Content tagged with "John Dines"

Helen Steel Demolishes “Neither Confirm Nor Deny”

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

Last week’s preliminary hearing of the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing was concerned with issues of disclosure and secrecy.

Helen Steel is a lifelong activist and no stranger to the Royal Courts of Justice. She has just finished a four-year legal case against the police after she discovered her former partner John Barker was in fact undercover police officer John Dines. It was a fight characterised by Metropolitan police attempts to use any tactic to obstruct accountability and justice. At the end the Met conceded “these legal proceedings have been painful, distressing and intrusive and added to the damage and distress”.

The same Met lawyers are now wheeling out the same tactics for the Pitchford inquiry, claiming they can’t talk about officers as there is a long-standing policy of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’. Helen Steel told last week’s hearing there is no such thing. Clear, comprehensive and authoritative, her speech ended with a round of applause from the court.

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Throughout all the legal proceedings that I have been involved with where the police have asserted “Neither Confirm Nor Deny”, they have never offered any documentary evidence of their so-called policy, of how it is applied or how any exceptions to it are decided. That is actually despite an order from Master Leslie in August 2013 that they should provide that documentary evidence. Instead, they provided statements, but there are no documents that have ever been provided about this so-called “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy.

So I just wanted to start really with a brief history about what I know of neither confirm nor deny in relation to the Special Demonstration Squad and other political policing units. I will not comment on what the situation is with the wider Security Services or with the National Crime Agency position, except to say that I have seen newspaper reports of undercover officers giving evidence in criminal trials which are open to the public, so it does seem that it is only the political policing units which are seeking total secrecy about everything they do.

I think it is also worth bearing in mind in relation to the issues raised that the main concern of this Inquiry is political undercover policing, which is different to general undercover policing in that the intention is not to obtain evidence for prosecution; it is to obtain intelligence on political movements. The result of that is that, while general undercover operations are subject to a certain amount of outside legal scrutiny as a result of the requirements for due process and fair trials, political undercover policing has never been subjected to outside scrutiny until now.

I want to start with why we are here at all. We are not here because the police unearthed evidence of bad practice within these political policing units and were so concerned that they brought it to the attention of the Home Secretary.

We are here because of the bravery of Peter Francis coming forward to blow the whistle on the deeply alarming, abusive and undemocratic practice of the Special Demonstration Squad. We are here because of the detective work of women who were deceived into relationships with undercover police officers and who, despite the wall of secrecy around these secretive political policing units, managed to reveal the true identities of our former partners and expose these and other abusive practices to the wider world.

I think it is important to bear that context in mind when listening to the police assert that you can hear their evidence in secret and still get to the truth.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE IN THE MEDIA

So going back to the history of political undercover policing and neither confirm nor deny, these revelations started to unravel, really, on 19 December 2010, when The Times newspaper wrote an article about Mark Kennedy’s seven years’ undercover in the environmental movement.

The story had already broken on the internet, on alternative news websites, including Indymedia, and The Times reported on his involvement in the planned invasion of Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, which had resulted in a number of protesters being convicted.

It was reported that his real identity was Mark Kennedy, but that he was known while undercover as Mark Stone. The article then continued:

“Last week two police forces confirmed Stone’s status to the Sunday Times. ‘The individual is a Met officer,’ said Nottinghamshire Police. ‘He is an undercover officer,’ said the Metropolitan Police, ‘so we can’t say more’.”

So, on the face of it, it took nothing more than Mark Kennedy’s identity being revealed on the internet for the Metropolitan Police to confirm that he was an undercover police officer. The police actually confirmed his identity long before he was officially named in the appeal judgment in July 2011 or in the HMRC report in 2012.

The police also publicly confirmed Jim Boyling as a police officer via the media on 21 January 2011. The week after the DIL story of her relationship with Jim Boyling first appeared in the national press, the Guardian newspaper reported that Jim Boyling had been suspended from duty pending an investigation into his professional conduct.

It said that,

“In a statement the Metropolitan Police said a serving specialist operations detective constable has been restricted from duty as part of an investigation following allegations reported in a national newspaper”

A similar report was carried on the BBC.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE IN PERSON

There was not just the confirmation in the media. DIL or, as she’s known in this Inquiry, Rosa got in contact with me in late 2010 in relation to her former partner, Jim Boyling, who I had known as “Jim Sutton”, when he was infiltrating Reclaim the Streets. I was with her when she was interviewed in March 2011 by the Department of Professional Standards, who were investigating the conduct of Jim Boyling.

Her account was absolutely harrowing and, at the end of it, the police officers apologised on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. At no point in that interview did they mention “neither confirm nor deny”. On the contrary, they confirmed that Jim was a serving police officer.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE IN WRITING

Jim Boyling whilst undercover in the 1990s

Jim Boyling whilst undercover in the 1990s

They also named Jim Boyling and referred to him as a serving officer in correspondence sent relating to that interview and potential disciplinary issues arising from it from February 2011 until June 2012.

If you want to see any of that correspondence, it can be made available to show that he was named and they were not applying neither confirm nor deny.

They also provided a copy of their terms of reference to their investigation, which clearly states that they were investigating DC Jim Boyling.

Then moving on to our court case, with DIL and six other women I went on to bring a case against the Metropolitan Police Service, arising from having been deceived into relationships with these undercover officers. That case involved eight women and relationships with five different undercover police officers, spanning a period of around about 25 years, and the case incorporates both the AKJ and the DIL judgments that have been referred to at this hearing.

In that case, the first time the police asserted a policy of neither confirm nor deny was in a letter dated 25 June 2012, some six months after the initial letter before claim, and only after considerable correspondence between the parties, which had included admitting that Mark Kennedy was an undercover officer and making a series of conflicting statements about sexual relationships while undercover.

If there really was a longstanding and active Metropolitan Police Service policy of neither confirm nor deny, you would assume that the immediate response on receipt of the letter before claim in December 2011 would have been to assert such a policy straight away.

In fact, in relation to the Mark Kennedy claims, the Metropolitan Police letters had absolutely no hint of a policy of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny”. In a letter dated 10 February 2012, they stated:

“If it assists, I can confirm Mark Kennedy was a Metropolitan Police officer and did not serve with any other force. He left the Metropolitan Police Service in March 2010.”

