Behind the shocking story of a ‘spycop’ who incited firebombing lies one of Britain’s dirtiest secrets

Behind the shocking story of a ‘spycop’ who incited firebombing lies one of Britain’s dirtiest secrets


Former construction worker Dave Smith of the Blacklist Support Group provided extensive testimony to the UnderCover Police Inquiry (UCPI) on how ‘spycops’ infiltrated and spied on workers over many years. The testimony included how one ‘spycop’ attempted to incite three of those workers to firebomb an office run by an exiled Italian fascist.

But there is far more to this story than meets the eye, with lives lost from terror and a web of intrigue that stretched all across Europe.

Incitement

Some way through his statement, Smith explained:

The Inquiry will hear how, on more than one occasion, [Carlo] Neri incited Core Participants Frank Smith, Dan Gilman and Joe Batty to fire bomb a charity shop in North London. Joe Batty was a TGWU union steward who has been denied Core Participant status. The undercover officer claimed the shop was run by Roberto Fiore, the leader of the Italian fascist Forza Nuova Party. Fiore fled Italy after being wanted by Italian police in connection with the terrorist bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980 that killed 85 innocent people.

For the record: we accuse Carlo Neri of being an agent provocateur, of deliberately attempting to entrap union members by inciting them to commit arson. Again for the record: the spied upon activists wanted nothing to do with the proposed attack: they are trade union and anti-fascist activists, not terrorists.

Investigative journalist Michael Gillard published Neri’s real name in April 2019:

Following that, Police Spies Out Of Lives issued a statement, saying: “Carlo Neri waived his anonymity when he chose to deceive, manipulate and emotionally and sexually abuse women”. A March 2020 article in Private Eye also identified Neri’s real name.

Exiled neo-fascists

Fiore ran several charity shops with links to International Third Position (ITP), which the Guardian describes as a “far-right group that opposes third-world immigration to Europe, Zionism, and homosexuality”. Indeed, at that time London was home to a number of hostels and employment agencies, allegedly linked to the Italian far-right via Fiore, as well as the travel agency Meeting Point/Easy London run by him.

Meeting Point/Easy London was originally set up by Fiore and British National Party’s Nick Griffin after the former and 16 other Italians fled to London following the 1980 Bologna railway station bombing. Meeting Point/Easy London ran 1,300 flats and provided work for young Italians along the lines of what today could be called modern day slavery. Fiore also ran “a chain of restaurants, Italian food shops, a music firm and some English schools” where fascists from across Europe would meet.

The late journalist and anarchist revolutionary Stuart Christie confirmed that many neo-fascists that were wanted by the Italian authorities in regard to the Bologna massacre were safehoused in the UK.

MI6 agent

In February 1994, Jeremy Corbyn and 27 other Labour MPs tabled an early day motion criticising the Conservative government’s refusal to deport Fiore and his colleague Massino Marsello.

Perhaps that refusal can partly be explained by the Private Eye article claiming Neri was an MI6 asset. Searchlight made the same claim. Indeed, the European Parliament has it on record that Fiore was an MI6 agent. Its 1991 report unequivocally stated:

Their connection with Italian far right terrorist exile Roberto Fiore only did them harm when it was revealed that he had been an agent of British Intelligence Section Ml6 since the early 1980s.

It beggars belief that the UK’s intelligence and security agencies, let alone the police and Special Branch, were unaware of Fiore’s safe housing and fund-raising activities. But given his alleged MI6 status, it’s no wonder those agencies tolerated Fiore’s and his associates’ presence in the UK for 20 years.

Mussolini’s successor

Fiore was eventually cleared of direct involvement in the Bologna bombing. Instead he was convicted in absentia of “subversive association” and sentenced to nine years jail (shortened to five-and-a-half years after an appeal). In 1998, the Italian appeal court made it known that under the statute of limitations Fiore’s sentence for his part in the 1980 Bologna bombing had expired.

Fiore subsequently headed the Forza Nuova (New Force) party. In 2009, Fiore became an MEP in the neo-fascist Alessandra Mussolini’s constituency after she resigned her seat.

In 2014, during an intercepted phone call, Alessio Constantini talked of a meeting in Rome between Fiore and Stefano Delle Chiaie. The latter founded the neo-fascist Avanguardia Nazionale (National Vanguard) and was one of five men served with arrest warrants for the Bologna bombing. In September 2019, Fiore was photographed in attendance at Delle Chiaie’s funeral.

UK “strategy of tension” foiled?

One of Fiore’s deputies was Artemis Matthaiopoulos of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (GD). GD, like the Italian neo-fascists from 1969 through the 1970s, attempted to provoke a coup as part of a ‘strategy of tension’. Had Special Demonstration Squad police officer Neri succeeded in inciting the three workers to firebomb Fiore’s charity shop, their act would likely have led to their arrests. It could also have resulted in revenge attacks, a UK version of a strategy of tension, and an excuse for many more arrests.

But the three workers didn’t play into the establishment’s game. It’s thanks to them and other victims of undercover political policing that the truth of what really happened is finally beginning to emerge.

Featured image via Paul Buckingham – Wikimedia Commons





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