Press release: Women write to Irish Government:

Full investigation needed on undercover policing in Ireland

Mark kennedy in Ireland

Today, four women deceived into relationships with undercover police in the UK [1,2] have written to the Irish Prime minister, Minister for Justice and Equality, and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Their letters [3] ask why they were targeted in Ireland for abusive relationships by UK undercover officers, and demand a full Inquiry into the activity of UK undercover officers in Ireland.

These letters are in response to the secret “report” prepared by the An Garda Síochána in 2011 [4] attempting to justify the activities of undercover police officers from the UK in Ireland.

They highlight the fact that the relationships they had with these officers, which took place in part on Irish soil, have been admitted to be human rights violations [5]. This means the report’s claims that police activities in Ireland were limited to tracking “external activists with a track record for violence” are false.

These officers activities in the Republic of Ireland will not be investigated as part of the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing [6], and so  far, the response of  the Justice Minister and Garda has been to conduct secret, internal reviews into these revelations and to deny their grave  importance [7]. The women are demanding a full and public investigation into the activities of these officers, detailing any offenses they committed in Ireland. They also specifically ask:

  • Who authorised these undercover operations in Ireland?
  • Do Irish police hold files on us, and when will we be given access to those files?
  • How does the Irish state justify foreign police officers having deceptive intimate relationships with women, in violation of our human rights and bodily integrity?
  • How many more UK police officers operated in Ireland and how many more women were abused by the police on Irish soil?

Kate Wilson travelled to Dublin with her partner, Mark “Stone” (Kennedy) in May 2004 said “The MPS apologised for the violation of my human rights in the UK, but those rights were also violated in Ireland. Someone authorised Mark to take me to Ireland with him, and engage in an abusive sexual relationship on Irish soil. We are asking for answers, and the Irish government is responding with denials and secret reports. That should be of great concern to anyone who wants to believe in accountability and human rights in Ireland”

Mark Kennedy also met up with “Lisa” as she travelled back from protests in Rossport against the Corrib gas pipeline. Lisa was deceived by the police into an abusive relationship with him that lasted six years before she exposed his real identity in 2010. She said “The UK undercover officers crossed borders regularly, and seemingly without oversight. Their operations extended far outside the remit of the current investigations. Was he authorised to continue our relationship in Ireland? Was he being paid? Did the Irish authorities know?”

“Alison” was in a five year relationship with Jenner who she knew as Mark Cassidy. She said “When it was suggested that the Colin Roach Centre send a delegation to the West Belfast Festival in the Summer of 1995, Jenner was keen to offer his van to drive people there. The journey included a stop-over in the Republic of Ireland. Were the authorities there informed that a Special Branch agent was operating in their territory? And if not, why not?”

Key background links

1] The women who made this statement have all been affected by undercover police. ‘Alison‘ had a long term relationship with Mark Jenner,  ‘Lisa‘,  and Kate Wilson  (previously under the pseudonym of “Lily”) had long term relationships with Mark Kennedy,  and Helen  Steel (previously under the pseudonym of “Clare”) had a long term  relationship with John Dines. ‘Alison’, & ‘Lisa’ are pseudonyms as they have anonymity upheld by the courts.    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmhaff/837/130205i.htm

2]   These women all made legal claims against  the Metropolitan  Police arising from their deception into long-term  intimate   relationships with police officers who had infiltrated social  and   environmental justice campaigns. These were both human rights claims and common law claims, including deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence.

3] https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/spycops-abroad/irish-inquiry-letter

4] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ministers-kept-in-the-dark-over-british-spy-6kp5shhgt?shareToken=2bfee46b3a0b361d78248ce189fd8e36

5] As part of an out-of-court settlement, the Met police issued a comprehensive apology [http://news.met.police.uk/videos/mps-apology-long-term-sexual-relationships-21074} to three of these women (Alison, Helen & Lisa) in November 2015. http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574. The same apology was extended to the fourth woman (Kate) in March 2017.

6] A public inquiry has also been launched covering only England & Wales .https://www.ucpi.org.uk/

7] http://www.parliamentary-questions.com/question/7624-17/

8] These women aim 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.

— end of background information —

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Deceived into relationships with undercover cops: Powerful new short film

We are pleased to release today a powerful new short film, made by Reel News, showing four women talking about their startlingly similar experiences of being deceived into relationships with undercover police.

It is being premiered this week at the Lush Summit, where “Alison” and “Andrea“, two women deceived into relationships with undercover police, are talking live and Police Spies Out of Lives is exhibiting.

In this film, the women talk about the experience of their most intimate lives being invaded by undercover police, the effect this has had on them, and about their ongoing fight for truth, accountability, and a complete cessation of these abuses.

