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Despite having withdrawn their defence in Ms.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/

— end of background information —

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Met ordered to disclose evidence in Welsh undercover relationships case

  

* Press release 7.30pm 25th May 2017 *

  • Judge in Court Hearing about Undercover Cop, Marco Jacob’s, abusive relationships orders Met Police to disclose evidence
  •     Police have been avoiding and delaying disclosure in this case for several years.

A judge this week, has ordered Police that they must disclose evidence in the legal case [1] over undercover police officer ‘Marco Jacob’s abusive sexual relationships that happened while he deployed in Cardiff. This comes in the face of the Police consistently trying to avoid disclosing evidence around this case.

The Undercover Officer had spent 5 years infiltrating anti-capitalist, anarchist, environmental, animal rights and other campaign groups,[2] 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.[3]

Despite having very publicly apologised to seven women [4] for such deceitful long-term intimate relationships and abuses, Police Lawyers are maintaining delaying and avoiding coming to a settlement in relation to this case. Police have had orders to disclose their evidence on several previous occasions, but have so far produced nothing. [5]

In court this week, whilst denying that they are running a campaign of non-compliance in relation to this case, Police Lawyers sought further delays, requesting that these proceedings be delayed until after the Undercover Policing Inquiry. They sought to avoid disclosure completely, by telling the judge that there was a “real risk to life” if there is disclosure, and that any disclosure in this case could reveal other covert intelligence sources in the same group.

The Judge however said that there must be some disclosure, specific to this officer, that can be released, at least in stages, and ordered specific disclosure of the officers interactions with the claimants by the end of August.

“This case has been characterised by long delays and broken promises by the defendants” Heather Williams QC

“I am pleased the Judge continues to order the Police to disclose evidence in this case. Despite admitted the wrongdoing of undercover officers, it beggars belief that the police continue to try to avoid this, and avoid facing up to their responsibilities, heaping extra suffering on the people they targeted.” – Tom Fowler, claimant

Key background info

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). Two women and one man have been 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”. Consent orders for settlement for one of female claimants will be imminently sealed by judge. However, the police continue to fight the other claims.

2]

5] Previous court directions had ordered that standard disclosure must be given by 5th December 2016.  A submission by police gave very detailed timetable of their disclosure dates. All have long since passed with no submission of evidence. A full trial date was set for 22nd May 2017, however due to failure of police to disclose, this had to be vacated
— end of background information —

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Fight against police secrecy in Cardiff undercover relationship case continues in court

  • Court Hearing about Undercover Cop, Marco Jacob’s, abusive relationships – Tuesday 23rd May, 10am, Royal Courts of Justice
  • Picket outside Royal Court of Justice at 9am
  • Police continuing to avoid accountability and disclosure

On Tuesday 23rd May, a legal case over undercover police relationships will return to the High Court, following a hearing last year [1], when police were able to push back disclosure of documents relating to the identity of the officer, his training, deployment and supervision.

Two women and one man 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]

The Undercover Officer had spent 5 years infiltrating anti-capitalist, anarchist, environmental, animal rights and other campaign groups,[3] 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.[4]

Despite having very publicly apologised to seven women [5] for such deceitful long-term intimate relationships and abuses, Police Lawyers are maintaining delaying and avoiding coming to a settlement in relation to this case.  Previous court proceedings moved Human Rights issues to the ‘secret court’ of the IPT.[6] However common law claims against the police are continuing in open court. [7]

On Tuesday 23rd May at 9am, before the Case Management Hearing, there will be a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice by the claimants and their supporters.[8]

“Despite admitted the wrongdoing of undercover officers, it beggars belief that the police continue to avoid facing up to their responsibilities, heaping extra suffering on the people they targeted.” – Tom Fowler, claimant

Key background info

1. http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/06/undercover-policing-back-court-police-attempt-withhold-evidence/

2. AJA, ARB, & Thomas Fowler (Claimants) -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis,  Chief Constable of South Wales Police, & Association of Chief Police Officers (Defendants)

