The eight women in this case have issued the following statement ahead of the coming court hearing and anniversary:
“Friday 15th January 2016 will see the first hearing in our legal case against undercover policing since the historic apology issued just over two months ago by the Metropolitan Police to seven of us who were deceived into long-term, intimate relationships with undercover police officers spying on political movements.
“January 15th is also the 26th anniversary of the occupation of the Stasi HQ in Berlin. Protestors outside the building saw smoke rising from fires as Stasi officers desperately tried to burn the evidence of their abuses and crimes. People massed outside the complex and stormed the gates in order to stop the destruction and demand access to the secret files held on them by the collapsing regime. Yet today, almost a quarter of a century after the East German people won their battle to expose the activities of the Stasi, we in Britain are still fighting for access to the truth about our undercover police.
“Despite the apology and very public settlement of seven of our eight claims, the police have so far refused to disclose any information to any of us about the files held on us, the extent of the intrusion into our lives, or the motivations behind the abusive police operations we were subjected to.
“Despite the launching of a Public Inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford into the activites of undercover units, it still remains unclear whether there will really be a robust and transparent process to uncover the truth. There are already grave concerns over the inquiry’s failure to include the activities of police officers outside of England and Wales, despite the fact that most of the exposed undercover operatives also worked in Scotland and/or abroad.
“The five years that have passed since the exposure of the first undercover officers have seen an avalanche of revelations about the abusive and sometimes illegal activities of Britain’s secret police; and this information, uncovered by activists, journalists and whistleblowers, is just the tip of the iceberg. Around 200 undercover officers are known to have been used to infiltrate political movements in Britain since 1968, affecting potentially thousands of groups and individuals who have no idea that their companions, friends, partners, or even fathers were, in fact, police spies.
“The lessons from Germany during the fall of the GDR are clear: legal processes, courts, and government inquiries alone cannot be trusted to uncover the truth. It took direct action and pressure from the grassroots to forcibly expose the abuses of the Stasi. Today, as the court decides how to proceed over the question of disclosure in this case, we remember the bravery and conviction of the people of the GDR; and to the police and the Pitchford inquiry we have this message: enough is enough, it is time to release the cover names and open the files.”
Additional statement from Kate Wilson:
Kate Wilson, the woman whose case is being heard on 15 January, had a two year relationship with Mark Kennedy of the NPOIU (cover name Mark Stone) between 2003 and 2005.
“The police claim they had no knowledge of my relationship with Mark, although he lived with me for more than a year of his undercover operation. I have yet to see any documents or authorisations that explain his intrusion into my life or the lives of my parents and friends. I don’t know if I was targetted for my political beliefs and they are lying and witholding the documentation to cover it up; or if I was simply so-called ‘collateral intrusion’ in a secret operation against political dissent, that sidelined my life, my family, my body and myself, and the police did not even consider it worthy of a mention in an operational authorisation. Either possibility is deeply disturbing.
“We have been fighting these court cases for years and the police have used every possible tool to avoid disclosure, from Neither Confirm Nor Deny to strikeout attempts; even settling out-of-court, which enables them to avoid the scrutiny of a public trial. The damage caused by the deception and abuses we were subjected to by the police is compounded by their refusal to give us any answers, and I hope that on Friday the court finally forces the police to follow the normal legal procedure and provide disclosure in this case.
“But beyond that, I am inspired by the coincidence of the date and by the people’s history from the former GDR. I would like to see the true nature of Britain’s political policing fully exposed, and I believe everyone affected by these abusive undercover units should be given free access to their files.”
A solidarity demonstration will take place outside the High Court at 1pm on Friday 15 January 2016.
For further background on the hearing see here and for how the SDS viewed the Stasi files events, see here.