Today lawyers for the 8 women suing the police for intimate relationships with undercover cops have filed an application in the High Court seeking to stop the Metropolitan Police using ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) as a cloak of secrecy to hide behind.
The women have made this statement:
“Last week, shortly before a hearing which would have exposed the farcical nature of their claims to NCND*, the police publicly announced they were withdrawing their application to have our case struck out and said a hearing was unnecessary. However, it later became clear that they were continuing to rely on NCND as their only defence against our claims, and had withdrawn their strike-out application only to prevent their own embarrassment.
“It is now well over two years since solicitors first wrote to the police setting out details of our claim and requesting answers from them, yet despite their legal obligations to provide disclosure and properly plead their case, nothing has been received in response except a meaningless NCND defence and various legal threats to strike out the claims or get them heard in a secret court.
“Despite overwhelming evidence proving the roles and identities of the undercover officers in question – much of which is in the public domain – the police continue to refuse even to confirm that these men were Metropolitan Police employees. As Justice Tugendhat said to the police at the hearing on 18th March: ‘plainly the present form of pleading if applied by anyone else… would be struck out, an ordinary defendant can’t say ‘I decline to confirm or deny.’
“The purpose of today’s application is to request that the Court bring an end to the obstructive and distressing approach taken by the police, and require them to plead a proper defence to the claims. If permitted, the police will continue to use NCND to cover up the abusive, unlawful and unethical nature of their operations. As well as seriously aggravating the harm they have already caused us, their lack of transparency has serious implications for any meaningful public inquiry. How can we trust the police to be open with any inquiry when they have been so deliberately obstructive at every turn so far?”
* Two large files of evidence were submitted to the Court 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 (eg. 2002 BBC TV series True Spies); 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 these officers.
UPDATE: We understand that the court hearing for this application will be on 5-6 June 2014.