Why is Spycop Andy Coles Still Silent?
He was referred to the IPCC after his exposure as an ex-member of the disgraced Special Demonstration Squad in May, which included details of how he groomed a teenager known as Jessica into a sexual relationship during his time infiltrating animal rights and peace groups.
‘Although I was 19, I had never been in a proper relationship before. Events in my life had taught me it’s best to keep people at arm’s length. So, I didn’t know how to react when he made advances towards me, I was embarrassed, awkward, and what truly makes me feel sick now, is that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I look back now and realise I was naive, idealistic, unsophisticated and a very young 19.
‘Appallingly I also now know my new “boyfriend” was a 32 year old, married undercover policeman working for the SDS, Special Demonstration Squad. I had believed him to be about 24 at the time…
‘Although not legally underage, I feel that my youth and vulnerability were used to target me. I was groomed by someone much older, and far more experienced (he had been an acting police officer for 10 years) and I was manipulated into having a sexual relationship with him.’
The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which is examining the misdeeds of Britain’s political secret police, recently designated Jessica as a core participant, a status given to less than 200 of the most significantly targeted people.
But now the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a body largely comprised of people who, like Coles, are ex-police officers, have decided there is nothing worth looking at, just as they did with other abusive spycops. They did not consult Jessica, nor any of the other women Coles sexually abused. Nothing has been investigated.
However, in some ways it does not need to be, because the issue rests on three simple and indisputable facts.
1 – Andy Coles was the Special Demonstration Squad officer known as Andy Davey
2 – He deceived Jessica into a relationship
3 – This was an abuse of police power, a violation of her human rights and far beyond anything police could ever justify
‘it has become apparent that some officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.
‘I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service… relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity…
‘none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple. I want to make it clear that the Metropolitan Police does not suggest that any of these women could be in any way criticized for the way in which these relationships developed.’
Coles has promoted himself as a figure of civic credibility, becoming governor at two schools, being the opening speaker at this year’s annual conference of Link to Change (an organisation supporting young people facing sexual exploitation). He personally endorsed the Children’s Society’s Seriously Awkward campaign to protect older teenagers from abuse and sexual exploitation.
He must have known all this was richly hypocritical but hoped that he would be able to keep his past secret. As soon as he was unmasked, his position as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner became instantly untenable and he resigned.
Despite all this, Coles is retaining his position as a Conservative member of Peterborough City Council, defying cross-party calls for him to step down from that post too.
Dozens of people attended a protest outside the council meeting on 19 July. Hundreds of leaflets about Coles were given out to those passing or entering the Town Hall. The protest included spycops campaigners alongside LibDem councillors, and representatives of Peterborough’s Labour and Green parties.
The council refused to consider a question, submitted by Jessica, on Coles’ suitability for his role. A banner she made was hung from the public gallery. The Mayor refused to continue the meeting until it was taken down; protesters refused to remove it while Coles was present; he refused to leave. After an hour of this stalemate, the Mayor abandoned the meeting.
IF YOU’VE NOTHING TO HIDE YOU’VE NOTHING TO FEAR
Council leader John Holdich OBE told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire that Coles was ‘not allowed to make a comment about it’, but this is not true. Several exposed spycops have given statements and interviews. It is Coles’ choice not to speak, which is odd if he feels his position were in any way defensible.
Holdich went on to defend Coles’ refusal to resign from the council.
‘Until you’re proved guilty, why should you get out? That’s a sign of your guilt, isn’t it, if you resign?’
But this was two months after Coles had resigned as Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. What was that then, if not a sign of his guilt?
Coles said he was unable to comment on the matter, pending the IPCC’s decision. But now there is to be no criminal trial that could be influenced, he is free to come forward and explain. If it’s possible for him to exonerate himself in the way his fellow Conservative – and an outlier LibDem – councillors say they expect, why isn’t he doing it?
He knows no denial is possible. He knows there is no doubt that if he had been unmasked sooner, he would have been among those that the Met already condemned and apologised for. He behaved in the same way as other sexually abusive officers. There is no excuse. There is no justification.
He grossly abused a position of trust while in public office. He has no place in a public body with any measure of integrity.
There is a meeting of Peterborough City Council on 11 October. If Coles is still a councillor, there will be a protest outside.