Police spies ‘violated human rights’ of women tricked into sexual relationships

© Luke MacGregor
Police chiefs have issued an unreserved apology to seven women who were tricked into having long-term relationships with men who were later exposed as undercover police officers deployed to spy on protest groups.

The apology, issued on Friday, comes four years after the women began legal action against the Metropolitan police for causing emotional trauma.

The police have also paid financial compensation to the women, some of whom were in relationships with undercover officers for up to nine years.

The statement issued is part of an out-of-court settlement.

“Thanks in large part to the courage and tenacity of these women in bringing these matters to light, it has become apparent that some officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong,” said Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt.

“I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologize on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service. I am aware that money alone cannot compensate the loss of time, their hurt or the feelings of abuse caused by these relationships.”

In response to the apology, the women said they are “pleased” with the outcome.

“Although no amount of ‘sorry’ or financial compensation can make up for what we and others have endured, we are pleased the police have been forced to acknowledge the abusive nature of these relationships and that they should never happen,” they said in a statement.

“By linking our cases together we have been able to evidence a clear pattern of abusive, discriminatory behavior towards women which amounts to institutional sexism by the Metropolitan Police.”

Police became embroiled in the scandal in 2010 after Mark Kennedy, who spied on environmental groups, was revealed to be an undercover officer. Following numerous investigations, it became apparent that officers often formed relationships with women they were spying on.

Kennedy is one of five officers accused of hiding their true identity from their partners while on protracted undercover missions. One women, known as Lisa Jones, was in a relationship with Kennedy for six years before she discovered his real objectives.

She told the Guardian that gradually revealing his identity was “long, slow, painful torture – real psychological torture.”

Another woman, Belinda Harvey, had an 18-month relationship with one of the men, and only found out his true identity 20 years later.