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Robert Anderson

Starting a career as barrister in 1863, Anderson got involved in counter Fenian operations two years later, after his father showed him papers relating to Fenian trials. In 1868, he was called to London and was attached to the Home Office as advisor on political crime. When Fenianism became more or less dormant, Anderson was appointed secretary to several government inquiries, such as the new Prison Commission in 1877. During the 1880s Fenian bombing campaigns, Anderson was sacked for not being effective in combatting them, but hired by Scotland Yard in 1887. The following year, he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the Criminal Investigation Department. From the late 1880s onwards, the London detective department grew increasingly linked with their Parisian colleagues. Since Marie-François Goron went to London to trace a fugitive, both men established ‘a friendship that was of great value’ in their official work, as is shown in their memoires. Among other things, both men regularly swapped information on fugitive anarchists. Direct telegrams between the detective services of Paris and London followed form 1892 onwards, and even a direct telephone line between both offices was established. Being in charge of criminal investigations, moreover, Anderson was among the first to visit Bertillon when his new Service d’identité judiciaire in 1893. On the occasion, he also met Prefect Louis Lépine, Armand Cochefert of the Sûreté and President Carnot. After the Troup committee, established to investigate the best existing methods of identification, completed its research and a new anthropometrical department was established within Scotland Yard in 1895, it was placed under direct command of Anderson. Subsequently, he visited Bertillon once again for studies the same year. In 1896, an alleged Fenian dynamite campaign stretched out over Belgium, the Netherlands, Scotland and France, and Anderson contacted his colleagues in all places. The following years, he received police commissioners from, among other places, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna. Although discussed, Anderson was not suggested as delegate for the Rome conference, as some of his rather continental, unlawful policing tactics, were denounced by several Home Secretaries. Nevertheless, his transnational relations expanded, some more intense than others. With the French police, for instance, his CID kept close surveillance over anarchists. Telegrams between Anderson and Goron, Puibaraud and Paris Prefect Lépine continued into the next century. The latter’s officials for instance kept passes for free transport between London and Calais. According to his diary, Anderson made thirty-seven visits to Calais in 1898, and thirty-eight in 1902. He published about twenty apocalyptic interpretations of the bible, for which he received letters from over sixty places from every continent.

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