It then goes on to state that the Commissioner is not vicariously liable in respect of Mr Kennedy’s sexual conduct, as described in the letters of claim.

In a letter of 14 March 2012, the force solicitor stated:

“I confirm that during most of the entire period from July 2003 to February 2010, Mark Kennedy was authorised under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to engage in conduct of the sort described in section 26(8) of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

“He was lawfully deployed in relation to certain groups to provide timely and good-quality pre-emptive intelligence in relation to pre-planned activities of those groups. The authorisation extended to participation in minor criminal activity.”

There was then further correspondence in which the Metropolitan Police Service was quite open about Mark Kennedy’s identity as an undercover police officer.

It was not actually until November 2012 that the Metropolitan Police Service first raised “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” in relation to the AKJ case in their application to strike out the claim on the basis that “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” meant that they could not defend themselves. That is the Carnduff argument. By that time they had obviously confirmed his identity so it was all a bit late.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE INTERNAL STANDARDS WATCHDOG

Then, moving on to how the so-called “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy relates to the Department of Professional Standards, as I mentioned, the first time that the police asserted a policy of neither confirm nor deny in relation to the DIL claims was in June 2012. That came two weeks after the first mention of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” at all from any police source which was in a letter from the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police).

Until that point, the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) had openly discussed the investigation against Jim Boyling, but they were also asking for statements from myself and the other women in relation to the issues raised in the particulars of our claim. That included issues relating to the McLibel Support Campaign.

A letter that was from them, dated 16 April 2012, confirmed progress in relation to the investigation into DC Boyling and then went on to seek clarification relating to whether or not I wanted to make a formal complaint to the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) of matters that were outlined in our letters before claim regarding the involvement of undercover officers in the McLibel case.

THREE OFFICERS ARE ENOUGH – TIME TO INVENT A LONG-STANDING POLICY

Bob Lambert distributes anti McDonald's leaflets, 1986

Bob Lambert distributes anti McDonald’s leaflets, 1986

During previous discussions we had requested information relating to what action the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) was able to take if undercover officers were no longer employed by the Metropolitan Police Service and, as a result, we had requested confirmation as to whether John Barker and Mark Cassidy were still serving police officers.

The letter of 16 April explains that the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) was seeking legal advice as to whether or not they could disclose that information to us.

On 11 June 2012, the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) sent an email regarding the progression of my complaint and asking to interview me in relation to the allegations about breaches of legal privilege and Bob Lambert’s involvement in the creation of the leaflet that resulted in the McLibel action.

In that same letter, even though they have named Bob Lambert and asked me to give a statement in relation to him, they state:

“In answer to your questions surrounding John Barker and Mark Cassidy, the current position of the Metropolitan Police Service is to maintain its neither confirm nor deny stance in accordance with established policy.”

That letter on 11 June 2012 was the first time that the police mentioned “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to us. At that point, though, since Bob Lambert was named in that same letter, it appeared that it was only in relation to John Barker and Mark Cassidy that they were asserting neither confirm nor deny.

It was only two weeks later on 25 June, when they extended that to all the officers in the DIL case, that “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” became the standard response to every request for information or compliance with the court proceedings, even though there had already been official acknowledgement that both Lambert and Boyling had been undercover officers. It was absolutely clear at that point that they were going to use “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to create a wall of silence about these relationships.

CONFIRMED BY THE HEAD OF THE UNIT

Moving on to other evidence relevant to neither confirm nor deny about Bob Lambert. When I originally met with DIL, she informed me that while she was married to Jim Boyling, he had revealed that Bob Lambert and my former partner, John, had both been police spies in the groups that I had been involved with.

It took some time to identify that Bob Lambert had been Bob Robinson, who infiltrated London Greenpeace in the mid-1980s. But after that we felt it was important to expose his past role, which we did when he spoke at a public meeting about racism in the headquarters of the Trade Union Congress on 15 October 2011. If necessary, footage is available of that incident which confirms that no violence either took place or was threatened and that Bob Lambert hurried away, refusing to make any comment.

But two weeks later, on 24 October 2011, he issued a public statement to Spinwatch, which was an organisation which he had worked with in the past, and to the Guardian, in which he admitted,

“As part of my cover story so as to gain the necessary credibility to become involved in serious crime, I first built a reputation as a committed member of London Greenpeace, a peaceful campaigning group”

That statement contrasts sharply with the attempt to smear the group that is made in his current statement for the purposes of applying for a restriction order in connection with this Inquiry, but it also confirms his role as an undercover officer.

He has subsequently gone on to comment extensively in the media about his time in the Special Demonstration Squad, the relationships that he had, the fact that a child was born as a result of one of those relationships and the fact that he was involved in writing the London Greenpeace anti-McDonalds leaflet that became the subject of the McLibel case.

Now you would think that, if “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” had always been a Metropolitan Police Service policy, that Bob Lambert, who had supervised Special Demonstration Squad officers at one point, would have known about that and adhered to it.

CONFIRMED BY THE COUNTRY’S TOP COP

It is not just Bob Lambert. We then go on to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe. You would think that this is someone who would stick to “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” if it truly was a policy adopted by the Metropolitan Police. But, no, at a public meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority on 27 October 2011, he confirmed that ‘Jim Sutton’ was under investigation as a serving officer.

Is it really credible that, if there was a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy in place, the Commissioner himself would not know about it and not adhere to it?

The transcript of those proceedings is available, it can be checked, and you will see that he answers questions about Jim Boyling.

So is it really credible that there was an “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy in place at that point or is it more likely, as I would submit, that “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” was suddenly adopted in June 2012, when the Metropolitan Police Service wanted a wall to hide behind after they realised that they could no longer write these relationships off as a result of rogue officers and that, in fact, there was clear evidence of multiple abusive relationships that could only have arisen through systemic failings and institutional sexism?

CONFIRMED TO THE BBC

The final and key piece of the jigsaw concerning the truth about neither confirm nor deny, which I know has already been referred to so I’m not going to say anything at length, is the True Spies television series.

