Cardiff activist, Deborah, speaks out for the first time

southwalesanarchist‘Deborah’ is bravely speaking out for the first time about the trauma she has suffered after having a relationship with Marco Jacobs, an undercover officer and the subsequent five year battle to find out the truth.

This week she gave a interview to Channel Four News, about her experiences, and to the Guardian talking about the effects of the delays in her legal action against the police. She has also written her story down in the form of a statement for Police Spies Out of Lives, which we share below.

Deborah  is one of three of the people involved in her case, she has  requested anonymity; this has been upheld by the courts. ‘Deborah’ is a  pseudonym.

Deborah’s Statement:

“I was a Cardiff based activist involved primarily with the Cardiff  Anarchist Network and No Borders South Wales since 2004. Marco Jacobs  moved to Cardiff in 2005, after previously living in Brighton  and being politically active there. I met Marco in 2005 when I was a  post graduate student. He was very funny and friendly towards me from the outset and I quickly became close friends with him.  Marco was a well liked member of the many activist groups that he became  involved in. His humour and down to earth nature made him endearing and he often provided comic relief during actions and meetings which, looking back, was possibly a way of trivialising our political activity. Marco was supportive, helpful  and caring towards me as well as my family, particularly so at the time  of my father’s death in 2008 after a long illness. He embedded himself into my life as someone I relied on emotionally and practically, reflecting my views and feelings and boosting my self esteem. In late 2008 my relationship with Marco changed after he declared he had strong feelings for me, telling me that he had moved to Cardiff because of me, ended his previous relationship because of me and that when he found out that I was seeing someone else that ‘it was like a knife’ in his heart. Our relationship became a sexual one where he told  me that he loved me, leading me to leave my partner  at the time to pursue what I thought was a genuine, supportive and  loving relationship. However, he quickly seemed to lose interest leaving me extremely hurt and confused. Marco left Cardiff in 2009, telling his friends here that he was moving to Corfu for work. Shortly after leaving all  communication from him ceased. In 2011, after some  months of speculation among his former activist community in Cardiff and after we undertook some investigatory work, the Guardian newspaper reported he was an undercover police officer. 

In  2011 I sought legal counsel about the intrusion into my life by this  unknown officer and the subsequent significant damage this has had on all aspects of my life, including my mental and physical health, relationships and friendships, my ability to work and to engage in political activism. I and one other claimants from South Wales are still pursuing a  civil action against the Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and  the Association of Chief Police Officers. I have not received any  apology, acceptance of liability or acknowledgement of the huge impact  Marco’s deployment had on our lives. We still do  not know who this man is or why he spied on us for so long. The conduct of the police in these proceedings has been obstructive to say the least. The ongoing delaying tactics they are using have served to cause further significant distress to my fellow claimants and I. It feels like they are continuing to punish us for being activists and for daring to attempt to hold the police to account. It feels like the abuse at the hands of this very powerful institution has never stopped. 

On 10th November 2016 the ongoing Undercover Police Inquiry issued a press notice, which stated that the police officer core participant known until then as N519 is Marco Jacobs (this being his cover name). This is significant as until this point the police have never actually confirmed Marco Jacobs was an undercover police officer, despite our 5 year legal battle.  It’s a small victory  in a very long and cruel process.”







Helen Steel issues statement as former partner confirmed as undercover officer

PRESS RELEASE for immediate release

  • Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer
  • Helen Steel has issued a statement in response. It is contained here

HSAustThe Undercover Policing Inquiry (1) has named John Dines as an undercover police officer (2), the third officer confirmed in recent weeks (3). John Dines was the long term partner of Helen Steel (4), who until recently was suing (5) the police, with seven other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover officers.

It was Helen’s search for John Barker, after he had disappeared from her life, which revealed he was John Dines, an undercover officer. This is only being confirmed by the Inquiry now. Despite settling her legal action with a comprehensive apology (6), the police have until now refused to admit that John Dines was an undercover officer, relying on their ‘policy’ of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (7).

Helen Steels Statement:

“While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago.  Even after they issued a public apology for serious human rights abuses to myself and six other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover policemen, the police still argued they could not confirm the identity of my abuser.  To date, despite that apology, they have also refused to confirm the identity of Mark Jenner who deceived ‘Alison’ into a five year relationship.  We and other women similarly deceived have had no disclosure at all about how these abusive relationships were allowed to happen, instead we have been subjected to intrusive demands for evidence of the effects of the abuse.  None of those responsible for this abuse have been held to account – even those still employed by the police have kept their jobs.  

It is an insult to the many victims of political undercover policing that the police who are responsible for serious human rights abuses have been allowed to cover up the truth and withhold information from those they abused.  The public inquiry should release as a matter of urgency the cover names of all these political police and also the files they compiled on campaigners, so that those spied on are able to understand what happened and give relevant evidence to the inquiry.  

