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A SPYCOPS boss reluctantly apologised today to the women who were deceived into relationships by undercover officers under his supervision in the 1970s.
Geoffrey Craft led the Special Demonstration Squad, an elite Scotland Yard unit that infiltrated protest groups, from 1973 to 1977.
At least two undercover officers managed by Mr Craft had sex with activists while pretending to be political activists.
But in evidence to the undercover policing inquiry on Wednesday, Mr Craft said he had no knowledge when leading the unit that sexual relationships were taking place.
The spycops boss stated that he was “totally against” such conduct because of the risk to the officer, his family and the operation — but failed to mention the impact of the deception on the women activists.
When pulled up on this by counsel to the inquiry David Barr, Mr Craft offered a reluctant apology to the women deceived, saying: “I would apologise if my officers behaved in a certain way.”
But Mr Craft suggested that there was no way sexual relationships could have been prevented.
He said: “I’m not happy about it, but what is the alternative? Because accepting that rape is not involved, does all sexual activity in terms of moral attitudes require a legally endorsed exchange of CVs before sexual activity takes place?
“To the extent to which the man concerned was operating under false colours, is that something which one could prevent? I don’t know. That is the way my mind is working, it might be wrong but how does one prevent it?”
Mr Craft accepted that officers were not given any guidance on sexual relationships before being sent to spy on protest groups, and said with hindsight, guidance should have been “introduced right at the beginning.”
Instead it was assumed that they knew not to sleep with targets because this was the general rule in the police, he said.
The risk that officers might sleep with activists was also not considered, he said, nor was the temptation to form intimate relationships to enhance their cover or gain intelligence.
One of the officers supervised by Mr Craft was Richard Clark who slept with multiple women while infiltrating left-wing groups in the 1970s.
Clark, who is now deceased, has been described by a former colleague as a “womaniser,” and “carnivore.” But Mr Craft said he did not recognise that assessment.
“I didn’t see anything unusual about him, let’s put it that way,” he said, before adding later that he accepted the impression he had of the officer was “rather different from the fact.”
The public inquiry, chaired by retired judge Sir John Mitting, is investigating the use of sexual relationships by undercover police officers.
The inquiry, which is examining the conduct of officers serving in two secret units that together infiltrated more than 1,000 protest groups over 40 years, continues.
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