UK

Undercover police: 'Deception overseen by state'

Seven women who were tricked into relationships by undercover police officers have received a public apology and a compensation settlement from the Metropolitan Police.

The officers were from two undercover units, disbanded in 2008 and 2011, and the relationships took place over a 25-year period up to that time.

The women describe the impact the mens' deceit had on their lives, and in one case, those of their children.


Belinda Harvey

Belinda Harvey is one of three women who have allowed themselves to be named in public. She met a man she knew as Bob Robinson at a friend's party in 1987 - and only later discovered that his real name was Bob Lambert.

During their 18-month relationship, Ms Harvey believed they would be together.

Robinson then told her he had to go on the run from the police - a cover story as he prepared for his extraction from his deployment.

He said he would send for her when it was safe - but she never heard from him again.

Speaking at a press conference about the settlement on Friday, she said: "I was tricked [by the state] into trusting my heart to a man who was an actor."

The relationship was formed around the period that Robinson left another targeted woman "Jacqui", with whom he had a son. Jacqui has separately settled her case with the Metropolitan Police for more than £400,000.


Helen Steel

Political campaigner Helen Steel, well known for her role in the mammoth "McLibel" legal battle of the 1980s and 1990s, formed a relationship with John "Barker" Dines in 1990.

Image copyright Helen Steel
Image caption Helen Steel with John Dines

They were together for two years, and during that time rented a flat and discussed starting a family.

"Then John followed the (Special Demonstration Squad) SDS pattern of appearing to have a breakdown and disappearing abroad," she said.

"I was left distraught and I spent years searching for him. In the course of that search I found he had been using the identity of a child who had died."


Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson, an environmental campaigner, formed a relationship with Mark "Stone" Kennedy and they lived together between 2003 and 2005.

They eventually split up, but stayed friends, until she discovered in 2010 that he had been an undercover officer who had been lying to her all along.

"The personal implications of that discovery for my life's projects, and my sense of who I am and what I can believe, have been devastating, and I remain haunted by unanswered questions," she said.

Ms Wilson was not part of Friday's financial settlement and continues to pursue her case against the Metropolitan Police. She says she now knows she was befriended by five other undercover officers and a GPS tracker was put on her car.

She said: "Was I targeted for my political beliefs? Or am I simply 'collateral intrusion' in a secret operation against political dissent, that sidelined my life, my family, my body and myself, and did not even consider it worthy of a mention in an operational authorisation?"


"Naomi"

"Naomi" was involved with a number of social justice and environmental groups - and through her network of friends she met Mark "Stone" Kennedy - the first undercover officer to be exposed as working within political campaign groups.

She believed their relationship in 2005 was genuine - they not only went travelling together, but he attended her brother's wedding.

She ended the relationship - but for five years they kept in touch - until she discovered from other campaigners that he was an undercover officer.

"I would never have consented to the relationship had I known the truth," she said.


"Lisa"

Lisa had a relationship with Mark "Stone" Kennedy for six years - a relationship where he became part of her family, even attending her father's funeral.

"He was my closest friend, my partner and my confidant for most of my thirties," she said.

She discovered he was an undercover officer in 2010, while they were still together.

She added: "It has had a profound traumatic effect on me. I have had difficulty forming relationships ever since. It was a deception perpetrated, overseen and supervised by the state."


"Alison"

Alison was working on a number of social justice campaigns, including against police corruption, when she met Mark "Cassidy" Jenner. They fell in love and lived together during a five-year relationship that ended in 2000 with his disappearance

For a year before he left her life, they attended relationship counselling because she wanted to start a family and he did not.

"I later discovered he was married with children throughout this time. I loved him very deeply and have suffered significant psychological damage from the experience of suspecting and then proving he was an undercover police officer," she said.

"Five years of my life, documented in photographs and videos, are tainted by the presence of a person I never really knew."


"Ruth"

Image caption Jim Boyling

Ruth met Jim "Sutton" Boyling in the 1990s when she was an activist with the environmental protest network, Reclaim the Streets. They were together for 18 months until he disappeared.

In 2011 she discovered that Sutton was in fact Boyling.


"Rosa"

Rosa's relationship with Jim "Sutton" Boyling lasted nine years - they met after he introduced himself as an activist interested in the same causes as her.

They moved in together, but he later disappeared, saying he was suffering a mental breakdown.

He then returned to her life, revealed he had been undercover - and their second relationship began. They soon had children.

Rosa says the long-term relationship was fraudulent because she was manipulated by the officer.

"The unlikely truth was this," she said. "My life partner was fabricated by the state. He never existed.

"I was pregnant within two weeks of his reappearance and bore children by the actor, a random police officer, who had played my partner."

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