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SENIOR Met Police officers “encouraged or tolerated” undercover cops having sexual relationships with their targets, a tribunal heard today.
Kate Wilson, a green activist duped into a relationship with a spycop, is suing the force as the latest step in her 10-year battle for the truth.
Her nearly two-year relationship with Mark Kennedy began in 2003, without her knowing that he was a police spy sent to gather intelligence on her and the environmental groups she was campaigning with.
In 2010 she found out that her ex-partner was an undercover police officer, who at the time they were together had been married with children.
In submissions to support her case, Ms Wilson argues that there was “widespread indifference, or express or tacit encouragement” towards undercover officers beginning intimate relationships while they were deployed.
She claims that senior police were aware of her relationship with Mr Kennedy, which she says was “part of a practice of permitting undercover officers … to enter into sexual relationships.”
Opening her case before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London today, Ms Wilson’s lawyer Charlotte Kilroy QC said: “Mark’s supervisors must have realised that he would be unable to maintain [his fake identity] successfully without having been seen to enter into a romantic relationship. It would have appeared suspicious.”
She said it was evident from logs kept by Mr Kennedy during his deployment that he and Ms Wilson were in an intimate relationship, due to the “sheer density of contact” between them.
The weekly logs contained recordings of political and social activities and were shared by Mr Kennedy with his superiors. They are among the documents that the Met has been forced to disclose to Ms Wilson during her long-running legal battle.
Mr Kennedy had recorded the activist as his next of kin, Ms Kilroy said, and recorded being at her house “day after day.” She said it was “totally implausible” that his superiors did not know about the deception.
The lawyer argued that a “culture of tolerance” within the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, in which Mr Kennedy served, and its sister unit, the Special Demonstration Squad, allowed officers to routinely deceive women into sexual relationships.
Police have admitted that Mr Kennedy’s immediate officer, who he was in contact with from 2003 to 2010, was aware that the two had a personal relationship and “ought to have realised it was sexual.”
Ms Wilson is suing both the Met and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) for “egregious and serious violations” of her human rights.
The force and the NPCC have accepted that Mr Kennedy’s actions amount to a breach of her rights, but deny that senior officers knew or suspected that he was in a sexual relationship with Ms Wilson.
Mr Kennedy had sexual relationships with as many as 10 other women during his deployment.
The case comes as the Undercover Policing Inquiry, investigating abuses by officers in two secret police units, resumes this week after a five-month pause.
Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith, a core participant in the inquiry, said that Ms Wilson “is an absolute inspiration.”
“Her 10-year legal battle, and the activist-led spycops campaign that arose out of it, has uncovered more about undercover political police in the UK than the public inquiry will ever disclose.”
Today it was announced that a subsequent phase of the inquiry, which had been due to start in October, will be delayed by six months “due to the amount of work involved” in allowing one extra person to participate, according to an official statement.
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