MPs demanded an overhaul of the law governing undercover policing yesterday following a series of scandals involving officers infiltrating campaign groups.
In recent years it has emerged that a number of undercover officers had engaged in sexual relationships with female campaigners who were unaware of their true identities.
In some cases undercover officers acted as agents provocateurs and some even took the names of dead infants, a practice MP on the parliamentary home affairs committee branded "ghoulish."
Many of the allegations stem from the unmasking of National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) officer Mark Kennedy during a 2011 trial. The NPOIU was set up by the Met in 1999 to track campaigns and public protests.
Mr Kennedy, under the alias Mark Stone, infiltrated environmental groups for seven years and formed sexual relationships with a number of unwitting women.
The Crown Prosecution Service halted criminal proceedings against six people at the beginning of 2011 who had been due to stand trial at Nottingham Crown Court on charges related to a conspiracy to sabotage a coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar.
The CPS was concerned that Nottinghamshire Police had failed to comply with their pre-trial disclosure obligations. Another 20 activists who had been involved in the same protest had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal in July 2011.
In the following months allegations emerged about a number of other officers engaged in long-term sexual relationships with activists they were spying on.
Five women and one man are suing the Met Police over alleged intimate relationships with undercover police.
It has also been reported that one officer planted a bomb on behalf of an animal rights group. Another officer was prosecuted under his alias.
The MPs said the terrible effect on the women's lives was "beyond doubt" with "risk to their psychological well-being" and added that there were "some lines police officers must not cross."
The MPs called for an urgent review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) as there was an "alarming level of inconsistency" among ministers and senior police officers over the limits of the law.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz MP said the affect on the women was devastating and represented "a wholly improper degree of intrusion by the state into the lives of individuals."
He said the MPs were not satisfied the current legislative framework - which rests largely on Ripa - "provided adequate protection against police infiltration into ordinary people's lives - a far more intrusive form of surveillance than any listening device or hidden camera."
Mr Vaz went on to condemn the revelations "of the ghoulish and disrespectful practice of undercover officers looking to develop cover stories plundering the identities of dead infants."
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