In 2002, the BBC broadcasted three programmes as part of a series called “True Spies” which were entirely focused on the work of the Special Demonstration Squad. As I am sure you have heard, the programme was made with the support and assistance of the Metropolitan Police Service. While no individual officer’s identity is disclosed, undercover officers speak extensively to the camera about their work. They talk about the groups they infiltrated and the methods used. There are significant details of the undercover operations actually carried out.

I would urge you to watch True Spies so that you can see just how much of their tactics they discussed and yet how the Metropolitan Police now claim they can’t talk about those same tactics.

NEITHER CONSISTENT NOR A POLICY

Neither Confirm Nor Deny = Neither Truth Nor JusticeI submit that they were perfectly happy to reveal their methods and the groups that they were spying on when it suited them for PR purposes and that the reason they want to bring in “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” is that actually just to cover up serious human rights abuses.

It is being used as a shield for the police from any form of accountability and to avoid any proper scrutiny of their actions to cover up illegal and immoral activities of political undercover police officers and prevent them coming to light.

There was a lot of talk yesterday about the police rights to privacy, but there was nothing at all from the police about the rights of core participants who were spied on. It took me 24 years to get acknowledgment of wrongdoing from the Metropolitan Police and from John Barker, my former partner. Other core participants should not have to wait that long, nor should they have to risk never finding out the truth and being left with permanent doubt about who people really were in their lives.

We know that the McLibel Support Campaign was infiltrated by John Dines and indeed that Bob Lambert was involved in writing the leaflet that led to the case and we know that information was shared between the Metropolitan Police and private corporations, private investigators and McDonalds that enabled the writs to be served, but what we don’t know is any of the detail
behind that. We need to know how and why that was allowed to happen in order to prevent those kind of abuses from happening again.

It is insulting in the extreme that, despite the apology, the police are still seeking to neither confirm nor deny John Dines. It is also farcical in light of my meeting with him last week and his apology to me. But it was not just insulting to me. It is insulting for everybody who has had their privacy invaded to be told that they can’t know the truth about the wrongdoing that was done against them because the privacy of those who carried out that abuse has to be protected.

NEITHER BASIS NOR JUSTIFICATION

I just also wanted to say that they seem to also be seeking unique rights in that they seem to think that they should have the right to no social ostracisation, which is something that nobody else who is accused of wrongdoing gets any form of protection from. Nobody else who is accused of something has their name covered up on the grounds that they might be socially ostracised.

So finally, I wanted to submit that, even if there had been a genuine “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy, there is absolutely no justification for a blanket protection of all officers, given the level of human rights abuses that we have been subjected to as core participants. I cannot see why officers who have grossly abused the fundamental human rights of others should have a permanent shield preventing scrutiny of their actions and I would say that it is not in the public interest for officers to think that they will be protected no matter what they do.

RELEASE THE NAMES

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettesThe McLibel Support Campaign supports the core participants’ call for all the cover names to be released so that the truth can be heard. We have not called for all the real names of officers to be released, although I think that there may be individual circumstances where that is appropriate, especially where those officers went on to become supervisors or line managers or are now in positions of responsibility, but I’m assuming that that would be done on a more individualised basis. However, I do believe that all of the cover names should be disclosed so that the truth can be achieved.

I also believe that to ensure the Inquiry is as comprehensive as possible, the police need to release a full list of all the organisations that were targeted. There is no reason for secrecy on this. Various groups were named in True Spies, so why is it that they can’t be named now?

The reason for wanting maximum transparency and disclosure is a political one. Without the names of undercover officers who targeted each group, it is impossible to start to assess the whole impact of their surveillance or the extent of the abuses committed. Without full disclosure, we won’t get to the full truth and we can’t ensure that preventative measures are put in place to stop these abuses happening again.

These were very, very serious human rights abuses committed by this unit, including article 3 abuses [“no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”]. We want to stop them happening again. That is our purpose in taking part in this Inquiry and that is the real public interest that requires that there must be openness and transparency.

Undercover Officer John Dines Teaching Police in Australia

John Dines, undercover as John Barker

John Dines, undercover as John Barker

Australian politician David Shoebridge MLC gave this statement to the New South Wales legislative council today:

In 1968 a young boy called John Barker, only 8 years old, died from leukaemia. 19 years later an undercover UK police officer called John Dines stole John Barker’s identity.

Using the stolen identity of a dead boy, and a complete lack of principles, John Dines then sought to infiltrate British environmental and left-wing movements. John Dines wasn’t working alone. He was just one of a number of undercover police employed by the UK Special Demonstration Squad using the stolen identities of dead children to infiltrate protest groups.

The SDS was established in 1968 and operated until 2008. Its purpose was to infiltrate left wing groups using undercover police officers, who provided intelligence to MI5. It has been revealed that the SDS used the names of at least 80 dead children to create the false identities for its agents. Many of these agents then entered into long term personal and sexual relationships with protest organisers and activists to gain trust and increase their access to information.

John Dines started attending Greenpeace meetings in 1987 as a member of the squad, using the name of “John Barker”. As part of his undercover activities he, and other members of this squad, entered into close and often intimate relationships with the activists that they were spying on.

In 1990 John Dines entered a serious relationship with activist Helen Steel that continued until 1992 when he simply disappeared. Helen, who is present in the chamber tonight, spent years searching for Dines. In 2011 Helen was informed that he had been an undercover police officer.

The first case similar to this that came to public attention was portrayed by the police as just being a rogue officer, but this was not an isolated incident. 8 women including Helen, then took legal action against the police as a result of being deceived into relationships with 5 different undercover officers who infiltrated environmental and left-wing movements over a period spanning 25 years, strongly suggesting an institutional practice. Theirs are not the only cases being taken over these relationships.

There have been a large number of legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Service as a result of the SDS actions. This includes a £425,000 payment to a woman whose child was fathered by undercover police officer Bob Lambert when she was a 22 year old activist. When her child was 2 years old his father vanished, she only found out his real identity 25 years later through reading a newspaper article.

The Metropolitan police now accept this practice was morally and legally offensive. In a public apology issued in November 2015, they said:

“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”

It is hard to truly understand the impact that this would have on someone’s life.

In Helen Steel’s own words:

“I certainly feel violated by what they have done. It’s about power. We didn’t consent, and wouldn’t have consented if we had known who they were.”

