Lecturer faces criminal investigation after revelations about work as police spy


A St Andrews lecturer has admitted to having four affairs with activists and to adopting the identity of a dead seven-year-old boy to maintain cover while working as an undercover police officer. He is now facing a potential criminal investigation.

Dr Robert Lambert, a lecturer in International Relations, revealed that while working as a spy he used the identity of a seven-year-old boy named Bob Robinson, who died of a congenital heart defect in 1959, to obtain a birth certificate. In an interview with Channel 4 News, Dr Lambert admitted that he used this false identity in court in order to maintain his cover and claimed that this was a practice commonly used by undercover officers. This act could lead to him being investigated for committing perjury.

He also disclosed that he was involved in co-writing the ‘McLibel’ leaflet, a pamphlet critical of McDonald’s that in the mid-1980s led to the fast food chain suing two activists in one of the longest civil trials in English legal history.

Accusations had previously been made about Dr Lambert’s relationships with some of the female activists on whom he was spying, as The Saint reported last year. During the Channel 4 interview he admitted for the first time that he had been involved in relationships with four women and had fathered a child with one of them while he was working undercover. Relationships between officers and the activists on whom they spy are strictly forbidden.

He refused to answer questions about whether his bosses knew about his relationships, but stated that he was “willing to discuss that with the investigation team”. His actions are currently being examined as part of a major police investigation, Operation Herne, which aims to discover the truth about allegations of widespread misconduct by undercover officers.

Dr Lambert worked as a detective in the years 1980-2000 and spent many years working as an undercover officer for a covert Metropolitan Police unit called the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). He infiltrated political organisations and it was there that he had relationships with a number of women, despite having a wife and children.

The women involved in these relationships were not aware of his true identity and some have alleged that the relationships were a deliberate tactic to gain credibility and information from within the organisations. The mother of his secret lovechild claimed in a Dispatches documentary that her experience was like “being raped by the state”. Dr Lambert denied these allegations, claiming that these women were not targeted and he had feelings for them. He said: “I became too immersed in my alter ego, Bob Robinson.”

He continued to deny claims by Green MP Caroline Lucas that he was involved in the igniting of a firebomb at a Debenhams branch in 1987 as part of a fire-bombing campaign by the Animal Liberation Front. In his interview with Channel 4 News he said this was a “false allegation.”

Lambert expressed regret for his actions and said he recognised that he has been disgraced by the work he has carried out in the past, but stated that he hopes the work he did in setting up the Muslim Contact Unit after 9/11 will salvage some of his credibility.

“My reputation is never going to be redeemed for many people, and I don’t think it should be. I think I made serious mistakes that I should regret, and I always will do. I think the only real comfort I can take from my police career is that the Muslim Contact Unit was about learning from mistakes,” he said.

The University of St Andrews has previously expressed its support for Dr Lambert but declined to comment on the recent revelations.


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