Home affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 837

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 5 February 2013

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Mr James Clappison

Michael Ellis

Lorraine Fullbrook

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Chris Ruane

Mr David Winnick


Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Clare, Alison, and Lisa, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Perhaps I can start with a question to you, Clare, in respect of what you have been through? How much of a shock was it to find out that the person that you were in a relationship with was in fact an undercover police officer?

Clare: A massive shock. I had no idea. Sorry, we have talked beforehand and we have bits to say, and Alison was going to go first.

Chair: Yes, we are going to ask all of you questions.

Clare: Okay.

Chair: You are not the only one. We are going to come to each one of you and ask each one of you, but I started with you first.

Alison: Can I come in for a moment to explain? Because it is such a difficult subject for us, and because it is putting our personal life in the public and the political domain, which is very difficult, the way we have approached it-and we appreciate very much that you have allowed this Committee to be held in private in this way-is we had hoped that perhaps we could run through a couple of points that we had each prepared, and there may be questions after that. I do not know if that is appropriate.

Chair: We did not know you were going to do this, but how long? We are not keen on long statements.

Alison: No, it is short. It is not a statement. It is really just a series of points that I would like to cover for myself and then-

Chair: That is absolutely fine. We did not realise. Nobody had told us you were going to do this.

Alison: We weren’t sure ourselves until earlier this morning.

Chair: Alison, would you like to make your points?

Alison: Thank you. As I just explained, the nature of the experience is particularly unusual in that it is deeply personal to all of us and yet, as I say, it is in both the public and the political domain. Falling in love with the enemy is, as we have heard recently in a court hearing-I appreciate it is my story but when it becomes your real-life story it is a very difficult one to tell new friends, who often do not believe you, let alone to talk about it in the media or in a room like this. It has had a huge impact on my life, and I am going to talk about my own situation to start with; stick to just my own situation. It has had an enormous impact.

As I think you have had from the description, I was involved in a group in the 1990s. I joined in about 1993; Mark Cassidy, as then was, joined the group in about 1994, and I started a relationship with him in about May 1995. From May 1995 until his disappearance in spring 2000, we lived together as what I would describe as man and wife. We weren’t married, clearly, but we shared the same flat. He was completely integrated into my life for five years and then one day he disappeared.

The experience has left me with many, many unanswered questions, and one of those that comes back is: how much of the relationship was real? Some of the consequences of that have meant that I have, for the last 13 years, questioned my own judgment and it has impacted seriously on my ability to trust, and that has impacted on my current relationship and other subsequent relationships. It has also distorted my perceptions of love and my perceptions of sex, and it has had a massive impact on my political activity. After it happened and I started to suspect-it is only recently that I have had concrete evidence, but I suspected within about a month of his disappearance, and after about 18 months of different searches I came to believe it, but I have never had it confirmed-that had an impact on my political activity, and I withdrew from political activity.

Q2 Chair: Your political activity was in the Colin Roach Centre. Is that right?

Alison: I was a member of the Colin Roach Centre, which is a non-aligned political group, and I was involved in anti-racist activities.

Chair: We know the history of Colin Roach, so we know what you would be doing.

Alison: One of the chief points for me is that the betrayal and the humiliation that I have experienced is beyond any normal experience. This is not about just a lying boyfriend or a boyfriend who has cheated on you. It is not even about a boyfriend who is having another relationship with somebody else. It is about a fictional character who was created by the state and funded by taxpayers’ money. I believe I provided for Mark Cassidy-who I now believe to be called Mark Jenner and is still operating in the police-an excellent cover story. The level to which he was integrated into my family meant that people trusted me, people knew that I was who I said I was, and people believed, therefore, that he must be who he said he was because he was so welcomed into my family, so much part of it. He had official documentation. We travelled around many countries out of England, out of the UK, and he was a professionally trained liar. Again, this wasn’t somebody who was just good at telling lies and covering his back; he had professional training allowing him to perpetrate the deceit on me.

During the five years that we spent all our time together, or almost all our time together, my mother remarried. He is in my mother’s wedding photograph, because that is her wedding photograph, and I have to see him and my current partner has to see him in that. My grandma became ill and my nephew and nieces grew, and all of these things are recorded on video. A very, very close friend of mine died, and he saw me through that bereavement. We went to Vietnam on holiday; we travelled to Israel; we went to Crete and Holland. We spent summer holidays together and Christmases and New Year; not every Christmas.

