Terry | 27.07.2005 11:40
UK Information Commissioner links Campaign Against Arms Trade employee to British Aerospace spymistress
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) today
publishes from the UK Information Commissioner which substantively links its former Campaigns Coordinator, Martin Hogbin, to a private investigator, Evelyn le Chene. Le Chene was employed by British Aerospace (now BAe Systems)
to collect confidential information about CAAT, according to evidence revealed by a Sunday Times investigation.
Throughout his employment at CAAT, Martin sent large quantities of information about CAAT and other campaigning organisations to an unidentified email address. The information Commissioner's investigation has now found that this email address belonged to a company linked to le Chene, which ceased trading directly after the Sunday Times allegation.
CAAT urges everyone involved in campaigning activities to read its findings, particularly if they are considering working with Martin.
A Timesonline article reported that, starting in 1995, British Aerospace (now BAe Systems) paid a company directed by one Evelyn Le Chene to infiltrate CAAT, and to collect information about its activities. The paper cited evidence that LeChene had used at least half-a-dozen agents posing as campaigners to provide detailed reports of work in the CAAT
office, meetings and preparations for protests, copies of
correspondence, and other internal documents.
CAAT staff immediately carried out Internal checks to try to
determine how the information had been obtained by Le Chene and Bae. By chance, staff found that Martin Hogbin had been sending many with similar content to that mentioned in the Sunday Times article, to an email address unknown to them - joseph at jofa.demon.co.uk
This address received a third of all the emails Martin sent during the period of his employment covered by CAAT's records - 9 times the number he sent to any other single address. Continuing right up until the publication of the Sunday Times article, their content included details about CAAT employees and supporters, campaign actions, and details of legal action.
Martin, CAAT's Campaigns and Events Coordinator since November 2001, and before that an active volunteer since spring 1997, agreed that he had sent the emails. He said that he believed he had been sending them to Joseph Jones a former CAAT volunteer. Yet although he had known the volunteer during his time at CAAT, Martin never addressed the emails by name. The email address was also associated with a different name in the CAAT email system's electronic
On legal advice, Martin was suspended on full pay pending the detailed internal investigation. Two days later, however, before the investigation began, Martin resigned. He has refused to cooperate further. The investigation by CAAT's Steering Committee, with which the volunteer cooperated, concluded in February 2004 that the volunteer had
not been the recipient of these emails, and that Martin could not be cleared from suspicion.
Soon after the Sunday Times article appeared, CAAT was contacted by officials from the Information Commissioner's office, the UK government department set up to protect personal information. In May 2004, following a series of meetings, CAAT made a formal complaint to the
Commissioner that Martin had passed sensitive confidential information outside the organisation. Both Martin and Le Chene were approached by the Commissioner's investigator, and refused to cooperate with his
On 20 December 2004, the Commissioner reported to CAAT that the unidentified email address was indeed connected to Evelyn Le Chene. He said
"The investigation did establish that a former member of CAAT
had been forwarding information by way of e-mail, to a company with links to Evelyn Le Chene.The individual concerned was approached by my office but refused to be interviewed regarding this matter. I also
understand that the company receiving the information ceased trading shortly after publication of the newspaper article"
It is understood that Evelyn Le Chene is now residing in France and she has also refused to assist with the investigation.
And although the Sunday Times documents, seen by the Commissioner, showed that Le Chene had gathered detailed and sensitive information about CAAT, the Commissioner could not prove that she had divulged data-protected information (membership lists, bank account details).
Despite being unable to bring any legal action, CAAT is deeply concerned about the privacy and security of its supporters and other organisations. They urge everyone involved in campaigning activities to read the findings of its internal investigation and the particularly if they are considering working with Martin. They also encourage all campaigning organisations to check their email logs for the period before October 2003 to make sure that no information was being forwarded to any email of the form address at jofa.demon.co.uk
Martin Hogbin is currently believed to be working with the STOP DSEI campaign