Content tagged with "Legal cases"

Son Abandoned by Spycop Sues Police

Bob Lambert then and now

Bob Lambert, then and now

A man who was born as part of an undercover officer’s deployment is suing the police.

The 32 year old man, known as TBS, was the planned child of ‘Bob Robinson’ and an animal rights activist known as Jacqui.

‘Robinson’ was in fact undercover police officer Bob Lambert of the Special Demonstration Squad. He knew at the time he would be abandoning his new family a couple of years later to return to his real identity, wife and children.

As with cases brought by women deceived into relationships, the Met have tried to have the man’s case thrown out entirely. The Met won’t even meet TBS, according to his legal representative Jules Carey. However, at the High Court on Monday, Mr Justice Nicol rejected the police’s demands.

TBS was born in September 1985, when Lambert was two years into his relationship with Jacqui and they were living together. She told the BBC in 2014

‘He watched me give birth remember and, to me, he was watching his first child being born. He was there throughout the labour. And that is something so intimate between a man and a woman. And I shared that with a ghost, with someone who vaporised.’

Lambert was an undercover officer in the Special Demonstration Squad from 1983-88, infiltrating animal rights groups. Whilst undercover he:

  • stole the identity of a dead child
  • was arrested & prosecuted under a false identity
  • co-wrote the leaflet that led to the McLibel trial
  • was part of a group that firebombed shops

Our detailed overview of his career was given as a talk at the University of St Andrews when he was still a lecturer there in 2015, and there is also an extensive profile by the Undercover Research Group.

When Lambert was exposed in October 2011, he made an apology to another woman he had later deceived into a relationship, Belinda Harvey, but made no mention of Jacqui or his son. They only found out the truth when Jacqui stumbled across it in a newspaper in June 2012, as she detailed in harrowing testimony to parliament. She told the Guardian ‘it is like being raped by the state’.

TBS was 26 at the time and the revelation has caused him to suffer Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood since. He told the Guardian of his shock

‘It kind of messes with your identity and who you think you are.’

He continued, saying that finding out that the chance of a father figure

‘was denied to me because of the actions of the police is even more distressing because they are supposed to be upholders of the law… But they quite clearly are not… It is quite scary to me just how the police can dip in and out of people’s lives. They still seem to struggle with realising the impact of what they have done.’

TBS is not suing Lambert, but the Met for their failures of supervision. The Met have already reached settlements with a number of women deceived into relationships – Jacqui was the first of these – so the principle of their institutional responsibility for abusive officers is surely established.

The long list of TBS’s damning assertions about his father is startling, including:

  • a knowing or reckless abuse of the power entrusted to him as a public officer, which he knew was likely to cause the Claimant psychiatric injury, or was recklessly indifferent to this consequence.
  • he was not and/or could not lawfully have been authorised to commence a sexual relationship with Jacqui, to father a child with her, to fulfil a father’s role under his false identity and/or to present a false explanation for his abandonment of the Claimant or was reckless as to the same, and that doing so was in plain breach of his obligations as a police officer and such guidance that was or should have been given to him.
  • The circumstances of the Claimant’s conception, early life and abandonment by BL carried with it an obvious risk that the Claimant would suffer psychiatric harm.

The police’s defence is, if anything, even more astonishing. They claim abandoning a three year old who doesn’t retain an clear memory of their parent cannot cause harm. That is to say, a child isn’t bonded enough with a parent by the age of three to be seriously distressed by that parent’s disappearance.

They then defend Lambert’s leaving as a positive action, saying if he had stayed with Jacqui the damaging deception would have gone on longer and ‘would have made matters worse’.

TBS’ placing the blame on the Met rests on the fact that Lambert’s managers knew about the relationship and were complicit, or if they didn’t then they were negligent.

In 2013 Lambert was asked by Channel 4 News if his managers knew about his relationships. He refused to answer, and then refused to explain why he was refusing to answer.

This might be because he is in a difficult position. Lambert was later promoted to running the Special Demonstration Squad, where he deployed officers such as Jim Boyling, Andy Coles and Mark Jenner who also deceived women into long-term intimate relationships. So, whether the blame comes down to the individual officers or their managers, Lambert is guilty. 

