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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Female targets of undercover police officers to sue

38 replies

thunderboltsandlightning · 17/12/2011 12:43

I think the subtext here is the belief that some men hold that it's OK for men to get sex any way they want from women, including lying through their teeth. This time they were being paid by the state to do it though, so there may be larger repercussions than simply angry hurt women:

"In legal papers sent to police chiefs, the women outline the scale of the alleged deception, saying that the relationships with five named men spanned from 1987 to last year. It is the first time that two of the men have been accused of being police spies.

The allegations contradict claims by police chiefs that their undercover officers are not permitted "under any circumstances" to sleep with people they are spying on.

Police chiefs claim it is "grossly unprofessional" and "never acceptable" for undercover officers to have sex with people they are targeting. The women were involved in the campaigns being infiltrated or loosely connected to them.

Mark Kennedy, the undercover policeman who infiltrated the environment movement for seven years, is said in the legal papers to have had relationships with three of the women.

One woman says she had a relationship with him between 2004 and 2010, while another says their relationship lasted between 2003 and 2005. A third says she had a relationship with him between February and September 2005.

Kennedy says he only slept with two women during his years pretending to be an environmental activist.

According to the legal papers, many of the women "became deeply emotionally attached, fell in love" with the undercover policemen, believing "they had met a true friend with whom they might share a long-term future".

"It appears that [the men] used techniques they had been trained in to gain trust and thereby created the illusion that they might be a 'soulmate'," to many of the women, they say.

Alleging that they have been assaulted, the women say "there is no doubt that the officers obtained the consent of [these women] to sexual intercourse by deceit"."

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thunderboltsandlightning · 17/12/2011 12:45

It's also interesting that the myth of female spies who use their "wiles" to get information from men is actually a reversal of the truth that male spies are the ones using these techniques on women.

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scaevola · 17/12/2011 12:48

If the officers were breaking guidelines, then they should be dealt with according to relevant disciplinary procedures.

If you fall for a man who has been telling you a whole pack of lies, whatever the reason for him doing so, well that's life.

thunderboltsandlightning · 17/12/2011 12:52

If the man has been paid for by the state to tell you the pack of lies and his superiors are aware he's using sexual intercourse to gain intelligence from you, that's a court case.

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scaevola · 17/12/2011 13:10

They may not have been aware: according to OP, sexual techniques were forbidden.

He may well have been lying to everyone.

LRDtheFeministDragon · 17/12/2011 13:16

It's not just 'that's life', though, scaevola, it says in the article the men used tactics they'd been trained to use as policemen to make these women feel they'd met 'soulmates'. Besides which, if they were undercover it will have been difficult or impossible for these women to learn who they really were.

I hope they will be punished not only for breaking the guidelines but also for manipulating these women like that. It sounds as if the guidelines were designed to protect people from sex alone, and a long-term relationship built on someone's professionally-trained ability to lie, bolstered by the police keeping him undercover ... that's quite different.

Poor women. Sad

LRDtheFeministDragon · 17/12/2011 13:18

Sorry, cross posted and I donn't understand your last post - who may not have been aware?

thunderboltsandlightning · 17/12/2011 13:36

Bit more about it here. It doesn't appear to be rogue cops, there was a policy at work, which is why these women are suing:

"The depth and breath of the allegations, stretching from 1987 to 2010, directly challenge the claim by police chiefs that their undercover officers are not "under any circumstances" permitted to sleep with the people they are spying on.

Jon Murphy, the chief constable of Merseyside and the police chiefs' spokesman on the issue, told the Guardian in January that it was "never acceptable" and was "grossly unprofessional".

He said: "It is a diversion from what they are there to do. It is morally wrong because people have been put there to do a particular task and people have got trust in them."

More recently, Murphy has said that undercover officers "never" form relationships with the targets of surveillance in order to bolster their fake identity.

Last month, Murphy said: "The reality is from time to time, people will develop relationships that go beyond what they should. It is the responsibility of supervisors to monitor closely and ensure that does not happen."

But the mounting evidence suggests that for years, police chiefs have known about the sexual relationships and either approved of them or turned a blind eye, preferring not to question, for example, where their officers were getting their information from.

Kennedy says he did not tell his superiors about his relationship with one of the women, although he says it was "unrealistic" to believe that they did not know.

Pete Black, an undercover officer who infiltrated anti-racist groups in the 1990s, has said that sex was widely used as a technique to blend in and gather intelligence.

He has described an informal code that the spies should not fall in love with the women ? or allow the women to fall in love with them."

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StewieGriffinsMom · 17/12/2011 13:38

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scaevola · 17/12/2011 13:40

I meant the police officers controlling but not personally involved in the undercover operation.

The behaviour of those undercover, who appear to have broken all the guidelines, is not an indicator of the attitude of the police as a force. There is nothing to indicate that the sexual relations were part of the targeting or planning.

I should imagine all conmen use techniques they have learned, wherever they have encountered them, in order to dupe for advantage. And indeed all people bring the benefit (or otherwise) of things they have learned in all parts of their lives to all situations.

It hurts like hell to be duped, whether sexually, emotionally or financially.

