Briefing on “Neither confirm or deny” – a police tactic for secrecy

On April 5th, there will be a preliminary hearing for the Undercover Policing Inquiry, where the Metropolitan Police Service argue for further delays to the Inquiry and to reduce its scope. This is simply the latest attempt by the police to prevent information coming to light about their abusive undercover policing tactics. To illuminate this pattern of avoiding accountability and disclosure of any information about their shady practices, today we are publishing a briefing on their tactic of ‘Neither Confirm nor deny.’

To support the fight back against police secrecy, come to the demo on April 5th.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) state they have a ‘policy’ of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) in relation to undercover officers. This means that when asked whether one of their officers is an undercover, they reply to the effect of “We can neither confirm nor deny that XXXX was an undercover officer”.

NCND is first and foremost a stance adopted by the security and intelligence services whose officials are deployed in intelligence gathering operations. It doesn’t have any legal standing. The police’s use of it is much more recent, and no evidence has been presented of it as a written MPS policy, despite being ordered to present it by a court.

Pitchford has refused to allow a blanket application of NCND in the Inquiry, and instead has insisted on looking individually at each situation where the police are asking for secrecy. He has asked them to apply for restriction orders in each situation, and will test any proclaimed risk of harm against the public interest of revealing what the undercover police have been up to. It is through this process that the police are now seeking secrecy and delays to the Inquiry.

The Inquiry into Undercover Policing has come about through the hard work of the people affected, activists, and a whistle blower. The police have fought at every turn in court, to avoid having to give any information publicly about their secret political policing units. They use NCND, and their applications for restriction orders, as a shield to avoid proper scrutiny of their actions, and to cover up the illegal and immoral activities of political undercover police officers.

Want to stand with the people affected by undercover policing and demand the truth about the activities of these abusive political policing units? Come to the demo, outside the Royal Courts of Justice, 9-10am on the 5th of April.

Find out more you can do to support the fight for truth around undercover policing.

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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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No faith in new undercover policing guidelines

Eigwhere we standht women who were affected by relationships with undercover officers, and who started Police Spies Out of Lives, have issued the following statement in response to the new guidelines for undercover policing issued by the College of Policing. These guidelines are out for consultation until midnight Wednesday 10th August 2016.

It is only through the actions of women such as ourselves, political activists, whistleblowers and journalists that abusive undercover relationships have been exposed, the police would have covered them up forever if they could get away with it – as witnessed by their continuing stance of ‘neither confirm nor deny‘ in the face of all the evidence and despite the serious abuses committed.

  • We have no faith that the measures proposed by the College of Policing will stop further human rights abuses;
  • There are no circumstances in which the use of undercover intimate sexual relationships are justified;
  • The use of such relationship amounts to institutional sexism and serious sexual violation;
  • There is no excuse for abuse and that those who commit or sanction such abuse should be subject to prosecution;
  • The infiltration of political movements is an affront to any decent society and represents an interference with the right to freedom of expression and assembly; and that within this context undercover relationships have a particularly harmful affect on the ability of women to exercise these rights.

We will do our best to ensure that the Public Inquiry brings to light the true extent of the abuses committed by these political policing units and that action is taken to prevent the abuses from ever happening again.”

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Police continue to stall in Undercover relationships case

On Tuesday 7th June, a legal case over undercover police relationships was in the High Court. It was the latest battle in a four year campaign to hold the police to account, and in it the police continued to try to stall these civil proceedings and avoid disclosing evidence. The claimants, two women and a man [1], are suing The Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers over sexual abuse committed by an undercover police officer in Cardiff – “Marco Jacobs”. [2]Marco_Jacobs

Significantly, the Police backed down from asserting a blanket “Neither confirm nor deny” policy (NCND) to resist disclosing documents relevant to the case, and have now been directed by the court to apply by 23rd September 2016, if they wish, to withhold disclosing documents on the ground that it would damage the public interest.

Despite having very publicly apologised to 8 women for such deceitful long-term intimate relationships and abuses, Police continued their stalling tactics in this case, attempting to put back the timetable to trial as far as possible. This found no favour with Master Davison, nor did their shabby attempt to compel the Claimants to disclose their medical records and endure examination by their psychiatrist before the Police had given evidence.

It is likely that there will now be a hearing in the Autumn on the Police’s disclosure of evidence and public interest immunity, the trial is now set to take place around March 2017.

“Though the abandonment of the false defence of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ is to be welcomed, the request for claimants to disclose medical records before the release of any police evidence whatsoever, illustrates how Police continue to try to avoid being held to account” – Tom Fowler, 3rd claimant

“It beggars belief, that after five years, and despite hand-wringing public assertions that sexual relationships are an abuse and cannot be authorised as a police tactic, the Defendants have continued to bob and weave in this litigation in reliance on technicalities and police procedure.  Jules Carey, Solicitor for the three.

NOTES:

  1. AJA, ARB, & Thomas Fowler (Claimants) -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis,  Chief Constable of South Wales Police, & Association of Chief Police Officers (Defendants)
  1. The Undercover Officer spent 5 years infiltrating anti-capitalist, anarchist, environmental, animal rights and other campaign groups, developing a number of close personal relationships, and in common with several other undercover police who have been exposed, engaged in the sexual abuse of a number of his targets.
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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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