Whatever Lambert’s managers knew of his various abuses, they didn’t mind. Abusing women and deceiving courts was textbook stuff for the spycops units and, rather than Lambert being reprimanded for his behaviour, whistleblower officer Peter Francis says Lambert’s colleagues felt

‘He did what is hands down regarded as the best tour of duty ever’

As well as going on to run the Special Demonstration Squad, overseeing the spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family, Lambert was later rewarded with an MBE ‘for services to policing’.

TBS is, as far as we know, in a unique position. But with the vast majority of officers from the political secret police units still completely unknown, there may be more people like him, abandoned children of mothers abused by spycops.

With the Met admitting that their sexual abuse of women constitutes ‘torture, inhuman or degrading treatment’, it is past time for them to end their obstruction of justice. They must stop their obstruction of justice for people like TBS. They must name names so the victims can get answers and the wider public can know the truth of what has been done in their name.

Spycops Relationships Amount to Torture, Met Admit

Kate Wilson and Mark Kennedy

Kate Wilson and Mark Kennedy

The Metropolitan Police have admitted that undercover officers deceiving women into relationships breaches human rights.

Specifically, it breaches the right to freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and also the right to a family and private life.

The shock revelation came this week in the latest legal hearing for social justice activist Kate Wilson, who was deceived into a two year relationship by undercover officer Mark Kennedy from 2003 to 2005.

THE LEGAL CASE

Kate is one of eight women, all deceived into intimate relationships by undercover officers, who sued the police in 2011. They alleged deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence.

They also claimed the relationships breached their human rights, including Article 3 (no one shall be subject to inhuman and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (respect for private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state).

Although the relationships were very similar, legal action on human rights could only be taken by the women affected after the Human Rights Act 1998 made the European Convention enforceable in English courts. This ruled out all the women except those who had relationships with Mark Kennedy.

As soon as the women brought their case, the Met began spending vast sums of public money on lawyers who tried every trick to avoid accountability. It’s a pattern familiar to victims of state wrongdoing – the double injustice of what is done, and then the gruelling years of denial, smears and chicanery that compound the damage.

The Met dragged the eight women’s case out for four years before issuing an abject apology in November 2015 (other identical cases still inch onward).

In the apology, the Met admitted

‘these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’

However, they did not specify which rights they had violated.

Kate fought on with her human rights claim. It has been sent to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a secret court that deal with state surveillance issues and almost invariably supports the state spies’ side. Of the thousands of cases the IPT has heard – it doesn’t tell us precisely how many that is – only one is known to have found in favour of the citizen.

INHUMAN, INEXCUSABLE

This week, six years since her case began and more than two years since the Met admitted breaching human rights, Kate was back at a preliminary hearing for her case.

The Met admitted that Kennedy’s actions as a police officer were indeed a breach of articles 3 and 8. Though they denied or declined to admit some of the specific instances Kate cites, this is nonetheless hugely significant.

‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’
– Article 3

There are no excuses or exceptions to article 3. Nothing can ever make it justified under any circumstances.

‘Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

‘There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety, or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others’.
– Article 8

Article 8 is conditional and that, if anything, makes the Met admission all the more important. They have just admitted that it wasn’t necessary for officers to do this in order to protect us from political activists.

This finally flattens the line peddled by senior police who told us in 2012 that Kennedy’s targets

‘were not individuals engaging in peaceful protest, or even people who were found to be guilty of lesser public order offences. They were individuals intent on perpetrating acts of a serious and violent nature against citizens going about their everyday lives’.

Chief Constable Jon Murphy flapped his arms and shrieked that Kennedy was keeping us safe from people who

‘are intent on causing harm, committing crime and on occasions disabling parts of the national critical infrastructure. That has the potential to deny utilities to hospitals, schools, businesses and your granny’.

It is now agreed that neither your health and morals, the wellbeing of the country nor your granny were under threat from Kate Wilson.

Moreover, if it is true that Kennedy’s relationships breached these rights, it is surely true of the officers who identically deceived other women. This can only increase pressure for the public inquiry to release the cover names of officers from the political secret police.

IT’S NOT JUST KATE WILSON

At last month’s hearing the Chair, Sir John Mitting, gave a clear statement on the women’s right to know the names and the truth.

