At a High Court Hearing today, 6 June 2014, the Met police were finally forced to admit that if the claims brought by eight women, who alleged they were in long term intimate relationships, are true then such relationships would not have been justified as an undercover police tactic.
Mr Justice Bean was hearing an application brought by five of the women requiring the Metropolitan police to drop their “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) stance. NCND has been one of many delaying tactics used by the Met to maintain secrecy over the legal action against them, despite the very serious allegations that have been made by the Claimants. In dramatic scenes at the court today, the judge would not accept further hedging and obfuscation from leading counsel for the Commissioner. He demanded that she go away and take instructions from her client. After a short delay, Ms Carss-Frick, returned and said, “I am able to tell you …that if proved that the Claimants had long term relationships with individuals who were undercover operatives the Defendant would not consider such relationships justified as a UCO tactic”
Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the eight women said: “We have been fighting this case for nearly three years and despite everything that is in the public domain, this is the first time the police have been forced to engage in a central issue in the proceedings. This is a very important step on my clients journey towards getting the answers and justice they deserve”
Mr Justice Bean has reserved judgment on the question as to whether the police are required to serve a proper defence rather than rely on NCND and say nothing.
1. Full background on this hearing is here.
2. Further background on NCND can be found here.
3. Delaying tactics from the police included a strike-out claim on the basis of NCND – which was dropped at the last minute in March of this year. Two large files of evidence were submitted to the Court by the women’s lawyers to counter the strike out claim. These files detailed instances where the police had confirmed the identities of undercover officers; commented on operational tactics of these political policing units; show the identities of the undercover officers reported in the media; and where the women had meticulously compiled evidence demonstrating that they can show the true identities of the officers.
4. This hearing concerned five of the eight women; the other three women are also bringing claims under the Human Rights Act, including suffering “inhumane and degrading treatment” and disruption of their “private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state”. They are fighting a separate battle to stop their claims being sent to a secret court, the IPT.