Jessica calls for Andy Coles to resign his position on Peterborough City Council

In her own words:
“I welcome the news that Andy Coles has resigned from his post as Cambridgeshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

I would like to know whether he also intends to step down from his position on Peterborough City Council, as Conservative Party councillor for Fletton and Woodston.

This is just the start of what is going to be a very long legal process, to try and get some answers from him and his superiors.

These events highlight the need for transparency and accountability, and the need for the Pitchford Inquiry to help us uncover the truth about what has happened to us”.

Jessica’s full statement is here. She was also interviewed on ITV Anglia today.
His resignation came after his exposure at the weekend, as #spycop Andy Davey, part of the same controversial “SDS” unit as Bob Lambert, John Dines, Mark Jenner etc.

‘Andrea’, another of the woman who was deceived by an undercover officer, published an opinion piece on Comment Is Free today.

She said:
” Like Jessica, I too was deceived. I understand the shock, disbelief and disorientation that come from this appalling discovery, that someone so close and so trusted could actually be a spy sent to infiltrate and disrupt legitimate protest and political movements.”

” I was tricked into a long-term relationship with the SDS (Special Demonstration Squad – the Met’s undercover unit) officer who I knew as Carlo Neri.”

“I hope too that Jessica’s journey toward holding the state to account is quicker and less obstructive than for those who have come before. Several of us are still engaged in legal cases against the police, and the resounding apology given to the eight women has not eased this path. Our fight for truth and justice continues.”

 

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Andrea speaks out revealing institutional sexism around undercover policing

neriAndrea story in her own words was printed in two articles by Union News this week. She is one of the women targeted for long term intimate relationships by an undercover officer. It is part of a pattern of institutional sexism, where officers used women to shore up their fake identities and gain trust with activists. In the first article she tells the story of being targeted by Neri, an undercover officer. In the second article, she writes about the impact of discovering he was an undercover officer.

The trauma of discovering your ex partner was an undercover policeman is huge, and their stories deeply personal. It enormously brave for her, like the other women before her, to share her story publicly. It is these women’s stories that are proving to be our most powerful tools to stopping these abuses happening again.

She talks about the strength of their relationship. “We were inseparable. Within six weeks he’d moved in with me. It felt right, and three months later we got engaged.” The relationships these officers had whilst undercover were often very serious for the women involved, as the officers played the role of the perfect partner.

She tells the now familiar story of the breakdown that Neri faked before he left her, which was devastating for her. He even used the emotionally manipulative tool of telling her he was going to kill himself.

Andrea talks about the effect of discovering Neri was an undercover officer “When this happens to you, when your narrative becomes a fiction, life itself becomes fragmented.  There’s a ripple effect.  It impacts on your relationships, your work, your family, and when you start to uncover the truth, you still find out only a part of that truth.  It is an enormously cruel thing to do.

Andrea reflects on why this happened to her – why she was one of many women used by undercover police in this way. “I don’t know why I was chosen. Wrong place, wrong time? A mere convenience? It seems I provided a cover so that this man could infiltrate the trade unions and movements that he was sent to spy on.

Many of the undercover officers that have been revealed so far had deceitful intimate relationships while undercover. These relationships shored-up the cover-stories of the officers – by definition the undercover officers had no real background, friends or family, and by having a relationship with a trusted female activist, they would be accepted into their target groups more readily.

In conceding the a previous similar case, the police admitted that supervising officers had been negligent and had acted improperly in causing or allowing the relationship to happen. It was not the actions of rogue officers, but instead had been authorised or allowed to happen by the supervisory structure. This reveals a sexist mind-set, that it is ok to abuse women like this, to shore up the identity of an undercover officer.

It is the bravery of women like Andrea speaking up, which is revealing the extent of this abusive practice, and the institutional sexism that surrounds it. The Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing MUST officially recognise this institutional sexism for it to change. We have seen the power of the McPherson Inquiry recognising racism in the Met, and this is what is needed to cause real change and to stop women’s lives being abused like this in the future.

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Women spied on in Scotland, demand full investigation

openthefilesWomen we support, who were targeted for undercover relationships, have been speaking out bravely about being targeted in Scotland, and criticising the very limited investigations into the role of English Undercover Officers in Scotland.

Pitchford made the controversial decision not to extend the Inquiry into Undercover Policing to Scotland. The ensuing review, commissioned by the Scottish Government is extremely limited (only going back to 2000), and there appears to be links between HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) who are doing the reviewing, and the SDS & NPOIU.

Alison” speaking to Scotland on Sunday, expressed concerns over trips Jenner made to Scotland with her that will not be examined by a review set up by the Scottish Government.

“I just don’t understand the thinking of the Scottish review,” Alison said. “It makes you wonder if there is stuff they don’t want to uncover. By only going back to 2000, they’re writing huge chunks out of the story.”

Andrea“, speaking to the Scottish Sunday Herald said she made four visits north of the border with Neri, who she described as a “sociopath”. “Andrea” and “Alison” believe Neri and Jenner were being paid by the police every time they made a trip.

Criticising Pitchford’s decision to not extend the Public Inquiry into undercover policing to Scotland, “Andrea” said “I think it is absolute nonsense,” she said. “We know they were all active in Scotland.” She also criticised the HMIC review of undercover policing in Scotland: “It’s box-ticking exercise and serves no purpose.”

The targeting of women for relationships by undercover officers has been recognised as an abuse of their human rights, and this needs to be investigated wherever it happened. The use of undercover police against social justice and environmental campaigners is political policing, and needs to be halted immediately, and the files to be opened and investigated where ever this abuse of democracy has occurred.

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I lived with an undercover officer – this BBC series gets it all wrong

Alison,’ one eight women who sued the police over being deceived into relationships with undercover cops, has spoken out in criticism of the BBC’s new drama series ‘Undercover.’ She had a relationship with ‘Mark Jenner’ an undercover cop she knew as Mark Cassidy (pictured).

Mark Jenner - former SDS undercover officer
Mark Jenner – former SDS undercover officer

She has written a piece in the Guardian, saying that despite advising the screenwriter Peter Moffat some years ago, she feels that the story he is portraying is misleading and inauthentic. It misrepresents “the deceitful individuals involved” and misunderstands “the power dynamics and sexual politics” that underpin the deployment of officers by these units.

‘Alison’ explains that “There is no precedent of officers having families with their targets then sustaining a happy marriage for two decades under the guise of their state-sponsored identity”. Instead, since 1996 all officers have been required to have wives and possibly children in their lives. Many officers cheated on, lied and exploited both their wives, and their activist lovers, with their dual domestic role.  ‘Alison’ feels that their “true stories… were sufficiently dramatic without requiring elaboration,” and that Undercover is a sensationalised misrepresentation of how the Met Special Demonstration Squad operated, and hopes that because of this it does not miss the opportunity to spark viewers to find out about the true stories of “abusive relationships condoned by the police in the name of law and order.”

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Statement in Australian Parliament demanding John Dines cease teaching Police in Sydney

Helen Steel has flown to Australian to confront John Dines, an undercover officer in the UK who she was tricked into a two year relationship with. She has tracked him down after years piecing together his real identity. This was revealed today in an exclusive in the Guardian.

She also revealed that he was working teaching Police in Sydney. Helen said “John was part of the … special demonstration squad which spied on trade unionists, anti-racists and environmental campaigners…. I was extremely concerned that he might now be promoting the kind of tactics that have been used on us in the UK…. I felt it was important to come here to expose what happened in the UK in case these discredited tactics are being promoted in other countries.”

As a result of Helen’s work, David Shoebridge, a Greens Member of New South Wales Legislative Council in Australia, read out the following statement in Parliament today. It highlights the abuses committed by John Dines, and calls for him to be removed from his teaching position. (Scroll to the bottom of the statement for a pdf version.)

UK undercover police teaching in Australia

In 1968 a young boy called John Barker, only 8 years old, died from leukaemia. 19 years later an undercover UK police officer called John Dines stole John Barker’s identity.

Using the stolen identity of a dead boy, and a complete lack of principles, John Dines then sought to infiltrate British environmental and left-wing movements. John Dines wasn’t working alone. He was just one of a number of undercover police employed by the UK Special Demonstration Squad using the stolen identities of dead children to infiltrate protest groups.

The SDS was established in 1968 and operated until 2008. Its purpose was to infiltrate left wing groups using undercover police officers, who provided intelligence to MI5. It has been revealed that the SDS used the names of at least 80 dead children to create the false identities for its agents. Many of these agents then entered into long term personal and sexual relationships with protest organisers and activists to gain trust and increase their access to information.

John Dines started attending Greenpeace meetings in 1987 as a member of the squad, using the name of “John Barker”. As part of his undercover activities he, and other members of this squad, entered into close and often intimate relationships with the activists that they were spying on.

In 1990 John Dines entered a serious relationship with activist Helen Steel that continued until 1992 when he simply disappeared. Helen, who is present in the  chamber tonight, spent years searching for Dines. In 2011 Helen was informed that he had been an undercover police officer.

The first case similar to this that came to public attention was portrayed by the police as just being a rogue officer, but this was not an isolated incident.  8 women including Helen, then took legal action against the police as a result of being deceived into relationships with 5 different undercover officers who infiltrated environmental and left-wing movements over a period spanning 25 years, strongly suggesting an institutional practice.  Theirs are not the only cases being taken over these relationships.

There have been a large number of legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Service as a result of the SDS actions. This includes a £425,000 payment to a woman whose child was fathered by undercover police officer Bob Lambert when she was a 22 year old activist. When her child was 2 years old his father vanished, she only found out his real identity 25 years later through reading a newspaper article.

The Metropolitan police now accept this practice was morally and legally offensive. In a public apology issued in November 2015, they said:
“officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong”

It is hard to truly understand the impact that this would have on someone’s life. In Helen Steel’s own words:

“I certainly feel violated by what they have done. It’s about power. We didn’t consent, and wouldn’t have consented if we had known who they were. They’ve allowed this to happen in a unit of mainly male officers, in a culture where sexism is undoubtedly at play. Politicians and police officers have tried to justify it on the basis that it’s ‘necessary’, or that we deserved it in some way … The whole thing just demonstrates institutional sexism. The assumption is that, as a woman, you haven’t got the right to make a fully informed decision about who you want a relationship with, or have sex with – and that basically it’s not a problem for police to use women in this way.”

Why am I raising this case in the NSW Parliament? The answer is disturbingly simple. John Dines is now teaching police in Sydney. He is currently attached to Charles Sturt University. Since at least 2012 he has been at the Australian graduate School of Policing & Security at that University, and  is now Course Director for the Mid-Career Training Programme.

This program is intended to provide senior level guidance to police officers. The learning outcomes of the unit include providing students with advanced knowledge in areas including:

  • Identifying and sharing good practice
  • Human Rights
  • Gender Sensitivity

It is offensive in the extreme that John Dines can be involved in teaching these matters to police in this State. This is a man who professionally and systematically abused human rights as a police officer in the UK and showed a culpable lack of gender sensitivity. He has no place teaching police in NSW or in any country that says it respects human rights.

We need to ensure that similar abusive political undercover policing tactics are not replicated here or abroad. This must start with an investigation into whether NSW police have been trained by any officers from these UK units.

As part of the Metropolitan Police’s public apology, a spokesperson said:

“I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service. I am aware that money alone cannot compensate the loss of time, their hurt or the feelings of abuse caused by these relationships. […] The Metropolitan Police recognizes that this should never happen again and the necessary steps must be taken to ensure that it does not.”

Was Charles Sturt University aware of John Dines past when they employed him? Are the NSW police aware of the history of this man?

Whatever their knowledge before now, this much is clear, he must cease any involvement with teaching police in this state, before a similar apology is needed by the NSW Police.

PDF of David Shoebridge Statement – Police, Helen Steel and John Dines

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