Undercover police spy accused of encouraging activist to crime

An undercover police officer has been accused of encouraging and helping an animal rights campaigner to commit illegal acts which led to his being jailed for four years, according to legal documents.

The campaigner, Geoff Sheppard, has lodged an appeal to overturn his convictions for possessing a shotgun and components for an incendiary device, alleging, in effect, that he was a victim of an agent provocateur.

Sheppard said the undercover officer, whose covert role is revealed by the Guardian this Thursday, actively encouraged him to buy the shotgun and offered him money to purchase it. He claims that as part of a “determined, cynical, and targeted effort” against him, the undercover spy asked him for instructions on making an incendiary device, and tested it.

The Guardian has established that the undercover officer at the centre of the new allegations worked for a controversial covert unit that infiltrated hundreds of political groups for 40 years.

The officer, a member of the Metropolitan police’s special demonstration squad, used the fake name of Matt Rayner to pose as an animal rights campaigner for five years.

In the last three years 50 campaigners have had their criminal convictions quashed because key evidence gathered by undercover officers had beenconcealed from their trials.

The home secretary, Theresa May, has commissioned a lawyer, Mark Ellison QC, to examine other convictions of political campaigners to see if they should also be overturned.

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