These women’s most intimate lives were deeply infiltrated by these officers, living with them as life partners, attending family funeral’s, and promising to start a family. They left the women in similar ways, faking a nervous breakdown, and disappearing which was deeply upsetting for the women. It left them wondering who their partners were, and indeed who they were. Alison reveals “The damage that I experienced and the acute paranoia I experienced has subsided now, but is still there’

Lisa  explains just part of the enormous psychological abuse that these relationships have caused, and one of the questions that these women are left with. “I had grown and changed over that time with someone who was fictional, if they were fictional what did that make me now?”

In legal actions about undercover relationships, the Met has asked for judgment to be entered against them, implying that the relationships were undertaken with the express or tacit knowledge of other officers. Kate asserts “You didn’t just have a relationship with a man who didn’t exist, you had a relationship with a man who didn’t exist, and a back room, and the managers, and the superior officers who were making the decisions about that relationship, and the support teams who were following him around on your holidays, and people who were listening to your phone calls, and the people who were reading your emails”

All these women have been involved in legal actions against the Metropolitan police because of these relationships. They won a comprehensive apology from the police, yet despite this, and the fact that a public inquiry started in 2015, they have still not received any information from the police about what happened to them. Helen tells us: “We still have no answers as to why this abusive behaviour was allowed to happen. We have had absolutely no disclosure”

These political policing units have been systematically abusing women since 1968. The women in this video, and others, continue their brave fight for truth, accountability, and to stop this abusive practice, through legal courts and through the public Inquiry. Helen explains “Ultimately what we want to do is make sure these abuses can never happen again.”

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Helen Steel issues statement as former partner confirmed as undercover officer

PRESS RELEASE for immediate release

  • Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer
  • Helen Steel has issued a statement in response. It is contained here

HSAustThe Undercover Policing Inquiry (1) has named John Dines as an undercover police officer (2), the third officer confirmed in recent weeks (3). John Dines was the long term partner of Helen Steel (4), who until recently was suing (5) the police, with seven other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover officers.

It was Helen’s search for John Barker, after he had disappeared from her life, which revealed he was John Dines, an undercover officer. This is only being confirmed by the Inquiry now. Despite settling her legal action with a comprehensive apology (6), the police have until now refused to admit that John Dines was an undercover officer, relying on their ‘policy’ of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (7).

Helen Steels Statement:

“While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago.  Even after they issued a public apology for serious human rights abuses to myself and six other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover policemen, the police still argued they could not confirm the identity of my abuser.  To date, despite that apology, they have also refused to confirm the identity of Mark Jenner who deceived ‘Alison’ into a five year relationship.  We and other women similarly deceived have had no disclosure at all about how these abusive relationships were allowed to happen, instead we have been subjected to intrusive demands for evidence of the effects of the abuse.  None of those responsible for this abuse have been held to account – even those still employed by the police have kept their jobs.  

It is an insult to the many victims of political undercover policing that the police who are responsible for serious human rights abuses have been allowed to cover up the truth and withhold information from those they abused.  The public inquiry should release as a matter of urgency the cover names of all these political police and also the files they compiled on campaigners, so that those spied on are able to understand what happened and give relevant evidence to the inquiry.  

We know that over a thousand campaign groups have been spied upon by these political undercover policing units.  This represents a significant interference with the right to political freedom of thought and the right to protest.  Ultimately it is a means for those who hold power to preserve the status quo and prevent social change.  For this reason it is in the public interest for the cover names of all the political undercover police to be released, along with the files they compiled so that those who have abused their power can be held to account, the public learns the true extent of this political spying in this country and further human rights abuses by such units can be prevented.”

—statement ends—

Key background links

1)    https://www.ucpi.org.uk/

2)   The Undercover Policing Inquiry confirmed him as an officer today on 20th December 2016.

3)    Carlo Neri and Marco Jacobs were also recently confirmed as undercover officers (see Guardian report). They had also previously been identified by activists as an undercover police officer, and are also the subject of legal actions against the police. The police have as yet failed to admit that Mark Jenner was an undercover officer. He had a relationship with ‘ Alison’, one of the seven other women who took the legal action against the police with Helen Steel.

4)    Helen Steel was one of the eight women who had a high profile case against the Metropolitan Police for being deceived into relationships with undercover officers

5)    The legal action against the Metropolitan Police involved claims of deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence

6)    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 being brought against the police over undercover policing continue.

