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.

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Police continue to stall in Undercover relationships case

On Tuesday 7th June, a legal case over undercover police relationships was in the High Court. It was the latest battle in a four year campaign to hold the police to account, and in it the police continued to try to stall these civil proceedings and avoid disclosing evidence. The claimants, two women and a man [1], 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]Marco_Jacobs

Significantly, the Police backed down from asserting a blanket “Neither confirm nor deny” policy (NCND) to resist disclosing documents relevant to the case, and have now been directed by the court to apply by 23rd September 2016, if they wish, to withhold disclosing documents on the ground that it would damage the public interest.

Despite having very publicly apologised to 8 women for such deceitful long-term intimate relationships and abuses, Police continued their stalling tactics in this case, attempting to put back the timetable to trial as far as possible. This found no favour with Master Davison, nor did their shabby attempt to compel the Claimants to disclose their medical records and endure examination by their psychiatrist before the Police had given evidence.

It is likely that there will now be a hearing in the Autumn on the Police’s disclosure of evidence and public interest immunity, the trial is now set to take place around March 2017.

“Though the abandonment of the false defence of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ is to be welcomed, the request for claimants to disclose medical records before the release of any police evidence whatsoever, illustrates how Police continue to try to avoid being held to account” – Tom Fowler, 3rd claimant

“It beggars belief, that after five years, and despite hand-wringing public assertions that sexual relationships are an abuse and cannot be authorised as a police tactic, the Defendants have continued to bob and weave in this litigation in reliance on technicalities and police procedure.  Jules Carey, Solicitor for the three.

NOTES:

  1. AJA, ARB, & Thomas Fowler (Claimants) -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis,  Chief Constable of South Wales Police, & Association of Chief Police Officers (Defendants)
  1. The Undercover Officer spent 5 years infiltrating anti-capitalist, anarchist, environmental, animal rights and other campaign groups, 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.
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Former undercover confronted over relationship; revealed to be training police in Australia

  • Helen Steel confronted former partner John Dines in Australia
  • Statement read out in NSW parliament re Dines’ police training role
  • Fear that former officers are teaching human rights abuses to new police recruits worldwide
  • HSAust2
    The campaigner Helen Steel (interviewed here by the Guardian) this week confronted her former partner and former undercover Met officer John Dines. Steel had flown to Australia, where Dines now has a role teaching police officers. David Shoebridge, Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, today made a statement explaining Dines’ former undercover role to the parliament, and expressing grave concern about the educational position he now holds.

    Dines was a member of the Special Demonstration Squad which infiltrated political groups, and is one of several officers known to have deceived women into relationships – a practice which took place over decades, and which it is feared may still be taking place. He currently teaches at the Australian graduate School of Policing and Security at the Charles Sturt University.

    Last November the Metropolitan Police apologised to Dines’ former partner, Helen Steel, and six of her fellow claimants, over the damage caused by the relationships, settling the second case of its kind. In January the Met withdrew their defence claims of “deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence” in a further case. Judgment was entered against the force, but it refused to disclose details of how the abuse came about. Other cases are ongoing. None of the officers nor their handlers have yet been held accountable, and both the Met and the Home Office are requesting high levels of secrecy in the upcoming Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing, including an upholding of the contested “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” so-called policy.

    In the statement to NSW Legislative Council, Helen Steel was quoted:

    “I certainly feel violated by what they have done. It’s about power. We didn’t consent, and wouldn’t have consented if we had known who they were. They’ve allowed this to happen in a unit of mainly male officers, in a culture where sexism is undoubtedly at play. Politicians and police officers have tried to justify it on the basis that it’s ‘necessary’, or that we deserved it in some way … The whole thing just demonstrates institutional sexism.”

    David Shoebridge MLC said:

    “It is offensive in the extreme that John Dines can be involved in teaching […] police in this State. This is a man who professionally and systematically abused human rights as a police officer in the UK and showed a culpable lack of gender sensitivity. He has no place teaching police in NSW or in any country that says it respects human rights. We need to ensure that similar abusive political undercover policing tactics are not replicated here or abroad. […] Dines must cease any involvement with teaching police in this state, before a similar apology [to the Met’s] is needed by the NSW Police.”

    Further info:
    Full statement by David Shoebridge here.
    For details of Helen Steel’s confrontation, including video, see the Guardian’s report.
    Met apology and women’s statements from November 2015. LINK
    Met withdraw defence, judgment entered against them, from January 2016.
    The hearing to consider secrecy requests for the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing takes place on March 22 and 23 – demo info here, and solidarity call here.

