Scotland Yard has been accused of ‘trying to hide its secrets’ after appealing for a case involving female activists who were ‘conned into sexual relationships’ with undercover police officers to be heard in secret.
One man and 11 women from environmental activist groups are seeking damages from Scotland Yard for the ‘emotional trauma’ they suffered when undercover officers allegedly tricked them into having sexual relationships.
One of the women is planning to sue the Met for the financial burden of bringing up a child, now 27, fathered by an officer, it was reported.
Controversial: Scotland Yard has been accused of ‘trying to hide its secrets’ after appealing for a case involving female activists who were ‘conned into sexual relationships’ with undercover police officers to be heard in secret
But it emerged last night that the Metropolitan Police are aiming to move the case against them from the High Court to a secretive tribunal.
The Met is to appeal this week that some of the cases – which were due to be heard in the High Court – should be heard in the little-known Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) instead.
The IPT, which was established in 2000, has the power to investigate complaints about the conduct of Britain’s Intelligence Agencies, including MI5, MI6 and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
But complainants who take cases to the IPT have fewer rights than in court and are not able to choose their own lawyer or cross-examine witnesses.
Most hearings are held in private, no explanation has to be given for the judgement and there is no automatic right of appeal.
The Met claims that because it’s undercover operations were authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (Ripa), which is monitored by the IPT, the cases cannot be heard in a normal court.
Action: The cases were sparked after activists exposed Met policeman Mark Kennedy, pictured, as an undercover officer
But critics have accused the Met of covering up its ‘dirty laundry’ by trying to have the cases heard by the IPT – which has upheld fewer than 1 per cent of complaints in its history.
Jenny Jones, deputy chairwoman of City Hall’s police and crime committee, which monitors the Met, told The Times: ‘I’m very concerned about this because clearly the Met is trying to hide its dirty laundry.
‘These women deserve to have their stories told and for people to understand that what happened to them was a complete betrayal of trust.
‘There seems to be a trend of the State clearly trying to hide its secrets and that’s not acceptable.’
The cases were sparked after activists exposed Met policeman Mark Kennedy as an undercover officer, leading to the collapse of a case against people charged with planning to invade a power station.
Several women then came forward to say they had had sexual contact with him, without realising he was a policeman.
By Rosie Taylor and Tim Shipman
PUBLISHED: 05:26 GMT, 19 November 2012 | UPDATED: 05:29 GMT, 19 November 2012
Find this story at 19 November 2012
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