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Spycops Inquiry ‘Spycops left my life shattered’

Inquiry told deceived women were made to feel worthless after being ‘used as mere objects to prop up lies of fake activists’

by Bethany Rielly

WOMEN coerced into intimate long-term relationships with spycops were exploited as “mere objects” to prop up the fake identities of officers, their lawyer told a public inquiry yesterday. 

Speaking on behalf of 21 women, Phillippa Kaufmann QC told the Undercover Policing Inquiry that the relationships were “driven by institutional sexism” in the police. 

Many took place in the last 20 years, with the most recent ending as recently as 2015. 

Ms Kaufmann said that the relationships were cultivated deliberately by spycops as part of their work with the Metropolitan Police’s special demonstration squad (SDS) and the national public-order intelligence unit (NPOIU). 

Together, the two secret police units infiltrated more than 1,000 political groups dating back to 1968. 

Over that time it is known that at least 30 women were deceived into intimate long-term relationships with undercover cops, with some officers fathering children with unwitting activists. 

“These relationships were driven by institutional sexism, an expression of the deeply sexist attitudes pervading the police in general and the undercover units in particular,” Ms Kaufmann said. 

“Such attitudes, founded on a lack of respect for women’s autonomy, resulted in the use of the women as mere objects, as props to shore up the fake identities of the officers.”

The Met has maintained that these relationships were the actions of rogue officers and has denied they were used as a deliberate tactic. 

But Ms Kaufmann said that the sheer number of relationships between activists and spycops suggested otherwise.

Ms Kaufmann said that spycops also adopted “common methodology” to instigate relationships with women, including “mirroring” their interests and values. Many also staged mental breakdowns to end their relationships and their deployments, she said. 

The disturbing similarities between the relationships “undermine the assertion that these were individual rogue officers, and points to ... we believe actually, a general intelligence-gathering tool,” Ms Kaufmann said.

The vast majority of the women have suffered “significant psychiatric injuries” including post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the deceitful relationships, the lawyer said. 

Describing the impact of such relationships, Ms Kaufmann read out statements from some of the women. 

“The institutional aspect is uniquely destabilising,” she said, speaking on behalf of “Monica,” who was deceived into a relationship with spycop Jim Boyling.

“When the state has put an impostor in the most intimate aspects of your life, there really is no solid ground left on which to stand. The reality is so outlandish that truly anything seems possible.”

Speaking on behalf of “Lisa,” who was tricked into a relationship with spycop Mark Kennedy for six years between 2004 and 2010, she said: “He was placed into my life to deceive me by an employer who would inevitably one day pull him out. Finding this out has broken my heart, devastated my life and shattered my trust in people.”

Many women also lost their child-bearing years, job prospects, careers and opportunities as a result of the deception, she said. 

Ms Kaufmann said there are likely to be far more women in the same position who were being “denied the truth” due to the “extensive” anonymity granted to the undercover officers by the inquiry. Inquiry chairman John Mitting has ruled that the cover names of 51 officers must remain a secret, along with the real names of 119 officers and staff. Many have been granted anonymity for privacy reasons. 

The inquiry, which started last week, five years after it was launched, has come under heavy criticism from campaigners for this reason.  

It comes as a report is issued today warning that the Covert Human Intelligence Bill (CHIS), currently being passed through Parliament, risks “violating the human rights of victims.” 

The Bill gives undercover officers who are ordered to break the law protection from prosecution, leading to fears that it could give agents a licence to kill, rape and torture. 

An inquiry by the joint committee on human rights concluded that the legislation “leaves open the possibility of serious crimes being carried out” including “state-sanctioned rape, murder or torture.” 

At the spycops inquiry yesterday, Ms Kaufmann said it was one of the “biggest tragedies” of the delays that conclusions from the probe would not be considered by Parliament when debating the CHIS Bill. 

The probe is examining the tactics of the SDS and NPOIU dating back to 1968, and is expected to continue until at least 2023. 

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