• Tribunal finds gross misconduct but mitigated by systemic failure of the SDS
  • Tribunal notes Boyling is the only undercover officer to have ever been disciplined for sexual misconduct
  • Monica welcomes tribunal findings and officer’s truthful account of management practices and culture of the SDS
  • Police accept publicly that sexual relationships were permitted in guidance if ‘fleeting and disastrous’- Tribunal goes further and finds systemic problems and inadequate supervision
  • Boyling’s manager had 4 sexual relationships undercover and fathered a child 
  • Monica feels this is the first time in 11 years that the truth has been allowed to come out about the SDS and hopes it is the beginning of a shift towards real answers. 

Friday July 14th 2023 was the final day of police disciplinary proceedings against former DC James Boyling, an undercover officer working for the SDS and deployed in the field 1995-2000.

Boyling was found guilty of gross misconduct, but crucially the tribunal declined to sanction him saying that the public would be as concerned by SDS practices as by this individual officer’s actions. 

Giving his judgment, the Chair was highly critical of Met police culture and lack of guidance at the time. The Chair found that there was tacit approval of relationships as a tactic. A written version of the judgment will follow next week.

The Panel said that Boyling’s lack of thought about the impact on Monica reflects the culture of the SDS.Boyling was already dismissed from the police in a 2018 hearing, where he was found guilty of gross misconduct relating to a later relationship undercover with *Rosa (Dil) [1].

The Tribunal Chair Darren Snow refused Monica’s application to view the papers in the case before the hearing began. She hopes to be allowed to view them by the Met following the hearing,

The Tribunal heard on Monday that Boyling is the only undercover officer to be disciplined for sexual misconduct in the entire history of the SDS. Boyling argued that his relationship with Monica was tacitly approved of by his managers and that the tactic was considered a good way to blend into a target group and avoid detection. Monica and the Tribunal panel agreed with him and found the SDS did tacitly approve of the appalling use of women in this way. (more about Monica in notes to editors below)

Boyling’s manager, Bob Lambert, known in proceedings as ‘N10’ had 4 sexual relationships and fathered a child during his time ‘in the field’ spying on activists, before his promotion to the managerial role. [2]

Boyling’s representative cited a document authored by Boyling’s line manager in which he described relationships undercover as ‘inevitable’ and called for managers to create an environment where UCOs would feel comfortable talking about them.

Monica calls for all Boyling’s managers to be held to account if institutional sexism is to continue to be addressed. They have maintained a wall of silence and refused to participate in proceedings. 
On finishing his deployment, Boyling was commended for his work undercover by the SDS.

The UCPI interim report found that the unit should have been disbanded in the early 70s. Monica, and the two other women deceived, should never have met Jim Boyling.

[1] https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/jim-boyling-found-guilty-of-gross-misconduct/
[2] see https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/07/met-police-pay-compensation-to-man-fathered-by-undercover-officer and https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/22/undercover-police-lovers

Monica (complainant in this case and witness) says: 

“I am shocked yet heartened by the findings of this hearing. It is now time for a real honest appraisal of the culture of the SDS. Allowing officers to speak and reflect on the operation of the unit and the NPIOU would be an appropriate way forward. To stop lying in order to obfuscate the truth. I also reflect that 30 years ago I was an idealistic environmental activist really wanting to discuss our relationship with our planet and the focus of mass consumerism and greed at the hear of the capitalist model. To witness the young protesters of today facing the same existential pain and desire for positive progressive change is heartbreaking. It would be so wonderful if we could really try to change our systems in positive and surprising ways.

Once again I am beyond shocked by this change in attitude. I did not expect it. Please please continue to work to restore my faith.”

Elizabeth Forrester (solicitor representing Monica at Birnberg Peirce) says: 
“Today we have seen a real shift in the narrative away from that of the police, still trying to use the language of bad apples, towards an honest appraisal of the damage done by institutional misogyny. We want to see more officers giving evidence, and rather than the police protecting themselves, we want to see more of the truth come out. Boyling was not sanctioned because the culture of the SDS made him what he was and was happy with what he did. We now call for all the women and groups affected to be given the papers the Met still hold, and for real change to begin.”

Notes to Editors:
The original complaint by Monica was made on 24.2.16. Following the CPS decision not to prosecute James Boyling he was dismissed in May 2018 in relation to misconduct in relation to Rosa. Monica judicially reviewed the decision not to prosecute but this was upheld in December 2018 R (Monica) v DPP [2018] EWHC 3508 (QB)(summary of the case is here).

Police Spies Out of Lives (PSOOL) is a campaign and support group set up by and for women who have had intimate sexual relationships with undercover officers. It was established by the eight women who brought a case in 2011 and who first exposed some of the officers who have become known as ‘spycops’. Their website is https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/

Further information on Monica:
Monica was the first of three women involved in the protest movement, ‘Reclaim the Streets’, with whom Jim Boyling formed a long-term intimate sexual relationship. Monica was deceived into a relationship with Jim Boyling (cover name Jim Sutton) for a six month period in 1997. She supported police investigations into Boyling’s misconduct but the CPS did not bring a prosecution. Monica is a Core Participant in category H of the UCPI. Monica is a pseudonym and her real identity is the subject of a Restriction Order. [REF https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/170202-restriction-order-Monica.pdf

Further information on Jim Boyling (Jim Sutton):
Boyling, who used the cover name Jim Sutton whilst deployed from 1995-2000, claimed also to be an environmental activist and played a key role in a number of ‘actions’. He was in fact an undercover officer, operating under an entirely false identity to conceal the fact he was a police officer who was actually gathering intelligence on the activities of Monica and her fellow activists. Had Monica, or the other women, been aware of Boyling’s true identity they would never have formed any kind of relationship with him, let alone a long term intimate sexual relationship. Boyling was subject to disciplinary proceedings in 2018 in relation to his long term relationship with *Rosa (Dil). As a result of those proceedings he was dismissed in May 2018.

Police disciplinary tribunal highly critical of SDS guidance and culture.