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PRESS RELEASE: Response to CPS decision re undercover relationships – “it makes no sense that there can be no prosecution”

Birnberg Peirce and Partners: Press Release on behalf of women victims of police misconduct, concerning CPS decision not to charge any officers from MPS Special Demonstration Squad

21 August 2014

Eight women who were deceived into entering long term intimate sexual relationships withundercover officers have expressed their determination to continue their battle to expose the grave violations,combatthe cover-up and achieve justice and accountability, following the CPS decision today not to bring criminal charges.

One woman known as ‘Laura’ who provided a detailed statement to the police over three years ago about her relationship with Jim Boyling and his deception and abusive behaviour, has said she is considering seeking a review of the CPS decision. Other women within the group later met with officers from Operation Herne with a view to providing statements but withdrew from the process when they were told, in contrast to the investigation into Boyling, that the police would “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” whether the men they were in relationships with were undercover police officers.

‘Laura’ provided a detailed statement setting out how Jim Boyling, who was posing as an environmental activist, Jim Sutton, had convinced her he was a fellow spirit, using an arsenal of police resources and training to disguise his real identity and lure her into the relationship, subsequently having two children with him. She said today:

“They not only invaded my body, invaded my womb, they robbed my relationship to the world, my sense of safety, my sense of self, my ability to trust, years of my life and my children’s childhoods.”

She added,

“I entered this process not only for justice for myself and others, but to see an end to this practice now and in the future. We have not reached that point yet. I believe this practice is still continuing. If no officers are held to account, how can we have any confidence that it won’t happen again and again?”

Birnberg Peirce and Partners represent eight women who are seeking justice and accountability in respect of undercover officers who had long-term intimate sexual relationships with undercover police officers. Five of those women had relationships with four officers who were operatives within the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

The women recently achieved a partial victory in challenging the Met Police’s claimed policy of Neither Confirm Nor Deny following a legal challenge which resulted in the court stating that the police could not sustain their position in respect of Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert.

The Met’s Amended Defence to civil proceedings very recently admitted that Boyling and Lambert did have the relationships that were alleged, but denied that these were “expressly authorised or tacitly acquiesced”. It was suggested that these relationships were based on “genune feelings of mutual attraction”. But all the women say this response is utterly inappropriate and insulting. They say that their consent was undermined by the level of deception, not simply as to who these men were but as to the purpose of these relationships.

Operation Herne, in their second report published earlier this year, stated,

“it would be inappropriate for such covertly deployed officers to engage in intimate sexual relationships with those they are employed to infiltrate and target. Such an activity can only be seen as an abject failure of deployment, a gross abuse of their role and as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing.”

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the women stated,

“In light of the very public acknowledgement of the ‘gross abuse of their role’, it makes no sense to my clients that there can be no prosecution arising from the admitted activities of these police officers, particularly in the case where a credible complainant has already provided evidence to their inquiry. As usual, when it comes to prosecuting the police for criminal offences, there is a clear double standard. When a woman presenting as a man can be convicted of a sexual offence* in an otherwise consensual sexual relationship why not a male police spy pretending to be an activist?”

The women all agree that

“This isn’t just lying about already having a wife (though all the officers did), this isn’t even just about pretending to be the exact opposite of what they are. This si someone who is only in your life as a paid agent to undermine what matters most to you, a relationship controlled by an unseen committee of their superior officers. This is not informed consent. It is abuse.”

* R v McNally [2014] 2 WLR 200

For further information, contact Birnberg Peirce and Partners: 020 7911 0166

Note for editors / legal departments:
‘Laura’ and six of the eight women have anonymity orders and should not be identified.

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PRESS RELEASE: Metropolitan Police confirm identity of undercover officers following legal challenge by women

Press release on behalf of women deceived by undercover police – issued by Birnberg Peirce and partners, 14 August 2014

The Metropolitan Police have formally confirmed, for the first time, the identities of two undercover police officers serving in the much criticised, highly secretive, Special Demonstration Squad. This followed an application made by a group of women who were deceived by undercover officers into long-term intimate, sexual relationships. The application resulted in a judgment by Mr Justice Bean that the police could no longer rely on their purported policy of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” (NCND) in respect of two of the four officers named by the Claimants. Bob Lambert, who was known as political activist, Bob Robinson in the mid 1980′s, and Andrew James Boyling, who was known as Jim Sutton, a political activist in the late 1990s have both been confirmed as undercover officers by the Metropolitan police in an Amended Defence served in consequence of the Judge’s order.

The police, whilst publicly stating that the actions of undercover officers entering into long term sexual and intimate relationships was morally reprehensible, had until this point steadfastly refused to provide any information to the women Claimants during their three year legal battle for justice. The Amended Defence also confirms that Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling were in sexual relationships with three of the women as they have alleged. However, the Defendant, goes on assert that the relationships were based on “mutual attraction and genuine personal feelings”. The Defendant who trained these officers in deception and deployed them which enabled them to enter into such relationships, denies any responsibility or liability for the abuse and damage caused.

The Amended Defence also refuses to confirm the identities of two other former SDS officers who were known as John Barker and Mark Cassidy, despite the Claimants producing ample evidence from their own painstaking research, that these men were in fact undercover police officers, John Dines and Mark Jenner. Even more bizarrely, and showing contempt for both the women and the judgment of the court, the Amended Defence refuses to confirm any details about the existence and operation of the Special Demonstration Squad, despite this having been stated elsewhere in the public domain including reports by Operation Herne.

“The police have been pulled, kicking and screaming, to this first extremely significant development in the litigation brought by the women in their long battle for justice and accountability. It represents a partial victory with the police being forced to acknowledge the identities of undercover police officers who committed serious violations of women’s rights” said Harriet Wistrich, the women’s solicitor. “However, the confirmation does not go far enough, it is mealy mouthed, offensive and lacking in any acknowledgment of the huge abuse of power and harm caused to my clients.”

Belinda Harvey, one of the Claimants in the case, said: “I am very upset that the Defence suggests that my relationship with Bob Robinson over twenty-five years ago, is said to be based on ‘mutual attraction and genuine feelings.’ How can a relationship be genuine when it is based on a massive web of lies? He pretended to be a man with noble ideals and political commitments, when in reality he was a police officer spying on our friendship network. He pretended he was committed to the future when he always knew he would go back to his real job and wife and kids. That doesn’t show genuine feelings; it is abuse and I would never have consented to such a relationship had I known. This relationship was a total violation of me and my life.”

Helen Steel, another of the Claimants, who had a two-year relationship with John Barker who she now knows to have been undercover officer John Dines said: “It is disgusting that the police continue to hide behind NCND even though the Judge acknowledged that the evidence we had collected was strong and it appeared on the face of it that the police were just delaying the inevitable confirmation. Rather than apologise for the abuse inflicted on us, the police’s attitude towards this litigation is creating still more distress. Their continued attempts to hide behind NCND and refuse to provide any acknowledgement of the extreme pain they have caused, greatly aggravates the original violation.”

For further information and comment, including to speak to the women’s solicitor Harriet Wistrich, please contact Alex Phillips on 0207 391 0784, or email H.Wistrich#@#birnbergpeirce.co.uk (removing spam-prevention hashtags).

NOTES:

1. Full information of the women’s case, including their legal battles over the Met’s delaying and secrecy tactics, can be found at www.policespiesoutoflives.org.uk

2. The women’s legal challenge was to the Met’s attempt to hide behind Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) rather than engage with the women’s legal action. In court, lawyers for the women cited many instances where the Met had confirmed undercover identities and publicly discussed undercover tactics. Background to the women’s challenge to NCND can be found here: http://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/secrecy-hearing-why-neither-confirm-nor-deny-should-not-stand/ Further notes on NCND can be found here: http://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/the-case-overview/legal-battles/neither-confirm-nor-deny/

3. The women’s legal challenge to NCND was heard by Mr Justice Bean, who in his Judgment noted that Jim Sutton / Boyling had “been publicly named as an UCO by the Commissioner in person” and as such “reliance on the NCND policy to avoid admitting that he was an UCO is simply unsustainable” and similarly that NCND can no longer be relied on in relation to Bob Robinson / Lambert as “he has not only self disclosed, but has been publicly named by the IPCC as a former MPS officer”. Full coverage of the judgment can be found here: http://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/womens-statement-high-court-ruling-met-police-cannot-maintain-blanket-ncnd-to-cover-up-gross-abuses-of-intimate-relationships-while-undercover/

4. Specifically concerning NCND, Justice Bean said: “I do not accept that there is now, in 2014, any legitimate public interest entitling the Commissioner to maintain the stance of NCND in respect of this general allegation; [...] 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. I therefore rule that the defendant cannot rely on NCND to avoid answering the general allegation.” policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/uploads/2014/07/Final-high-court-judgement-on-NCND.doc

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Media articles on NCND judgement

How do ppi companies make money on your claims

In the wake of Wednesday’s High Court Ruling, here are some links to media coverage of the judgement….

 

BBC, 2/7/14 –   “Undercover police sex case : women win legal battle”

The Guardian, 2/7/14 – “Women duped by Met undercover officers win high court ruling”

 

Thanks also to all those who have signed the “Where we stand” statement this week – to add your support, see HERE.

