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BRITAIN’S government has failed to prevent “institutional sexism” in undercover policing, seven women deceived into relationships by officers say in a new complaint to the United Nations.
The development came ahead of the launch today of a crowdfunding campaign to help almost 200 activists and protest groups participate in the forthcoming public inquiry into police spying.
Officers serving with elite covert police squads are thought to have deceived dozens of women activists into sexual relationships.
The “spycops” used the relationships as part of their cover stories in order to infiltrate environmental campaigns, left-wing organisations and trade unions over three decades.
The Metropolitan Police issued an apology in November 2015 to the seven women taking the case to the UN. But it is thought that none of the officers concerned have been sanctioned, and British law still does not rule out the disturbing practice.
Activist Helen Steel, who was a defendant in the famous McLibel case in 1997, had a two year relationship with John Dines, a member of the Met’s Special Demonstration Squad.
“The repeated use of women in this way by undercover policemen is a form of discrimination against women and a barrier to women’s rights to participate in protest activity,” she said.
Britain is a signatory to the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The women are hoping that the committee charged with overseeing the convention will rule that the government is in breach by allowing the practice to go on.
Solicitor Harriet Wistrich, who is representing the women, said: “CEDAW has a complaints procedure which is broad in reach, enabling the women to cite gender-based violence, gender stereotyping and the impact on reproductive rights, as part of a pattern of institutionalised discrimination by the state in this case.”
The public inquiry, which is now being chaired by Sir John Mitting following the death of Sir Christopher Pitchford earlier this year, has provoked anger from victims of police spying due to its slow progress.
The inquiry has also only funded one counsel to represent over 180 “non-police, non-state core participants” — who include blacklisted builders, the families of murdered teenagers Stephen Lawrence and Ricky Reel, MPs, environmental activists and women deceived into relationships.
This morning activists Kate Wilson and Kim Bryan will launch an online crowdfunder to pay for the costs of core participants and a legal observer to attend the inquiry hearings.
The funding campaign can be viewed at: www.crowdjustice.com/case/help-victims-of-police-spying.
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