“They’ve allowed this to happen in a unit of mainly male officers, in a culture where sexism is undoubtedly at play. Politicians and police officers have tried to justify it on the basis that it’s ‘necessary’, or that we deserved it in some way … The whole thing just demonstrates institutional sexism. The assumption is that, as a woman, you haven’t got the right to make a fully informed decision about who you want a relationship with, or have sex with – and that basically it’s not a problem for police to use women in this way.”

Why am I raising this case in the NSW Parliament? The answer is disturbingly simple. John Dines is now teaching police in Sydney. He is currently attached to Charles Sturt University. Since at least 2012 he has been at the Australian graduate School of Policing & Security at that University, and is now Course Director for the Mid-Career Training Programme.

This program is intended to provide senior level guidance to police officers. The learning outcomes of the unit include providing students with advanced knowledge in areas including:

  • Identifying and sharing good practice
  • Human Rights
  • Gender Sensitivity

It is offensive in the extreme that John Dines can be involved in teaching these matters to police in this State. This is a man who professionally and systematically abused human rights as a police officer in the UK and showed a culpable lack of gender sensitivity. He has no place teaching police in NSW or in any country that says it respects human rights.

We need to ensure that similar abusive political undercover policing tactics are not replicated here or abroad. This must start with an investigation into whether NSW police have been trained by any officers from these UK units.

As part of the Metropolitan Police’s public apology, a spokesperson said:

“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. I am aware that money alone cannot compensate the loss of time, their hurt or the feelings of abuse caused by these relationships”

The Metropolitan Police recognizes that this should never happen again and the necessary steps must be taken to ensure that it does not.

Was Charles Sturt University aware of John Dines past when they employed him? Are the NSW police aware of the history of this man?

Whatever their knowledge before now, this much is clear, he must cease any involvement with teaching police in this state, before a similar apology is needed by the NSW Police.

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UPDATE: In this Guardian report Charles Sturt University’s executive dean of the faculty of arts, professor Tracey Green, said “Mr Dines was engaged by the university as a business manager and his role is solely administrative. He does not and never has held a teaching position or delivered any form of training for or on behalf of the university. He does not train police officers”.

Dines told the Guardian “You will already be aware that I met with Helen Steel on 6 March, where I gave a her a personal and unreserved apology for all and any hurt that she may have suffered. I do not intend to make any other comment.”

Spycops in Scotland Exempt from Inquiry

Undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was deployed in Scotland 14 times

Undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was deployed in Scotland 14 times

Six of the exposed undercover political police were in Scotland, yet they are excluded from the Pitchford inquiry and the Scottish government is uninterested.

Today’s Sunday Herald reports that not only was Mark Kennedy the transport co-ordinator at the 2005 anti G8 protests in Scotland, but fellow officer Lynn Watson was there as part of the Action Medics team and Marco Jacobs is reported to have driven a minibus of activists up from England. Special Demonstration Squad officer Jason Bishop is also known to have attended.

Additionally, two of the women who received the extraordinary apology from the Metropolitan police earlier this month for being deceived into relationships with officers were taken to Scotland. Ostensibly going on holiday, John Dines was on paid duty when he took Helen Steel to Barra in 1990, and the same applied to Mark Cassidy’s visits to the country with a woman known as Alison.

The Met’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt frankly admitted that the way Dines and Jenner treated Helen Steel and Alison was

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.

 

Either the Scottish police were complicit in this by authorising the visits, or else they were mistreated by the Met who are obliged to get local police’s authorisation. Whichever, it is surely a serious issue for the Scottish police that such gross abuses took place in their jurisdiction.

But at First Minister’s Questions [scroll to 26:30] in the Scottish Parliament earlier this week, Nicola Sturgeon belittled the issue as mere “allegations of police impropriety” and dismissed a call for a Scottish inquiry.

A Scottish government spokesperson told the Sunday Herald they will

carefully consider the conclusions of the Pitchford Inquiry and, if there are measures over and above these safeguards which could sensibly be delivered in Scotland, we will discuss with Police Scotland and other interested parties how they might best be implemented.

The Pitchford Inquiry is limiting itself to actions in England and Wales, and is not expecting to report until summer 2018. Any recommendations would come somewhat later than that. Safeguards are only useful if they are implemented. One of the things the Met highlighted in their apology was that new, tougher rules were as blithely ignored as the old ones.

It is of particular concern that abuses were not prevented by the introduction of more stringent supervisory arrangements made by and pursuant to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

But more to the point, this is not just about preventing similar abuses in future. Pitchford is concerned with uncovering the truth of what happened in the past.

As well as the known five, how many of the hundred-plus unknown officers were in Scotland too? What campaigns were stymied? Which Scottish citizens were abused?

It’s absurd that the Pitchford Inquiry says its priority is to find the truth yet wilfully blinds itself to a place of prolonged and intensive operations. It’s baffling that the Scottish government doesn’t want to know about ‘violations of human rights and abuse of police power’ perpetrated by English officers on Scottish soil.

Speaking for COPS, Lois Austin told the Herald

A dozen officers from these disgraced units have been exposed, and five of them worked in Scotland. If the English victims of the political secret police deserve justice, so do the Scots. The Scottish government should be demanding inclusion in Pitchford. If they don’t trust the UK government inquiry – or if it continues to slam the door in their face – then Scotland must surely have their own public inquiry.

 

Police Apology for Relationships: Where Next?

L-R: Kate Wilson, Helen Steel, Belinda Harvey and their lawyer Harriet Wistrich at their press conference, 20 November 2015 (Pic: Danny Shaw, BBC)

L-R: Kate Wilson, Helen Steel, Belinda Harvey and their lawyer Harriet Wistrich at their press conference, 20 November 2015
(Pic: Danny Shaw, BBC)

It’s an extraordinary statement by any standards. Even when the police pay large compensation, they usually do so with no admission of culpability for anything. But last Friday they issued a detailed, unreserved apology for the abuse of women who had relationships with undercover police officers.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt even made a video of the admission, bluntly stating for the record that the relationships 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…

Most importantly, relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity.

 

The outrageousness and severity of how these women were treated is finally an acknowledged, settled fact.