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Women’s statement: High Court ruling: Met Police cannot maintain blanket ‘NCND’ to cover up “gross abuses” of intimate relationships while undercover.

Today, in a devastating blow to the Metropolitan Police’s attempts to cover up gross abuses of women by undercover police, the High Court ruled that the Met could not use ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ as a blanket response to all the fully pleaded claims of women affected.

Mr Justice Bean handed down judgment in the pre-trial hearing concerning five of the women who were deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover policemen who were infiltrating environmental and social justice campaigns.

He held that there was no legitimate public interest in the Met Police asserting NCND in respect of the general allegations that undercover officers had engaged in long term intimate sexual relationships with those whose activities the MPS were monitoring; and that this was authorised or acquiesced in by senior management.

The Judge noted that “The Chief Constable conducting the Operation Herne investigation has expressed in trenchant terms the view that if this did happen it was a “gross abuse”: I believe that most people would agree with him.”

This came after the Met Police were forced to acknowledge during the hearing on 5-6th June, that if the allegations by the women were true, the police could not argue that the officers were acting appropriately. The Judge further stated that “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.”

Referring to individual undercover officers, the Judge noted that Jim Sutton / Boyling had “been publicly named as an UCO by the Commissioner in person” and as such “reliance on the NCND policy to avoid admitting that he was an UCO is simply unsustainable” and similarly that NCND can no longer be relied on in relation to Bob Robinson / Lambert as “he has not only self disclosed,
but has been publicly named by the IPCC as a former MPS officer”.

In relation to other officers whose identity had not so far been publicly confirmed, the Judge found that the Claimant RAB, “by a great deal of what may be summarised as detective work of her own she has established, in my view, a clear prima facie case that Mark Cassidy was in fact an undercover officer called Mark Jenner” and further stated that Helen Steel was in a similar position in relation to John Barker / Dines.

However, he then disappointingly held that as there had been no official confirmation, “the Commissioner should not be required to admit or deny whether either of them is an undercover officer or has the real name alleged”. He went on to say “This may only postpone the day of reckoning, in the sense that if the case proceeds and no evidence is adduced to challenge that put forward by RAB and Helen Steel respectively, it appears likely that the respective factual cases put forward by them will be accepted”.

Helen Steel, former McLibel defendant and one of the five Claimants, said “We welcome the finding that there is no legitimate public interest in the Met covering up the existence of these abusive undercover relationships. It is very disappointing, however, 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.”

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the Claimants stated, “The police have been on notice of this case for three and a half years and until this judgment, they have wilfully refused to engage in any meaningful way with the most serious allegations put to them. Their ongoing refusal in the face of an overwhelming body of evidence in the public domain has greatly aggravated the distress caused to my clients, who want answers from the police as well as justice and accountability.”

The Met Police have been given 28 days to amend their Defence in order either to admit or deny that: (a) officers of the MPS, 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 in by senior management; (c) Jim Sutton was such an officer; and (d) Bob Robinson was such an officer, and that “if the Commissioner fails to deal with them in an Amended Defence served within 28 days he will be taken to admit them.”

Background press release can be accessed here: http://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/backgrnd-ncnd-judg/

The judgement in full can be downloaded here: Final high court judgement on NCND.

For press enquiries contact Susanna Thomas at Birnberg Peirce & Partners on 020 7391 0784

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PRESS RELEASE: Background to today’s NCND judgment

PLEASE NOTE: The women are expected to make a statement as soon as the judgment is handed down. For updates see: http://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/ and twitter

TODAY: at 9.30am Justice Bean will hand down his judgment on an application to stop the Metropolitan Police using their Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) ‘policy’ to obstruct a legal action against the force over undercover relationships.

The legal action is being brought by eight women who were deceived into long-term intimate relationships by undercover officers who were infiltrating environmental and social justice groups. The women’s common law claims are deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office, and negligence. The women’s supporters accuse the force of institutional sexism and of prejudice against members of the public who engage in social and environmental justice campaigning.

Despite the case being filed in December 2011, the Met has not complied with civil procedure rules which require a defendant to enter a plea and to submit a list of evidence. Instead the force delayed the case – first with a strike out application, which they dropped in March, and then by claiming that NCND prevents them from entering a plea and submitting evidence. The women applied to the High Court to force the Met to comply with procedure, and their application was heard on 5-6 June by Justice Bean.

More information – including quotes from the women and their solicitor at the time of the application:

PRESS RELEASE 3 June 2014: Police accused of “obstructive and distressing approach” over legal action

PRESS RELEASE 6 June 2014: Met police admit for first time in legal case that undercover officers in intimate sexual relationships are not appropriate

Key background in the case against NCND: Why NCND must be rejected….

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