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    Judgment entered against police in undercover relationships case

    On Friday 15th January 2016, the Metropolitan Police withdrew their defence in a case brought against them over undercover police relationships. In a significant development at the High Court, the police asked for judgment to be entered against them in respect of the claims for deceit, assault/battery, misfeasance in public office and negligence.

    The claim had been brought by Kate Wilson, who was deceived into a 2-year relationship with undercover officer Mark Kennedy. The successful claim states that supervising officers had been negligent and had acted improperly in causing or allowing the relationship to happen.

    The implication of this judgment is that the actions of Mark Kennedy “were undertaken with the express or tacit knowledge of other police officers employed by [the Metropolitan Police]”. Supervising and managing officers “knew that [Mark Kennedy] was abusing the power that he was given as an undercover police officer”, and their failure to act on this knowledge was “unlawful and in abuse of their own duties as supervisors and managers of [Mark Kennedy’s] undercover activities.”

    Another implication of the judgment is that in circumstances where the police chose to use secret operations like these, they have a duty of care to the private individuals affected and are liable for any damage caused by their negligence. This may have important implications for future cases brought against them for their abusive undercover operations.

    The judgment goes beyond even the historic apology issued by the Metropolitan Police in November to Kate Wilson’s fellow claimants, where the force acknowledged that undercover officers “had entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.”

    However, despite this court victory for the women, concerns remain at the police’s lack of disclosure after a four-year court battle, raising further questions about their cooperation with the upcoming Public Inquiry Into Undercover Policing, and the power of that Inquiry to robustly uncover the truth.

    Kate Wilson said:

    “The police had already unequivocally accepted that the relationships were wrong. It is now clear that wrongdoing goes far beyond the individual undercover officers. Yet we are denied access to any information about the extent of the intrusion into our lives, who knew and how far up the hierarchy it went.

    “The police’s decision not to defend the claim is clearly motivated by a determination to avoid disclosure of documents relating to the undercover operations, at any cost. Alongside recent revelations that they are unlawfully destroying files, it makes you wonder what further horrors they are really trying to hide.

    “How many more women may have been affected by these abuses? How many more children may have been fathered by these undercover officers? It is clear the police are not going to come clean. The only way there can be real justice is if the Inquiry releases the cover names and opens the files so that these women can come forward themselves.”

    Key background links:

    1. The hearing on 15 January was a case management conference to clarify the timetable for disclosure and related matters. The common law claims arise from the deception of women into long-term intimate relationships by police officers who had infiltrated social and environmental justice campaigns.

    2. The case was originally lodged in December 2011; previous hearings have sought to ensure the Met follows normal court procedure, including a battle over a ‘strike-out’ application, and a challenge to the Neither Confirm Nor Deny policy in which the women won a partial victory.

    3. As part of an out-of-court settlement for seven out of the eight claims, the Met police issued a comprehensive apology in November 2015 – their first admission that the relationships had taken place and had caused significant damage. Other civil cases are being brought against the police over relationships by undercover officers and a public inquiry has also been launched into these and other concerns about the operations.

    4. The eight women bringing this legal action are doing so to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers. ‘We come from different backgrounds and have a range of political beliefs and interests, and we are united in believing that every woman, and every person, has a right to participate in the struggle for social and environmental justice, without fear of persecution, objectification, or interference in their lives.’ – from ‘Where we stand’ Statement.

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    PRESS RELEASE: Metropolitan Police confirm identity of undercover officers following legal challenge by women

    Press release on behalf of women deceived by undercover police – issued by Birnberg Peirce and partners, 14 August 2014

    The Metropolitan Police have formally confirmed, for the first time, the identities of two undercover police officers serving in the much criticised, highly secretive, Special Demonstration Squad. This followed an application made by a group of women who were deceived by undercover officers into long-term intimate, sexual relationships. The application resulted in a judgment by Mr Justice Bean that the police could no longer rely on their purported policy of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” (NCND) in respect of two of the four officers named by the Claimants. Bob Lambert, who was known as political activist, Bob Robinson in the mid 1980’s, and Andrew James Boyling, who was known as Jim Sutton, a political activist in the late 1990s have both been confirmed as undercover officers by the Metropolitan police in an Amended Defence served in consequence of the Judge’s order.

