This case has been subject to various delaying and secrecy tactics by the police. Currently at issue is “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” (known as NCND) for short. Not long ago, we explained here why NCND should not stand as a response to this case, including the strike-out application. The police subsequently withdrew their application, while still insisting on NCND.
The absurdity and inconsistency of NCND has been ably illustrated by evidence that senior officers – right up to the Commissioner himself – didn’t seem to be aware of NCND until it suited them. Here are two examples:
Hogan-Howe in 2011
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, appeared before a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority on 27 October 2011. At the meeting, Hogan-Howe was asked by members of the London Assembly about the activities of officer Jim Boyling (who used the name “Jim Sutton” whilst undercover).
It’s revealing that at this meeting (which took place shortly before the women’s legal action had been lodged) Hogan-Howe does not hesitate to confirm the identity of undercover “Jim Sutton” as one of his officers. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the asserted ‘policy’ of NCND was subsequently adopted as a smokescreen by the police, as public scrutiny of undercover police abuses gathered momentum.
Here are some extracts from that meeting:
Dee Doocey (Assembly Member):
In relation to the undercover officer known as Jim Sutton, was the officer authorised by his superiors to lie to the court about his identity?
Bernard Hogan-Howe :
[…] In relation to the specific case that you referred to, the one that Dee refers to, one matter has already been referred to the IPCC relating to the appearance in court as a defendant of an officer using a false name in 1997. […] The IPCC has asked that we share with them any relevant documents to inform their assessment of the issues, and we have agreed to do so. There is, in addition, an ongoing Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) investigation, that is an internal Metropolitan Police Service investigation, started in January of this year into a number of other allegations regarding the same officer – that is the officer I think who was named by Dee with the name of Sutton – which have also been subject to media reporting.
(A full transcript of the meeting can be seen here; the relevant passage begins on page 20.)
Sir Hugh Orde in 2011
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) are, along with the Metropolitan Police, one of the institutions against which the women are bringing this case. The president of ACPO, Sir Hugh Orde, has also gone on record confirming the identity of an undercover police officer – in this instance, Mark Kennedy. He discussed the deployment of PC Kennedy at length in a speech to Liberty in February 2011, again before the women’s legal action made it inexpedient for senior police officers to admit such things. Orde’s speech can be read here.
As previously stated by the women’s support group, “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.