Revealed: Police officer Bob Lambert helped to write the leaflet that caused McLibel

Undercover infiltrator was the co-author of defamatory pamphlet about US fast-food giant

An undercover police officer who famously infiltrated the anarchist movement London Greenpeace also helped to write the anti-McDonald’s leaflet which led to the David-versus-Goliath “McLibel” trial, it emerged.

A new book about undercover policing reveals that  Bob Lambert, who used the name Bob Robinson during his five years at London Greenpeace, which is not affiliated with the Greenpeace environmental movement, was the co-author of the libellous leaflet.

In the 1990s, McDonald’s sued a group of activists for distributing a pamphlet critical of the US fast-food giant and its ethical standards. Although the company won the trial, its reputation and balance sheet were harmed. It spent an estimated £10m on the three-year case – while the defendants received pro-bono assistance from a sympathetic barrister – and it never collected the £40,000 the judge ruled that it was due.

Mr Lambert’s involvement in the case was known only to a few people until now and gives a further twist to two stories that have captured the public imagination – his own and the McLibel trial.

He was one of about five authors who wrote the defamatory, roughly typed leaflet over several months in 1986. It was only after his covert

deployment ended in 1989 that McDonald’s decided to take action – even though London Greenpeace could only afford to distribute a few hundred copies.

The six-page leaflet made a wide range of accusations of McDonald’s, accusing it of destroying the environment, exploiting workers and selling junk food. One anonymous close friend from the time said Mr Lambert was really proud of his leaflet. “It was like his baby, he carried it round with him,” he told The Guardian, which has seen extracts from the book.

The Metropolitan Police said: “[The force] recognises the seriousness of the allegations of inappropriate behaviour and practices involving past undercover deployments. At some point it will fall upon this generation of police leaders to account for the activities of our predecessors, but for the moment we must concentrate on getting to the truth.”

A review and investigation into these matters – Operation Herne – is being overseen by Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon. Mr Lambert is under investigation for sexual relationships with four women while undercover, fathering a child with one of them before he left in 1989.

Mr Lambert declined to comment about his role in the production of the McLibel leaflet. However, he previously offered a general apology for deceiving “law-abiding members of London Greenpeace”, which he said was a peaceful campaign group. His role in the McLibel leaflet is exposed in Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, out next week.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own