Storm in a tea cup

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

Matilda Gifford A British anti-aviation campaigner has spilled the beans on the country's police. She told The Guardian undercover police had tried to recruit her as an informant. Twenty four-year-old Matilda Gifford told the British daily about a series of meetings after she was arrested following a Plane Stupid demonstration at Aberdeen airport in March.

Gifford secretly taped the conversations before handing them to The Guardian. She said money was mentioned with the officers, who said they were from Strathclyde Police, in exchange for information on the dynamics of the protest group and its plans. No actual amount was mentioned, but there were hints it could help with her student loans. She said "fear tactics" were also used, included warnings that her protest activities might damage her future employment prospects.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton, Strathclyde Police, did not deny any charge.He said his force had "a responsibility to gather intelligence" to make communities safer.

Former Scotland Yard Commander John O'Connor said the story was "a storm in a teacup". "The police go out actively to try and gather it (intelligence)."

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