NCND judgement to be handed down Wednesday 2nd July

Mr Justice Bean will hand down his judgment on the MPS’s use of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” on Wednesday morning 2nd July, following the women’s application to the High Court earlier this month. The women were applying to force the Met to enter a proper defence. So far, the Met has attempted to dodge doing this, claiming that their own NCND ‘policy’ prevents them from following basic legal procedure – a claim challenged by the women’s legal team.

For an explanation of what went on in court, see the Law is War blog: #spycops victims seek end to Police’s ‘NCND’ wall of silence

Also an account of the first day of the two-day hearing, from Rob Evans in the Guardian: Police chiefs have an air of King Canute as they defend their secrecy stance

Thank you for all the support messages that were sent to the women during the hearing. To add yours, go to Where We Stand.

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

At a High Court Hearing today, 6 June 2014, the Met police were finally forced to admit that if the claims brought by eight women, who alleged they were in long term intimate relationships, are true then such relationships would not have been justified as an undercover police tactic.

Mr Justice Bean was hearing an application brought by five of the women requiring the Metropolitan police to drop their “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) stance. NCND has been one of many delaying tactics used by the Met to maintain secrecy over the legal action against them, despite the very serious allegations that have been made by the Claimants. In dramatic scenes at the court today, the judge would not accept further hedging and obfuscation from leading counsel for the Commissioner. He demanded that she go away and take instructions from her client. After a short delay, Ms Carss-Frick, returned and said, “I am able to tell you …that if proved that the Claimants had long term relationships with individuals who were undercover operatives the Defendant would not consider such relationships justified as a UCO tactic”

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the eight women said: “We have been fighting this case for nearly three years and despite everything that is in the public domain, this is the first time the police have been forced to engage in a central issue in the proceedings. This is a very important step on my clients journey towards getting the answers and justice they deserve”

Mr Justice Bean has reserved judgment on the question as to whether the police are required to serve a proper defence rather than rely on NCND and say nothing.

NOTES:
1. Full background on this hearing is here.

2. Further background on NCND can be found here.

3. Delaying tactics from the police included a strike-out claim on the basis of NCND – which was dropped at the last minute in March of this year. Two large files of evidence were submitted to the Court by the women’s lawyers to counter the strike out claim. These files detailed instances where the police had confirmed the identities of undercover officers; commented on operational tactics of these political policing units; show the identities of the undercover officers reported in the media; and where the women had meticulously compiled evidence demonstrating that they can show the true identities of the officers.

4. This hearing concerned five of the eight women; the other three women are also bringing claims under the Human Rights Act, including suffering “inhumane and degrading treatment” and disruption of their “private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state”. They are fighting a separate battle to stop their claims being sent to a secret court, the IPT.

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PRESS RELEASE: Court to hear issues against Met police over SDS deployments, as women issue legal challenge to NCND

* Women’s legal action over undercover relationships
* Court hearing 5-6 June 2014, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London

On Thursday 5 June and Friday 6 June 2014, the main issues in a case against the Metropolitan Police over undercover relationships will be laid out for the first time in open court. The High Court will hear an application to require the Metropolitan police to drop their “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) stance. NCND has been one of many delaying tactics used by the Met to maintain secrecy over the legal action against them, despite the very serious allegations that have been made by the Claimants.

Eight women are bringing common law claims of assault, deceit, negligence and misfeasance in public office; this hearing concerns five of the women. The officers’ deployments were part of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which was infiltrating environmental and social justice campaign groups. Several officers entered into long-term relationships, causing lasting disruption and psychological damage.

Despite widespread public outcry over what appears to be a systematic pattern of abuse, the Metropolitan Police have not entered a defence against the claims, instead resorting to a series of delaying tactics and bids for secrecy, including their so-called Neither Confirm Nor Deny “policy” (NCND). The Met police withdrew their application to strike out the Claimants’ claims last March after the Home Secretary announced a public inquiry.

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the eight women said: “This will be the first hearing in open court when the main issues will be set out in the case against the Metropolitan police over the deployments of SDS officers. We will be providing detailed evidence of what the Claimants have discovered and what is already now known about the four undercover officers in the case which undermines the MPS’ reliance on NCND. NCND appears to be a smokescreen to cover up the extent of wrong-doing, and should not be permitted.”

For press enquiries, contact Susanna Thomas of Birnberg Peirce and Partners on 020 7911 0166.

NOTES:

1. Full background on this hearing is at https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/ncnd-5-6-jun/

2. Further background on NCND can be found at: https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/the-case-overview/legal-battles/neither-confirm-nor-deny/

3. Delaying tactics from the police included a strike-out claim on the basis of NCND – which was dropped at the last minute in March of this year. Two large files of evidence were submitted to the Court by the women’s lawyers to counter the strike out claim. These files detailed instances where the police had confirmed the identities of undercover officers; commented on operational tactics of these political policing units; show the identities of the undercover officers reported in the media; and where the women had meticulously compiled evidence demonstrating that they can show the true identities of the officers.

4. This hearing concerns five of the eight women; the other three women are also bringing claims under the Human Rights Act, including suffering “inhumane and degrading treatment” and disruption of their “private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state”. They are fighting a separate battle to stop their claims being sent to a secret court, the IPT.

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

On Thursday 5 June and Friday 6 June 2014 the High Court will hear an application to require the Metropolitan police to drop their “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) stance in a case being brought against them over undercover relationships.

In a statement, the women said: “The purpose of our application is to request that the Court bring an end to the obstructive and distressing approach taken by the police, and require them to plead a proper defence to the claims. If permitted, the police will continue to use Neither Confirm Nor Deny to cover up the abusive, unlawful and unethical nature of their operations.”

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the women, said: “Three years on and we still don’t have any answers. The police must be made to answer the allegations. Ever since the deception started the police have sought to maintain their deception at any cost – including the psychological harm to the women who have been left not knowing the truth about these operations.”

She added: “There is also a huge public interest in this case being properly heard since it is seeking to explore the operation of undercover officers who have committed unlawful acts.”

For press enquiries, contact Susanna Thomas of Birnberg Peirce and Partners on 020 7911 0166.

Notes:

1. Full background information on the case can be found here.

2. An explanation of this particular hearing, including an interview with Harriet Wistrich, can be found here.

3. The women’s full statement can be read here.

4. At a hearing for this case on 18th March, Justice Tugendhat said to the police: “Plainly the present form of pleading if applied by anyone else […] would be struck out. An ordinary defendant can’t say ‘I decline to confirm or deny.'”

5. In a recent Appeal Court ruling (in a different case), on 2nd May, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones stated that NCND “is not a legal principle. Indeed, it is a departure from procedural norms relating to pleading and disclosure. It requires justification similar to the position in relation to public interest immunity (of which it is a form of subset). It is not simply a matter of a governmental party to litigation hoisting the NCND flag and the court automatically saluting it.” Ref.: Paragarph 20 of Appeal Court ruling

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