A WOMAN who was tricked into a two-year relationship with notorious undercover police officer 'Carlo Neri' has spoken about her time in Scotland with her so-called “spy cop” lover.
The political activist, known only as Andrea, said she made four visits north of the border with Neri, who she described as a "sociopath". It is believed he was being paid by the police every time he made a trip.
She also said Neri made a slip-up during her sister’s graduation ceremony at Glasgow University when the secret policeman stood up during a rendition of God Save the Queen.
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It was revealed last year how Neri – a fake name – pretended to be a campaigner between 2001 to 2005, but was secretly spying on anti-fascist groups and the left-wing Socialist Party.
He is believed to have worked for the now-defunct Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which was part of the Metropolitan police and created in the late 1960s to keep tabs on political subversives.
The Pitchford Inquiry, set up by the UK Government to investigate the SDS and another Met-related unit, confirmed recently that “Carlo Neri” had been an undercover officer.
One of Neri’s ploys was to get close to Andrea, whom he met in September 2002 while he worked as a steward at a Stop the War Coalition march in London, in a bid to befriend the activists in her political circle.
Their two-year relationship included living together in London, getting engaged and discussing starting a family, despite the fact he had a wife and child in his real life.
In a manoeuvre designed to end the operation, Neri disappeared after claiming to have found out that his sister had been sexually abused by his father.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, Andrea, who grew up in Ayrshire but left Scotland for London when she was in her 20s, said: “We would have made at least four trips to Scotland from November 2002 into 2003.”
She explained that Neri made a “huge” effort in getting close to her family members: “I think it made his cover more sustainable. The more embedded he was in someone else’s life, then the less questioning there was of his own gaps.”
On one occasion she said that Neri was keen to go to a Stiff Little Fingers concert in Kilmarnock, at which clashes between anti-fascist and right-wing groups were expected.
“He made a point of going to that gig,” she said. “There was a hint that stuff was going to kick off. Stiff Little Fingers have a political background and there had been discussion about people [fascists] turning up and disrupting the gig.
“He knew that this was going to be a point potentially of some inflammation between the two factions.”
He also travelled with Andrea to Scotland after her gran died and also visited well-known venues in the west of Scotland, such as Oran Mor and Stravaigin in Glasgow and Nardini’s in Largs.
She said: “He would have been getting paid for all of this.”
However, Andrea believes Neri made a blunder during their relationship which, in retrospect, revealed his true colours: “When we went to my sister’s graduation in Glasgow, we were with some friends who were really involved in the Scottish Socialist Party.
“When you go to a graduation, people stand up for God Save the Queen, and of course the socialists didn’t stand up. He stood up. And this guy said, ‘what are you doing, sit down?’ And he said, ‘shit, sorry, I was just trying to be respectful’. We were just pissing ourselves laughing. That should have been a sign.”
In another surreal moment, she recalls the BBC airing a documentary on undercover policing – True Spies – in 2002. “I remember watching it with him. It’s just absurd.”
On why she believed he picked her out, she said: “He spotted an opportunity. I had a flat and I was single. I knew a lot of people who were activists. I provided a really solid cover. It was much more about my trustworthiness.”
Andrea said she could track down Neri if she wanted to, but she won’t: “I know his real name. I chose not to publish it because I wanted to be respectful towards his children and his ex-wife. They have had enough trauma from having to deal with him.”
Asked if she had considered confronting him, she said: “I could never believe a word he said. He was such a completely convincing, charismatic sociopath.”
She added: “His wife became pregnant while he lived with me, while he wanted me to have a baby….There’s a real endemic sexism to it.”
The UK Government decided last year that the Pitchford Inquiry should not be extended to include undercover activity in Scotland, a decision she criticised.
“I think it is absolute nonsense," she said. "We know they were all active in Scotland.”
However, she has also criticised the Scottish Government’s response, which was to instruct the official police inspectorate to “review” covert policing north of the border: “I am appalled because I expected better of them. I expected the Scottish Government to actually do a better job than the British Parliament.
She added: “It’s box-ticking exercise and serves no purpose.”
Andrea has been designated as a core participant at the Pitchford Inquiry. She is now in her mid-40s and lives on the south coast of England.