advise us for free behind the scenes as we had been denied legal aid. He was very helpful in his spare time, however we represented ourselves throughout the 26 pre-trial hearings and in what became the longest trial in English legal history (313 days). All the paperwork was held by us, and Keir didn’t have the need for a driver on the limited number of occasions he attended hearings as he worked nearby as a barrister.
It is true that a police undercover spy, John ‘Barker’/ Dines, had scandalously infiltrated the McLibel Support Campaign and shockingly engineered a fraudulent two year intimate relationship with Helen in which they lived together. That scandal has been well documented, particularly in the book ‘Deep Deception’ by Helen and others. Further details are likely to emerge during the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry when it resumes next year. But the claim that Keir Starmer used Dines / Barker as his driver for the trial appears to be based on a mistaken retelling of Helen’s reports that Dines drove her home after legal meetings with Starmer, in all likelihood to obtain intelligence of what was discussed at those meetings and in breach of legal privilege.
It is of course reasonable to challenge and expose the actions of those who hold or seek power, including Keir Starmer, and it is also critically important people are made aware of the extent of the disgusting and harmful secret infiltration by Met Police spycops of over 1,000 mainly left-wing and progressive campaigning groups over a 50 year period. However, circulating untruths about this, be they rumours or deliberate smears, is unhelpful and distracting and does nothing to build trust or confidence in those reporting or reading the untruths.
Helen Steel and Dave Morris – The ‘McLibel 2’.
Keir Starmer has been described as a ‘long-time servant of the British security state’. The fact that Morris and Steel were unaware of any links on his part with the security services does not, of course, mean that he was not close to them even at that point, or that he was unaware that Dines and his fellow officer were police spies. The use of spycops was known about in the early 1990s; as Director of Public Prosecutions Starmer never took action against police who killed innocents and as Labour leader he waved through Tory legislation giving immunity from prosecution to undercover officers and their agents even in cases of serious criminality.
Mr Starmer was contacted directly and asked whether he was aware. He did not respond and deny it.
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