HC 837Written evidence submitted by Tuckers Solicitors on behalf of their client “Charlotte” [UP 02]
1. I Charlotte (real name withheld) write this statement for the Home Affairs Select Committee sitting on 5 February 2013 and looking into the issue of Undercover Policing. I would have liked to have come to the committee and give evidence in person. I mean no disrespect by not attending. I simply wouldn’t be able to cope with it at this time. My life fell apart on 14 June 2012 when I learned the truth about my ex-partner Bob Lambert (aka Bob Robinson) and the father of my child. My mental health has suffered and I am now under a consultant Psychiatrist at The Priory Hospital and am required to attend there every Tuesday for 12 weeks for a full day’s treatment.
2. The 14 June 2012 was an ordinary Thursday. I came home from work at about 4pm, as I don’t work Fridays, Thursdays are the start of my weekend. I made a pot of coffee and because the weather was good, I took the paper (Daily Mail) and the coffee out to the garden. As I flicked through the paper I saw the picture of Bob Robinson in the 80s—it was “my” Bob, my son’s dad. I had not had news of him for approximately 24 years and there was his face staring back at me from the paper.
3. I went into shock, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I started shaking. I did not even read the story which appeared with the picture. I went inside and phoned my parents. My dad got the paper from their nearest shop and my mum got out the photos out of Bob and our son, at the birth and when he was a toddler. They confirmed to me, that by comparing photos, it was definitely Bob.
4. The article was about Caroline Lucas naming Bob Lambert in Parliament as the third bomber of Debenhams and an undercover police officer. So I phoned the House of Commons that evening and asked for Caroline Lucas. A researcher answered the phone and I told them that I was the mother of Bob Lambert’s son. I was given the details of a solicitor representing other woman who police officers had had relationships with. I didn’t sleep all that night. My head was full of memories and questions. I was examining every memory again looking for clues that I should have seen that would have revealed his identity. I needed to know if I was just a part of Bob’s cover story, and if our son, who he’d abandoned was also just a part of his cover story.
5. The next morning I got the number for St Andrews where the article said Bob worked. I called the university and asked for Bob Lambert, I was put through to a woman in his office. She was understandably cagey but I burst into tears and told her that I was the mother of his son. She could hear that I was in a state and said to me she would call Bob, tell him I’d phoned and she would call me back if there was any message. She said whatever happened she would come back to me. Ten minutes later the phone ran and it was Bob. This was the first time I had heard his voice for 24 years but I recognised it. It was very emotional. I remember asking him “why me”, he also sounded emotional. He could not answer my questions, I had many. I wanted to know if the force chose me or if he did, I also wanted to know if he had chosen to abandon me and our son or if he was under orders to do so. In the end his answers did not help, they threw up more questions and they counted for nothing as I could no longer believe a word he said.
6. When I was a teenager in the early 1980s I got involved in animal rights and began attending meetings and protests. In about 1984, when I was 22 years old, I was living alone and met a man who called himself “Bob Robinson”. He told me that he worked as a gardener in north London. He got involved in animal rights and made himself a useful member of the group by ferrying us around in his van.
7. I feel that “Bob Robinson” targeted me. He was always around, wherever I turned he was there trying to make himself useful, trying to get my attention. I think he was about 12 years older than me. It now seems that he worked to build a relationship with me, which developed into an intimate friendship and which became sexual. I believed at the time that he shared my beliefs and principles. In fact, he would tease me for not being committed enough. I was a vegetarian but he encouraged me to become a vegan and he got me to become more involved in “direct action” and London Greenpeace. My relationship with Bob was my first serious relationship.
8. Although Bob had a bedsit, he would stay with me. We set up home together. He would sometimes go off for a short while saying he had to visit his dad with dementia in Cumbria and sometimes he went off saying that he had a gardening job. Most the time while we were together he lived with me.
9. Around Christmas 1984 I became pregnant. Bob seemed excited by the news and he was caring and supportive throughout the pregnancy. Bob was there by my side through the 14 hours of labour in the autumn of 1985 when our son was born. He seemed to be besotted with the baby. He was a great dad and I had no reason to believe that our son was not his first. I didn’t realise then that he was already married with two other children.
10. Our relationship broke down in/around 1987. With the benefit of hindsight I can now see how he orchestrated breakdown of our relationship. It was very hard time for me. He continued to visit our son after he moved out and we continued an intimate relationship until one day when he said he had to “go on the run” to Spain, owing to him being involved in the firebombing at the Debenhams store in Harrow. He promised he would never abandon his son and said that as soon as it was safe I could bring our baby to Spain to see him.
11. He abandoned me to support our son alone and to explain to him the disappearance of his father. I felt guilty. At that time I blamed myself a lot for the break up and for the fact that my son had lost his father. I tried to track Bob down countless times over the years but those efforts were doomed to failure as I did not even know his real name. Then out of the blue I saw the article in the newspaper on 14th June 2012.
12. Since seeing the article my life has been devastated, I describe 14 June as the day of the earthquake and a big hole opened up. All my security, everything I took for granted fell down the hole. All subsequent revelations are like the “aftershocks” I feel so confused and hurt by what has happened. I don’t understand what I am supposed to have done that I was chosen by the state to be treated like this. I was no threat to national security and what was my child—collateral damage?
13. Six months on from that traumatic revelation in the newspaper and I’m a long way off from coping with it. What I can now say with confidence is that there can be no excuses for what he did, for the betrayal, the manipulation and the lies. There is no middle ground, no half-truth that makes sense of his actions. This has been the hardest part to accept; not to make excuses for my friend and lover, not to let him still have a small piece of my heart. I loved him so much, but now have to accept that he never existed, he was a phantom but the damage is real.
Statement of Charlotte. (not her real name).