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Women win legal victory over police spies cover-up
As PN went to press, the Metropolitan police were only days away from having to confirm or deny that senior management had allowed male undercover officers to deceive women activists into long-term intimate relationships.
On 2 July, after three years of legal action, five of the women involved won a significant legal victory in London’s high court.
Mr justice Bean ruled that the Metropolitan police could not use a policy of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ [NCND] as a blanket response to the claims of the women affected. The Met had been claiming they could not have a fair trial because of the NCND policy.
Earlier, in a hearing on 5–6 June, the Met had been forced to concede that if the allegations by the women were true, the police could not argue that the officers were acting appropriately.
Mr justice Bean said: ‘There can be no public policy reason to permit the police neither to confirm nor deny whether an illegitimate or arguably illegitimate operational method has been used as a tactic in the past’.
The judge noted that Jim Boyling (who infiltrated groups as ‘Jim Sutton’) had been publicly named as an undercover officer by the Metropolitan police Commissioner ‘in person’. Bob Lambert (animal rights activist ‘Bob Robinson’) ‘has not only self disclosed, but has been publicly named by the IPCC [independent police complaints commission].
Helen Steel, former McLibel defendant and one of the five claimants, said: ‘We welcome the finding that there is no legitimate public interest in the Met covering up the existence of these abusive undercover relationships.
‘It is very disappointing, however, that despite the overwhelming evidence our former partners John Dines and Mark Jenner were also undercover SDS [special demonstration squad] officers, the judge has allowed the Met to continue to hide the truth about them.’
The police were given until 30 July to either admit or deny that: (a) Met police officers, as part of their work as undercover officers and using false identities, engaged in long-term intimate sexual relationships with those whose activities the police wished to observe; (b) this was authorised or acquiesced in by senior management; (c) Jim Sutton was such an officer; and (d) Bob Robinson was such an officer.
A lack of response by the police will be treated as an admission, said the judge.