Co-author of ‘McLibel’ leaflet claimed to have been a policeman

Book says environmental activist behind paper attacking McDonald’s was an undercover officer

An undercover police officer who posed for years as an environmental activist reportedly co-wrote a libellous leaflet that attacked McDonald’s and triggered the longest civil trial in English history.

A book on undercover policing by Guardian journalists Paul Lewis and Rob Evans claims one of the authors of the so-called McLibel leaflet is former police officer Bob Lambert.

It is claimed in the book, which is released on Monday, that Lambert co-wrote the defamatory six-page leaflet in 1986 — and his role in its production has been the subject of an internal Scotland Yard investigation for several months.

Mr Lambert used the alias Bob Robinson during his five years infiltrating the London Greenpeace group, when he was with the special demonstration squad (SDS), a now-disbanded Metropolitan Police unit that targeted political activists.


McDonald’s famously sued two green campaigners over the leaflet in a landmark three-year high court case that was widely considered to have been a public relations disaster for the corporation.

It was not disclosed during the costly civil legal proceedings, brought by McDonald’s in the 1990s, that an undercover police officer helped write the leaflet.

A raft of allegations have been made against undercover police in recent months, including claims that officers used dead children’s identities and that some had sexual relationships with the targets of their operations.

Mr Lambert, who now works as a lecturer in terrorism studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, has also been accused by an MP of leaving a bomb in a Debenhams store in London in the 1980s to prove his commitment to animal rights extremists. He has denied the allegation. Mr Lambert was not immediately available for comment.

An investigation into undercover policing, called Operation Herne, has been launched by the Metropolitan Police.

Derbyshire Police chief constable Mick Creedon was brought in to oversee the operation and recently confirmed it was “common practice” for undercover officers within the SDS to use dead children’s identities.

‘Inappropriate behaviour’

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said the force “recognises the seriousness of the allegations of inappropriate behaviour and practices involving past undercover deployments”.

It said: “Operation Herne is a live investigation, four strands of which are being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and it would be inappropriate to prejudge its findings.

“The Metropolitan Police Service must balance the genuine public interest in these matters with its duty to protect officers and former officers who have been deployed undercover, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances.

“We are therefore not prepared to confirm nor deny the identity of individuals alleged in the media to have been working undercover, nor confirm nor deny the deployment of individuals on specific operations.

“It is also important to recognise that any actions by officers working on or with the Special Demonstration Squad need to be understood by Operation Herne in terms of the leadership, supervision, support, training, legal framework, tasking and reporting mechanisms that were in place at the time.

“At some point it will fall upon this generation of police leaders to account for the activities of our predecessors, but for the moment we must focus on getting to the truth.”