Fight against police secrecy in Cardiff undercover relationship case continues in court

  • Court Hearing about Undercover Cop, Marco Jacob’s, abusive relationships – Tuesday 23rd May, 10am, Royal Courts of Justice
  • Picket outside Royal Court of Justice at 9am
  • Police continuing to avoid accountability and disclosure

On Tuesday 23rd May, a legal case over undercover police relationships will return to the High Court, following a hearing last year [1], when police were able to push back disclosure of documents relating to the identity of the officer, his training, deployment and supervision.

Two women and one man are suing The Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers over sexual abuse committed by an undercover police officer in Cardiff – “Marco Jacobs”.[2]

The Undercover Officer had spent 5 years infiltrating anti-capitalist, anarchist, environmental, animal rights and other campaign groups,[3] developing a number of close personal relationships, and in common with several other undercover police who have been exposed, engaged in the sexual abuse of a number of his targets.[4]

Despite having very publicly apologised to seven women [5] for such deceitful long-term intimate relationships and abuses, Police Lawyers are maintaining delaying and avoiding coming to a settlement in relation to this case.  Previous court proceedings moved Human Rights issues to the ‘secret court’ of the IPT.[6] However common law claims against the police are continuing in open court. [7]

On Tuesday 23rd May at 9am, before the Case Management Hearing, there will be a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice by the claimants and their supporters.[8]

“Despite admitted the wrongdoing of undercover officers, it beggars belief that the police continue to avoid facing up to their responsibilities, heaping extra suffering on the people they targeted.” – Tom Fowler, claimant

Key background info


2. AJA, ARB, & Thomas Fowler (Claimants) -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis,  Chief Constable of South Wales Police, & Association of Chief Police Officers (Defendants)






— end of background information —


This Tuesday! Picket outside hearing of case around spycop Marco Jacob’s relationships

  • What: Picket outside South Wales Undercover Relationships case hearing
  • Where: The Royal Courts of Justice
  • When: 9am Tuesday 23rd May

Court cases against the police for abusive undercover relationships continue, and next week, the South Wales Case has a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. Show your support at a picket outside the court!

Two women and one man are suing The Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers over sexual abuse committed by an undercover police officer in Cardiff – “Marco Jacobs”.

In conducting these abusive and degrading relationships, the police have demonstrated institutional sexism against women, and institutional prejudice against campaigners. The undercover policing scandal shows an utter contempt for our democratic right to participate in social justice campaigning.

You and your friends are needed to be there, to show that these issues are important to us all.

Shows of public support outside court hearings are incredibly powerful. Standing with and supporting people, who are courageously standing up against the state, means they do not feel they are taking this fight alone. It is public interest and outrage around these cases, that has led to the police apologising to 8 women for similar cases, and to the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

We need to keep up the pressure. Without it, they may be able to brush this critical issue for our democracy back under the carpet.

Come to this picket on Tuesday, but if you can’t then make noise about it in another way – talk about it, share on social media, write to your MP.



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.”



Courageous Jessica makes statement

Today, there have been shocking revelations about Andy Coles (deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, and Tory councillor for Cambridge [2]) being an undercover officer known as ‘Andy “Van” Davey’. He, like so many other officers that have been uncovered [3], had an abusive relationship with a female activist while undercover. That activist, known as ‘Jessica’, has only recently discovered the truth, and is today courageously speaking out and releasing her own statement about their abusive relationship. For the full text of the statement, go here.

‘Jessica’ was a young (19 years old) animal rights campaigner when she was targeted in 1992 by Andy Coles and had a relationship with him. In this statement she talks about feeling groomed:  “I look back now and realise I was naive, idealistic,  unsophisticated and a very young 19. Appallingly I also now know my  “boyfriend” was a 32 year old, married undercover policeman working for  the Special Demonstration Squad. I had believed him to be about 24 at the time. I attended my first demonstration at 14 years old, I am just grateful I never met him then”.

She also explains how the experience of finding out she had been abused by a police officer has affected her: “This has been one of the most stressful times I have ever known: my life as I knew it was a lie. One of the people that I trusted most never existed.  I can’t look back at those times in the same way now. I can’t trust my judgement, because I got things so wrong. I am now beginning to look at people I know differently. I can’t even feel that I’m being paranoid, because it’s justified.”

In her own words, “This is a story that has to be told, has to be prevented from happening again. I am not the first person to go through this, and unfortunately, I will not be the last. We don’t know the full scale of the abuse at the hands of the undercover police. “

Background for editors

1];  channel four news:
4] Profile of Andy Coles
5] Story of how Andy Coles was undercovered as an undercover officer:









Summary of April 5th hearing ruling

This is a summary of the key points from Pitchford’s ruling from the latest preliminary hearing in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

We are prioritising speed of getting this summary out, to help people understand the ruling, rather than giving analysis on what it means for the progress of the Inquiry.

Obtaining evidence/Restriction order applications from all officers
·         He has rejected the Met’s submissions that it’s unnecessary to seek witness statements from all SDS and NPOIU field and cover officers, managers, back room staff, senior officers and commanders who were responsible for undercover operations (para 165).
·         He doesn’t think it would be possible for the Inquiry to be more selective in its request for RO applications from SDS and NPOIU officers (para 170). It is his view that ‘the Inquiry was fully justified in announcing its intention to seek evidence from all former officers employed by the [SDS].’ (para 173)

