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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PRESS RELEASE: Metropolitan police withdraw motion to strike out womens’ case, as legal battle continues

In a surprise move today the solicitors for the Metropolitan Police have withdrawn their application to strike out the case of women who were deceived into intimate relationships with undercover police. The application was the latest in a series of attempts to avoid answering the claims made by the women and hide behind a veil of secrecy.

Despite clinging to their assertion that they can neither confirm nor deny the identities of any former undercover officers they say that in the light of the announcement by the home secretary of a public enquiry into undercover policing “it is now not proportionate or appropriate for the claims to be struck out.”

Today the women said:

“We welcome this long overdue decision to withdraw an application which we were were confident no court would grant. The previously inconsistent approach by the Police in which they took part in a TV series about the Special Demonstration Squad and had confirmed the identity of some officers, and the information already in the public domain means that this application was farcical. The Police have failed thus far to provide a substantive response to the claims, and we hope that they will now  do so without further delay. We expect the police to stop prevaricating and acknowledge the harm done by their officers.”

In a statement last week, the women said:

“Neither Confirm Nor Deny” should not be used as a shield to prevent any illegal and immoral activities by the police from ever coming to light. Effectively they are attempting to use NCND to evade accountability and avoid any genuine scrutiny of their actions.”

Since publicising this case the women have been inundated with expressions of public support and outrage at the police’s actions.  The women will keep pushing for truth, justice and to prevent this deceitful abuse from ever happening again.

 

Harriet Wistrich, Birnberg Peirce & Partners (hw@birnbergpeirce.co.uk)

Background Notes

This application involved 5 women who were deceived into intimate relationships by undercover police officers in the Special Demonstration Squad – Bob Lambert, John Dines, Jim Boyling and Mark Jenner.  It is linked to the case of another 3 women who were deceived into relationships with Mark Kennedy of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.  Further information about the case is available on the website: policespiesoutoflives.org.uk

 

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