Statement condemning the Metropolitan Police’s attempt to have case heard in secret

“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 approach of the Metropolitan Police to the litigation has been obstructive from the outset, refusing to provide any substantive response to the allegations and hiding behind a ‘neither confirm nor deny’ policy about the activities of their officers. Now, to add insult to injury, following one of the most intrusive invasions of privacy imaginable, the police are attempting to strike out the women’s claim by arguing that the case should have been started in a shadowy secret court known as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). [1]

The IPT exists for the sole purpose of maintaining  secrecy, and under its jurisdiction the case could proceed with the  women denied access to and unable to challenge police evidence, and powerless to appeal the tribunal’s decisions. This will mean that neither they, nor the public will ever find out the extent of the violations of human rights and abuses of public office perpetrated by these undercover units. 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.

The public outrage at the phone hacking scandal earlier this year focused on the cynical intrusion into lives of individuals by the press and the police. Today’s hearing relates to levels of intrusion far more invasive than phone hacking, yet so far most mainstream politicians remain silent.

What little information the women have garnered indicates that for 30 years or more these undercover units had (and still have) a rolling brief to inform on political movements and keep files on individuals (simply because they are or were politically active), without investigating any specific crime, and with no apparent intention to participate in any criminal justice process.[2] As a part of this, undercover officers lied and manipulated their way into people’s lives whilst their cover officers, back-room teams and the rest of the police command structure monitored and controlled people’s private lives and relationships. In certain cases, the false identity established by the police was able to be exploited by individual officers to continue their deceit after their deployment had officially ended, seemingly with no safeguard for the women involved, even fathering children in the process.

These massive intrusions into people’s lives are reminiscent of the activities of the Stasi in East Germany and those responsible should be brought to public account. These cases are, therefore, being brought in an attempt to expose the damage done by the Metropolitan Police and to make them publicly accountable for their actions.

This is a statement from supporters of eight women who are bringing legal against the Metropolitan Police. The eight women were deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers.  The Metropolitan Police has applied to have the cases heard by the  Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). [1] The application will be heard at the High Court on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 November 2012. Read the Press Release here

NOTES FOR EDITORS:
[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 against the police  and other security services.
[2] The HMIC report  states that “for most undercover deployments the most intense scrutiny  occurs when the evidence they have collected is presented at court.  Accountability to the court therefore provides an incentive for police  to implement the system of control rigorously: but in the HMIC’s view,  this incentive did not exist for the NPOIU. This is because NPOIU  undercover officers were deployed to develop general  intelligence…rather than gathering material for the purpose of  criminal prosecutions.” Source:  HMIC “A review of national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with protest” (February 2012) p.7

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