‘I have listened to some of the accounts, posted on the Internet, of women who entered into intimate relationships with male undercover officers. They are eloquent and moving. Each of them is entitled to a true account of how and why they came to be induced to conduct an intimate  relationship with a man deployed for police purposes with an identity and background which was not his own…

‘When there is material which gives rise to a suspicion that such an intimate relationship may have been formed by an undercover officer in a cover name, there is a compelling practical reason to require the cover name to be published: to reveal to the woman or women concerned that they may have had an intimate relationship with a man in an identity not his own’.

Shortly afterwards, the lawyer for the victims of spying, Phillippa Kaufmann QC, dropped a bombshell. Mitting was dealing with one of the earliest officers – a man known as Rick Gibson who infiltrated left wing and anti-war campaigns – and was dismissing the idea that anything from so long ago could be relevant. Kaufmann stunned the court by revealing that Gibson had at least two relationships with women he spied on.

The information came to light the way it did for the others, indeed the only way it can happen at all. The officer’s cover name was published, people who were spied on were found, they realised the truth and came forward to tell us what happened.

Most known spycops deceived women into relationships. Most of them did it with multiple women. For decades, it was done strategically. This is institutional sexism.

There must be dozens, probably hundreds, more women out there just as abused and just as deserving of the truth as Kate Wilson.

RELEASE THE NAMES

The officers cannot be trusted to account for themselves. They are trained liars. It is their wrongdoing that is under investigation. To this day, Mark Kennedy only admits to two relationships with women he spied on even though the Met have already reached settlements with four.

Mitting’s remit is to discover the truth. He says he holds the abuse of women as a cherished element of this issue, deserving of the full facts. The only way he can deliver on that is to publish the cover names.

As the Undercover Research Group showed with their bombshell at the Inquiry hearing, there is often more to it than the police admit, and it is we activists who are better, faster, more methodical, more ethical and more trustworthy than the police.

The best way to get the truth is to release the cover names, let us have time to do the research and find the victims, then present our findings. The Inquiry cannot begin to do its job until it knows what happened. It cannot know what happened until the victims come forward. Releasing the cover names is a minimum prerequisite for the Inquiry to have a hope of fulfilling its purpose.

This week’s admission that a large proportion of officers breached fundamental human rights emphasises the grave seriousness of the issue. Mitting’s desire to grant officers anonymity out of consideration for their possible hurt feelings is indefensible. Those who did nothing wrong need fear no acrimony, whilst those who subjected citizens to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment must not be allowed to hide for fear of being held accountable.

We have waited long enough. It is time to release the names and let the truth be told.

Kate Wilson’s full hearing is expected to take place in spring 2018.

 

Police Demand Money From Compensated Spycops Victim

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

The Metropolitan Police are demanding £7,000 from a woman they paid damages to after she discovered that her long-term partner was a police spy. The claim is part of their ongoing campaign for secrecy around political undercover police units who have committed human rights abuses.

Helen Steel has been a lifelong social justice campaigner. In the 1990s she was one of the defendants in the McLibel trial, which arose after McDonald’s sued campaigners for libel over a leaflet produced by London Greenpeace. McDonald’s spent millions on the case, but a public support campaign meant the trial was dubbed ‘the greatest corporate PR disaster in history’.

POLICE SPIES AND CORPORATE SPIES

At the trial it was revealed that London Greenpeace had been infiltrated by several corporate spies hired by McDonald’s. But it was only years later that it emerged the group was also infiltrated by undercover police officers from the now-disgraced Special Demonstration Squad. One of them, Bob Lambert, co-wrote the What’s Wrong With McDonald’s leaflet that caused the trial, though this fact was kept from the court. Another officer in the group, John Dines, deceived Steel into a two-year relationship. They lived together, discussed starting a family and planned to spend the rest of their lives with one another. Then Dines feigned a breakdown and disappeared from Steel’s life back into his police career.

In 2011, Steel was one of a group of eight similarly deceived women who brought a legal case against the Metropolitan Police for abuse by five undercover officers. The Met spent many years and huge sums of public money obstructing the case.

NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY

After almost three years of the Met claiming they could ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) that anyone was an undercover officer – a tactic Steel forensically dismantled at a later public inquiry hearing – in 2014 the courts forced their hand.

