Since 2011, women deceived into relationships with undercover police officers groups have been fighting for truth and justice.
Four years ago a public inquiry was established to investigate the wrongdoing of these Metropolitan Police Special Branch squads. Originally scheduled to report in 2018, the Inquiry has been fraught with delays caused by police obfuscation and applications for officers’ anonymity. Evidential hearings will not now begin until 2020 with a current reporting date of 2023.
For a range of reasons, including a lack of confidence in Inquiry chair, Sir John Mitting, the women affected have no faith that the Inquiry will provide the answers we need, the disclosure we’re looking for or result in a clear declaration that undercover officers forming intimate relationships with those they are spying on is not only unlawful but should be subject to criminal sanctions.
The Inquiry is not fit for purpose. With the current chair and no supporting panel of advisors, it cannot deliver the justice and accountability we need and the public deserve.
We still need answers about how and why our most private lives were violated. Those responsible still need to be held to account and a clear message sent that such behaviour by the police must never happen again.
So now what?
There are other legal avenues open that could achieve our objective of truth and justice. A case brought by Kate Wilson before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has already started to produce disclosure and has the potential to lead to legislative change which would prevent these abuses from ever happening again. A second case is awaiting consideration at the United Nations (CEDAW) against the UK government, claiming this practice discriminates against women. These cases offer the opportunity to set a benchmark that could force more openness from the secretive public inquiry. As the reality of how these units operated becomes clearer, we are seeing increasing evidence of what we believe to be a ‘conspiracy to rape’ and the urgency of this search for answers becomes all the more apparent.
However, we can't continue to fund these cases alone and need your support. Please contribute now and share this page with your friends, family and on social media.
New legal avenues of accountability
HUMAN RIGHTS ACT (HRA) CLAIMS IN INVESTIGATORY POWERS TRIBUNAL (IPT)
One of the first eight women who brought legal action against the Metropolitan police is Kate Wilson. She is now bringing a claim against the police for breaches of her rights under Articles 3,8,10,11 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is a groundbreaking case and it is the first time that the Tribunal has ever considered an Article 3 claim that the practice amounts to inhumane and degrading treatment,.
Through extensive legal submissions, there has been greater progress than over three years of the so-called public inquiry and some disclosure has been made revealing significant new and shocking information about the practice of undercover officers.
At the conclusion of proceedings, the Tribunal will make declarations about the extent of the human rights abuses and is likely to highlight deficiencies in the legislative regime governing undercover policing. We hope that this will ultimately result in legal reform which will stop this from happening again in the future.
THE CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) CLAIM
The other seven women who originally brought claims against the Metropolitan police have made an application to the United Nations’ committee which monitors the implementation of CEDAW. The committee consists of 23 independent experts on women’s rights from around the world.
The case seeks to highlight the systemic discrimination against women that has resulted from this practice amounting to breaches of their rights under the Convention and leading to recommended actions by the UK government, including legislative reform.
We need assurances that this would never happen again. Both the IPT and CEDAW give the potential for that to happen.
There is no legal aid or opportunities to recover costs other than by private funding or donations. Limited funding that was raised for both cases has now been exhausted and we are asking for your help to enable us to continue with both cases, offering the opportunity for the women to achieve truth, justice and a change in the law.
HOW MUCH ARE WE RAISING AND WHY?
We need to raise as much as we can to support these two new avenues of legal accountability. In the first instance, we will be raising £10k but we will then go on to raise £30k.
We desperately need to fund our legal team, which includes Harriet Wistrich of Birnberg Peirce, and to be able to take these cases through to their conclusion.
We are going up against a team of state-funded lawyers that are clearly intent on keeping the truth about this shameful period of privacy invasion, coercion and abuse hidden.
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