I met him when I was 29, and he disappeared about three months before I was 35. It was the time when I wanted to have children, and for the last 18 months of our relationship he went to relationship counselling with me about the fact that I wanted children and he did not. We had a domestic lifestyle-

Chair: Alison, I am going to have to stop you, simply because this has been scheduled for half an hour, and we have other witnesses.

Alison: I know.

Chair: What would have been really helpful is if you could have submitted this in writing so we could have read it. What you have said so far is very helpful. If you could get to the discovery point, because we obviously want to hear from Lisa and Clare as well.

Alison: The discovery point is not, I don’t think, the key point, in that I discovered he made an error with a credit card about a year and a half into our relationship, which he told me was in another name. It was in the name Jenner, and I asked him what it was and he told me he bought it off a man in a pub and he had never used it. He asked me to promise to never tell anyone, which is what I did. I never told anyone until after he disappeared, and then when I suspected and I remembered the name, since then it has been confirmed. I would add, just about damage-

Chair: Yes, please.

Alison: -I have had recurring dreams. I do not have them any more, but I did for several years. I knew he was operating for the state. I did not know where, and my recurring dream was that I saw him and I would ask him, "Are you MI5 or Special Branch? MI5 or Special Branch?" and I would wake up before he answered. I was stuck. I had no grieving process. It was like someone was lost at sea. I had no answers. You have that if you are betrayed and you are bereft anyway by a partner, but the added dimension was the paranoia. There were episodes that I do not have time to tell you about, which to this day I do not know whether that was my judgment and my mind off the rails-whether I imagined being followed and I imagined the things that happened-or whether I was being followed. Linked into that paranoia is that I do not know what is recorded on me. The police are taking a "neither confirm nor deny" position, so not only are they not giving further information, but they are not confirming or denying that Mark Jenner is a police officer or ever was a police officer.

Chair: This is very helpful, and if you would come to the-

Alison: Can I just say one last sentence?

Chair: Yes. Thank you.

Alison: I recently submitted a DPA request and was told the Commissioner has no information on me that he is required to supply. Finally, I would just make the point about the institutionalised sexism, and the fact that these were married officers and the exploitative relationships were either allowed or authorised by those in command.

Q3 Chair: This is extremely helpful, and I am sorry to cut you short. It is just that we are keen to ask you a number of questions, and of course some of this has been in the public domain. What we would like you to do is if you could put down your statements in writing, we will then all read them very carefully before we publish our report.

Alison: Our thoughts?

Q4 Chair: Of course. That would be very helpful if you could do that.

I want to ask some quick questions and colleagues are going to come in and ask some quick questions as well. All colleagues will be able to participate. In terms of the length of your relationship, how long was it before you discovered that this was an undercover police officer?

Alison: Before I discovered?

Chair: Yes.

Alison: He disappeared in May-

Chair: How many years were you in a relationship?

Alison: Five years.

Q5 Chair: Lisa?

Lisa: Six years.

Q6 Chair: Six years. Clare?

Clare: Two years.

Q7 Chair: So it was quite some time before you actually realised?

Alison: I did not realise when I was with him. It was only after he had gone.

Q8 Chair: After he had gone.

Clare: It was long after he had gone that I realised.

Q9 Chair: We have had some interesting evidence from somebody who was also in a relationship, and the other claimants behind you also have stories to tell. I know we have not asked the other claimants to give evidence today, but if you could do the same thing and put it in writing-if you need any assistance in looking at format, we have a format for you that somebody else has written a statement-we would be very keen to hear from all of you. Please do not believe this is the end of the matter because you have come before us for half an hour.

Can I ask, because this is in the public domain, in respect of your relationship with these police officers, did any of you discover that they had used somebody else’s identity, in particular the identity of a dead child, which they subsequently used?

Clare: I did. My partner, I had been with him for two years. I had known for three years before that.

Q10 Chair: Is this John Barker?

Clare: It is John Barker. He disappeared and I spent ages searching for him. The story has just been in the paper. My mind has gone blank now with dates, but I think it was about two years after he disappeared that I found the death certificate for the identity that he had been using.

Q11 Chair: This was a child who had died of leukaemia aged eight, I understand.

Clare: Yes.

Q12 Chair: Is it right that you went to visit this child’s house?

Clare: I did, yes.

Q13 Chair: And did you see the parents?