The women challenged the police use of NCND. In July 2014 they won an important victory when the High Court ruled that there was no legitimate public interest in the Met Police asserting NCND in respect of the allegations that officers had engaged in long term intimate sexual relationships while undercover.

The Court also ruled that as Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling had already been publicly confirmed as undercover officers, the police could no longer maintain NCND in respect of their identities.

MET POLICE CONTINUE TO HIDE THE TRUTH

However, regarding Mark Jenner and John Dines, the Judge said that although the evidence amassed by the women was overwhelming, and it was surely only a matter of time until they were confirmed, he could not force the naming of people who hadn’t outed themselves.

As Steel said at the time

‘It is very disappointing that despite the overwhelming evidence our former partners John Dines and Mark Jenner were also undercover SDS officers, the Judge has allowed the Met to continue to hide the truth about them.’

Steel put in an appeal against this decision. These men were not private individuals, they had been acting as public servants, so the public had a right to know.

A few months after this appeal was lodged the Met held talks with the women to seek a settlement for their civil claims. Just before Christmas 2014 the Met agreed to apologise to the women, though it wasn’t finalised and published for another 11 months.

On 31st December 2014, the Appeal Court agreed that NCND was an important issue and Steel’s argument was well-grounded. They granted her leave to appeal.

COURT GRANTS APPEAL, MET CLAIMS DECEPTION

The Met, with their tactic of trying anything to undermine those they have victimised, attempted to get the appeal struck out. They claimed Steel had misled the appeal court by not informing them that a settlement had been agreed. This was an underhanded trick, given that the settlement hadn’t been finalised, she was unrepresented for the appeal, and the events happened over the Christmas period when people are generally not focussed on legal proceedings.

Steel argued that it was in the public interest to name those responsible for the abuses. A hearing for the Met’s strike-out application took place in July 2015. Steel was unrepresented, and mentally exhausted from the long battle for the truth. She reluctantly acceded to the court’s twofold advice.

Firstly, if she lost the appeal she would be liable to pay the Met’s legal costs, which could wipe out her entire damages in the main claim. Secondly, the forthcoming public inquiry would provide a safer route to argue about the use of NCND and the release of spycops’ names as there were no costs risks. 

STEEL DROPS APPEAL, MET CLAIMS £10,000 COSTS

Letter from Metropolitan Police to Helen Steel demanding £7,000Despite the hearing lasting only about an hour, the police then claimed over £10,000 costs. Although later reduced to £7,000, the ludicrous amounts charged act as a deterrent, intimidating members of the public seeking accountability for wrongdoing committed by police officers. The threat of such an award can be used by the police as a means to intimidate people out of seeking redress.

The police’s whole argument – that a settlement was agreed – rested on them issuing an apology admitting these men were Met officers who inexcusably abused women. The Met concede they were wrong, and that the women who were deceived into relationships were blameless. Why should officers who have abused members of the public be allowed to hide behind a wall of secrecy?

The apology came with damages for the harm caused by the extreme deception. The Met are now trying to claw money back from a woman they victimised because she tried to get them to do something that they should have done anyway.

PARTIAL CONFIRMATION, MORE DENIAL

The Undercover Policing Inquiry eventually confirmed that Dines was a police officer in December 2016 – a grudging and minimal admission that Steel excoriated. To this day, the police won’t admit Mark Jenner was the undercover officer Mark Cassidy, even though he’s been publicly identified since January 2011.

Women deceived into intimate relationships by undercover police officers want to ensure that these human rights abuses never happen to anyone else. This requires the Met to stop protecting the identities of the abusers. It also requires a legal system that allows funding to enable those who have been abused to challenge their abusers without the risk of becoming bankrupt or losing their homes.

For the Met to have abused these women is horrific enough. For them to inflict the second injustice of legal tricks and obstructions compounds their cruelty. To then to go after Helen Steel for money is an utterly outrageous further leap into the shameless bullying and corruption that has driven their response to the spycops scandal from the start.

