Undercover police tricked women into sex like James Bond – judge

 

A group of women who were tricked into having sexual relationships by undercover police officers have won a partial legal victory to have their damages claims heard in open court.

The women say they were targeted by officers who specialised in infiltrating protest movements in a series of cases that stretch back to the late 1980s. They are suing the Metropolitan and South Wales police for emotional, psychiatric and financial damages.

Both forces wanted all the cases to be heard in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a highly secretive court which usually deals with complaints against the security services and has been criticised as being overly opaque.

But today a High Court judge ruled that a number of civil claims must be heard in the public civil courts.

However Mr Justice Tugendhat also ruled that some of the more recent cases need to go through the IPT  before they can be heard in the  High Court.

The decision means that evidence relating to how the police managed Mark Kennedy, an undercover  officer who was exposed in 2011 as a police source within environmental movements, is less likely to become public.

The outing of PC Kennedy as an  undercover informant sent shock waves through the Met Police and led to the convictions of a number of environmental protesters being quashed. After years undercover he appeared to switch sides and offered to appear on behalf of the defence.

Another officer who is accused of having relationships with activists according to yesterday’s judgement is Mark Jacobs, an officer who infiltrated a group of Welsh anarchists.

Speaking at the High Court, Justice Tugendhat recognised that the allegations against the police were “very serious”.

“No action against the police alleging sexual abuse of the kind in question in these actions has been brought before the courts in the past, so far as I have been made aware,” he said.

He likened the cases to James Bond, the fictional security services operative who regularly “used relationships with women to obtain information, or access to persons or property”.

Although Ian Fleming, the writer of the Bond series, did not dwell on “psychological harm he might have done to the women concerned”, the judge said, his fictional accounts pointed to how “intelligence and police services have for many years deployed both men and women officers to form personal relationships of an intimate sexual nature”.

Lawyers for the 10 women – and one man who claims his girlfriend was seduced – say they want to expose what authorisation was given by senior officers to approve seduction as a legitimate information gathering technique. They are determined to avoid hearing the cases in the IPT because they claim their clients are unable to see or contest police evidence there.

The cases which have to go before the IPT concern allegations that occurred after 2000 when the Human Rights Act came into force. The judge ruled that the Human Rights Act claims have to go before the IPT.

The women’s lawyers said they would now consider whether to appeal the decision. A statement by the Met Police gave no indication whether they would also appeal.

Secret service: Tribunal powers

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is one of the most secretive judicial bodies in the country. It is independent of the British government and is used to decide on complaints against surveillance by public bodies.

That means the tribunal can investigate anything from council snooping to national security spying – making it the only body which can investigate MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

The tribunal was established in 2000 by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Currently headed by the Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Mummery, it has been criticised for being highly secretive. It is expect from freedom of information requests, it holds most of its hearings in private, there is no obligation to take oral evidence and many of the final judgements are not published.

Those submitting claims against surveillance have complained that they are usually unable to contest the evidence against them because they cannot see it. It also rarely finds in favour of claimants. Between 2000 and 2010 of the complaints we know about only ten were upheld out of 1120.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea