Victim who was duped into two-year relationship ordered to pay shameful Met’s £7,000 court costs
by Felicity Collier
AN ACTIVIST who was deceived into a relationship with an undercover police officer has been ordered to pay £7,000 to cover the Met Police’s legal bill for the 2015 court case relating to the scandal.
Helen Steel is one of eight women who was a victim of the spy cop scandal in which police spies infiltrated campaign groups and trade unions.
Over a 25-year period, at least four other women brought civil claims against undercover police officers who had deceived them into relationships.
There were continual cover-ups over the numbers of police spies who exploited the female activists.
Ms Steel first met John Dines at a London green activists’ meeting in 1987 and, throughout their two-year relationship, knew him as John Barker — but found that he lied about his name, age and background. Police had given him the identity of a dead child.
Only by tracking down Mr Dines last year did she receive an apology and admission that he had been a spy.
He was a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad, which targeted protest groups until it disbanded in 2008.
In 2014, a court ruling allowed the police to maintain that they would “neither confirm nor deny” whether cops were spies and Ms Steel launched an appeal, which she lost.
At the time, she said she felt angry at the continuing cover-up and “the fact that they can have the audacity to claim that the relationships were genuine in any way.
“There is no way anybody would consent to a relationship with somebody if they knew they were using the identity of a child who had died, if they knew that they were there to spy on them, if they knew that everything about that person was fake.”
Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith branded the Met Police shameful.
He praised Ms Steel for her tireless campaigning and told the Star: “The Met Police have already given a public apology, admitted it was human rights abuse and admitted the identity of John Dines.”
An ongoing inquiry into undercover policing — originally led by Christopher Pitchford and now overseen by Sir John Mitting — was launched in 2015 in which Ms Steel is a core participant. But it is yet to take evidence from witnesses.
A friend of one core participant proclaimed they were “flabbergasted at how much control the police have over the evidence and over the process.”
And Mr Smith accused the police of “using tactics to stifle the public inquiry.”
At the time, the Met police, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Crime Agency were all represented by their own barristers and solicitors at preliminary hearings.
But the inquiry only paid for one legal team for the victims, though there were 178 organisations and individuals involved.
The letter, from Weightmans LLP, demands that Ms Steel pay the five-figure sum by Wednesday and informs her that she was sent reminders in August and September 2015.
Ms Steel took to Twitter to express her dismay, saying: “Morally bankrupt Met Police sent spycop John Dines to invade my life and privacy. Now demand I pay them £7,000 for seeking to expose that!”