Press Release: Met Police try to have Women’s Case Heard in Secret

19 November 2012

Undercover policing legal case:
•    Metropolitan Police slammed for secret tribunal bid
•    High Court hearing to start Wednesday 21 November

On Wednesday 21 November 2012 at the High Court, the legal action against the Metropolitan Police over undercover policing will have its first day in court. Lawyers for the claimants will be battling against a bid by the Met for the case to be heard in secret. Supporters of the claimants today issued a statement condemning the Met’s bid for secrecy.

The unprecedented legal action is being brought against the Metropolitan Police by Birnberg Peirce and partners on behalf of eight women deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover officers who were infiltrating political movements. The hearing on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 November will concern an application regarding three of the claimants, and a further three claimants from a separate case being brought by Tucker’s solicitors. The Metropolitan Police are attempting to have the cases heard in secret by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). [1]

In a statement today, supporters of the eight women said:

The police cannot be permitted to hide behind the cloak of secrecy, when they have been guilty of one of the most intrusive and complete invasions of privacy that can be imagined.

“The IPT exists for the sole purpose of maintaining secrecy; under its jurisdiction the case could proceed with the women denied access to and unable to challenge police evidence, and being powerless to appeal the tribunal’s decisions.

“Thus, the women, who have suffered a totally disproportionate, unnecessary and extremely damaging invasion of their privacy, may be denied access to justice by the very legislation which was purportedly designed to protect their rights.

A  demonstration will be held outside the High Court from 9.30am on both days – to protest against the police’s attempt to have the case heard in a secret court, and in support of principles of open justice.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Legal action was commenced in Dec 2011 against the Metropolitan Police on behalf of eight women who were deceived into having long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers. The five undercover officers were all engaged in infiltrating environmental and social justice campaign groups between the mid 1980’s and 2010 and had relationships with the women lasting from 7 months and the longest spanning 9 years.

The women assert that the actions of the undercover officers breached their rights as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 3 (no one shall be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (respect for private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state), The women are also bringing claims for deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence, and seek to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers.

[1] The IPT is a little known tribunal set up under  section 65 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA, 2000)  to  deal with claims brought under the Human Rights Act relating to  surveillance activity by state agents including the police.

For more information, please contact the lawyer for the case, Harriet Wistrich, Birnberg Peirce & Partners -  0207 911 0166

Note to Picture Editors: Supporters of the Claimants will gather outside the High Court between 9.30am and 10.30am on the mornings of both Wednesday 21 November and Thursday 22 November

Read the full statement here

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