Call for demo as police seek secrecy in undercover relationships human rights case

When? 10 am Friday 23rd June (the hearing will start at 10.30am in court 5)
Where? Employment  Appeal Tribunal (EAT) located in Fleetbank House, Salisbury Square,  London, EC4Y 8JX
What about? Showing public support for a woman’s fight to outlaw the abusive and chilling practice of undercover cops deceiving women into intimate relationships
Who should come? Anyone who cares about or right to participate in social justice campaigning without fear of abuse at the hands of the state

Kate Wilson is one of the women, whose stories of their abusive relationships with undercover police, have shocked the nation. She is taking what might be a unique case against the Metropolitan Police concerning the abuse of her human rights when she was deceived into a long term intimate relationship with Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer infiltrating social and environmental justice groups. It is being held at the Investigatory Powers tribunal, the secretive court that oversees complaints about the states covert intrusion into our lives.

There is a demo called before a case hearing, where the police are applying to have the whole case heard in secret, meaning Kate or her solicitors would not be able to attend the hearings, argue her case in court, hear or contest any of the police’s evidence, or even hear a reasoned judgement at its conclusion.

It is essential that such appalling abuse of Kate’s and other women’s human rights is challenged, and that this is done in the open, so the truth about what happened can come out, and the public can be reassured that it is being dealt with properly and accountably. Relationships are one of the most profoundly disturbing tools of social control so far unearthed as part of the decades-long activity of undercover units. It is essential that people are able to participate in social and environmental justice campaigning without fear of such abuse.

This case is the first time the Police have had to answer human rights claims about their undercover officers’ deception of women into intimate relationships. Kate is in an almost unique position to be able to do this, and it is possibly our best opportunity yet to force changes in the laws that oversee undercover policing.

Public outrage at the treatment of women at the hands of the police has meant that they have not been able to sweep these cases under the carpet, and it is essential that we continue to show our support for and solidarity with these brave women holding the state to account.

Come to the demo to show your support! Come into the court hearing itself at 11am, and show the Judge the level of public interest.

If you can’t make it, then make noise on social media – talk about it to your friends, or write to your MP. We must keep up the public pressure and hold the state to account.

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Solidarity picket demanding police disclose evidence

After the success of our main case, where the women won an apology from the Met Police, and the Police withdrew their defence, we are now supporting other people who have been affected by the relationships with undercover police, through legal action against the Police, and through the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. These include the following people from the Cardiff Anarchist Network, we are hoping you will support at their demo outside their court hearing on Tuesday 7th June.

Solidarity Picket with people affected by relationships with undercover police
11am Tues 7th June, Royal Courts of Justice

Marco_JacobsFollowing the infiltration of Cardiff Anarchist Network by an Undercover Police Officer calling himself “Marco Jacobs” a number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account.

Since they first filed an application in court, both sets of Police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice, giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence of all aspects of Officer Jacobs deployment.

At 12noon on Tuesday 7th June there will be a Case Management Hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Join us in a Solidarity picket of the court before the hearing starts at 11am.

Can’t make the picket?
Share our social media messages, or make your own to show your support.

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PRESS STATEMENT: Deceived women seek end to police cover up

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.

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PRESS STATEMENT: Women condemn ongoing police obstructions to legal case

Today’s hearing has closed after a long debate in court over who will have to disclose what information when. The women have just issued this statement via their solicitor, Harriet Wistrich:

“In the past 24 hours it has become clear that although the police announced they had dropped their strike out application, this was nothing more than a cynical move to try and keep the case out of the public eye at what is an embarrassing and sensitive time for them.

“There has been an order in place since August 2013 requiring the Police to make disclosure in the absence of a strike-out application. If that application had been heard today, it would have directly addressed the question of whether ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) can be relied on by the police at all in this case. As it is, they have today expressed their intention to continue hiding behind NCND. It is our opinion that they have no intention of providing a properly pleaded defence or disclosure in response to the women’s claims.

“We believe this and other delaying tactics being used by the Police are an abuse of Court Process.

“We will be lodging an application in the next 48 hours seeking an order from the court to bring an end to this nonsense and oblige the police to properly respond to the claims, and we sincerely hope that this case can finally go forward and the issues can be fully aired.”

See policespiesoutoflives.org.uk for further background to this case, including the ongoing battle over secret court for the other three women’s human rights claims.

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Legal Battle Commences – Court Hearing Tues 18 March 2014

We recommend bookmarking this post – we will keeping it updated with links to the latest developments over this hearing.

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Latest updates:

  • The court hearing (18/3/14) has ended – the women have issued a statement here.
  • Before the hearing, the women’s solicitor, Harriet Wistrich, made a statement about why this hearing is important – see below.
  • Last week the police DROPPED their application to strike out the women’s common law claims – see the women’s response to the announcement.
  • To coincide with the hearing supporters are holding a week of solidarity action.

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11.30 am – STATEMENT FROM HARRIET WISTRICH :

Here’s a statement from Harriet Wistrich, the women’s solicitor, about why the hearing is important:

“So far, the police have not responded in a satisfactory way to the common law claims of the five women. The police issued a defence of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’, and then applied for the claims to be struck out – an application they have now dropped.

“At the hearing today what we’re pushing for is a meaningful defence and disclosure so that the women can get answers to the allegations they have put to the Metropolitan Police over the serious intrusion and disruptions the women suffered.”

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11.00 am PICKET PHOTOS

We’ve received reports that there was a great turnout at the morning picket outside court in support of the women. See more info here.

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BACKGROUND TO THE HEARING

• Women successfully resist police attempt to strike out undercover police abuse casespolice withdraw application
• Now the legal battle commences – but police still obstructing justice

• Until just days before this hearing, five of the women in this case had been facing an attempt by the police to have their common law claims struck out. The police had claimed as they can ‘neither confirm, nor deny’ (NCND) anything about undercover policing, the trial should not proceed.

• The common law claims of “deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence” are made by the women who were deceived into long-term intimate relationships with undercover officers.

• ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ was always a flimsy excuse for dismissing the claims, yet rather than see it fall in court, the police have withdrawn their application for strike out – while still claiming publicly that NCND should stand.

• The police wasted months of the women’s time with the application – not to mention another ongoing secrecy battle over their human rights claims. All this has delayed the case from proceeding.

• There are fears that the police may use the announcement of a public inquiry to prevaricate further, while they and the government race to pretend that the abuses are merely ‘historical’, while doing nothing to prevent current or future abuses.

The undercover abuses stole from the women’s lives – now the police’s obstructive tactics deny them justice.

We must show the police and the political system that the women do not stand alone, and that we will not tolerate ongoing abuses.

The battle against secrecy is not over. The women and their support group will be asking for public support during the week of March 17-21, including a solidarity picket outside court on Tuesday 18 March.

For further updates and details please
– sign up to the supporters’ email list (see top right of this page)
– tell your friends about the case
– follow us on facebook or twitter
– if you are a journalist or blogger, send an email request to be added to the press list: media#@#policespiesoutoflives.org.uk (remove hashtags which are there to prevent spam)

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