Statement by Bea, Donna McLean, Ellie, Jenny, Jessica, Lindsey, Lizzie, Madeleine, Monica and Sara

We are 10 women who were deceived into sexual relationship by undercover police officers and have just settled or are bringing civil claims against the Metropolitan Police Service. Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball, now retired, has acknowledged that each of us is telling the truth and apologised for what happened to us. But she has not acknowledged the institutional sexism which is at the heart of this abuse. This omission is an insult and renders her apology meaningless. How long do we and all of the affected women have to wait for a full and open apology from the MPS for the sexism which was the driving force for the abuse? Why can the MPS make a straightforward, public commitment to eradicating sexism in all its forms from its culture and to becoming an anti-sexist organisation?

7 other women represented by Birnberg Peirce settled claims and secured an apology from the MPS in 2015 which acknowledged that the sexual relationships were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong. In 2021 the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled in favour of another woman, Kate Wilson, finding that that the undercover policing operations against the protest movements were unlawful, discriminatory and identified a ‘formidable list’ of breaches by the Metropolitan Police of fundamental human rights[1] Despite these public pronouncements of wrongdoing by the MPS, the civil claims process has been deeply traumatic and gruelling for us. We often felt like we were treated as adversaries rather than the innocent victims of institutionally sanctioned abuse. We have still not been able to see the information held on us and we still do not know the reason why we were abused in such a cruel and degrading manner.

During the course of the claims process we have found it painful and distressing to again hear in the media yet another senior Metropolitan police officer apologising that yet another serving officer has been able to abuse women because of systemic failings within the Force. We suffer fresh grief and rage over every new story we read; the abuse of the dead bodies of Biba Henry and Nicole Smallman; the kidnapping rape and murder of Sarah Everard by MPS officer Wayne Couzens. The unnamed rape victims of MPS officer David Carrick who committed 43 offences across a 17-year period. It has been sickening to witness the accumulation of evidence of the culture of misogyny within the Force. Their decades long failure to tackle it means the latest police apology about violent misogyny within the Met rings hollow for us. The Met must spell out exactly how it will tackle its culture of festering misogyny. We will be writing to Commissioner Rowley to ask him to do exactly that. Sarah McSherry, consultant solicitor with Birnberg Peirce says, Bea, Donna McLean, Ellie, Jenny, Jessica, Lindsey, Lizzie, Madeleine, Monica and Sara great strength and selflessness in their continued pursuit, through these cases and in other forums, of truth, accountability and change in the Metropolitan Police Service in an effort to ensure that no member of the public has to suffer this type of abuse again.

Any press queries to please.