Harriet Wistrich and Gareth Peirce with Kate Wilson

Since women activists began to expose these human rights violations perpetrated by Metropolitan Police Special Branch units in 2010, significant progress has been made through their courageous legal battles. Their fight has brought to public attention shocking revelations about political policing that would otherwise have remained a British state secret.


This case was first lodged in December 2011 against the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers(ACPO). It concerned eight women who were deceived into long-term intimate relationships by five officers who had infiltrated social and environmental justice campaigns. The women were represented by Birnberg Peirce and partners.

“The women assert that the actions of the undercover officers breached their rights as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 3 (no one shall be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (respect for private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state). The women are also bringing claims for deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence.”
– Press Release – December 2011

The women’s case included common law claims and human rights claims. In both parts of the case the women faced legal battles by the police, who have attempted to strike out the case, have the case sent to secret court, and who have attempted to hide behind Neither Confirm Nor Deny. The women asserted that the actions of the Metropolitan police officers breached their human rights, subjecting them to inhumane and degrading treatment, and disrespecting their private and family life and their right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state. The Metropolitan Police agreed that they had abused their human rights, in their full apology, which was part of the settlement of the case.


Police attempt to force use of secret court: 2013. Judge Tugendhat ruled that human rights cases should be held in IPT but common law-only ones should be in open court (Jan 2013), but case should be delayed until after IPT hearings – High Court permits secrecy – Jan 2013. After appeal in Oct 2013 Tugendhat’s judgement upheld, but that delay removed. – Response to appeal judgment – Oct 2013

Police attempt to “strike-out” the case  : One line of attack in struggle to force the police to adhere to normal civil court procedures – Police climb down and withdraw ‘strike-out’ application  – March 2014

Challenging NCND : June 2014 – the women force police to adhere to normal civil court procedures and issue legal challenge to NCND in court winning a partial NCND victory in August 2014 when the Met police finally admit Lambert & Boyling were cops.

Further background:
The Case > Our Stories – the eight claimants
The Case > The Officers – the specific deployments which this case concerns
The Case > The Command Structures – the subjects of the legal action
The Case > Legal Battles – an introduction to legal battles and legal procedures around the case


The case brought by first eight women in 2011 was a groundbreaking victory in many ways. In November 2015, the Metropolitan Police gave a full apology, conceding that they had abused the women’s human rights, as part of a settlement. This apology has since been offered to some other people affected by relationships with undercover policing but by no means all. Many are still fighting their cases.


The case in brief:

In 2011 Tom, ‘Deborah’ and one other initiated a court action against the Metropolitan Police Force, South Wales Police force, and the Association of Chief Police Officers over the effect of Undercover Officer, Marco Jacobs’, intrusion in their lives and the distress it has caused. This case has now been settled.

Background information:


The Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing was established largely because of the public outrage at undercover officers deceiving women into intimate relationships. The Inquiry started in July 2015. More information about the pubic inquiry here.