Police name officers in undercover sex claim case
- 15 August 2014
- From the section UK
The Metropolitan Police has officially named two men who had relationships with women while working as undercover officers.
It is the first time in its history that it has confirmed the identities of undercover operatives.
The pair - Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert - are accused of deceiving the women by having relationships with them without disclosing who they really were.
The Met is being sued by three women over the issue but denies wrongdoing.
The force argues that the relationships were based on "genuine" feelings.
Historically to protect the safety of undercover officers it has been police policy neither to confirm nor deny who they are under any circumstances.
But last month Mr Justice Bean at the High Court ruled that Scotland Yard could no longer rely on this in the cases of Mr Boyling and Mr Lambert, and - in an unprecedented move - the force has now confirmed they did work undercover.
Helen Steel is suing the Metropolitan Police over a relationship she had with another undercover officer - not one of the operatives officially named on Friday.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she believed he was a "real person" when they started to form a relationship in 1990.
"We talked about having children together," she said. "We talked about spending the rest of our lives together and then he disappeared.
"I spent years searching. Eventually, I found that actually he'd been using the identity of a child who had been eight years old.
"At that point my world really fell apart because this person, who I'd known and loved, suddenly I didn't even know who they were or what their name was.
"How can you have a genuine relationship that's based on a complete web of lies?
"These guys were saying that they loved us, that they wanted to be in our lives for the rest of their lives and yet they knew that their posting was going to be ending in just a few years time and that they were going to disappear from our lives and leave us bereft.
"That is not love, that is abuse."
The Met Police said Mr Boyling - whose alias was Jim Sutton, a political activist in the 1980s - had relationships with two women in the late 1990s, while deployed covertly.
He later married one of the women and had two children with her.
Mr Lambert, who went by the name of activist Bob Robinson, had a relationship in the 1980s with a woman he met at an animal rights party, also while he was undercover.
According to legal documents, seen by BBC News, the force denies the women were "deceived" and says the relationships occurred because of "mutual attraction and genuine personal feelings".
Scotland Yard says it did not authorise the relationships or "tacitly acquiesce" in them, and it denies they were started as a "deliberate tactic".
Harriet Wistrich, a solicitor for the women in this case, said the naming of the officers represented a "partial victory".
In a statement, she said: "The police have been pulled kicking and screaming to this first extremely significant development in the litigation brought by the women in their long battle for justice and accountability."
A spokesman for the Met Police said: "Our defence is in line with the ruling given by Mr Justice Bean.
"The force's position, which we have repeated a number of times, is that long term sexual relationships between an undercover officer and a member of the public is and has never been an authorised tactic."