Content tagged with "Mark Jenner"

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

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.