7)    The police say that they have a ‘policy’ of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) in relation to undercover officers. If anyone asks whether one of their officers is an undercover, they reply with words to the effect of “We can neither confirm nor deny that X person was an undercover officer”. NCND doesn’t have any legal standing, or even appear to be a proper policy. Despite this, and despite the very serious nature of the many allegations against undercover units, the police are seeking to in the Inquiry see Secrets beyond lies briefing. Helen Steel herself demolished NCND at the hearing about restriction orders and secrecy in the Inquiry into Undercover Policing – for a transcript see here.

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Women speaking out

It is incredibly powerful to hear the voices of the people affected by relationships with undercover police speak about their experiences.HSAust

Helen Steel and “Lisa” Jones will be speaking at public events in October, and encourage you to go and listen to their stories.

“Lisa” Jones, who had a six year relationship with officer Mark Kennedy, is speaking at a public meeting organised by the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: ‘Voices of the spied upon‘ on the evening of the 10th October in London. She will be speaking along side Ricky Tomlinson, a high profile figure denied core participancy status in the Inquiry to Undercover Policing, and Duwayne Brooks, the main witness to the murder of his friend Stephen Lawrence. You can book to go to this event, or spread the word via facebook.

Helen Steel, who had a long term relationship with undercover officer John Dines, is speaking at the Agitate, Organise, Resist Conference organised by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign. This is on October 1st from 10-4pm in Sheffield.

Helen is also speaking at two Public Meetings organised to launch the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance in Scotland: one in Glasgow on the evening of October 5th, and another in Dundee on the evening of October 6th.

We encourage as many people as possible  to hear the voices of the people affected directly, as this is the best way to understand the appalling abuse they suffered at the hands of the police, and why we need to ensure it never happens again.

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Brief Summary of Public Inquiry Secrecy Hearing

IMG_0576This week, on 22nd & 23rd of March, Pitchford heard arguments around how much secrecy there should be at the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. Full transcripts of the day one and day two are available.

The hearing started with a lively demonstration outside the court, with singing and chanting about stopping secrecy, the police’s policy of ‘Neither Confirm nor Deny’, and asking the courts to release the cover names of the Undercover officers.

The court then filled up, and over flowed, with public and core-participants wanting to witness the process of the Public Inquiry. The two days saw the barristers representing different parties involved in the Inquiry speak. Pitchford, the judge presiding over the Inquiry, started by saying how important the hearing was, and the impact it would have on the whole Inquiry.

The Metropolitan Police were represented by a barrister who argued that it is wrong to decide the level of secrecy on widespread public or ministerial concern, and that the overriding public interest was in protecting the undercover police and their methods. He faltered when questioned by Pitchford about how the secrecy they were asking for would actually work. Barristers for the National Crime Agency and the Secretary of State for the Home Office also spoke.

Phillipa Kaufman QC represented the 150-200 non-state core participants in the Inquiry who are victims of undercover policing, including the women we support. Kauffman delivered a barrage of impressive points, saying all victims have a pressing need to know what happened to them and whether it was institutionally sanctioned. She said it was clear that the Inquiry could not rely on the Police self-disclosing, and that unless the cover names of officers were released, the victims could not come forward to give evidence on the abuse. She talked about the extensive public interests against secrecy, including accountability of the Police, the rule of law, and fulfilling the terms of reference of the Inquiry.

Squires QC represents Elected Representatives who have been spied on by undercover police. These include Ken Livingstone, and Jeremey Corbyn. He put to the hearing that these people were spied on because they were left wing. He said this was incompatible with democracy, and must be brought to light, as it is crucial the police are seen to be politically neutral and democratically accountable. He called for the release of the cover names, and stated that MPs had been promised they would be told who was targeted and why.

Peter Francis, former undercover cop and whistle blower was also in court, represented by a barrister. The hearing was told that Francis wants to expose unethical, unlawful undercover policing practices, contrary to rule of law. Francis believes that cover name exposure would not imperil the safety of the officers or their family saying he himself feels at no risk. He said that he had never been promised lifelong confidentiality or been told about a policy of NCND. Interestingly, he also said that the techniques that the Police argue need to be protected were not sophisticated, and are already largely known about. He said the failure to reveal spy cover names would shield from public scrutiny the exact thing the inquiry was set up to examine.
The media were also represented, and they asked for Pitchford to allow their right to report on the Inquiry, and to continue their work to expose wrong doing.

Helen Steel was the only core participant to represent herself, and her powerful statement got a huge round of applause from the public gallery. She cut through the legal speak, shattered the police’s arguments around NCND (exposing it as a policy developed to protect them during the recent courtcase), and argued that victim’s had a right to know what had happened to it – no one should have to wait 24 years to hear the truth as she had.

Pitchford has now retired to deliberate on the decision, which he will not announce until April.

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