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

Some of the harrowing, heart wrenching impacts were spelled out by Lisa Jones – partner of Mark Kennedy for six years and whose discovery of his true identity brought the issue to light – when she gave her first ever interview on Friday.

As “Rosa”, who had children with undercover officer Jim Boyling, said,

This has affected my whole view of the state and it went as deep as my womb

 

Kate Wilson’s description of what was done to her was similarly powerful, and her highlighting of the continuing lack of transparency – “the police have made no effort whatsoever to provide any kind of answers” – shows that all this is far from over.

It echoes what was said a year ago when the Met settled the first such case. Jacqui, who had a child with Bob Lambert, received £425,000 compensation but said

The legal case is finished but there is no closure for me. There is the money, but there is no admission by the police that what they did was wrong, there is no meaningful apology and most importantly there are no answers.

 

Although Friday’s apology is a major historic victory, it is only confirming that what the women already know to be true. There is so much more still hidden from view.

TIME TO TAKE CHARGE

The Met’s admission of their officers’ serious abuse must surely mean that the Crown Prosecution Service have to revisit last year’s extraordinary decision not to bring charges against these officers for sexual offences.

As Gayle Newland starts her eight year sentence for creating a false identity to deceive someone into a sexual relationship, it’s pretty clear that if this gang of men weren’t police officers they would already be behind bars. Nobody else would get away with just giving an apology and a cheque from public funds.

The CPS also decided not to prosecute them for other offences, explaining

In order to prosecute misconduct in public office, the prosecution would have to show that an officer knowingly abused their position in order to bring a sexual relationship about

 

It is hard to see how anyone could say anything else now. The Met have just conceded that the relationships didn’t just happen but

none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple…. [it was] an abuse of police power


STRATEGIC INSTITUTIONAL SEXISM

But even now, the Met can’t quite admit the whole truth. They

accept that it may well have reflected attitudes towards women that should have no part in the culture of the Metropolitan Police

They still can’t bring themselves to use the word ‘sexism’. The Met is institutionally sexist as well as institutionally racist. This cannot ever change if they refuse to fully face the facts, and in this apology they just shied away once again.

Police say relationships were never authorised in advance and were never used tactically. But the overwhelming majority of known officers – all but two – did it. Most had long-term, committed life-partner relationships. One of them, Bob Lambert, lived with a woman and fathered a child before going on to run the unit, overseeing protegee officers who did the same thing, including ones involved in this week’s settlement. He must surely have known.

Sometimes officers were deployed together. Certainly, Lambert, Marco Jacobs and Lynn Watson saw colleagues having relationships. So, did they fail to report this ‘grossly unprofessional, never allowed’ behaviour to their seniors (thereby placing themselves at risk if they were ever found out)? Or did they report it but their bosses didn’t intervene? Or was it, as it appears, an established, accepted tactic?

PULLING BACK THE SHROUD OF SECRECY

Three years ago police lawyers said relationships weren’t authorised, trying to blame individual ‘rogue officers’ and shield managers from responsibility. But then it was pointed out that if this was unauthorised behaviour then it wasn’t covered by the rules governing surveillance in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. If that were so then any case would be heard in open court instead of a secret tribunal where the womens’ side weren’t allowed. So those same lawyers went back to the same court and argued that relationships were actually authorised after all.

That was just one twist in the course of the four years and hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds police spent trying to stop these women bringing the facts to light. The blanket use of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to refuse to even admit anyone was a police officer was an additional insulting hurdle to make the path to truth more gruelling.

It’s a pattern familiar from so many other justice campaigns – there’s the injustice of what the police did, then the double injustice of the cover-up, smearing and legal obstacles that follow.

The apology statement rightly mentioned the extra distress caused by the protracted legal case and paid tribute to the tenacity and mettle of the women.

Even now, having just paid compensation and apologised to the women abused by John Dines and Mark Jenner, the police have not actually confirmed they were Special Demonstration Squad officers.

Nonetheless, the apology, like the agreement to be liable for damages paid to people spied on by Marco Jacobs, is effectively an admission that these men were police. It is another hammer blow to the devious, farcical tactic of Neither Conform Nor Deny. With the public inquiry still to come, that is significant.

A GRAIN OF TRUTH – TIME FOR THE HARVEST

All the appalling abuse these women suffered came from just five police officers. Even this isn’t the end of it – there are several other similar cases are still ongoing, including more partners of Mark Kennedy and Marco Jacobs.

We only know of the exposed officers due to the investigations and luck of activists and journalists. These are not necessrily the worst of them, merely what chance has revealed. There is so much more beyond. We have the names of around a dozen officers, less than 10% of those known to have worked undercover in the political secret police units.

How many other women were similarly abused? How many other children searching for their fathers are doomed to failure because it’s a name a police officer made up or stole from a dead child? How many campaigns were stymied? What other outrages have occurred that none of the known officers committed? At least 500 groups and uncountable thousands of individuals were spied on. They all have a right to know.

If these seven women deserve justice, so do the rest. If the public deserves the truth it deserves the whole truth, not somewhere under 10% of it.

Chair of the forthcoming public inquiry, Lord Pitchford, says

The Inquiry’s priority is to discover the truth

The only way we will get the truth is if those who were targeted tell their stories. The only way that can happen is if they know that their former friend and comrade was in fact a police spy. If the Inquiry is to serve its purpose, and if the Met are truly contrite, then they must publish the cover names of all undercover officers from the political policing units.

The Pitchford Inquiry’s Geographical Blinkers

 

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & Wales

The public inquiry into undercover policing is in a stage of active preparation, with the hearings expected to start properly next summer.

We’ve already had the inquiry’s Terms of Reference set out by the Home Secretary. It will

 

inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968.

 

This

 

will include, but not be limited to, the undercover operations of the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

 

More than half the exposed officers from those units worked outside England and Wales. They spied in at least seventeen different countries over a period of 25 years (the Undercover Research Group has produced a detailed list of dozens of instances). If this is the case with the known officers, it’s safe to presume many of their colleagues did it too.

Some officers are known to have committed crimes whilst working undercover abroad. It’s more than two years since German MP Andrej Hunko told the UK parliament.

