St Andrews University is facing angry calls to sack an academic exposed as a former undercover police officer who had sex with his female targets.
Campaigners have complained to the University principal about the employment of Dr Bob Lambert, a lecturer in terrorism who is accused of planting a firebomb in a branch of Debenhams while undercover inside the Animal Liberation Front. He denies the accusation.
The signatories to the letter, which include campaigning journalist George Monbiot, have said of Lambert: “The University of St Andrews should terminate his contract.”
Loading article content
Lambert was an undercover officer at the Metropolitan Police's Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) in the 1980s and was paid to infiltrate animal rights and environmental groups.
He later became a senior SDS manager who handled other officers in the field. However, his past was exposed in 2011 and his discredited tactics form part of a judge-led inquiry into undercover policing which is set to begin imminently.
One of his methods was to take a dead child’s name and use it to provide himself with a fake identity and back story.
He has admitted having sex with women linked to groups he targeted and even fathered a child with an activist known as Jacqui, who knew nothing of his undercover role.
Jacqui, who has described her treatment by the Met as amounting to “state rape”, has received £425,000 in compensation after being traumatised by the fact the father of her son was a police spy.
In 1987, Lambert infiltrated an Animal Liberation Front cell planning arson attacks on shops south of the border to protest against the sale of fur.
His undercover intelligence helped bring about the jailing of two individuals – Geoff Shepherd and Andrew Clarke – who were responsible for coordinated attacks on Debenhams stores in Luton and Romford.
However, Lambert has since been accused of being behind a third attack in the same month - on a Debenhams store in Harrow - which caused £340,000 of damage.
Green MP Caroline Lucas used parliamentary privilege in 2012 to air allegations that Lambert was behind this firebomb attack.
She said: "Sheppard alleges that Lambert was the one who planted the third device and was involved in the ALF's co-ordinated campaign." Lambert has denied planting the incendiary device.
It also emerged that Lambert, when posing as an environmental activist, co-wrote a leaflet that was critical of fast food chain McDonald’s – a dispute that led to a famous libel trial.
He was promoted to a senior managerial role at the SDS in the 1990s, but the Unit is also facing allegations it spied on the late Stephen Lawrence’s family and friends.
Picture: Stephen Lawrence
However, Lambert left the police service and became an academic specialising in terrorism and political violence. He lectures at St Andrews University and has supervised dissertations.
His “twin research interests” are community-based approaches to counter-terrorism and Islamophobia.
A letter of complaint about Lambert’s status as a lecturer was sent on Friday to University principal Louise Richardson.
The letter was signed by campaigners Lois Austin, Dave Smith and Helen Steel, who had a relationship with another undercover officer without knowing his real identity.
Monbiot, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from St Andrews, has also put his name to the statement.
It reads: “We believe that his [Lambert] past conduct as a central figure in the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad means that he is supremely unsuitable for teaching and shaping the thoughts of others in his current position.
“The SDS’ abuse of citizens and undermining of legitimate campaigns are one of the darkest corners of Metropolitan Police history. Lambert is no role model and should not be trading on his abuses.”
After going through the detail of Lambert’s history as an SDS officer and manager, they added: “One has to wonder, if all this is not enough to make him unfit to teach others, what does it take? With fresh revelations coming to light almost weekly and the public inquiry about to begin, we can be confident there will be more. These were not the actions of a young naïve person. This was years of deliberate, strategic abuse of citizens and undermining of legitimate campaigns."
The quartet concluded the letter by calling on the University to fire Lambert.
MSP John Finnie, himself a former police officer, said: "My understanding was that the highest standards of integrity - clearly unachievable by this notorious individual - applied to those charged with educating the population. I consider his continuing employment a blight on our highly regarded education system and trust it ends soonest."
A University spokesman said: “Bob Lambert is employed by us as a part-time lecturer in the School of International Relations and principally the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence. He has been entirely open with the university and his students about his past. His teaching is highly valued by students. Beyond that, as matter of policy, we don’t comment on personal matters or the circumstances of our staff.”
Bob Lambert declined to comment.