Clare: No. They don’t live there any more.

Q14 Chair: Presumably you were thinking that this was where John Barker lived?

Clare: He had told me that his parents were dead when we were in a relationship, so I wasn’t expecting to see the parents, but I thought that if I went there- Basically, he had been a missing person for however long and I was desperate to find him. I was really concerned about his welfare. Nothing made sense of what had happened, and so I went there desperate, thinking I have to follow every clue that I have, and I thought maybe some other members of the family may still live there or somebody might know where he was.

Q15 Chair: Yes. Lisa, in terms of accountability-obviously you were all involved in different activities, environmental activities, anti-fascism and social justice; those are the organisations that you were from-looking back at what has happened to you, were you surprised that you were targeted in this way? Do you accept that in certain circumstances the police have to go under cover in order to find out about crime?

Lisa: I was absolutely shocked and devastated. You imagine that somebody may be in public meetings that environmental groups have. You imagine there might be somebody listening in there. You could even imagine that your phone might be tapped or that somebody might look at your emails, but to know that there was somebody in your bed for six years, that somebody was involved in your family life to such a degree, that was an absolute shock. Well, "shock" is an understatement. It felt like the ground had shifted beneath me and my sense of what was reality and what wasn’t was completely turned on its head.

Q16 Chair: But do you accept that in certain circumstances undercover agents are necessary for the police to uncover serious crime? Forget about your organisations; would you accept the principle that-

Lisa: I can’t.

Chair: You don’t?

Lisa: To be honest, I can’t comment on what the police might do in all kinds of-I can’t comment on their general operational decisions-

Chair: Of course. That is fine.

Lisa: -but in terms of my life, and what I was doing, it is inconceivable. When you realise that something that unbelievable was true, it left me unable to decide what was likely and what wasn’t, for example, and was I going to be bumped off for finding out this secret?

Chair: We have further questions that we are going to ask you.

Q17 Lorraine Fullbrook: Alison, you lived as husband and wife for five years, as you said, the last 18 months of which you had been in marriage counselling because of a child issue. Many women come home from work and find that they have had problems in their marriage or their relationship and the man or woman has just gone. At that stage did you think that he had gone because of the problems you had been having in your relationship? He just disappeared one day. He had left you. Is that what you thought?

Alison: The Christmas before something happened. He got called away. We were supposed to be spending Christmas 1999, around the Millennium, together, and he got called away on Christmas Eve up north. I said I would go with him, and he said, "No, no, I’ve got to do it myself," and he was very odd. When he came back he was a very different man, and I don’t know what happened. There are a lot of things we know, and there are a lot of things we still do not know.

Q18 Lorraine Fullbrook: But at the time he left you, you thought he had just left the relationship and-

Alison: My stepfather went to his grave believing that Mark was a bigamist and nothing else. So my family believe that, and for probably about a month I believed that, yes.

Q19 Lorraine Fullbrook: But you believed he had just left you. He had left the relationship.

Alison: He left a letter. He left a note, and the note said, "We want different things. I can’t cope. We want different things. When I said I loved you I meant it, but I can’t do it."

Q20 Lorraine Fullbrook: How long after that did you suspect that there was something strange about the relationship?

Alison: I do not know exactly, but I would say within the month I received a phone call from another political activist who phoned on the home phone to speak to him. I said, "He’s left me," and he said, "Where is he?" I said, "I don’t know. I’ve got no trace for him," and he said, "I think we should probably have a chat." After that chat, when I met with him he said, "We just need to run through a few-" He asked me lots of questions about bank accounts and lots of details, and after that he said, "We need to run through to check he wasn’t a spy," and I came out of that meeting thinking, "You think he might have been," and then I thought-

Q21 Lorraine Fullbrook: Did you believe at that point that he was or wasn’t?

Alison: No. At that point I came away and I thought, "Okay, if he was, it would make sense of why I have never met his family. That would make sense. That would make sense." Then, about a year in, I paid a private investigator and that was when I got it confirmed that he was living under a false identity. But for about a year when you go back to saying-

Somebody asked, "Is it okay to sanction any undercover policing?" I think the point about this was that when I suspected it impacted on some of my very close relationships with people because they thought I was going mad. They said, "It would never happen. They would not put someone in your life for five years."

Q22 Lorraine Fullbrook: When you got the phone call from this friend, they obviously suspected that there was something strange about this. Did they tell you what they suspected?