 

Mark Kennedy was accused and found guilty of an arson attack in Berlin. But he was giving evidence in court under his false name to escape legal proceeding under his real name.

 

This is exactly the sort of thing that is the subject of the inquiry – if it’s in England and Wales. If the British police are farming these activities out on a large scale to dozens of countries it surely warrants proper investigation.

Conversely, Hunko has discovered that German police sent numerous undercover officers to the anti-G8 protests in Scotland in 2005. It is hardly likely to have been a one-off.

If an officer’s actions are an outrage in England and Wales, the same deed is equally an outrage if committed elsewhere. Who is responsible if an English undercover officer commits crimes whilst working abroad? What protects the public from foreign spies here? What deals are done between governments? If these officers aren’t reined in when working in the UK, are they even more cavalier toward citizens, laws and rights when away from their overseers?

As it stands, the Pitchford Inquiry appears uninterested in the answers. Its stated aim is to explore “the motivation for and scope of, undercover policing operations in practice and their effect upon individuals in particular and the public in general”. The geographical blinkers are a barrier to this. If it refuses to look at a significant element of the work of many officers, the inquiry cannot get a thorough overview and so undermines its very purpose.

This restriction in the Terms of Reference was handed to Pitchford and his team by the Home Secretary. It’s time for the inquiry, and others, to insist that she drops this clause.

If it is to be credible, the Pitchford Inquiry must give equal weight to equivalent actions and experiences of undercover officers and their victims, wherever they happened to be. The limit of England and Wales has to go.

= = = = = = = = = = =

British undercover officers and the countries they worked in

Mark Kennedy

A 2012 report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary refers to Kennedy professionally visiting 11 countries on more than 40 occasions, including 14 visits to Scotland. As with so much else, officialdom has not been forthcoming and the real work has been done by spied-on activists and allied journalists. It appears these countries included:

1. Scotland
2. Northern Ireland
3. Ireland
4. Iceland
5. Spain
6. Germany
7. Denmark
8. Poland
9. USA
10. France
11. Belgium

Mark Jenner
1. Israel
2. Greece
3. Netherlands
4. Thailand
5. Vietnam
6.Ireland
7. Northern Ireland
8. Scotland

In Northern Ireland, Jenner took campaigners on a trip to republican West Belfast and Derry which included meeting Sinn Fein councillors. He also took part in fighting when nationalists clashed with a loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry march.

Marco Jacobs
1. Poland
2. Germany
3. France
4. Scotland

Rod Richardson
1. Italy
2. Netherlands
3. France

Peter Francis
1. Germany
2. Greece

Jim Boyling
1. Ireland
2. Italy

John Dines
1. Scotland
2. Ireland

Lynn Watson
1. Scotland

Jason Bishop
1. Scotland

New video: The Public Inquiry Begins

New on our Youtube channel – a short film made by Reel News, shot outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 7 October, just before the first hearing of the public inquiry. Numerous people who were spied on outline their experiences and what they hope to get out of the inquiry.

The hearing [transcript] was to decide on some cases of ‘core participants’ – those ruled to have been so involved in the political policing scandal that they get greater access and representation at the inquiry. Around 400 people have applied of whom around half have been granted core participant status – mostly activists, some campaigns as bodies, a couple of dozen police officers and some state agencies too.

The Undercover Research Group noted its qualms afterwards.

Release MPs’ Spycops Files – and All The Rest Too

Jeremy Corbyn, MP spied on by the SDS

Jeremy Corbyn, MP spied on by the SDS

And still they come. The tide of revelations about the extent of spying by Britain’s political secret police is still flooding in.

When the scandal first broke four years ago, the breadth of groups spied on astonished us. It appeared that the units regarded any political activity outside the sliver of the spectrum represented in parliament as a threat. But we now know it was even broader than that.

In June last year we learned that the Green Party’s Jenny Jones had a file opened on her after she was elected to the Greater London Assembly, and it ran for at least eleven years. A fellow Green, councillor Ian Driver, was also spied on, with his file noting his support for such subversive terrorist causes as equal marriage.

Two weeks ago it went further with whistleblower Special Demonstration Squad officer Peter Francis naming ten MPs who he saw files on, including three that he personally spied on.

The list includes Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Dennis Skinner, Joan Ruddock, Peter Hain, Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant and Labour’s current deputy leader Harriet Harman.

The two other targets have particular resonance. One is Jack Straw who, as Home Secretary, was ultimately in charge of the police. The other is Jeremy Corbyn who was spied on by Francis in the 1990s. Francis was deployed by his manager at the Special Demonstration Squad, Bob Lambert.

Protest against Bob Lambert's employment at London Metropolitan University, March 2015

Protest against Bob Lambert’s employment at London Metropolitan University, March 2015

Ten years later Lambert was running the Muslim Contact Unit (quite why the intelligence-gathering Special Branch would send its most experienced infiltrators and spies into an outreach project is a question for another time).

Shortly after leaving the police he published a book on police efforts to deal with Muslim extremism in London. His parliamentary booklaunch was hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP, the man Lambert had sent spies to watch, in September 2011, a month before Lambert was exposed by activists.

In a further twist, Lambert is now controversially employed as a lecturer at London Metropolitan University in Corbyn’s constituency of Islington North.

A furious Corbyn told this week’s Islington Tribune

 

I was interested in his book at the time and I was involved in the launch. But for all I know he could have had me under surveillance.

 

Like so many corrupt state officials around the world who’ve been caught and are facing an inquiry, Lambert’s memory has become conveniently selective. He does not deny tasking Francis to spy on Corbyn but says he can’t remember.

The MPs attended parliament the day after the revelations and had a forty minute debate (full transcript here). The Home Secretary wasn’t there, so the government spoke in the form of the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, Mike Penning.

The one bit of positive new information was the assurance that Peter Francis, and any other whistleblowers, will be given immunity under the Official Secrets Act at the public inquiry. It’s notable that the inquiry was singled out – the long standing threat against Francis and, by extension, others who speak elsewhere still stands, apparently.

Challenged on the sexual relationships that officers deceived women into, Penning said that

the Met police apologised

Perhaps he knows a different Met to the rest of us. The Met who deployed all the spies have only admitted that three out of an estimated 200 were actually police officers.

