G20 Agents Provocateurs

The Metropolitan Police have been very quick to deny accusations by Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake that there were plain clothes officers urging the crowd to violence at the G20 protests on April 1st. Apparently ‘a spokesman’ has said that they would never ‘deploy officers in this way or condone such behaviour.’
Brake will present evidence tomorrow to the parliamentary joint committe on human rights that one individual who was noisily inciting the crowd inside the kettle was suspected by the crowd of being a police plant, and on displaying a form of I.D. was allowed out. Brake and others are assuming this person was a police officer in plain clothes, or more likely, in some form of crusty costume deemed appropriate for the day. This may well be a reasonable assumption. But it ignores the fact that the other kind of person generally allowed through police lines are journalists, who would have much more to gain from a violent crowd than the police.
The police are generally only obeying orders from their superiors, and the rewards are meagre. Journalists are generally obeying the orders of the market for sensationalist copy, and the rewards, at least for the tabloid owners, are enormous, especially at a time when newspaper sales are crumbling.

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