Alison: It was someone who was not in a group that I was in, so it wasn’t someone who was a friend. It was another political activist who Mark was involved with.1

Q23 Mr Winnick: None of us would like to go through the experience that the three of you have gone through. I certainly would not, and I would have the same strong feelings that you have, but to be the devil’s advocate, which I will be for a moment for reasons I am sure you will understand, the police would argue that there are occasions, not only with terrorism but in other groups, where there is the possibility-and perhaps more than the possibility-of violence, and that in those circumstances they have a right to protect the public by putting in an undercover agent. Would you accept that, or would you-

Clare: I do not think there is any justification for having sex and intimate relationships with people.

Q24 Mr Winnick: I am coming to that in a moment. Before we come to the sexual aspect-and there is no reason why you should say yes-do you accept there are certain circumstances, terrorism obviously, where violence could be inflicted and the police may well be wrong and exaggerating? I would not put it beyond that.

Lisa: We were not involved in terrorist groups. There was no justification for somebody-

Mr Winnick: As far as you are concerned, yes.

Lisa: -coming to my father’s funeral with me. There was no justification for putting an undercover cop into my family’s life.

Q25 Mr Winnick: Would it be right to say that as far as your three groups are concerned there was no possibility of violence at any stage? Would that be right?

Clare: Can I just say that one of the things that I found very, very distressing about what has happened since this has come to light and come out on the public arena is the number of people who are trying to justify it by making comments about, "Oh we have to prevent terrorism", or things like that? There was an interesting interview with Peter Bleksley, who was an undercover policeman, on Radio 5 a couple of months ago. He said that he had slept with a target in his investigations. He mentioned on the radio that she was a very attractive woman, and the radio presenter said, "Would you have slept with this person if it had been a man?" and he said, "No, I’m not gay." I think that answers the question. This is not about a need to do it. It is about a desire to do it. They have the power and they think they can get away with it. That is what it is about. It is deeply distressing, and I do not think it should be allowed in any circumstances. It is so intrusive into people’s lives, and, as my friends have said, it turns your life upside down. Everything that you thought you knew suddenly becomes unreal; everything changes. You do not know who you can trust any more. It destroys everything.

Q26 Mr Winnick: I can understand that. I would not want to be a victim, and you have been victims, and I certainly would not be and I doubt if any of my colleagues would be. This is a question that you may or may not agree with. In your cases, as you have said, there did not seem to be any justification for what the police did in sending agents into the organisations, but if they did send agents into the organisations, is it your view that in those circumstances the police involved should not engage in any sort of personal relationships? Would that be the position?

Alison: One of the things that have been very interesting for us as a group of women is that we have been thrown together over the last couple of years. We have different backgrounds, different ages, and we come from different political backgrounds. We are not a political party who have a party line on things, so we can’t speak as one whole for everything, but I think where we come together and what we have all agreed on is the use of sex and intimacy as a tactic of undercover policing. That is where we all agree. Whether they should infiltrate this group or that group is-

Mr Winnick: But you draw the line on sexual relationships. I understand.

Alison: One of my points was that I felt we knew we had-

Chair: Thank you. That is very helpful.

Q27 Mark Reckless: You have put particular stress on the pain that was caused to you and the impact it had on your life that this was, I think you said, directed by the state. What do you say to the perspective that the people directing this, such as it was directed, appear to have been within ACPO, which is actually drawn up as a limited company, a private company, and not subject to the usual police controls and police authority.

Clare: Our partners were in the SDS rather than ACPO.

Lisa: ACPO only got control relatively recently. This has been happening for years and years and years under Metropolitan Police control.

Q28 Mark Reckless: My understanding was that when this story broke, in terms of Mark Kennedy as he was then called, in the press, at and up to that point this undercover policing had been directed by the unit of which you just gave the initials, which was controlled and commanded operationally by ACPO. ACPO is a private company, and many of us have argued against it having operational control. At least as I recall, it was the exposure of some of this activity that led to the activity being taken away from ACPO and put in the Metropolitan Police. Am I wrong in that recollection?

Alison: I personally don’t feel in any way that I can comment on various organisations in the police, except to know where they had an impact on my life.