3.  http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/jan/19/undercover-police-officer-mark-jacobs
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/welsh-protest-groups-infiltrated-police-1859796
https://southwalesanarchists.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/statement-from-cardiff-anarchist-network-can-on-the-infiltration-by-mark-‘marco’-jacobs/

4. http://powerbase.info/index.php/Marco_Jacobs_(alias)

5. http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574

6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-24831728

7. http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/2015/03/26/police-concede-marco-jacobs-was-spycop/

8. https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/picket-hearing-marco-jacobs/
— end of background information —

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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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Demonstration at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing

Join us to demand disclosure on political policing abuses in the UK

Where? Royal Courts of Justice
When? 9-10am April 5th 2016 – on the first day of the hearing
What? Demonstration- bring banners, & placards
Who? Anyone who cares about our democracy

It is over six years since the undercover policing scandal broke, creating shock that the police could commit such abuses against social, animal, and environmental justice campaigners in our country. Women have been deceived into abusive intimate relationships, miscarriages of justice have been perpetrated, families fighting the police for justice have been spied on, trades union activists have been blacklisted. They, and we, need to know what has happened and why, so that we can repair the damage done to our lives and our democracy.

Public outrage at the scandals around undercover policing led to the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. Two years in, it is still in its preliminary stages, beset by police delaying tactics, and applications for secrecy. In the inquiry and the associated court cases, the police have so far avoided giving any information about their abusive activities. People who have had their lives turned upside down by infiltration are no nearer to knowing the truth. We are no nearer to knowing the extent of the ongoing abuse of our democracy.

“It’s been almost a year, to the day, since we had that apology made in public by the Metropolitan Police and despite them saying they’re sorry, it hasn’t resulted in any  disclosure  of information about what happened to us. I’m sure any victim of abuse will tell  you, that knowing what’s happened, is as important as being, being told  that the people responsible are sorry.  Until we get full  answers about exactly what happened to us (Were we  targeted? How we were  targeted? Were we listened to? What information  was gathered on us?),  I don’t think  we’ll ever be able to  put this behind us”. Lisa speaking in November 2016.

On April 5th & 6th, there is an Inquiry hearing resulting from the latest police delaying and avoidance tactics, applying to delay the Inquiry further, and to restrict the scope of the Inquiry.

We demand that the Inquiry starts to serve the people  who have been affected by undercover policing, and does not allow the abusers to get away with delaying and denying disclosure on what has happened.

We demand that the Inquiry release the cover names of the officers now, so that the full extent of the undercover policing scandal can be revealed. We demand the release of the files held on all the core participants affected by undercover policing.

It is public pressure and outrage that brought about this Inquiry. Right now we need to show that it is still high on our agenda to prevent the police hiding the truth any further. All people involved with campaigning for progressive change in our society have been, and are at risk of infiltration and abuse at the hands of these shady political policing units.

It is people like you, taking a stand for your right to campaign for positive change without being abused by the state, that will change history, making sure these abuses come to light and are prevented from ever happening again. Without public support, the police may get away with hiding what has happened, and be able to continue their abuses.

What can you do?
· Come along to the demonstration and stand with the core participants to support their demands.
· Attend the hearing, and hear first-hand what is going on.
· Can’t make it on the day?
– Support us by talking about it on social media. Share the face book event
– Take a solidarity selfie (see below)

Solidarity selfie?
WHEN between NOW and the secrecy hearing on April 5th & 6th
WHERE anywhere, or go somewhere prominent in your local area – your town hall, local landmark, village sign, train station
WHAT hold up a sign or a banner demanding the #spycops Inquiry releases the names and opens the files, and take a photo. If you’ve got a landmark in, it’s #Yourtown demands #spycops Inquiry releases the names & opens the files!
SHARE on social media – use #spycops

Do it as soon as you think of it, go with your mates, go with your group after your latest meeting, go with your kids or your gran. No gesture too small.

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