Revelations by female activists in 2011 exposed the fact that undercover police in the UK had been deceiving women into intimate sexual relationships for decades.
By launching the civil case against the Met, eight women shone a light on the how institutional sexism within the police created, facilitated and enabled these state sponsored relationships.
Our campaigning ever since has been to expose how our personal relationships – we now know of more than thirty women affected – were exploited as a tactic to infiltrate and spy on social justice groups and political movements. Women have been used to shore up fake identities for those gathering ‘intelligence’ on friends, colleagues and comrades.
Our rights to privacy and a family life were violated. Our informed consent was denied. Our political lives derailed.
These state-sponsored, intimate sexual relationships turned our worlds upside down leaving in their wake psychological impact lasting years.
We had hoped that through our collective legal challenges we would have received disclosure. Something on paper that explains the gaps in our own relationship histories. Some answers to help us understand how and why this happened.
Most of us have received nothing.
Rosa gave evidence in Boyling’s misconduct hearing and witnessed some evidence that referenced her. Interesting snippets but nothing like the reams she believes exist about her relationship with Jim Boyling.
Kate Wilson’s IPT has produced the most disclosure so far but even here, there are inaccuracies and many gaps.
When the public inquiry into undercover policing (UCPI) was established in 2015, we welcomed it cautiously. We were impressed with the approach of the then Chair (Lord Justice Pitchford), and hoped this might finally give some answers.
Five years later, due to the untimely death of Lord Pitchford and with the Inquiry led by a far less empathetic Chair (Sir John Mitting), we are less hopeful.
We are still fighting for justice. We’re still seeking the truth.
The perfect storm of Covid-19 and the state’s default position in matters of law enforcement and security of denying public access to any information, suggests we could be waiting for quite some time yet.
The police’s position regarding disclosure – through legal cases and Freedom of Information requests – is consistently Neither Confirm Nor Deny. Or NCND. The unwritten policy that prevents public access to the truth in matters of national security and law enforcement. Its underlying principle that it’s done to keep us safe.
But in these cases, who exactly does NCND keep safe?
We don’t think it’s us.
NCND is about denying our access to the truth – not because knowing it will put us in danger – but because of the enormity of the what these units have been allowed to do and the potential loss of public trust.
It was made clear by Justice Bean in 2014 that the policy cannot rely on NCND as a blanket response to all allegations of wrongdoing. He held that there was no legitimate public interest in the Met Police asserting NCND in respect of the general allegations that undercover officers had engaged in long term intimate sexual relationships with female activists.
Despite the fact that the police are therefore unable to rely on NCND in every case, the UCPI has established a framework and series of police anonymity rulings that effectively means huge chunks of the evidence will nevertheless be heard in secret with state core participants being known by nothing except a cypher.
The Covid restrictions has meant the capacity for the public available in the court room is significantly reduced. We are told that for national security reasons, the hearings cannot be live streamed. We are effectively being shut out.
We want to know the truth about our own lives.
We want to see every ‘intelligence’ report and every one of our files.
We demand this public inquiry be accessible to the public.