    The police, whilst publicly stating that the actions of undercover officers entering into long term sexual and intimate relationships was morally reprehensible, had until this point steadfastly refused to provide any information to the women Claimants during their three year legal battle for justice. The Amended Defence also confirms that Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling were in sexual relationships with three of the women as they have alleged. However, the Defendant, goes on assert that the relationships were based on “mutual attraction and genuine personal feelings”. The Defendant who trained these officers in deception and deployed them which enabled them to enter into such relationships, denies any responsibility or liability for the abuse and damage caused.

    The Amended Defence also refuses to confirm the identities of two other former SDS officers who were known as John Barker and Mark Cassidy, despite the Claimants producing ample evidence from their own painstaking research, that these men were in fact undercover police officers, John Dines and Mark Jenner. Even more bizarrely, and showing contempt for both the women and the judgment of the court, the Amended Defence refuses to confirm any details about the existence and operation of the Special Demonstration Squad, despite this having been stated elsewhere in the public domain including reports by Operation Herne.

    “The police have been pulled, kicking and screaming, to this first extremely significant development in the litigation brought by the women in their long battle for justice and accountability. It represents a partial victory with the police being forced to acknowledge the identities of undercover police officers who committed serious violations of women’s rights” said Harriet Wistrich, the women’s solicitor. “However, the confirmation does not go far enough, it is mealy mouthed, offensive and lacking in any acknowledgment of the huge abuse of power and harm caused to my clients.”

    Belinda Harvey, one of the Claimants in the case, said: “I am very upset that the Defence suggests that my relationship with Bob Robinson over twenty-five years ago, is said to be based on ‘mutual attraction and genuine feelings.’ How can a relationship be genuine when it is based on a massive web of lies? He pretended to be a man with noble ideals and political commitments, when in reality he was a police officer spying on our friendship network. He pretended he was committed to the future when he always knew he would go back to his real job and wife and kids. That doesn’t show genuine feelings; it is abuse and I would never have consented to such a relationship had I known. This relationship was a total violation of me and my life.”

    Helen Steel, another of the Claimants, who had a two-year relationship with John Barker who she now knows to have been undercover officer John Dines said: “It is disgusting that the police continue to hide behind NCND even though the Judge acknowledged that the evidence we had collected was strong and it appeared on the face of it that the police were just delaying the inevitable confirmation. Rather than apologise for the abuse inflicted on us, the police’s attitude towards this litigation is creating still more distress. Their continued attempts to hide behind NCND and refuse to provide any acknowledgement of the extreme pain they have caused, greatly aggravates the original violation.”

    For further information and comment, including to speak to the women’s solicitor Harriet Wistrich, please contact Alex Phillips on 0207 391 0784, or email H.Wistrich#@#birnbergpeirce.co.uk (removing spam-prevention hashtags).

    NOTES:

    1. Full information of the women’s case, including their legal battles over the Met’s delaying and secrecy tactics, can be found at www.policespiesoutoflives.org.uk

    2. The women’s legal challenge was to the Met’s attempt to hide behind Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) rather than engage with the women’s legal action. In court, lawyers for the women cited many instances where the Met had confirmed undercover identities and publicly discussed undercover tactics. Background to the women’s challenge to NCND can be found here: https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/secrecy-hearing-why-neither-confirm-nor-deny-should-not-stand/ Further notes on NCND can be found here: https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/our-stories/belindas-story/

    3. The women’s legal challenge to NCND was heard by Mr Justice Bean, who in his Judgment noted that Jim Sutton / Boyling had “been publicly named as an UCO by the Commissioner in person” and as such “reliance on the NCND policy to avoid admitting that he was an UCO is simply unsustainable” and similarly that NCND can no longer be relied on in relation to Bob Robinson / Lambert as “he has not only self disclosed, but has been publicly named by the IPCC as a former MPS officer”. Full coverage of the judgment can be found here: https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/womens-statement-high-court-ruling-met-police-cannot-maintain-blanket-ncnd-to-cover-up-gross-abuses-of-intimate-relationships-while-undercover/

    4. Specifically concerning NCND, Justice Bean said: “I do not accept that there is now, in 2014, any legitimate public interest entitling the Commissioner to maintain the stance of NCND in respect of this general allegation; […] there can be no public policy reason to permit the police neither to confirm nor deny whether an illegitimate or arguably illegitimate operational method has been used as a tactic in the past. I therefore rule that the defendant cannot rely on NCND to avoid answering the general allegation.” policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/uploads/2014/07/Final-high-court-judgement-on-NCND.doc

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