Banner outside the Undercover Policing Inquiry in 2019. PHOTO: Netpol

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has been granted Core Participant status in the judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing, chaired by Sir John Mitting QC, after it was confirmed that Britain’s best-known peace organisation was targeted for infiltration by both Special Branch and the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) of the Metropolitan Police during the 1980s.

Police spies under the cover names ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’ infiltrated CND’s head office and East London branch, sending regular reports to Scotland Yard and MI5 on the organisation’s activities. The true identities of ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’ are still not publicly known.

Do you remember these undercover officers?

The Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) has been instructed by CND to represent them at the inquiry and has issued an appeal to current and former members of the group to come forward with any information about the activities of ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’.

Paul Heron, a solicitor at PILC, said:

The Special Demonstration Squad was set up in 1968 to monitor public disorder and criminality. It is therefore disturbing that officers were sent to spy on CND, a peace organisation. The extent to which the British state has actively sought to infiltrate and potentially destabilise peaceful and democratic protest movements should alarm the general public.

We are urgently looking to hear from any current or past CND members who may have information about the activities of ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’ so that this information can be brought before the Inquiry’

If anyone has any information about either undercover officer, they can contact Paul in confidence at

“Shocking waste of public resources”

The inquiry is due to report its findings in full in 2023. It will hear evidence in relation to CND’s infiltration by undercover officers in early 2022. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), said:

“CND has a long record of democratic engagement, working in a peaceful and open way to question and challenge government policies that put citizens in the way of great harm. We have been part of the very fabric of British society for over six decades, working widely across civil society.

It is shocking to discover that public resources were wasted on ‘infiltrating’ CND as if we were a risk to life and limb or a threat to the security of the realm. We hope that the Inquiry will provide us with an understanding of why this happened and help to ensure that our democratic rights to peaceful protest are assured.

Most of Netpol’s founding organisations had also targeted by undercover officers when we set up in 2009 and the majority of our steering group members are also core participants in the public inquiry. For more information on the inquiry visit the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance website