One of the eight women in this case recently described her reaction to hearing Judge Tugendhat’s “James Bond” reference. Below is an extract from Alison’s written submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee. ‘Alison’ is a pseudonym.
I lived with the man I knew as Mark Cassidy for five years; I believed he was a joiner from Birkenhead. He fitted a new kitchen in our home before he disappeared in Spring 2000; it took him a long time and he struggled with the router. That, I realised some time later, was because he wasn’t a joiner but a police officer working undercover for the Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad.
Without evidence to the contrary, I had chosen to believe that Mark cared about me and that when he told me he loved me that he meant it. To choose otherwise, I felt was unnecessarily self-destructive. Since discovering more recently that in his true identity Mark apparently had a wife and children, I have had to review my earlier perception of our relationship, and the pattern that has emerged from talking to the other claimants whose partners disappeared in similar ways has made me question again the extent to which any of our relationship was real. Our ‘Dear John’ letters for example are unnervingly similar.
Falling in love with the enemy is a cliché spy story that has been told many times. When it becomes your own personal history, it’s a narrative that sits awkwardly and is very difficult to explain. Hearing Judge Tugendhat cite James Bond in his recent judgment, referenced again by Michael Ellis MP at the Committee meeting [of the Home Affairs Select Committee], makes me wonder the extent to which our experiences have been fully understood. I have yet to see a Bond film where 007 moves in with his target for five years, tends the garden and attends relationship counselling! If parliamentarians really did have Fleming’s Bond in mind when drafting RIPA, as suggested by Judge Tugendhat, the playboy lifestyle portrayed in the films was a very far cry from the domestic life of Mark Cassidy.
Being hurt and betrayed by a dishonest lover is painful enough. To discover that your lover was lying about his very identity and was in your life because his employer – the police – positioned him there to gather information on you and your friends places the experience in a different dimension.
This extract comes from Alison’s written submission to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, as part of the committee’s enquiry into undercover policing.
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