We know that over a thousand campaign groups have been spied upon by these political undercover policing units.  This represents a significant interference with the right to political freedom of thought and the right to protest.  Ultimately it is a means for those who hold power to preserve the status quo and prevent social change.  For this reason it is in the public interest for the cover names of all the political undercover police to be released, along with the files they compiled so that those who have abused their power can be held to account, the public learns the true extent of this political spying in this country and further human rights abuses by such units can be prevented.”

—statement ends—

Key background links


2)   The Undercover Policing Inquiry confirmed him as an officer today on 20th December 2016.

3)    Carlo Neri and Marco Jacobs were also recently confirmed as undercover officers (see Guardian report). They had also previously been identified by activists as an undercover police officer, and are also the subject of legal actions against the police. The police have as yet failed to admit that Mark Jenner was an undercover officer. He had a relationship with ‘ Alison’, one of the seven other women who took the legal action against the police with Helen Steel.

4)    Helen Steel was one of the eight women who had a high profile case against the Metropolitan Police for being deceived into relationships with undercover officers

5)    The legal action against the Metropolitan Police involved claims of deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence

6)    As part of an out-of-court settlement for seven out of the eight claims, the Met police issued a comprehensive apology in November 2015 – their first admission that the relationships had taken place and had caused significant damage. Other civil cases being brought against the police over undercover policing continue.

7)    The police say that they have a ‘policy’ of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) in relation to undercover officers. If anyone asks whether one of their officers is an undercover, they reply with words to the effect of “We can neither confirm nor deny that X person was an undercover officer”. NCND doesn’t have any legal standing, or even appear to be a proper policy. Despite this, and despite the very serious nature of the many allegations against undercover units, the police are seeking to in the Inquiry see Secrets beyond lies briefing. Helen Steel herself demolished NCND at the hearing about restriction orders and secrecy in the Inquiry into Undercover Policing – for a transcript see here.


Christmas Card Campaign

undercoverinyourfamilyWe are inviting all our supporters to send a Christmas card to their MPs and Police & Crime Commissioners this year, and we have written a text for you to put in it. For more information on how to do this go to our Christmas Card campaigns page.

Imagine your MP opening this letter this Christmas – we hope it will make them sit up and think about how they should support the calls for an open and full inquiry into the truth behind the undercover policing scandal. And if they don’t, who are they sitting down with?

“This winter, as you gather around the table with your family, what would you do if one of the people at your table wasn’t who they said they were? What if they were an undercover police officer?

What if they viewed their long-term sexual relationship with you or with a female member of your family as a ‘perk of the job’?  What if they were planning to falsify a nervous breakdown in the coming months, hoping to create a trail of worry and confusion in their wake, for all those who are currently sitting at your table?

What if they’d used the identity of a dead child for their false name and date of birth? Somewhere out there, there’s another family gathering together, still grieving, while unbeknownst to them their loss is being exploited.

What if the officer was handing names of those around the table to an illegal blacklist – meaning that in the coming year someone amongst your nearest and dearest is forced, mysteriously, out of employment and into poverty and anxiety? What would you do then?

And what if the excuse given for all this is something precious, and important, that we should all be able to take for granted: political activity. Normal, everyday, political activity. What would you do then?

What if the ‘political activity’ that prompted this so-called ‘infiltration’ covered every kind of issue and difficulty currently facing society? And particularly, what if it was challenging police corruption? Or police racism? Or police violence – even homicide? What would you do then?

What if the officer wasn’t having to collect information for a prosecution, wasn’t having to conduct proper investigation, but was just ‘intelligence gathering’ for the gratification of their bosses? Or what if there *was* a prosecution, and the officer was present at confidential legal meetings? What if they were prompting people to break the law, or even commit acts of violence?

If you found all this out, wouldn’t you be jaw-droppingly appalled? Wouldn’t you think that it was ESSENTIAL that the police unit be halted, their records secured, and that those responsible for these gross actions be brought to justice? Wouldn’t you feel it was a matter of public urgency that the truth be understood, and that this deeply appalling police culture be challenged and deconstructed?

Yet over the last year – despite all this having actually happened, despite these abuses being dragged into the public eye by those the police have abused the most, despite the profound threat to democracy that the unit’s actions represent – over the last year the police have strenuously attempted to keep their actions hidden in silence.

And the Home Office has backed them.

If you are not making a fuss about this – challenging the Home Office, insisting on disclosure and justice, pushing that the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing be fully effective, then what are you allowing to continue?

If you’re not making a stand, who are you sitting down with?”




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