But I think there is an element of "caveat emptor" (for want of a better phrase) in this. The women were not forced into these relationships, any more than say a woman who does not know her new partner is married is forced. Both would have rejected the relationship had they been aware of fuller circumstances at the outset. But that does not transfer responsibility or blame onto wives (or employers) who have done what they can to ban such relationships.

thunderboltsandlightning · 17/12/2011 13:42

That'll be decided in court scaevola.

How many coincidences have to happen before it becomes a pattern? There were a lot of these undercover policemen having sex with their targets.

Getting sex through deceit is rape BTW.

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scaevola · 17/12/2011 13:47

So you see adultery as a criminal offence?

LRDtheFeministDragon · 17/12/2011 13:47

scaevola - ok, I take your point it's fair to distinguish these individuals from the police force. It's obviously a concern there were so many of them, though.

However, it is not like any other woman ending up with a man who's lied to her. That is always horrible, but in most cases it is possible to check out a partner's story. Usually he doesn't have at his disposal all the training and all the facilities of the police force helping him create a new identity and dupe women. That's the point.

thunderboltsandlightning · 17/12/2011 13:47


That's a bit of a random leap of logic for you to make.

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nailak · 17/12/2011 13:57

These women spent years of their lives being decieved, they had long term relationships, one was 6 years! They must have had hopes and dreams for the future with a partner they thougt loved them, but in reality it was a farce. They wasted all that time and effort it takes to sustain a relationship. The policemen were paid to do a job, which involved having sex with women. How can this be legal?

scaevola · 17/12/2011 14:04

It's not random - it's totally predictable if sexual intercourse on the strength of a lie is rape. Or perhaps all those who say "he told me he wasn't married /had separated/etc" are liars?

LRD: SWYM about having additional resources in the shape of a cover story available; but it's still the individual who is abusing them. I doubt the police publish anything about the number of officer working undercover, so we have no idea how to contextualise the number of allegations.

LRDtheFeministDragon · 17/12/2011 14:10

I never said it wasn't the individual - I do see you are obviously keen not to have the whole police force blamed, but I don't think anyone is trying to do that, either. It's just that when several members of a profession do something wrong and abuse the tools that profession equipped them with, you can't deal with it as if they were doing it in their spare time.

I find it really worrying that, as you say, we can't contextualize the number of allegations. Sad With luck, after this, steps will be taken to re-train or reinforce the rules.

thunderboltsandlightning · 18/12/2011 10:27

It's not clear that this wasn't a policy or at the very least a policy to turn a blind eye. The court case will uncover that. Given the extent of the wrongdoing it appears to be institutional.

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TheLightPassenger · 18/12/2011 10:52

Thanks to linking to this interesting article. I imagine much of the work domestic and foreign intelligence services do (honey traps, etc) would also be morally rather questionable.

Takver · 18/12/2011 19:18

It is also worth bearing in mind that the line 'this is just an individual officer breaking guidelines/the rules' is an absolutely standard one for police forces in general and the Met in particular.

Like all the police officers not wearing their numbers are just 'individuals who failed to follow guidelines'.

And the police officers who search children and take away their crayons are simply 'individuals who misapplied the legislation'.

Its strange how all these individual officers who 'break guidelines' tend to do so in a way which is very useful to the force as a whole.

moonferret · 18/12/2011 19:23

That case was hilarious. Not only was he being paid well over the odds (all police are), but he was getting to do next to nothing AND having a ready supply of women to have sex with. What a dream! In my view, the women are entitled to nothing. OK, so he wasn't exactly who they thought he was, but then most of the women I've slept with weren't either!
Society got what it deserved, they should in no way be wasting money "infiltrating" such groups!

Takver · 18/12/2011 19:23

Here's a report re. the numbers - despite the fact that whenever this issue comes up there are official announcements about how it is 'totally unacceptable'. (And another one from the Telegraph)

Somehow it seems to me that in most jobs if something was 'completely unacceptable' to the management (ie, like sleeping with their targets), then they would stop staff doing it . . .

edam · 18/12/2011 19:33

I couldn't make out from the Guardian story what laws the women argue the police officers broke - anyone know?

Horrifying cases from every angle. But one is that it's a wicked waste of resources to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds harassing entirely legitimate protesters while claiming there wasn't enough money to place, for example, the 7/7b bombers under surveillance.

There really is something very wrong with democracy when pursuing a cause is treated as if it is terrorism. Makes me very uncomfortable when you get officers talking about the Occupy St Pauls group as if they are terrorists, policed by anti-terrorist officers or using anti-terrorist legislation. We have enough real threats to life and limb, I'd rather the police focused on them, thank you very much.

thunderboltsandlightning · 18/12/2011 19:46

I think it's a civil case not a criminal one, under the Human Rights Act.

Environmental protesters are a threat to property. That's what the police will be defending.

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moonferret · 18/12/2011 19:49

thunderboltsandlightning has clearly believed a lot of propaganda, judging by the second line of that post!

And no, they shouldn't have ANY case, criminal or civil.

thunderboltsandlightning · 18/12/2011 19:50

Moonferret obviously hasn't opened his eyes to how power really operates in this country.

It's also not up to him luckily whether they have a case or not. They have lawyers who say they do and it will be tested in court.

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