Police fail to close down undercover relationship case following new revelations

Today in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) [1], the police failed in their attempt to close down Kate Wilson’s [2] human rights claim [3] about secret political policing and her relationship with the undercover officer, Mark Kennedy.

This was the police’s fourth failed application to limit the extent of the IPT investigation. After seven years of litigation, they still haven’t answered the detailed claims made.

The IPT panel, headed by Lord Justice Singh, ordered the police to provide a fully pleaded defence to all aspects of the claim, supported by witness evidence, within three months [4].

Significantly, the panel also want to examine the legality of the operations of all the officers who spied on Ms Wilson, and has ordered the police to present full background documentation and explanations of the process of their authorisations.

These rulings were a response to detailed statements provided by Ms Wilson and her legal team following sight of a 200-page sample of the 10,000 pages of documents containing her name that the police claim to have in their possession.

Exerts from her statement accompany this press release and are linked to letters below. The revelations include the following:

1) Ms Wilson was a named target of the undercover operation [a].
2) Mr Kennedy did not feel the need to hide the nature of their relationship, suggesting it was approved, and recorded in incredible detail their life together, such as shared theatre trips [c], and a week long holiday in the Lake District [d].
3) The recorded surveillance of Ms Wilson’s life was hugely disproportionate and intrusive – from recording details of her and Mark attending a charity carol singing concert organised by her mother [e], to details of her mother’s bad back [e], their shared museum visits [f], and 11 occasions’ when he stayed at her family home [b].
4) Mr Kennedy’s managers took active steps, spending public money, to increase the emotional bond, for example gifting Ms Wilson a bike in order to “facilitate ease of travel around and also maintain contact”[g]
5) The police were directly manipulating Ms Wilson’s political activity and breaching her human rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression in ways that go far beyond Mark’s sexual conduct. These include authorising Mr Kennedy to lend her money to attend political events in order to “raise UCO’s standing with her and allow her to socialise during visit thereby affording UCO more opportunities to develop new contacts.”[h], and undermining her political projects like her plan to work with refugees on the Thai-Burmese border [i].

Ms Wilson said:
“I welcome the Tribunal’s decision to continue to investigate the as yet unanswered questions in this case, such as how far up the hierarchy knowledge of our relationship went, whether sex was used as a infiltration tactic, why I was targeted, the institutionally sexist attitudes that underlie those actions, and whether this type of extensive and deep infiltration of activists’ lives is a legitimate tactic at all. We hope (against hope) that the police will finally see fit to comply with their duty of candour and cooperation and provide a substantive and factual response to our claim”

Notes to editors

1] https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/ipt/
2] Kate Wilson, is a social and environmental justice campaigner, who had a two-year intimate sexual relationship with Mr Kennedy. https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/our-stories/kates-story/
3] In this case the police have admitted abuse of four of Ms Wilsons human rights (https://www.thejusticegap.com/17885-2/) and that Undercover Officer Mark Kennedy’s managers knew about the sexual relationship and allowed it to continue (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/21/met-bosses-knew-of-relationship-deception-by-police-spy-mark-kennedy).
4] The Judge ordered that the Police must now disclose evidence, such that the Tribunal can discover the extent of senior officers’ involvement in the abuse; assess the lawfulness of the involvement of at least seven other undercover police officers in her life; and assess whether such intrusion violated the principle that human rights should be enjoyed by all, without discrimination on grounds of sex or political beliefs.

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Kate Wilson’s human rights hearing: what you need to know

Stories of undercover officers having relationships with activists have shocked the nation. On October 3rd, there is an important hearing in a case being brought by Kate Wilson against the Metropolitan Police. It concerns human rights abuses committed through her intimate relationship with Undercover Officer Mark Kennedy. Read on to find out all you need to know to support her in this case.

Take action
If you want to show your support:

  • Come to the demonstration outside the court before the hearing (please note that the venue has now changed – to Court 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice, so we’ll now be demonstrating in the Strand at 9:30am!)
  • Attend the hearing – don’t forget to inform us you want to do this
  • Follow and share what is happening on social media – FB: policespiesoutoflives, Twitter: out_of_lives, #spycops, with live tweeting from us and our supporters on the day
  • Write a message of support, like the statement from La Via Campesina, for us to read out loud on the day. Or record your message, in your own voice, and send it to us to play! Our email address is contact@policespiesoutoflives.org.uk
  • Other ideas: …… organise solidarity actions….. help us campaign on the issue….. write about our case…. link to your existing campaigns….

Hear Kate and her legal team talk
On the very evening of this case, in central London, hear Kate and her legal team talk events in court, and what will happen next – not to be missed for those who want to understand more about this landmark case. Book tickets here

Background reading

A history of the case

Understand what is about to happen in the hearing

In Kate’s own words, the why the IPT must allow the case to continue

Recent press coverage (1, 2) of the police admitting that they undercover officer Mark Kennedy’s managers knew about his relationship with Kate

Further details of background of Kate’s case

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I was abused by an undercover policeman. But how far up did the deceit go?

 

I was lied to by the police in a public apology that was supposed to be reparation for their deceit and abuse

In 2003 I fell in love with a man who did not exist. He was charismatic and romantic, and shared many of my interests and dreams. We lived together as lovers for more than a year. We travelled. He was close to my family, and placed himself at the centre of my world. We were the closest friends for seven years. I last saw him in August 2010. He took me for dinner, and afterwards we walked along the river and talked about our lives.

Two months later I received a phone call: Mark Stone was not the man I thought I knew. He was Mark Kennedy, an undercover police officer. He had been paid to infiltrate environmental and social justice protest groups, and provided with funding and resources to deceive me. He’d been followed everywhere by a team of handlers, managers and other senior officers. He was under orders, and manipulating my emotions and actions according to their operational aims.

That devastating phone call has been followed by a steady and unending stream of revelations about the abusive behaviour of Britain’s secret political police. I’ve since learned that at least seven other people I knew were undercover. I met other women who had been deceived, manipulated and abused like me, not only by Kennedy but by many other officers. In 2011, eight of us began a legal claim against the police. We wanted answers, compensation for damages, and to be sure that this could never happen again.

Since then, everything the police have done has been to avoid telling the truth. We were bullied; they tried to get the claims struck out; we were told the operations were legitimate and the relationships were based on “genuine feelings”; and then told to forget that – in fact the police could neither confirm nor deny the identity of an undercover officer. For the case to proceed, we had to provide deeply invasive disclosure about our psychological wellbeing and private lives, and we were given no answers or evidence in return.

Very early on, the police denied our claims that our human rights had been violated, and argued that they should not be heard in the high court but by a secretive body known as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). Finally, years later, they decided to apologise, and bring an end to the high court claim. It was a bitter victory, because the next step would have been disclosure of their evidence. They made it clear they would say sorry, but they were not going to offer any answers.

The police tactic in all undercover abuse cases has been to delay and deny until there is no other option, and then make sacrificial admissions, sticking where possible to what is already publicly known. In this way they close the cases, protect their secrecy and prevent people getting the truth. That is not accountability, it is a form of damage limitation whereby they still manage the information and stay in control.

After we settled in the high court, my human rights claim remained live in the IPT, and I decided to continue the fight. The police have been forced to make a tiny amount of disclosure there, and already that has led to massive revelations: they now admit that what was done amounted to a violation of my right not to be subject to torture or inhumane and degrading treatment, a grave invasion of my private and family life and a violation of my rights to freedom of expression and assembly. They also admit that Kennedy’s handlers and line manager knew about and “acquiesced to” his relationship with me.

I and others settled our civil claims for an apology which said “these relationships would never have been authorised” and were the result of “failures in oversight and management”. Yet I have now received confirmation that the people giving Kennedy his orders knew. I was lied to by the police in a public apology that was supposed to be reparation for their deceit and abuse.

Now I really want answers. I want to know how high up the police hierarchy knowledge of the abuses went. I want access to the 10,000 documents they claim to hold on me, and to know why at least eight police officers were sent to deceive me and spy on every area of my life. I want the court to examine the institutional sexism and political prejudices that informed the decisions they made, and to look at the legality of the operations and the inadequate laws that are supposed to protect our human rights.

These are deeply important personal issues for me, but they are also fundamental questions about political policing in a country that believes itself to be free. These police units illegally blacklisted trade union activists, and they spied on elected politicians, the families of victims of police violence and many campaign or protest groups. They used the identities of dead children with no thought for their families, they violated lawyer-client privilege and caused countless miscarriages of justice, and they sexually abused women.

Although we have been fighting legal battles for years, this is the first time a case about undercover relationships has got far enough that facts and evidence are being looked at by anyone outside the police. On 3 October, my case has its next hearing, and the police, true to form, are trying to shut it down. We will be demonstrating outside the tribunal, calling for the case to be allowed to continue. I hope you will support us, spread the word and keep up the pressure to get to the truth about undercover abuse.

 

This piece was written by Kate Wilson, and published in the Guardian on 21st September 2018

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Police admit managers supported serious human rights abuses, but try to obstruct court from learning more

  • The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has admitted that a sexual relationship a police officer had while he was undercover was a violation of her  fundamental right not to be subjected to torture or inhumane and degrading treatment

  

  • They have admitted that he had the backing of his cover officers and line manager to  have that relationship.

 

  • They are now seeking to prevent the Tribunal from examining the legality of the operations, the role of sexism and political persecution in the decisions made, and the involvement of senior commanding officers.

Continue reading “Police admit managers supported serious human rights abuses, but try to obstruct court from learning more”

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