Police detective who 'had sex with activists while undercover' could face prosecution

Jim Boyling, who posed as activist Jim Sutton, delivers stinging criticism of police superiors while facing call to be prosecuted under law that saw lesbian jailed for using a deep voice, a prosthetic penis and a blindfold to trick her victim into thinking she was having sex with a man.

Adam Lusher
Tuesday 01 May 2018 17:51 BST
Woman who had relationship with undercover police officer Jim Boyling gives her view as she launches legal action

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


A detective accused of having affairs with activists while undercover is facing calls for him to be prosecuted under laws used to jail a lesbian for tricking a woman into sex by posing as a man.

Detective Constable Jim Boyling also faces a police disciplinary hearing over a relationship that led to him marrying and having two children with one woman activist.

In defending himself, however, he has delivered a stinging attack on his Scotland Yard superiors, claiming: "The Met does a good line in selectivede amnesia, as indeed they do in selective disclosure."

Mr Boyling is reported to have had sexual relationships with three women while infiltrating protest groups in the 1990s. He is one of a string of officers from a now disbanded Metropolitan Police unit whose activities are now the subject of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, which has yet to hear evidence.

The undercover detective, who used the cover name “Jim Sutton”, married and had two children with one of the women after revealing his identity to her. She later divorced him and accused him of having used an “arsenal of police resources” to lure her into a relationship. His relationship with this woman will be the subject of a disciplinary hearing that will be held in secret this week.

In his defence, Mr Boyling, a police officer with 30 years' experience, has now said: "I was astonished to find, when some elements of our story appeared in the press in 2011, that the Met disclaimed all knowledge.

"I had in fact been discussing it fully with them only a few weeks previously and had made a full written declaration of our marriage to the vetting unit within a week of it taking place.

"We were divorced in 2009, which I again notified in writing to the Met. The Met does a good line in selective amnesia, as indeed they do in selective disclosure."

Mr Boyling revealed that both his children with the woman activist are "severely disabled with limited life expectancy".

Accusing the Metropolitan Police of singling him out to satisfy its press strategy, he added: "If you're going to pick on anybody, the family with the terminally ill children will probably be the weakest."

At the same time, however, another woman activist has revealed she is seeking a full High Court judicial review of the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision against prosecuting Mr Boyling for sexual offences or misconduct in public office.

Gayle Newland was jailed for six years after duping a female friend into sex by pretending to be a man
Gayle Newland was jailed for six years after duping a female friend into sex by pretending to be a man (PA)

Her lawyer said the CPS should consider prosecuting Mr Boyling using the laws around sexual assault by deception that led to Gayle Newland being jailed for using a deep voice, a prosthetic penis and a blindfold to trick her victim into thinking she was having sex with a man.

‘Monica’ told the BBC she had a six-month affair with Mr Boyling in 1997 after he posed as Jim Sutton to infiltrate the anti-capitalist environmentalist group Reclaim the Streets.

She said: “I was encouraged to be intimate and sexual with somebody who I would never ever have got involved with if I had known who he was, if I had known his true motives and his true identity.

“I loved him in a way. At the time I thought he had genuine feelings for me. But now I look at that and I think actually this man was trained. He was a successful police officer. He was duping us all.”

Monica said that ‘Jim Sutton’ later disappeared under circumstances that weren’t clear to her or other activists – a tactic used by undercover officers to extract themselves at the end of their investigations.

She only learnt of his true identity years later, after the undercover policing scandal broke in 2010.

It provoked fury about undercover detectives having sex with activists while they were supposed to be monitoring groups deemed by the authorities to be a threat to public order.

Some of the affected women claimed: “The level of deception perpetrated by state agents seeking to undermine movements for social change is more akin to that of the Stasi in East Germany”.

The Metropolitan Police issued a public apology and paid compensation to at least 12 women.

But in August 2014 the CPS announced the officers would face no criminal charges, saying that after a “thorough investigation” there was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any offences against any of the officers.”

Monica appealed against the decision under the Victims’ Right to Review scheme, but was unsuccessful.

She is now seeking a judicial review, and has issued a statement explaining: "The whitewashing of these serious human rights abuses must stop.

"I am appalled by the hypocrisy of police and government, who on one hand wring their hands, apologise, say this was terrible and must never happen again, yet on the other provide no disclosure, protect the perpetrators, and hold no one to account.

Her lawyer Harriet Wistrich said the CPS should also have considered the offence of procuring someone for sex, as well as the case law that secured Ms Newland’s conviction.

She said: "The CPS have prosecuted and sent to prison young women who deceived others as to their gender, but when it comes to wholesale deception as to identity by police officers, they entirely excuse behaviour which has been demonstrated to have caused significant psychological damage to all the women concerned."

Mr Boyling was suspended from duty in November 2015. He now faces a police disciplinary hearing over the relationship with the activist he married.

The relationship, and Mr Boyling's true identity, were revealed when the woman told The Guardian she had met the undercover policeman shortly after the June 1999 Carnival Against Capitalism in London, where there had been clashes between police and some anti-capitalist demonstrators who had smashed windows and brawled with City traders.

At the time Mr Boyling was posing as Reclaim the Streets activist Jim Sutton.

The woman said she had a year-long relationship with ‘Jim Sutton’, without realising he was a police officer, before he claimed he was leaving to hitchhike to South Africa via Turkey.

A year later, the woman said, they were reunited when she found him in Kingston, south-west London.

At that point, she said, he revealed he was a police officer. They allegedly rekindled their affair and had two children together, marrying in 2005.

The woman alleged that Mr Boyling persuaded her to change her name by deed poll, saying she now believed this was to stop his police superiors discovering the relationship.

She claimed Mr Boyling had once scoffed at his superiors’ suggestion that undercover officers should avoid sex with activists, allegedly telling her that detectives had “needs” and that the relationships were “a necessary tool in maintaining cover”.

The couple divorced in 2009.

Mr Boyling stressed that he used his real name and registered his occupation as a police officer on the marriage certificate and the birth certificates of both his children. He said his ex-wife knew he had worked undercover and had spoken to other officers about it.

Mr Boyling, who is now in his fifties, said the relationship with the woman he married was genuine and had nothing to do with his deployment.

He said: "The disciplinary charge from the Met specifies that I had a relationship which constituted misconduct because it was 'without a police purpose'.

"The position of the Met appears to be that a relationship entered into as an operational tactic is acceptable, but a genuine one resulting in marriage and children constitutes misconduct."

He is, however, not contesting the Met disciplinary hearing because he says he cannot afford to stay in London during the proceedings, and does not wish to drag former colleagues and his ex-wife through the process.

The officer, who is now aged in his 50s, will however, give evidence to the public inquiry into undercover policing.

He feels he has been singled out to justify the cost of Operation Herne, a police inquiry into the activities of undercover officers.

He said: "I trust that a more accurate picture of police covert operations may emerge from the Undercover Policing Inquiry, including perhaps the testimony of others who formed genuine relationships during the course of a deployment lasting several years.

"There are a documented number of such cases which have always previously been sympathetically dealt with.

"It seems to me that my case has been handled differently purely in order to satisfy the Met's current press strategy, and the need for Operation Herne to show some sort of return for the millions of pounds of public money they have spent."

Mr Boyling’s lawyers declined to comment to the BBC about Monica's accusations.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Once a misconduct hearing has started, it would be inappropriate to comment outside of that process on information that may be raised during those proceedings."

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