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‘Activist’s right to privacy breached by police surveillance’

POLICE have admitted that the surveillance of an environmental activist by six spycops breached her right to a private life and was neither proportionate nor justified, campaigners say.

Kate Wilson, an environmental and social-justice campaigner, was deceived by an undercover police officer into starting a two-year sexual relationship in 2003.

Campaign group Police Spies Out of Lives said that the admission came in a preliminary hearing of Ms Wilson’s case against the Metropolitan Police and National Police Chiefs’ Council, which is being heard this week.

In 2018, police chiefs admitted that spycop Mark Kennedy’s managers knew that he had started a long-term sexual relationship with Ms Wilson but had allowed it to continue. 

They had previously denied that managers knew of the relationship. 

Ms Wilson said these admissions “have a wide-reaching significance for the public at large.”

“Over 30 women now know that they were deceived into intimate, sexual relationships with undercover officers,” she said. 

“What happened to me was by no means unique and hundreds of people will have had their rights violated in this way. 

“These admissions mean it is simply not sustainable to say these operations were legitimate, proportionate or lawful.”

The campaigner was among eight women who successfully sued the Met in the High Court after being deceived into relationships with undercover police officers. 

The new legal action will be heard by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal at the Royal Courts of Justice. The tribunal considers complaints against public authorities over their use of covert investigative techniques. 

At the preliminary hearing, police reportedly admitted that under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights — the right to respect for one’s private and family life — Ms Wilson’s rights had been breached when she was spied on by at least six cops. 

Previously they had admitted only that the article was breached by Mr Kennedy when he deceived her into a relationship.

Police Spies Out of Lives warned that the new Covert Human Intelligence Bill, which would allow undercover operatives to commit crimes, could put legal cases like Ms Wilson’s in jeopardy. 

The group said: “Kate’s case should broadcast loudly to the public, and our legislators, that setting no limits on intrusions into the lives of citizens by security services and other undercover agents is profoundly dangerous for democracy.”

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