A specialist army intelligence unit was used to infiltrate groups including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamemt and Peace Pledge Union so soldiers could carry out spying missions ordered by the Ministry of Defence.
Members of 20 Security Company (V) have spoken out for the first time on how they were ordered by a senior officer to integrate themselves into organisations thought to be opposed to armed forces.
It said: 'The change of government provides an excellent opportunity for the unit to play a more active role and to provide information about groups whose activities and interests are not beneficial and are opposed to the armed forces.
'The unit is well placed to do this because its members are civilians.'
But the secretive mission was not welcomed by a number of soldiers in the company.
He told the Independent: 'It simply wasn't our business to be spying on fellow citizens simply because the government did not like them.'
Undercover soldiers were asked to infiltrate organisations which were under surveillance and one soldier was so successful he was even to be elected as a membership secretary of a group.
A former sergeant explained how one undercover solider was chanting anti-military slogans with a crowd opposite the entrance to the Royal Tournament at Earls’ Court and they he would rush back to the 20 COY office to give updates.
The sergeant with the unit told the newspaper: 'Those targeted were pacifists, anti-arms trade, anti-nuclear, radical and socialist organisations.
'So you had groups like the Peace Pledge Union, Troops Out and CND branches.'
He explained that the groups they were targeting held meetings around the city in areas such as Hackney, Holborn, Camden and an Islington pub called the King's Head.
After leaving the service, the former head of M15, Stella Rimington, acknowledged that there had been 'over-enthusiasm' in targeting left-wing groups during the early Thatcher years.
'Files were opened on people who were not actively threatening the state,' she admitted.
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