They are still spending huge amounts of public money resisting the plain, established truth in court. The partner of John Dines, Helen Steel, is back in court next month trying to get the Met to drop their absurd, insulting obstruction tactics.

Back in parliament, Jack Dromey made the bold claim that

Labour has for years pressed for much stronger oversight of undercover policing

This flies in the face of the fact that every one of the political police spy units was set up under Labour who, in the early 2000s, handed control of three of them to the Association of Chief Police Officers, a private company exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.

Peter Hain led the targeted MPs’ charge and was the first of several who demanded to see their full files. Penning steadfastly refused.

Neither Confirm Nor Deny = Neither Truth Nor JusticePenning did say more than once that there would be a release of whatever wasn’t needed to be redacted for reasons of security. One of the affected MPs, Joan Ruddock, immediately put in a request to the Met for her file. In the days that followed, the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow underlined the seriousness of the scandal. The following week Ruddock was told that the Met would ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that there was any file on her.

The MPs should certainly get to see the information that was collected about them, but they should not have it as a privilege. It is clearly established that the spy units were extraordinarily intrusive, with a paranoid vision of political activism and scant regard for the rights and wellbeing of citizens.

Most of the official reports such as Operation Herne are self-investigations and have thus been self-discrediting. We cannot trust the words of proven liars. Everyone who was spied on by these units should be told and given proper access to their file to judge for themselves what was recorded and why.

Did Spycops Commit Other Crimes?

CPS logo

The attention paid to the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute undercover police officers focused, rightly, on the invasion of privacy and bodily integrity in their sexual contact with women they spied on.

But in the same statement, the CPS ruled out several other charges.

MISCONDUCT IN PUBLIC OFFICE

In order to prosecute misconduct in public office, the prosecution would have to show that an officer knowingly abused their position in order to bring a sexual relationship about

The police have readily and unequivocally admitted such relationships are abhorrent and an abuse of their position. Speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers, a body that ran several of the political policing units, Jon Murphy said

It is grossly unprofessional. It is a diversion from what they are there to do. It is morally wrong because people have been put there to do a particular task and people have got trust in them. It is never acceptable under any circumstances … for them to engage in sex with any subject they come into contact with.

In March this year the second Operation Herne internal report into undercover policing declared

there are and never have been any circumstances where it would be appropriate… Such an activity can only be seen as an abject failure of the deployment, a gross abuse of their role and their position as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing

So there we have a police report saying it’s a gross abuse of the officer’s position, but the CPS said there’s insufficient evidence that any officer knowingly abused their position.

Everyone admits the relationships happened and they were a gross abuse. If it is a gross abuse then there is a gross abuser. That must be either the manager who authorised it or the individual undercover officer who did it.

Whichever one it is, former officer Bob Lambert is culpable. He was an undercover officer who had a prolonged relationship including fathering a child with a woman he targeted. After he was promoted to running the squad he mentored Jim Boyling who did the same thing.

If Operation Herne is right and it is both an individual and organisational failing then we should see several officers held responsible for each relationship. Even if they blame the individual officer and claim they disobeyed their guidance, it is negligence on the part of the managers.

But if this came to court, we could expect to see officers from both roles blaming each other. That would be a whole lot of dirty laundry being done in public, and would be likely to point to further abuses. This scandal has already become far too large for establishment comfort. It’s no surprise that the CPS – who helped ensure Mark Kennedy’s evidence was kept from court in the Ratcliffe case, leading to a miscarriage of justice and 20 wrongful convictions – has decided to defy the police’s own admissions of misconduct and keep these officers away from court as well.

BREACH OF THE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT

The CPS also said that

In order to prosecute a breach of the Official Secrets Act the prosecution would have to prove that the suspect in question disclosed information that would, or would be likely to, damage the work of the security and intelligence services

This is thought to be because officers have named colleagues to civilians. Jim Boyling told the activist he married about several other officers’ identities. This led her to tell Helen Steel that her partner John Barker had in fact been police officer John Dines.

Peter Francis

Peter Francis

Additionally, when Mark Kennedy was confronted by activists who had discovered his true identity, he confirmed activist Lynn Watson had actually been a fellow police officer.

Whistleblower officer Peter Francis has been threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. The fact that neither Boyling nor Kennedy are to face charges for naming colleagues to the activists they targeted implies Francis faces something of an empty threat. The CPS appear to have declared it’s open season for him, and for any other officers who want to right some of their wrongs, to step forward and name names.

The End of the Neither Confirm Nor Deny ‘Policy’

A significant step was taken towards justice yesterday for five women who were deceived into sexual relationships with undercover police officers.

The police have been using an obstruction tactic of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’, claiming they have a long-standing, unwavering policy of not confirming whether anyone was ever an undercover officer. It is nonsense, as the women and their legal teams demonstrated, listing the many exceptions police and other officials have made.

Pointing out that the police have conceded sexual relationships were an abuse of position, Mr Justice Bean’s ruling said

there can be no public policy reason to permit the police neither to confirm nor deny whether an illegitimate or arguably illegitimate operational method has been used as a tactic in the past.

The court gave the Metropolitan Police 28 days to formally admit or deny that:

(a) officers of the Metropolitan Police Service, as part of their work as undercover officers and using false identities, engaged in long term intimate sexual relationships with those whose activities the MPS wished to observe;

(b) this was authorised or acquiesced to by senior management;

(c) ‘Jim Sutton‘ was such an officer; and

(d) ‘Bob Robinson‘ was such an officer.

If they fail to respond within that time, the court will take it as an admission that all these things are true.

The second point is particularly noteworthy. Despite police attempts to shift all blame on to the individual officers, the court overtly points to the fact that senior management must have known the relationships went on.

All but one of the officers so far exposed had sexual relations with activists they spied on, and most of them had long-term committed relationships. One of the worst, Bob Lambert, had a planned child with an activist he spied on, so he cannot have been ignorant of the possibility of such relationships when he was promoted to running operations.

The fact that his protegés embarked so enthusiastically on their relationships makes it clear that such practices were accepted and quite possibly encouraged, even planned and monitored. Of course, even if managers had been unaware of such relationships, that would have made them negligent and therefore still culpable. But, even with the facts we have so far, it is already a nonsense to pretend that senior management were unaware and disapproved.

