Police seek to avoid accountability in Human Rights case over abusive relationships by undercover officers

  • A woman deceived into a relationship with undercover officer is fighting in court this Friday [1] to have her claim about human rights abuses to be allowed to continue, and be held in the open.
  • Ms Wilson’s claim [2], being heard in the Investigatory Power’s Tribunal (IPT), states that that the police violated her Human Rights under Articles 3, 8, 10, 11 and 14 of the European Convention of Human  Rights (ECHR) [3]
  • Ms Wilson was deceived into a long-term, intimate relationship with an undercover police officer, Mark Kennedy (MK).
  • If successful, this case will finally give clarity whether sexual relationships between undercover officers and members of the public are unlawful.

In 2017, Kate Wilson [4] became one of eight women who have won an historic apology [5] from the Metropolitan Police over their relationships with undercover police. She is now taking the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers to Court over human rights abuses she was subjected to by undercover officers. Ms Wilson’s claim questions the legitimacy of such political policing in a democratic society [6], and the legality of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) that is used to authorise such operations [7].

Ms Wilson said; “Article 3 of The ECHR refers to the right to live without being tortured or  subjected to inhuman or degrading treatments. The Metropolitan police, themselves told me in a public apology that what happened to me was abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong and a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity and that it caused significant trauma. Yet no clear, legally binding limits have been imposed on the kind of relationships officers form while undercover. We need clarity to protect the public from anything like this ever happening again.”

Despite having withdrawn their defence in Ms. Wilson’s Civil Claim [8], paying substantial compensation and issuing a personal apology [4] to Ms. Wilson acknowledging that these relationships were a violation of her human rights, the police have also stated that they intend to contest this claim, and are applying for it to be struck out.

This is the first ever human rights case to be heard by the IPT relating to undercover relationships. It comes after almost six years of stays, obstructions and delaying tactics by police in the Royal Courts of Justice, where this claim originated, and they are now asking the IPT to consider throwing out the claim because, they argue, it is “out of time”.  This is yet another example of the police’s delaying and blocking tactics in legal actions looking for accountability and disclosure around undercover policing, and must not be tolerated by the Judge.

They continue to seek secrecy around undercover policing, and will apply for the case to be held behind closed doors, contesting Ms Wilson’s right to attend hearings, get disclosure, or respond to any evidence  they present. The IPT is able to hear cases such as this in complete secrecy,  with the claimant having no opportunity to argue their case in court,  contest evidence against them, or receive a reasoned judgement [9].

In  the light of all the information about these officers already in the public domain, and the  ongoing Public Inquiry into the events in question, the claimant is urging the IPT to hold an open hearing this time [10].

Key background information

1] This is the first hearing of the case. It will be held at Employment  Appeal Tribunal (EAT) located in  Fleetbank House, Salisbury Square,  London, EC4Y 8JX. The hearing will start at 10.30am, 23rd June 2017, in court 5.

2] https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/human-rights-case/human-rights-pleadings/

3] The Human Rights Claims
The most significant claim refers to the right to live without being tortured or subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment (Art.3 ECHR).   There are no circumstances where this can be lawful. Article 3 (EHCR) is  an  unqualifiable right. A Civil Court has already entered judgement  that  MK’s sexual relationship with Ms Wilson was Assault [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35350095, https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/new-met-apology/withdraw-defence/, http://thejusticegap.com/2016/01/12400/ ], and the police themselves have described such relationships as “abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong”, a “gross violation of personal dignity and integrity” that “caused significant trauma” [http://news.met.police.uk/videos/mps-apology-long-term-sexual-relationships-21074].

Such inhuman and degrading treatment of women in order to obtain intelligence forms part of a culture of institutional sexism within the Metropolitan Police, violating the principle that human rights should be enjoyed by all, without discrimination on grounds of sex or political  beliefs (Art.14 ECHR).

Furthermore, in addition to MK’s gross violation of her intimate private life and bodily integrity, at least 5 other officers have been identified as having intruded in Ms Wilson’s private and family life (Art.8 ECHR).  Over more than ten  years, at least 6 officers played false roles in her  life, ranging from  lover to close friend, housemate and co-activist  [2]. These infiltrations took place because of her involvement in  protest  groups, infringing her rights to freedom of expression and  association  (Art.10&11 ECHR).

4] https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/our-stories/kates-story/

5] http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574?utm_campaign=send_list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sendgrid

6] The targeting of environmental and social justice groups such as Reclaim the Streets, and campaigns against Immigration Detention reflects an extremely  worrying assumption on the part of  Metropolitan Police that it is  “proportionate and necessary” to target people for their  political  beliefs and involvement in political campaigns in the UK and  abroad. The SDS was established in 1968 to “deal  with the lack of police knowledge of what was happening on  demonstrations”. It was shut down in October 2006 as part of a  restructuring of the Met, though continued to exist until October 2008.  Since it has been closed down, the National Public Order Intelligence  Unit, an agency that monitors so-called domestic extremists performs a  similar role in the UK today. http://powerbase.info/index.php/Special_Demonstration_Squad, http://powerbase.info/index.php/National_Public_Order_Intelligence_Unit

7]   Neither RIPA nor the Codes of Practice mention sexual  conduct by undercover officers, and the existing legal frame work has neither sufficient clarity nor sufficient safeguards for RIPA authorisations to be “in accordance with the law”. This is consistent  with findings of  the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Royal Court  of Justice. The Home Affairs Select Committee  stated that “there  is an alarming degree of inconsistency in the views of Ministers and  senior police officers about the limits of what may and may not be lawfully authorised.”  and “the  current legal framework is ambiguous to such an extent that it fails  adequately to safeguard the fundamental rights of the individuals  affected.”  (https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmhaff/837/130205i.htm). Judge Tugendhat said in a ruling in the Civil Court that “There is no doubt that, in enacting RIPA, Parliament intended to override fundamental human rights” http://www.statewatch.org/news/2013/nov/uk-police-spies-out-of-lives-secret-hearing-case-decision.pdf

8] The IPT oversees human rights claims about the states infringement of privacy through covert surveillance. Although it claims independence, the IPT operates from within the Home Office
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/05/independence-ipt-court-mi5-mi6-home-office-secrecy-clegg-miliband,  and it has only upheld a handful of claims (probably less than 0.01%)  in it’s history. Most of the hearings are held in secret: applicants are  given no right to be present at the hearing; no right to the disclosure  of evidence relied on by the opposing party; no right to cross-examine  opposing witnesses; no right to funded representation or costs; no right  to a reasoned judgment and no right of appeal. In short, it is a  fitting judicial instrument for a process intended to override  fundamental human rights. Recently,  the IPT has been criticised for  being secretive so there have been  moves for more cases to be held in  the open.

9]   The claimant will argue that many of the factual matters raised by the  claim are already in the public domain  and  that the Courts have found  that the Police are not able to rely on the Neither Confirm Nor Deny  policy in relation to those matters [https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/uploads/2014/07/Final-high-court-judgement-on-NCND.doc, 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/].   This is a case of great public interest, and Kate should be entitled  to  get disclosure from the police, which she has not had to date, in  order  to be able to engage in proceedings and argue the case.

10] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35350095, https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/new-met-apology/withdraw-defence/, http://thejusticegap.com/2016/01/12400/

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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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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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