 Risk assessments
·         While he doesn’t regard the preparation of risk assessments as essential to his consideration of RO applications – he believes that the steps now being taken by the Met to sort risk assessments is ‘sufficiently robust to deserve and require testing.’ (para 183)
·         He accepts the police submissions that there is a value to the Inquiry in receiving a reasoned opinion of risk from a police officer – and, he thinks this will have an important positive impact on undercover officers’ confidence in the RO process. (para 185)
·         He concludes that ‘the time has not yet come when I should dispense with police generated risk assessments. But I make it clear that further shortcomings in the risk assessment process may well lead to a change of practice by the Inquiry, especially if such shortcomings result in unacceptable delay.’ (para 186)
·         He is ‘satisfied that a properly conducted risk assessment exercise conducted by experienced senior officers independent of the issues under consideration is the fairest, most reliable and most secure means of ensuring that the relevant material is placed efficiently before the Chairman for decision on applications for restriction orders.’ (para 235)

 Cover names
·         He rejects NSCP suggestion that there should be a presumption, rebuttable only by compelling evidence, that cover names should be disclosed.
·         He doesn’t accept that the Met have deliberately attempted to delay the process (para 189), and even if this was the case, this wouldn’t change the balancing exercise he has to undertake to determine RO applications.
·         However, he agrees ‘with the general view among core participants that the early release of cover names, where that can be achieved without significant risk of harm or damage, should be a priority for the Inquiry, as indeed it has been to date. It now appears to be generally accepted that the disclosure of cover names is necessary, where possible, to enable core participants, witnesses and the public to participate effectively in the Inquiry.’ (para 191)
·         When an officer has retired from undercover deployment with the link between real and cover identity preserved, there is no obvious reason why the cover name should not be revealed – so long as steps are taken to ensure that the cover name is not later linked to the real identity.
·         He details circumstances where a cover name is likely to be suitable for release:
(i) When the cover name is already in the public domain (for example, when the officer has given evidence as an undercover officer using the cover name and special measures, or the officer has, anonymously, self-disclosed);
(ii) When, with the exercise of reasonable precautions by the officer, the cover name will not be associated with the real name and personal details of the officer; (iii) When, although exposure of the cover name might lead to revelation of the true identity of the officer (for example, by means of a photograph), the consequential risk of significant harm is slight. (para 199)

Real names
·         He dislikes the presumption suggested by the police that a real identity will only be disclosed in exceptional circumstances – he wants to make decisions on this issue on the basis of evidence for individual officers. (para 203)

Deceased officers
·         He doesn’t think there should be a presumption that deceased officers cover names should have exceptional treatment (cites need for public interest assessment, risk to third parties and need to deal sensitively with relatives of deceased). (para 207)
·         He doesn’t think that the Met have been deliberately obstructive (paras 162,

Role of NSCPs in relation to police applications for anonymity
·         He’s rejected NSCP submissions that NSCPs should be able to have a role in the process of determining police anonymity applications. The suggestion had been that closed applications for anonymity should be accompanied by an open application justifying the closed version, which NSCPs would be able to make representations on. He said this would be impractical and the Inquiry alone will determine what can be disclosed of the application. (para 211)

Disclosure of schedules of  deployment and organisations targeted
·         He rejects the NSPC request for this disclosure on the basis that he thinks the info would be used to prematurely identify officers or fuel ‘damaging speculation’ on the same (para 212).

Disclosure of special branch files to NSCPs (and presumably all other types of files, although not specifically mentioned)
·         Pitchford has asked for NSCPs to make written submissions on this issue. He says his preliminary view is that: ‘At first sight this submission appears to fall foul of the limited jurisdiction imposed on the Inquiry by the Inquiries Act 2005. The Inquiry has no jurisdiction outside its terms of reference. It may only admit evidence that is relevant to the terms of reference. It is tolerably well known that Special Branch obtained information about persons in whom it was interested from all sources available to it, public and confidential. The Inquiry cannot decide what evidence it will admit until it knows whether it is necessary to fulfil its terms of reference. The Inquiry cannot therefore decide upon admission and disclosure until it examines the material for relevance.’ (para 214)

Narrowing the scope of the Inquiry
·         His current view is that he should not ‘in any way exclude issues or limit the depth of the investigation.’
·         He notes that the ‘scope and ambition of the investigation are not responsible for the slow progress of the Inquiry thus far.’
·         However, once there is a clearer understanding of the overall picture, some issues will need to take precedence. (para 221)

 Funding additional counsel for NSCPs
·         He rejects submission that RLRs should be able to instruct separate counsel without reference to the Inquiry.
·         He also rejects submission that a second junior barrister should be permanently instructed to support Ruth (the current junior barrister)
·         He adds that he doesn’t understand why existing counsel couldn’t have made the arguments made by Kate Wilson and Helen Steel at the hearing as, in his view, the minority view was so close to that expressed on the behalf of the majority. (para 229)

Funding NSCP travel costs and RLR attendance at preliminary hearings
·         In general he is not willing to fund RLR attendance or travel costs for NSCPs to attend preliminary hearings as written submissions are published in advance, counsel and Tamsin (RLR co-ordinator) are funded to attend and hearings aren’t the best opportunity for CP instructions to be taken. In exceptional circumstances he will consider an application on its merits. (para 231)

Holding hearings at a different venue
·         He says its very unlikely hearings will be heard anywhere other than the Royal Courts of Justice.
·         He says the Inquiry will try to consult more in advance of hearings to ensure there is enough space. (para 233)

Met application for extension of time
·         He says he is clear that ‘the failure to meet deadlines was not deliberate and was not the consequence of a spirit of evasion.’ (para 234)
·         He is ‘satisfied that the Metropolitan Police Service now has in place arrangements calculated to meet the reasonable requests of the Inquiry for the processing of anonymity applications.’
·         He appears to be saying the Met’s current proposal for a timetable is unrealistic and he doesn’t want to impose a timetable which fails. (para 236)
·         He grants the application for an extension of time, and he is going to ask counsel to the Inquiry to meet with the Met to come up with a timetable, and he will issue directions within 21 days.