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POLICE malpractice watchdog Netpol welcomed the formal unmasking yesterday of two Met spies who slept with women activists — but expressed disgust at new attempts by the force to justify its officers’ actions as “genuine relationships.”
Eight women are demanding compensation from the Metropolitan Police for emotional trauma over the actions of four undercover members of the Special Demonstration Squad, lodging claims for deceit, assault, negligence and misfeasance in public office.
But until yesterday the police had refused to confirm statements by journalists and the claimants identifying two of its operatives as Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert.
The Met only dropped its official policy of “neither confirm nor deny” after High Court judge Mr Justice Bean told police chiefs if they did not name the officers concerned the court would take it as an admission that names put forward by the claimants were correct.
However in their filing defence lawyers attempted to frame the spies’ actions as being based on “genuine personal feelings,” sparking a furious reaction from supporters of the victims.
Netpol co-ordinator Kevin Blowe said: “The Met’s insistence that these relationships were ‘genuine’ is both jaw-dropping and genuinely sickening.
“If the claim was true, why would every one of the spies, who were the supposedly ‘real’ partners of eight women currently suing the police, follow protocol and their training and disappear without trace at the end of their tours of duty?”
Mr Boyling and Mr Lambert, both of whom fathered children with targets, were previously named by Guardian journalists Rob Evans and Paul Lewis in their book Undercover.
While Mr Boyling has since stayed out of the limelight, Mr Lambert has belatedly gone on record admitting his role with the force.
Solicitor Harriet Wistrich, representing the women, condemned police bosses for attempting to maintain a shroud of secrecy despite the known facts.
She said: “Their ongoing refusal in the face of an overwhelming body of evidence in the public domain has greatly aggravated the distress caused to my clients, who want answers from the police as well as justice and accountability.”
Mr Blowe said Netpol was further concerned by evidence of recent cases of police infiltration against protest groups — including by phoney environmental activist Mark Kennedy.
Police were also found to have repeatedly attempted to infiltrate activist groups in Cambridge as recently as last autumn.
“The police need to come clean about other SDS officers who deliberately instigated intimate relationships to gain intelligence,” he added.
During his undercover years Mr Lambert says he helped write the infamous leaflet which sparked McLibel, the longest-running legal case in British history.
He is also alleged to have been one of three activists who planted incendiary devices in branches of Debenhams in 1987. The other two men were jailed for arson.
Mr Boyling’s disappearance following his “tour of duty” resulted in his partner taking an expensive wild goose chase to South Africa, where she believed he had gone. She returned weighing less than seven stone.
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