Demo at Spycops Relationships Human Rights Case

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

When? 10 am Friday 23rd June (the hearing will start at 11am in court 5)

Where? Employment  Appeal Tribunal (EAT) located in Fleetbank House, Salisbury Square,  London, EC4Y 8JX

What about? Showing public support for a woman’s fight to outlaw the abusive and chilling practice of undercover cops deceiving women into intimate relationships

Who should come? Anyone who cares about or right to participate in social justice campaigning without fear of abuse at the hands of the state

Kate Wilson is one of the women, whose stories of their abusive relationships with undercover police, have shocked the nation. She is taking what might be a unique case against the Metropolitan Police concerning the abuse of her human rights when she was deceived into a long term intimate relationship with Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer infiltrating social and environmental justice groups. It is being held at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the secretive court that oversees complaints about the states covert intrusion into our lives.

There is a demo called before a case hearing, where the police are applying to have the whole case heard in secret, meaning Kate or her solicitors would not be able to attend the hearings, argue her case in court, hear or contest any of the police’s evidence, or even hear a reasoned judgement at its conclusion.

It is essential that such appalling abuse of Kate’s and other women’s human rights is challenged, and that this is done in the open, so the truth about what happened can come out, and the public can be reassured that it is being dealt with properly and accountably. Relationships are one of the most profoundly disturbing tools of social control so far unearthed as part of the decades-long activity of undercover units. It is essential that people are able to participate in social and environmental justice campaigning without fear of such abuse.

This case is the first time the Police have had to answer human rights claims about their undercover officers’ deception of women into intimate relationships. Kate is in an almost unique position to be able to do this, and it is possibly our best opportunity yet to force changes in the laws that oversee undercover policing.

Public outrage at the treatment of women at the hands of the police has meant that they have not been able to sweep these cases under the carpet, and it is essential that we continue to show our support for and solidarity with these brave women holding the state to account.

Come to the demo to show your support! Come into the court hearing itself at 11am, and show the Judge the level of public interest.

If you can’t make it, then make noise on social media – talk about it to your friends, or write to your MP. We must keep up the public pressure and hold the state to account.

Spread the word with the Facebook event.

Here’s Kate talking about her experience at a COPS public meeting in January 2016

Hogan-Howe: A Legacy of Cover-Ups

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe is to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Among the numerous dubious areas of his career (see the Undercover Research Group’s profile for more), he cultivated the Met’s cover-up and obstruction in the spycops scandal.

When Mark Kennedy was exposed in 2010, Hogan-Howe was working for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). As we detailed last week, he drafted their report into the scandal, which was pulped just hours before publication because new revelations proved it was untrue.

Even the second version, completed by Denis O’ Connor, was essentially a whitewash that blamed Mark Kennedy and absolved management.

By the time that report came out, Hogan-Howe was Commissioner of the Met. He set up Operation Herne, the Met’s self-investigation into spycops, appointing Pat Gallan as its head.

MARKING THEIR OWN HOMEWORK

In February 2013 Gallan testified at a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on spycops. Repeatedly pushed on the fact that officers stole the identities of dead children, she refused to apologise for the practice (or anything else). She said there had only been one instance that she knew of until the Guardian had exposed another the day before the hearing. In actual fact, the practice was mandatory for Special Demonstration Squad officers from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Gallan’s performance was so outrageous that she was rapidly removed from her post. In an attempt to make Operation Herne appear more independent, her replacement was Mick Creedon, a senior officer from outside the Met but who, in all probability, personally authorised some of Mark Kennedy’s deployments.

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report insisted the Met inform parents whose dead children’s identities had been stolen by spycops. Hogan-Howe – personally and publicly – refused.

Although revealing the names used would only expose an officer’s fake identity, not the real one, Hogan-Howe said it was much too dangerous because activists targeted by the Special Demonstration Squad included

‘criminals behind bars and at large today who would have no qualms in doing serious harm’

This echoes the phrasing in the HMIC report he drafted, firmly asserting that the protesters Mark Kennedy infiltrated

‘were not individuals engaging in peaceful protest, or even people who were found to be guilty of lesser public order offences. They were individuals intent on perpetrating acts of a serious and violent nature against citizens going about their everyday lives.’

ABUSING THE ABUSED

Hogan-Howe was already Met Commissioner when legal action was launched in 2011 by eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers. The Met’s lawyers threw every obstruction they could at their victims. They tried to have the case struck out. When that failed, they said the Met was not responsible as such relationships were not authorised. When the women pointed out this meant the case could be heard in open court instead of a secret tribunal, those same lawyers said that the relationships were, after all, authorised.

The Met then claimed the relationships were based on ‘mutual attraction and genuine personal feelings’. Throughout all this, they tried to avoid giving any information, saying they would ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) that any officer was in fact an officer, and further lied saying NCND was a ‘long-standing policy’ when it was merely a recent and erratically applied tactic. They would take this as far as referring to Mark Kennedy by code letters.

Eventually, they were forced to concede Kennedy was a police officer and, three years into the case, they were ordered by a court to admit Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling were too. To this day, they block accountability with NCND for all other officers, even those like Mark Jenner who’s been exposed for years and confirmed by a colleague, and John Dines who has even admitted he was an officer and apologised.

After putting their traumatised victims through four gruelling years of these legal obstructions, late last year the Met finally settled seven cases in order to avoid having to go to court and disclose information. As part of the settlement the women negotiated a powerfully worded admission and apology.

How sincere was that apology? The Met are still forcing others with identical cases – in some cases with the same officers as the settled cases – to battle on in court.

In June, people deceived into intimate relationships with undercover officer Marco Jacobs were back in court. One of them, Tom Fowler, said

‘By dragging their heels the police have increased the psychological damage they’ve inflicted on people, made it a lot worse. It just shows that the public statements made by Bernard Hogan-Howe and other police officers… are totally at odds with what they are directing their lawyers to do in court. It shows they can’t really be believed on any of these matters.’

WHEN IS A PUBLIC INQUIRY NOT A PUBLIC INQUIRY?

Earlier this year Met lawyers formally submitted that, at the forthcoming public inquiry, police should not give evidence in public. They alleged that the operations of the political secret police were too dangerous to be revealed, they claimed that being identified might lead to ’emotional unhappiness’ of the officers. By trying to have as much of the public inquiry held in secret, they were attempting to cover up rather than come clean.

This is the true face of Bernard Hogan-Howe’s Metropolitan police. Just as at Hillsborough, it uses the language of concern as part of an armoury to deny truth and justice to its victims and the wider public.

AS AT HILLSBOROUGH, SO EVERYWHERE

Hogan-Howe was personally present at Hillsborough in a role that has been criticised by the families. Hogan-Howe claimed he gave a statement to the 1989 Taylor Inquiry into Hillsborough and claimed to be one of the resolute champions of integrity who refused to change their statement despite being asked by another officer to do so. In real life, Bernard Hogan-Howe never made a statement to Taylor.

The Hillsborough families’ struggle mirrors that of so many bereaved people abused by police for wanting justice. Not only were they smeared, they were also the targets of spycops. Astonishingly, the Hillsborough families have been denied ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming public inquiry.

As is established beyond all doubt, the fault at Hillsborough rested squarely with the police. This was the conclusion of the 1990 Taylor report, as well this year’s inquests who ruled that the 96 people were unlawfully killed by police action. Yet even after all this time and the damning conclusions of multiple investigations, Hogan-Howe cannot fully admit what happened.

‘A lot of officers did their best [at Hillsborough] in very difficult circumstances, but the leadership was sadly challenged’

They were not ‘sadly challenged’, they were irresponsible, reckless liars who unlawfully killed 96 people. His instinct to defend officers – especially senior officers, especially himself – overrides any need to acknowledge the plain truth, let alone facilitate justice.

Earlier this year Hogan-Howe said a cover-up like the one that followed the Hillsborough disaster couldn’t happen these days.

‘It’s about making sure we are open and transparent… You’ve got more accountability than you’ve had for 20-30 years. I don’t think we would see today that sort of cover-up in the way we have in the past.’

There are many police cover-ups still happening today, with huge resources devoted to preventing the truth being examined. Moreover, in the case of the spycops scandal, Hogan-Howe has been the one directing it.

His protection of spycops means that most victims still have no clue as to the reason for their abuse. We have information on barely 10% of the officers, and the work has been done by victims themselves in the face of obstruction orchestrated at public expense by Hogan-Howe, whether at the pseudo-independent HMIC or as Commissioner of the Met.

It would have been more convincing if, before he reassured us, Hogan-Howe started by actually condemning the police action at Hillsborough for once and then stopped actively running the spycops cover-up. But that would have necessitated a break with his whole approach to police abuse of citizens, and the culture of the Met itself.

Women Speak Out on Spycops

We’ve just uploaded video on our Youtube channel of four women speaking about their different involvement in the undercover police scandal at a seminar in Manchester earlier this year.

‘Alison’ gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on her experience of having been deceived into a five year relationship by undercover officer Mark Jenner, and previously told her story to Newsnight in 2014. As she emphasises here, the overwhelming majority of Jenner’s time was not spent on political work, but on domestic time with Alison and her family.

 


Harriet Wistrich, Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2014, represents numerous women (including Alison and Helen Steel) who had relationships with officers and successfully brought legal cases and obtained an apology from the Metropolitan Police. She also represents others that will be giving evidence to the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

 


Dr Eveline Lubbers is a member of the Undercover Research Group who do a peerless job of researching and exposing Britain’s political secret police, and has published research on the activities of undercover police officers. She is also the author of Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate Spying on Activists and Battling Big Business: Countering Greenwash, Front Groups and Other Forms of Corporate Deception.

 


Helen Steel was deceived into an imtimate relationship by ‘John Barker’, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer John Dines. Her story follows a startlingly similar trajectory to those of Alison and the other women, showing that this was no aberration by rogue officers but a long-term deliberate strategy by an institutionally sexist police force.

 

Tlks given at Undercover Policing, Democracy and Human Rights seminar, University of Manchester school of law, 14 April 2016. Video by Reel News.

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.

Suing Private Spycops

Frankenstein's monsterA woman who was Mark Kennedy’s partner in 2010 after he left the police is suing Global Open, the private spy firm he worked for.

Global Open was set up in 2001 by Rod Leeming, the former Special Branch officer who ran the Animal Rights National Index database before going private to do basically the same thing (company profile here by the excellent Undercover Research Group).

Kennedy’s contract with the police formally ended in early 2010. He was immediately hired by Global Open, and at the same time actively targeted the woman (who has been granted legal anonymity for the case) and began a relationship with her.

He continued to live among the same activist community he had spied on, still using his police-fabricated identity of Mark Stone. He went to several animal rights gatherings across Europe in the summer of 2010. If he’d had the nouse to legally change his name to Mark Stone his identity documents would have been in the ‘right’ name and he may still have been spying today – and you would not be reading this.

THE GENERALS NOT THE TROOPS

In October 2010 he was exposed by activists including his long-term partner. Within hours he went to his other partner’s house and told her what had happened. She was devastated. The case she is now bringing mirrors that of around a dozen others who are suing (or have sued) the police for the systematic use of psychologically and sexually abusive relationships.

Like those cases, this one is being brought against the employer rather than the individual officer. The managers either deployed officers to use these tactics, in which case they are directly culpable, or else all these officers separately decided to do the same thing, in which case managers were negligent for not preventing or ending it.

Whilst it would presumably have little legal traction, the police must also bear a serious measure of moral responsibility for Kennedy’s post-police actions in 2010. Having trained him into that one mode of being for many years then withdrawn him with little notice or support, it is hardly surprising that he continued. Frankenstein’s monster may have terrorised the villagers but it was Dr Frankenstein who built it and failed to keep it from its rampage.

NOT JUST KENNEDY

This new case is yet another ray of light on the murky, unregulated world of corporate spying and its tight interweaving with parallel police units. The fact that Special Branch officers take their years of training and contacts to go and do the same job for private profit doesn’t merely raise ethical issues. It raises legal ones too.

The construction industry blacklist was routinely – illegally – given information on political activists by Special Branch officers across the country. Despite the blacklisters’ work being illegal, they had high-level meetings with Britain’s political secret police, including a powerpoint presentation from DCI Gordon Mills, the man who helmed the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit.

The McLibel trial exposed the fact that the entirety of McDonald’s security department were ex-police and that there was an open two-way flow of information between police and private spies. This is not officers upholding the law. This is officers breaking the law to uphold something that they consider more important.

HOW MANY MORE?

