PRESS STATEMENT: Women condemn ongoing police obstructions to legal case

Today’s hearing has closed after a long debate in court over who will have to disclose what information when. The women have just issued this statement via their solicitor, Harriet Wistrich:

“In the past 24 hours it has become clear that although the police announced they had dropped their strike out application, this was nothing more than a cynical move to try and keep the case out of the public eye at what is an embarrassing and sensitive time for them.

“There has been an order in place since August 2013 requiring the Police to make disclosure in the absence of a strike-out application. If that application had been heard today, it would have directly addressed the question of whether ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) can be relied on by the police at all in this case. As it is, they have today expressed their intention to continue hiding behind NCND. It is our opinion that they have no intention of providing a properly pleaded defence or disclosure in response to the women’s claims.

“We believe this and other delaying tactics being used by the Police are an abuse of Court Process.

“We will be lodging an application in the next 48 hours seeking an order from the court to bring an end to this nonsense and oblige the police to properly respond to the claims, and we sincerely hope that this case can finally go forward and the issues can be fully aired.”

See policespiesoutoflives.org.uk for further background to this case, including the ongoing battle over secret court for the other three women’s human rights claims.

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Legal Battle Commences – Court Hearing Tues 18 March 2014

We recommend bookmarking this post – we will keeping it updated with links to the latest developments over this hearing.

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Latest updates:

  • The court hearing (18/3/14) has ended – the women have issued a statement here.
  • Before the hearing, the women’s solicitor, Harriet Wistrich, made a statement about why this hearing is important – see below.
  • Last week the police DROPPED their application to strike out the women’s common law claims – see the women’s response to the announcement.
  • To coincide with the hearing supporters are holding a week of solidarity action.

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11.30 am – STATEMENT FROM HARRIET WISTRICH :

Here’s a statement from Harriet Wistrich, the women’s solicitor, about why the hearing is important:

“So far, the police have not responded in a satisfactory way to the common law claims of the five women. The police issued a defence of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’, and then applied for the claims to be struck out – an application they have now dropped.

“At the hearing today what we’re pushing for is a meaningful defence and disclosure so that the women can get answers to the allegations they have put to the Metropolitan Police over the serious intrusion and disruptions the women suffered.”

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11.00 am PICKET PHOTOS

We’ve received reports that there was a great turnout at the morning picket outside court in support of the women. See more info here.

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BACKGROUND TO THE HEARING

• Women successfully resist police attempt to strike out undercover police abuse casespolice withdraw application
• Now the legal battle commences – but police still obstructing justice

• Until just days before this hearing, five of the women in this case had been facing an attempt by the police to have their common law claims struck out. The police had claimed as they can ‘neither confirm, nor deny’ (NCND) anything about undercover policing, the trial should not proceed.

• The common law claims of “deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence” are made by the women who were deceived into long-term intimate relationships with undercover officers.

• ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ was always a flimsy excuse for dismissing the claims, yet rather than see it fall in court, the police have withdrawn their application for strike out – while still claiming publicly that NCND should stand.

• The police wasted months of the women’s time with the application – not to mention another ongoing secrecy battle over their human rights claims. All this has delayed the case from proceeding.

• There are fears that the police may use the announcement of a public inquiry to prevaricate further, while they and the government race to pretend that the abuses are merely ‘historical’, while doing nothing to prevent current or future abuses.

The undercover abuses stole from the women’s lives – now the police’s obstructive tactics deny them justice.

We must show the police and the political system that the women do not stand alone, and that we will not tolerate ongoing abuses.

The battle against secrecy is not over. The women and their support group will be asking for public support during the week of March 17-21, including a solidarity picket outside court on Tuesday 18 March.

For further updates and details please
– sign up to the supporters’ email list (see top right of this page)
– tell your friends about the case
– follow us on facebook or twitter
– if you are a journalist or blogger, send an email request to be added to the press list: media#@#policespiesoutoflives.org.uk (remove hashtags which are there to prevent spam)

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Today’s news #2 – Herne report

In the second big news of the day, Operation Herne’s second report was published. This is the police investigation headed by Mick Creedon (the report is therefore has been referred to as the Creedon report).

This report includes the issue of undercover officers engaging in relationships.

The women and the legal team for this case will be reading this report closely and will comment once they have reviewed its contents.

At the same time, they are preparing to face the police’s application to ‘strike out‘ their legal claims (at a court hearing later this month), as the police say that their own Neither Confirm Nor Deny “policy” stops them from answering claims in court. The women are having to fight battle after battle to get justice for the gross violations of their human rights.

The women’s position has been set out clearly in their statement Where We Stand, in which they assert that there are no circumstances in which relationships should take place, and that the practice shows institutional sexism and institutional prejudice against members of the public engaged in creating social and environmental justice.

We urge supporters of this case to use the lens of the Where We Stand statement when scrutinising all of today’s announcements.

The Guardian – today’s live blog introduced the Herne report at 3.27pm onwards, plus here’s their report on the Herne report.

The Herne Report (also referred to as the Creedon report) is here.

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Week of Solidarity Action – show your support – 17-21 March 2014

 

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Please show your support as legal battle commences

•    Public support has helped the women win one battle: the police withdrew their strike out application
•    But the police are still obstructing justice, and may use “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to evade a public inquiry
•    Fears persist over ongoing abuses – it’s not just ‘historical’
•    Hearing may still take place on Tuesday 18 March – see this page for updates

As the struggle continues, show the women that they do not stand alone:

WHAT CAN I DO? (see below for details of each action)

  • Picket outside Royal Courts of Justice
  • Gather with your friends in solidarity
  • Support us on social media
  • Sign up to the supporters’ email list
  • Print and share the leaflet
  • Add your name to the ‘Where We Stand‘ solidarity statement
  • If you are a journalist or blogger, write articles about the case and ask to be added to the press list

PICKET – LONDON
Picket outside Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube)
9am – 10am, Tuesday 18th March
Please bring placards and banners.

GATHER WITH YOUR FRIENDS / COLLEAGUES
We are asking people to gather with your friends during the week of action, in public or at home, to send messages of support and as an act of resistance. Undercover policing is attack on the trust built within friendship groups. Therefore, by coming together in solidarity with the women challenging these destructive police tactics you can both demonstrate your support and resist within your own networks.
Consider coming together to:

  • Organise a mass letter / email writing to local and national papers – while sharing a meal.
  • Distribute PSOOL leaflets to raise awareness, on a busy high street or other appropriate location.
  • Share and amplify the words of the women using the images that will be on facebook and twitter.
  • Discuss within your groups the possibility of giving official support to the Where We Stand support statement – showing collective resistance against the intimidation of campaigners for social and environmental justice.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Follow and share the resources we are producing on facebook.
and on Twitter: @out_of_lives use #policespiesoutoflives , #spycops and #wherewestand (to reference the solidarity statement we are asking everyone to sign)

PRINT OUR LEAFLET
You can download and print this leaflet about the case (pdf): CAMPAIGN LEAFLET

SUPPORTER’S EMAIL LIST
Sign up to the email list (in the right column on this website) to recieve updates on news and actions.

WHERE WE STAND
Sign up, and ask your friends to sign up, to the ‘Where We Stand‘ solidarity statement.

PRESS LIST
To ask to be added to the list please email: contact#@#policespiesoutoflives.org.uk (removing hashtags which are there to prevent spam)

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Police Spies Out Of Lives extends solidarity with everyone affected by the extreme intrusions perpetrated by undercover police officers.

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More background info: the women’s experiences and the case itself
For more ways to support the women’s struggle for justice, see our Act Now page

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