Lisa: I believe that ACPO had control over the NPOIU for a couple of years-by no means the entire time that this undercover practice has been in operation. I would like to add to what Alison said about having this controlled by the state. How it feels to me is it is not having found out that your partner was lying about who they are; it is finding out that your most personal relationship was being controlled by the state without your knowledge. There are a group of people whose names I will never know, who I will never meet, who had control over what time we spent together, who ultimately decided when my relationship was going to finish, who would have made the decisions about whether or not Alison could have children in her personal relationship. All of these kinds of decisions were being made behind the scenes by a team of people who had intimate knowledge of myself and my life, and I had no idea of their existence.

Q29 Mark Reckless: I have just been passed a note that ACPO had control of these operations from 2006 to 2010. It is more when the news broke than when these incidents happened, so I correct that. The state should ultimately be accountable to the people through Parliament. Why we are pursuing this case and having a private session, which we very, very rarely do, is because of the impact it has had on you and our concern that the state or the state’s actions here were not properly overseen by the process of parliamentary governance that we should have in our democracy.

The final point I would like to ask about-I do not know which of you would prefer to comment on this-is clearly this has impacted you hugely in terms of your personal relationships, not just with the undercover person but how you then relate to other people. Do you think at all that, even to a lesser degree, it may have had any of that impact on the police officers who were involved with you, or do you believe they have been coldly dispassionate and been able to separate that out entirely, such that they are personally not affected in the way you so very clearly are?

Lisa: I think it is very difficult. When you find out that somebody was a professional liar, it is very difficult to decide what they may or may not have felt in reality. It is my feeling that there was psychological damage caused on both sides and that there was very little regard shown for anybody’s psychological welfare in this situation, apart from the person making the operational decisions who was distant enough from it.

Alison: I would add that I wonder how much psychological damage there would have been for those officers had they not been found out, and their families.

Q30 Chair: We have your former partner coming in, Mark Kennedy. You know that he is taking legal proceedings against the Met, and he claims that he is also a victim and that he has been traumatised by what is happening. Do you have any sympathy with that? You have just said that you felt that they had been traumatised as well by this.

Lisa: As a human being it is very difficult not to have sympathy for somebody that I cared about deeply, but it is also important to remember that that person that I cared about deeply did not in fact exist. I cared deeply for somebody whose life was intermingled with mine, and that person’s life story is a fiction.

Chair: That is very helpful.

Q31 Bridget Phillipson: I am sorry I missed the start of your evidence. I am serving on a Bill Committee at the same time, so apologies for missing the beginning of what you had to say.

I was stunned when I read what had gone on in all of your cases, and I can see why that would lead you to perhaps question all reality. What rationale do you think would be offered-I know Mr Winnick was asking about this, but were you used in order to target others, as opposed to it being about you, or do you feel it was about a means into targeting other people that perhaps were engaged in political activity?

Lisa: These are the answers we want. We are looking for these answers. This is why we are bringing proceedings because we do not have answers for these things.

Q32 Bridget Phillipson: The wider debate is always, as you talked about, about the generalities-"It is important that we have this in order to target terrorists or others"-but in your cases it is hard to understand why you were used in that way.

Clare: I do not see how having sex or intimate relationships would ever prevent anything, to be honest, because either you know something is going to happen, in which case you can investigate it, or you are doing it on a speculation and anybody could end up trapped in your web. The other thing about it is that we are supposed to have a legal system in this country where you are innocent until proven guilty and that you get a fair trial. What happens with police officers going in and having relationships with people is that they act as the judge, the jury and the person who sentences. They can do what they like to you. There is no oversight. You do not get a trial. It is really quite offensive to suggest that someone could deserve this just on the basis of what they may or may not be involved with.

Alison: One of the things I said at the beginning was that, certainly in my case, I think I provided a very good cover story. One of the other eight claimants has been told that officers have their needs, and that is where I also mentioned institutionalised sexism. I think there was a strong element where they brought in a stereotype of the left as being promiscuous and, "Don’t worry about these women. They sleep with lots of men anyway and they’ll get over it. They’ll never find out, and they’ll get over it."

Q33 Bridget Phillipson: Do you have any idea how widespread this might be beyond your particular individual cases?

Lisa: We know that it is a practice that has been going on for a very long time, and so it is not just the actions of one rogue officer or two rogue officers, or three even. There is no way of not interpreting this as a systemic attitude within the police and a deliberate policy. Our case involves the Human Rights Act. We are talking about degrading and inhumane treatment. I think what happened to us has been akin to psychological torture, and you would have to think long and hard before you deliberately authorised such a practice.