How many other political secret police officers continued the same role for a private paymaster, as Kennedy did? The fact that Global Open hired him as he was leaving the police suggests either they had inside information and knew he was becoming available, or else Global Open is known to the secret police as the place to go on to when their contract ends.

We know the names of less than 10% of the officers who worked for the disgraced political units since the Special Demonstration Squad was set up in 1968. Can we really believe that Kennedy was the first one to continue living under the same persona? Or is he just the first one exposed?

POLICE AND PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

The revolving door between undercover political police and the even less regulated world of private spying means the two groups cannot be separated. As Mark Kennedy proved, the same damage is done for the same reasons, often by the same people, with support from both sectors, irrespective of who signs the cheque.

If the forthcoming public inquiry is to be comprehensive and credible it must examine these documented instances and structural connections, and it must expose more. Police and private political spying are not two worlds, they are one.

Police Concede Marco Jacobs was Spycop

Mark 'Marco' Jacobs

Mark ‘Marco’ Jacobs

Yesterday saw another blow to the police’s obstruction tactics for legal cases brought by targets of undercover officers.

The police have been saying they can ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) that anyone was (or wasn’t) an undercover officer. They claim this is a long standing policy that cannot be deviated from. But, as is pointed out by the eight women in the Police Spies Out of Lives case who were deceived into relationships with officers, that is simply not true.

The Met have even tried to claim NCND about officers who have given numerous media appearances talking about their work. Even more farcically, in one hearing they admitted that Jim Boyling was a Metropolitan Police officer but not that he was undercover, as if he might have had his alter ego of committed activist as a some sort of off-duty hobby.

Yesterday, three people from Cardiff Anarchist Network who were spied on for four years by an officer known as Mark ‘Marco’ Jacobs came to the High Court in London to challenge the use of NCND in relation to their claim for damages. Two had sexual relationships with Jacobs, the third is a man who was the partner of one of one of them and was very close friends with Jacobs.

Mr Justice Mitting asked the police’s counsel what the point was of asking the claimants to prove that Jacobs was a police officer. There was a long, resounding, painful silence, ended only by Mitting asking another question.

Whilst the police did not say they were dropping the use of NCND, they said that they would not contest the assertion that Jacobs was an officer, and if damages are awarded then the police will be liable to pay.

THE REAL ABUSE

'Undercover is no Excuse for Abuse' banner at the High Court

Mitting did question the position of the man in the case, Tom Fowler, saying it amounted to saying ‘you stole my girlfriend by deceit,’ a position that wouldn’t hold water in a marriage case, let alone with unmarried people. Leaving aside his anachronistic clear distinction between married and other couples, it shows a fundamental failure to understand what these spies have done.

As other women deceived into relationships with undercover officers have been at pains to point out, it’s not so much the sexual contact that’s the issue, it’s the intimacy, the trust, the intertwining of lives and plans for the future. To then find out that the person you were so close to was only ever there as a paid agent to betray you and the values you hold most dear, that their presence in your life was controlled by an unseen group of other state agents, is a profoundly traumatising shock.

Whilst we may hope our closest relationships don’t end, we’re always aware of the possibility. It happens to a lot of people at some time and it’s happened to most of us before. But the profound invasion of privacy, the sustained manipulation and the abuse of trust that were meted out to all three people in this case is not something anyone would ever expect of their partner, their best friend or their government.

THE FUTURE

Whilst the Metropolitan Police’s effective admission that Jacobs was their officer is good news, not bringing the evidence out in front of them means we lose hope of shining a light up the ladder in this case and see who sent Jacobs to spy, what they asked him to do, and how much they knew of his abuse of those he targeted.

Nonetheless, it is a victory and bodes well for NCND to crumble away from future cases and the forthcoming public inquiry.

Picket High Court Before Spycops Case

Neither Confirm Nor Deny = Neither Truth Nor JusticeFollowing the infiltration of Cardiff Anarchist Network by an undercover police officer calling himself “Marco Jacobs” a number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account.

Since they first filed an application in court, both sets of Police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice, giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence of all aspects of officer Jacobs’ deployment.

At 10am on Wednesday 25th March they will be in the Royal Courts of Justice attempting to strike out this non-defence.

Join us in a solidarity picket of the court an hour before the case starts.