One year since the Met apologised – our work is very much still needed

Low res80A year ago last weekend, the Metropolitan Police issued an historic apology to seven of the eight women we had been supporting in their legal action against the police after they were deceived into relationships with undercover police. Today, despite these consolatory words from the police, we are supporting two other legal actions, and talking to several others. These people are having to continue to fight to hold the police to account. In these cases, and in the public inquiry, through which we are supporting all of these people, no one has had any disclosure about what has happened to them. The years drag on, and these people, who have been deceived and abused by the police are still no nearer answers.

The apology was comprehensive, saying that the “long-term intimate sexual relationships with women… were  abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong” and “a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma”. The police acknowledged “that this should never happen again and the necessary steps must be taken to ensure that it does not.”

The apology was part of a settlement of the cases of seven of the eight women. However, despite their words, it seems that the Police have had no intention of disclosing what they have done, and have continued to drag their heels in the Inquiry and in the legal actions that are ongoing about relationships with undercover police, delaying people from getting to know the truth, and compounding the damage caused by the undercover officers.

The Inquiry itself seems to be under resourced, with less than half the staff of the police’s own investigation, Operation Herne, and the police are currently stalling it with applications for secrecy. There are real concerns about inequality in resources, with non-state core participants, who are being allowed only one barrister to represent their many stories, while the police have four.

Police Spies Out of Lives is pleased to be able to be part of the continued battle for justice around undercover policing, and to support these courageous people in their ongoing fight for the truth, accountability and change. We have secured funding for the year ahead, from Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, and will be continuing our work, where we meet each of those affected on their own terms, and offer:
• Advocacy around their personal story being in the public domain
• Practical personal support to enable those affected to participate in the legal action & public inquiry.

We create campaigns for the public to show their support and to create social change (as set out in our mission statement: Where We Stand). We:
• Amplify the voices of those affected
• Faciliate ways for those affected to take an active part, while ensuring that they can step away if necessary
• Maintain a focus on grassroots campaigns (rather than allowing legal structures or media cycles to dominate)

We are updating the website to reflect the fact we are supporting new cases. It is work in progress, so please bear with us, as we restructure and add new information. We are glad you are with us in this fight- see you on the streets, and in the court room.

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Public Inquiry Progress Briefing

stayinformedWe have written a Progress Briefing on the Inquiry into Undercover Policing. Below is the introduction, written by Harriet Wistrich, Solicitor for the Eight Women Case. The briefing is downloadable here: Inquiry Progress Nov16.

When the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced in parliament on 6 March 2014 that she was persuaded of the need for a judge led public inquiry to look into undercover policing, it was only a couple of days before we were due to go to court to defend a strike out application brought by the police against five of the original eight PSOOL has been supporting.  The strike out application made by the police was on the basis that they had a policy of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ in relation to undercover policing which meant that they couldn’t defend the claim.  The was the second ‘strike out’ application the police had brought, the first one being in relation to the other three women’s cases, where the police argued that the claims were wrongly started in the High Court and should have been brought in the highly secretive Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

As a result of the Home Secretary’s announcement, the police dropped their strike out application, although they maintained their stance of Neither Confirm Nor Deny.  I wondered how on earth the state could conduct a truly public inquiry into undercover policing, given the level or secrecy and resistance faced thus far.  To date after several years of civil litigation and now 16 months in to the public inquiry, there has still been no disclosure of any information regarding the operations of the undercover police units let alone any details revealed of the nature the undercover police activity in respect to any of the eight women.  So six years on from the first discoveries of this activity by the police, almost all that is known about the scandalous activities of the police is as a result of the women and other activists’ own detective work.

In this briefing, we provide a detailed update of all the steps that have been taken so far by the public inquiry since its formal commencement sixteen months ago.  Further details of all of this can also found on the public inquiry website.  In broad summary, progress has felt incredibly slow, as the inquiry has painstakingly gone through attempting to determine various legal procedures for assisting its decision making in terms of revealing details of undercover police officers cover names, providing any disclosure and offering any undertakings as to non prosecution with regard to evidence provision to the inquiry.  The most significant decision taken so far concerned the legal principles to be applied in respect of ‘restriction orders’, where fortunately, Lord Pitchford rejected the police argument that because of NCND the public inquiry could effectively be closed to the public!  However, the process now in terms of decisions in respect to the revealing of cover names of undercover police officers or in respect of what can be disclosed to the non police core participants, is painstakingly slow and complex.  It is not yet clear how many officers are likely to be offered anonymity and how much disclosure will be provided.  There are now four former undercover officers whose cover names have been revealed, all of who had sexual relationships with activists, Bob Lambert, Jim Boyling, Marco Jacobs and Carlo Neri.   In addition Mark Kennedy and Peter Francis are represented separately from the other undercover officers.  There are many more pending applications for restriction orders which are unlikely to be determined till late spring or summer next year and we don’t know how many of these will be successful.  Until this process is completed, it is not anticipated that there will be any public hearings.  We do not yet have much of an idea how the public hearings will work and what will be the scope of evidence taking in relation to the issues that fall within the terms of reference.

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Picket: Don’t let the Police derail the Inquiry!

IMG_0576Sixteen months into the Public Inquiry into undercover policing, and a whole year after the Metropolitan Police apologised to some of the women who’d been deceived into relationships with undercover officers…

There has still been no disclosure about these human rights abuses. The police are doing their best to derail the Inquiry and obstruct the path to truth and justice.

Join us at a picket of the Home Office
Monday 21st November 2016
12-1pm
The Home Office: 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
Nearest tubes: St James Park, Westminster or Pimlico

This is a Campaign opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) demonstration, that we are supporting. Time for the truth about undercover policing!

Help spread the word: Facebook event page

Can’t get to the picket? Please show your support the picket on social media. Follow us @out_of_lives or Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) @copscampaign or contact the Home Office directly to share your concerns with them.

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