Chair: I just say to colleagues that we have the solicitors to Lisa, Alison and Clare on shortly, so anything we do not pick up with you we will pick up with them.

Q34 Chris Ruane: May I say how very brave you are for what you have done so far? To discuss the most personal aspects of your life in the press and in front of politicians is to be commended, and I think the fact that you have given sympathy to the people who victimised you and their families is to be commended too.

It is the state that did this. How do you feel towards the elements of the state and how you have been treated since it came to light by the police, by the security forces, by politicians and by the press? You mentioned, Lisa, one of the questions you want answered. What other questions do you want answered?

Lisa: There is a lot that is unanswered. Some people still need answers as to definitively who the person they were in a relationship was. I am in the position where I do know that to a certain amount. I know something about that. But what I would like to know is: who else was participating in the relationship that I believed it was just me and one other person? Who else was seeing every text message that I ever sent him? Who was listening in to our most intimate phone calls? Who saw our holiday photos? Was there anybody following us when we were on holiday? Who made the decisions about what happened to my life, where I was allowed to go, who I was allowed to see, which I thought was my free will but actually was being manipulated by this person who was being controlled by other people? There are lots of questions that I need answers to.

Q35 Chris Ruane: Do any of your colleagues have anything to say? What questions remain unanswered for you?

Clare: How anyone can contemplate sanctioning this and why it isn’t stopped immediately. It is really outrageous that it can go on in this country. My experience was that I found the marriage certificate of my former partner in his real name-I had not known he had been married-and that said "police constable". When I talked to friends and family it was like, "You’re just jumping to too many conclusions that he is a police spy. You are being paranoid. That wouldn’t happen in this country." People find it absolutely outrageous that something like that can happen in this country, and yet some people seem to make excuses for it. Why isn’t anybody saying, "Stop it right now. It should not happen again. It is abuse."?

Q36 Chair: The picture in The Guardian today was your partner?

Clare: My partner, yes.

Chair: Taken at a time you were in a relationship?

Clare: Yes.

Q37 Chris Ruane: Are you getting the help that you need and deserve to conquer what you have been through?

Alison: One of your questions was what our attitude was to the state, the security forces and the press, and I think personally I feel very angry and very frustrated. I can’t quite believe it. To me, in colloquial language, from my point of view we have got the police totally bang to rights, and instead of them putting their hands up and saying, "Yes, we did this. It was years ago"-or not even years ago-"and it was really wrong, and we shouldn’t have done it," they are saying, "We didn’t do it, and we can’t even confirm or deny that you have got proof of this man being a police officer." So, it is that frustration, and it is totally obstructive.

Q38 Chair: It would be very helpful, in answer to Mr Ruane’s question, if you have outstanding questions that you think need to be answered, please add that to the statement you are going to prepare for the Committee. It would be extremely helpful to us, and we will then be able to put those questions, because obviously you cannot do it directly. We are very happy to do it.

Lisa: A question we will never get the answer to is: when do we get our lost years back? Who is going to give those six years back to me?

Q39 Mr Clappison: I think mine is perhaps more of a reflection of how you are affected. It is impossible to hear you speak without feeling very sorry for what you have gone through. Also, as a layman looking at it in the round and putting aside any political views, the whole thing sounds surreal and crazy, to be quite honest. Do you think there was anything at all that you were involved in-you may have had views and activities-that justified what took place?

Alison: No.

Lisa: I do not think there can be a justification.

Alison: We had the argument right at the beginning among ourselves about whether there was ever a case, and the two examples that completely swayed me to believe that there was never a time when it was okay were: would you task an officer with raping a child to infiltrate a paedophile ring, and would you task an officer with raping a woman to infiltrate a human trafficking ring? Maybe they do, but it doesn’t seem right to me.

Clare: I agree. I do not think there are any circumstances in which it can be justified. I think the other thing is there has been talk about damage and things like that. There is probably more damage and violence that happens on a regular basis on a Friday night in town centres when people get drunk, but there is not a proposal to infiltrate every pub in the country on the off-chance that you are going to be able to prevent violence and damage. This is about political policing and trying to interfere with what is actually a recognised right to freedom of association and freedom of expression.

Q40 Mr Clappison: To absolutely cover it-and I am not suggesting this is the case, but so we know what we can put to the other witnesses we have-there was no violence that you were involved in or anything like that?

