23rd March 2018
On Wednesday this week, Baroness Jenny Jones spoke in the House of Lords to demand an answer to the question of how long the government has known about the tactic of undercover police officers using sexual relationships with their targets to develop their cover stories (1,2).
The question followed on the heels of the revelation the same day in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry that police have admitted that the intimate relationships cultivated by infamous undercover officer Mark Kennedy were known about and “acquiesced to” by not only his cover officers but also his line management (3,4).This contradicts past statements by police. They have previously insisted that officers deceiving women in campaign groups into relationships under their “cover” identities have acted without the knowledge or authorisation of their handlers or superiors.
The news was announced in the hearing of the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice, by QC for the non-state participants, QC Phillippa Kaufmann. Her statement preceded a dramatic walkout from the Inquiry hearing by all non-state participants. They believe the widespread granting of restriction (anonymity) orders for undercover officers by the inquiry chair John Mitting is leading to a lack of transparency and of any genuine investigation into the actions and behaviours of individual officers.
Baroness Jones said, “Many within the police and government circles are still in denial about the systematic use of sexual relationships by undercover officers, as part of their job. This shifts the blame for ‘slipping up’ onto individual officers, who got carried away and broke the rules. The reality is that the Inquiry should be dealing with the whole episode as state sponsored abuse.”
“Alison”, deceived into a sexual relationship by undercover police officer Mark Jenner (5), added, “The question about who knew is vital, because every single one of them in the SDS unit was complicit. They all bought into the methodology; sexual relations if you have to, fleeting and disastrous, and squatters’ rights over dead kids’ identities. Who was running the unit? Who in government knew about these practices, and for how long?” (6)
(1) Advance information from Jenny Jones on her question in the House
(2) Footage of Jenny Jones’ question in the House of Lords
(3) The police admittance is contained in defence pleadings by the police in a case brought by environmental and social justice activist Kate Wilson under the Human Rights Act 2000, worded as follows: “It is admitted that MK’s cover officers and line manger was were aware that MK was conducting a close personal relationship with the Claimant. It is admitted that the cover officers and line manger ought to have realised that that relationship was a sexual relationship, and that they acquiesced to that relationship.”
(4) More information on the Human Rights legal action
(5) “Alison” was involved in the Colin Roach Centre, a community organisation in east London that exposed police corruption in the early 1990s and promoted trade union, anti-fascist politics.
(6) Methodologies referred to by Alison here are contained in the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) “Tradecraft Manual”, released this week as a heavily redacted document by the Undercover Policing Inquiry: