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by Bethany Rielly
in central London
AN UNDERCOVER officer struck up a sexual relationship with a “very vulnerable” campaigner who had recently left her abusive ex-husband, a public inquiry heard today.
The woman, known only as Madeleine, said she had a relationship lasting a few months in the late 1970s with “Vince Miller,” an undercover police officer who infiltrated protest groups.
At the time the relationship started, Madeleine said she was very vulnerable as a result of recently leaving her ex-husband, who had become controlling and possessive.
“I think I was quite fragile, actually,” she said. “I now think Vince probably saw me as easy pickings.”
She was speaking at the undercover policing inquiry today, which is examining the conduct of 139 officers who infiltrated more than 1,000 protest groups over 40 years.
Madeleine was spied on while campaigning with the Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyist group, in the 1970s. Part of its activities included protesting against the rising popularity of the fascist National Front.
When “Miller” — a cover name, his real name has been withheld —infiltrated the group, Madeleine said she considered him to be a “genuine lovely, easy-going person.”
She said the relationship was initiated by “Miller” at a house party when he pulled her onto his lap and suggested going back to her home.
It lasted a few months, but “Miller” kept her at arms length, she said. He had claimed he didn’t want to get close to her because he had been left heartbroken by a recent relationship. He also told her he had had a difficult childhood.
“It made me feel really protective of him,” she said. “It made me feel that he was a vulnerable guy who felt very deeply, was very sensitive; and in terms of his break-up with his long-term partner, it felt as though, that it kind of mirrored my own heartbreak … and I felt for him.”
At least 27 women have been deceived into sexual relationships with undercover officers. Many have said that the officers “mirrored” their experiences, suggesting that this was a deliberate tactic to forge a deep relationship with them.
“Miller” denies that the relationship lasted months and claims they only had a one-night stand. But Madeleine described “Miller’s” actions as the “ultimate betrayal” and considers it to be rape.
While infiltrating the SWP, “Miller” led his local industrial subgroup, meaning that he had access to the lists of workers who were interested in joining the party.
Madeleine said that this also raises questions as to whether he may have shared this information for the purposes of blacklisting.
The inquiry continues.
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