Lisa: The only reason that this has happened to us is because we were members of political groups. The only reason was because I was involved in environmental groups and I was campaigning for social justice. If I had not been involved in those political groups this would not have happened. It is not about any particular individual’s activities. It is about-

Chair: I think Mr Clappison wants to know about violence in your groups.

Q41 Mr Clappison: I want to be able to put this to the other witnesses. We have other witnesses coming later on. To me, I think it is all crazy, but-

Clare: The point I mentioned earlier-effectively, if you are accused of a crime, if you are suspected of a crime, there is a process in this country where a charge is laid against you, the evidence is presented and you have a right to make a defence. That is not what this is about. This is about just interfering with people’s lives and interfering with political movements.

Chair: Thank you. We have to be very quick, because we can pick up the other questions with the lawyers.

Q42 Lorraine Fullbrook: Very quickly, if I could ask you all, when you were seeking for answers to your own horrendous stories in your investigation, did you ever find female undercover officers?

Chair: A quick yes, no, numbers and so on.

Lisa: I met a female undercover officer who was fully aware that I was in a relationship with Mark because she asked me about it-she was a witness to it-but she herself never entered into any serious relationships. She always had-

Q43 Lorraine Fullbrook: That she told you?

Lisa: Not that I was aware of. She always had a boyfriend that wasn’t part of us. She always had a relationship. In fact, I met somebody once that was her supposed boyfriend who was somebody from a different team.

Chair: Thank you. That is very helpful.

Lisa: She had a cover relationship, so they could have given any of the men cover relationships. The fact that they did not meant that they were authorising them and allowing them to do what they did.

Clare: Not only that, but-

Q44 Chair: Sorry, Clare, what is the answer to the question? Did you meet undercover female officers?

Clare: No, but what I just wanted to say, because this has kept coming up, is that people say if you did not allow officers to have sex, there would be a ready-made test to find out if they were an undercover officer. It is absolutely ludicrous, because in any movement there are some people who have relationships and there are some people who do not. People have all sorts of reasons for refusing to have sex with someone: they don’t fancy them, they have a partner already-it is just ludicrous.

Chair: Thank you for clarifying that. Alison, did you come across any? You didn’t. Let us move on swiftly to Mark Reckless.

Q45 Mark Reckless: To clarify the response to James Clappison’s question, have any of you ever supported the use of violence in a political cause?

Lisa: One of the campaigns I was involved in was against an arms fair, which is against international violence.

Alison: I believe in self-defence against fascist violence.

Chair: Clare?

Clare: I have already answered this question, and I feel that these questions are a bit like a woman walking home in a short skirt or late at night. Does that make it her fault if she gets raped? It is not a relevant question. The eight of us are from a variety of backgrounds and none of us-

Q46 Chair: Sure. Clare, the reason why we ask these questions is that we are going to test other witnesses and whether you regard them as relevant or not it is a question that members wish to ask. It does not criticise you. It does not denigrate you. We are trying to get to the truth of this. That is why we are having these hearings. In my view, it is a legitimate question for Mr Reckless to ask, and you have answered it extremely well, if I may say so.

Clare: Okay. Well, I was involved with London Greenpeace, which campaigned against violence and oppression and was actually trying to create a fair and more just society for everybody.

Q47 Chair: Thank you. Let me say to all of you, and to those claimants at the back, that what you have said today has been extremely helpful to this Committee and we are most grateful. To come before a Committee of this House, even though it is in private, and to be in a position to tell us about your lives is very, very difficult, and we are very grateful. We are going to pursue this matter because the Committee is interested in it and we think the public has a right to know. This is the first stage, and what would be extremely helpful is if you put your other issues in writing-your comments in writing to us-and that would help us as we develop further questions that we wish to put to others.

What I am going to ask you to do, because you have asked for this to be in private and obviously you do not want to be identified-before I let in the rest of the public if you want to melt into the background and your solicitors melt into the foreground, we are then in the position to start the next session.

Lisa: I wanted to ask a quick question of you, because it does feel like a huge issue, and just one afternoon on this enormous issue feels to me like it is barely scratching the surface. I was wondering whether there was any idea whether there would be a longer inquiry.

Chair: We will consider what we have heard today, and then we will make that decision and we will let you know. Thank you very much. Thank you for that.

[1] Note by witness: The answer to this question is actually “no” they didn’t say what they suspected.

Prepared 28th February 2013