A high court ruling that a case brought by people tricked into forming relationships with undercover police officers can be heard in secret was met with outrage by the alleged victims today.
Mr Justice Tugendhat, presiding, ruled that it would not be an abuse of process at this stage to pursue the compensation cases brought under common law by 10 women and one man, for emotional trauma allegedly caused by officers infiltrating environmental activist groups.
However he said that claims brought under the Human Rights Act against the Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police should be determined by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).
Formed in 2000, the IPT is able to hold hearings in private and has no obligation to take oral evidence.
The Met Police had argued that the IPT was the appropriate forum for all the claims as Parliament intended such cases to be decided by a specialist tribunal.
But the claimants said they were "outraged" at the High Court's decision to allow the police to use the IPT "to preserve the secrecy of their abusive and manipulative operations in order to prevent public scrutiny and challenge."
Green London Assembly member Jenny Jones condemned the ruling as "a blow to the accountability of the police."
Legal firm Birnberg Peirce said that the ruling on the Human Rights Act aspect affected five women and the man, who were in relationships after the legislation came into force in Britain in 2000.
Solicitor Harriet Wistrich said: "This decision prevents both the claimants and the public from seeing the extent of the violations of human rights and abuses of public office perpetrated by these undercover units.
"The claimants have already suffered a gross violation of their privacy and abuse of trust by the police."
Judge Tugendhat stayed the High Court proceedings pending the conclusion of proceedings at the IPT, saying it was temporary and should not be for long if the IPT claims were pursued expeditiously.
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