That said, the police are not above nonsense to stall attempt at dragging the truth from them. Earlier this year they confirmed in court that Jim Boyling was a police officer but would not confirm he was an undercover officer – as if he might have come up with the Jim Sutton alias and spent years being an anti-capitalist activist as a personal hobby in his spare time.

Returning to yesterday’s ruling, the judge stopped short of compelling police to admit that all four officers named in this case were, in fact, police officers. Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert have both been previously named by officials and have confirmed themselves. Yet the other two are scarcely less public.

Everyone knows that Mark Cassidy was the undercover officer Mark Jenner. Everyone knows that John Barker was the undercover officer John Dines. The real John Barker was not an undercover police officer – he was a boy who died of leukaemia aged eight. Thier stories and pictures have been published in many places for years now. To leave any veil over them is absurd.

It was disappointing to see BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw refer to the case as a mere ‘bid for compensation’. The integrity that drips from every word of the womens’ testimony and campaigning makes it plain that this is all about disclosure, truth and accountability.  They don’t want money, they want justice.

Despite shortcomings in the judgement and its coverage, it is nonetheless a major victory as it shreds the blanket use of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ which – as the women so comprehensively showed – was never a real policy, merely a convenient shroud for the police to obscure their history as they heap gruelling punishment on their victims for daring to ask for answers.

After three years the first real hurdle has just fallen, a tribute to the tenacity of these women and their lawyers. The outrageous denials from the police are becoming ever more starkly exposed for what they are. More will fall.

Partners of Undercover Officers Back in Court

This week the women duped into long term relationships with undercover police officers are back in court in London and have called for a solidarity demonstration outside.

psool

Eight of the women are supported by the Police Spies Out of Lives group. One of them, ‘Alison‘, lived with Mark Jenner for four years. She told her story to Newsnight earlier this year [on Youtube starting at 16.35]. Today she published an article on the Guardian site about the next stage of the court case.

The police are obliged to provide disclosure and properly outline their case. They have failed to do so, citing a policy of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND); they say they cannot ever confirm whether somebody was an undercover police officer, and that this policy is essential to the integrity of important and dangerous undercover work. They went as far as applying to have the case struck out on the grounds that, as they would refuse to give proper testimony in court, they would be denying themselves a fair trial.

There is only one flaw with this policy – it doesn’t really exist. It’s a common practice, but that is all. As Police Spies Out of Lives note

The women launched their legal action in December 2011, but it was not until June 2012 that the police first mentioned NCND in relation to the claim. You might think if there had been such a long standing policy this would have been highlighted in the first police response.

There have been innumerable exceptions to NCND, and the women gave the court two large files documenting some instances. After that, and the Ellison review‘s revelations earlier this year about spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family, the police abandoned their strike out the case. They’re still sticking to the ‘policy’ of NCND though.

This puts them in the bizarre position of not naming Mark Kennedy as an undercover police officer. Kennedy hired Max Clifford to sell a gossipy version of his story to the Mail on Sunday – he could scarcely be less secret. More than that, he has been identified in numerous official statements, including a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in February 2012 that said

It is normal practice for the police to neither confirm nor deny the true identity of undercover officers. This is to protect both the officers themselves, and the effectiveness of the tactic. However, the case of Mark Kennedy is one of exceptional circumstances, including his own public revelations, the media interest in him, and the fact that the Court of Appeal named him on 19 July 2011. Because of this, HMIC has chosen on this occasion to use his real name.

The information is out there and, like toothpaste out of the tube, you can’t put it back in. Mark Kennedy has not been magically de-identified. The current backslide shows that the stonewall use of NCND is both a recent invention and a tactic of obstruction.

Of the other four officers named in the womens’ case, John Dines and Mark Jenner have been extensively documented, and Bob Lambert has not only been identified in the press and the Ellison Review but has given interviews candidly admitting to large parts of his work.

The fifth, Jim Boyling, who was undercover as Jim Sutton, has also been comprehensively reported in the press, television and beyond. It would be hard to suspend him from police duty in January 2011 if he were not a police officer. Later in 2011 Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe confirmed that ‘Jim Sutton’ was an undercover officer [PDF, p22].

Because Boyling went through a 1997 court case under his false identity as Sutton, a convicted co-defendant has won the right to have the conviction overturned. But in a farcical twist at the hearing earlier this year – after this long-standing policy of NCND had been invented –  the police backtracked and would not fully identify Boyling. They confirmed he was a police officer but not an undercover one. As if he might have done the undercover work as a hobby in his spare time. As if confirming that this man whose picture is all over the internet was a police officer doesn’t put him at just as much of a risk as admitting he was an undercover one.

Police lawyers said they weren’t compelled to give any reason why they didn’t oppose the quashing. ‘What kind of justice is that?’ asked the judge. It’s a question we should all be asking.

NCND is another manifestation of the ‘double injustice’ faced by so many victims of police abuse; there is what was done to them, and then there are the tricks of delay, distraction and denial to try to avoid accountability. Many of those who have been spied on – the family of Stephen Lawrence and numerous other black justice campaigns, anti-fascists, environmentalists, Hillsborough families and more – can tell a similar story.

An police service interested in justice would do precisely the opposite. More, these blocks are such blatant decoy tactics, and they know it’s obvious to everyone. But as long as they aren’t forced into actually admitting that’s the case, they can conceal the truth of what they’ve done and deny justice to the citizens they abused.

If this is their response to being caught committing the starkly cruel abuse of these women – the most complete invasion of privacy that it is possible for the state to enact – then what hope can we have for the promised public inquiry?  The fight against NCND is not just a fight for the women concerned, but for everyone spied on by Britain’s political secret police, and for the hope of eventual truth and justice for the wider society.

Their hearing is on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th June at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand in London. Police Spies Out of Lives have asked:

  • If you are in London, please join us outside the Royal Court of Justice, The Strand, from 9am–10am on Thursday 5th June to show your support for the women.
  • Please share the graphic (above)
  • Please tell friends, family, colleagues, groups and organisations about the Where We Stand statement

You can follow the case’s progress on Thursday and Friday via the Police Spies Out of Lives Twitter.