Women face fresh legal battle over secrecy

This legal action against the police (brought by women who were deceived into long-term intimate relationships with undercover officers) will face a new fight against secrecy later this month, just days after a year-long fight against human rights claims going to a secret court.

Later this month the women will face an attempt by the police to have their common law claims of “deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence” struck out – with the police claiming that their asserted “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy prevents them from answering questions, disclosing any documents or giving evidence, and therefore they say they will be prevented from having a fair trial.

Not only this, but the police are also applying, in the alternative (i.e if the strike out application fails) for orders:
1. releasing them from standard disclosure obligations (so they don’t have to provide any documents to the claimants or their lawyers)
2. that the identities of each claimant and each police officer and each witness in the proceedings must not be disclosed.

Some months ago, two of the women involved in the case made the difficult decision to waive their anonymity in relation to these deeply personal experiences, so they could speak out publicly about what had happened. Now the police are now applying to silence their voices by having them made anonymous again. The clear picture from this application is that the police are attempting to cover up these scandalous operations and prevent the public from hearing or understanding what went on.

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Additional Notes:

1. The hearing will take place on either 20 or 21 November – the date will be confirmed by the courts closer to the time.

2. Jenny Jones of the London Assembly this week voiced criticism of Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police over what these court battles are “putting the victims through” – key points here.

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