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UK Undercover Officer Sacked for 'Gross Violations of Fundamental Human Rights'

© Sputnik / Kit KlarenbergCOPS Campaign Stall Outside Royal Court of Justice, London
COPS Campaign Stall Outside Royal Court of Justice, London - Sputnik International
Former undercover cop Jim Boyling was found guilty of gross misconduct May 3 for pursuing an unauthorized sexual relationship with an individual he spied on using his false identity, failing to inform line management of the extent of the relationship, and disclosing confidential information to the target. Kit Klarenberg surveys the case.

A Disciplinary Panel convened by the Metropolitan Police heard evidence from his former partner 'Rosa', deceived into a relationship by Boyling in 1999 when he infiltrated campaign groups Reclaim the Streets and Earth First! under the pseudonym Jim Sutton. Prior to 'Rosa', he also deceived two other women in Reclaim the Streets — 'Monica' and 'Ruth' — into relationships.

Less than a fortnight before the disciplinary hearing, which was scheduled to last three weeks, Boyling refused to attend the hearing or send a representative to challenge the evidence, and made no formal admission to the allegations. Instead, his defense consisted entirely of written responses, which were considered along with other evidence, including video interviews with Rosa.

Standard Practice

Following the verdict, Boyling was dismissed without notice from the police force, the highest sanction available to the panel. Lindsay Davies of Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, an alliance of people spied upon by Britain's political secret police, says her organization welcomes the sacking, but are "sickened" it was protracted for seven years.

"Most other spycops are no longer serving officers so avoid such hearings. Since even the Met admit these relationships were gross violations of citizens and a violation of fundamental human rights, we expect to see them prosecuted. However, both the Met and Undercover Policing Inquiry have sought to prevent scrutiny of other officers and the managers who ordered them. They should be named too," Lindsay told Sputnik.

She notes Boyling was far from exceptional, and such abuse of women was "standard practice" for political undercover police — the Special Demonstration Squad, of which he was a member, specifically offered advice on sexually targeting women in its training manual.

"If ordinary people behaved that way they would be jailed. The Met say such behavior is unacceptable — let them prove it by handing files on all abusive spycops to the CPS for criminal prosecution. Boyling only faced charges because one of the women he abused exposed him. It's not good enough to expect victims to be detectives. The Met must release all the names used by spycops so those they spied on can come forward and report what really happened," Lindsay concludes.

Mental Abuse

Rosa, a long-term activist and community campaigner, met 'Sutton' in 1999 via her involvement in Reclaim the Streets. He projected a caring persona, and they began an intimate relationship, soon moving in together.

However, their bond began deteriorating when he started subjecting her to a concerted campaign of mental abuse — he claimed to be suffering from a mental breakdown, but his behavior was in fact a ruse, part of a carefully crafted ‘exit strategy'. A well-established and officially advocated strategy for British undercover officers, it was designed to provide cover for his eventual exfiltration from his deployment.

Boyling duly went missing, but Rosa refused to move on, searching doggedly for him for around 18 months, struggling to remain sane when her investigations revealed 'Jim Sutton' didn't exist — all the while, Boyling was firing cryptic emails to her, telling her to speak to no one as he was in danger.

© SputnikInquiry Participant Enters Royal Court of Justice, London
Inquiry Participant Enters Royal Court of Justice, London  - Sputnik International
Inquiry Participant Enters Royal Court of Justice, London
Unbeknownst to her, she'd come dangerously close to unravelling a monolithic conspiracy of epic proportions, in which undercover police spied on activist groups for over half a century. Her serendipitous detective work was abruptly brought to a halt when Boyling walked into a shop where she was working.

He convinced her he'd originally been sent by the police to spy on her and her friends, but instead of acting against them had protected the movement, and was now terrified the police would find out what he really was. He also alleged he was the only such officer, the movement was safe now, and needed her help to flee from his superiors.

Her tormentous experience over the preceding year and a half had left Rosa in an extremely fragile emotional and psychological state — and she believed his story.

"When Jim reappeared it was a massive relief after all the grief and anxiety I'd gone through following his disappearance and the mysteries uncovered during my search for him. I was desperate for answers and he appeared to be the only person who held [them]. This left me vulnerable to further manipulation. He told me he genuinely loved me, shared my beliefs and wanted to escape the police, but could only do this with my help. The new tales were more believable than the truth, [that] my life partner was fabricated by the state," Rosa has said.

Repeat Offender

Rosa and Jim reunited, and within two weeks she was pregnant with his child. She would go on to bear another child by Boyling — "an actor, a random police officer, who 'played' my partner" — and the pair married.

However, the marriage rapidly broke down — Rosa describes him as manipulative, controlling and abusive, with his maltreatment extending to physically violence on many occasions. Boyling, she feels, used his training in deception and manipulation to undermine everything she stood for and her traumatized self, isolating her from friends, family and associates. In 2007, she fled with her children to a women's shelter.

When the spycops scandal broke in early 2011, Boyling's relationship with Rosa was made public and he was suspended from the police — he remained on full pay all the while, accruing further pension rights along the way.

In a perverse irony, one of the disciplinary charges of which Boyling was convicted — disclosing confidential information — was in fact the initial catalyst for the scandal erupting. Having told Rosa about political undercover policing, she in turn relayed his revelations to fellow activist Helen Steel, which confirmed her suspicions her former partner 'John Barker' (real name John Dines) was an undercover officer.

This exposure spread through activist circles, reaching 'Lisa', the partner of 'Mark Stone' (real name Mark Kennedy), encouraging her to pursue that line of inquiry when she began to suspect he wasn't who he claimed to be. His unmasking as an undercover police officer finally blew the lid on the state conspiracy.

While Boyling declined to testify to the hearings, he gave an incensed interview to Police Oracle magazine on the eve of its judgment.

"The disciplinary charge from the Met specifies I had a relationship which constituted misconduct because it was 'without a police purpose'. The position of the Met appears to be a relationship entered into as an operational tactic is acceptable, but a genuine one resulting in marriage and children constitutes misconduct," he said.

Rosa notes his invocation of his 'family' is a cynical smokescreen — Boyling has had no contact with her children since 2013.

"Taking the private lives of children he has nothing to do with and using them in the press to deflect from attempts to hold him to account is a new low," she said.

Violated By The State

The Boyling saga is set to endure yet further. His victim 'Monica' is taking the Crown Prosecution Service to court, challenging their August 2014 decision not to charge him or other spycops with misconduct and/or sexual offenses. The CPS ostensibly based its decision on case law, stating while a man's failure to use a condom or withdrawing before ejaculation after promising he would could constitute rape, lying about one's identity wouldn't.

Monica also launched a civil claim against the Metropolitan Police in early 2016, in the manner of those already brought by others who were similarly deceived into relationships with undercover officers — many of these cases were settled out of court, and in 2015 the Metropolitan Police made a historic public apology, acknowledging such relationships were "abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong…a violation of [their] human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma."

The police also recognized "these relationships, the subsequent trauma and the secrecy around them left these women at risk of further abuse and deception by these officers after the deployment had ended."

One victim of an undercover police relationship likened her experience to being "raped by the state", and many others have noted they could not have given informed consent, a key litmus test for determining the legality of sexual contact between individuals.

In any event, contemporaneous consent can demonstrably be nullified by subsequent revelation — there are several instances in recent years of women deceiving other women into sex by pretending to be men, all of which have ended in convictions, producing lengthy prison sentences in some cases. Monica's lawyer, Harriet Wistrich, has invoked such cases.

"At the time that relationship was genuine but subsequently the other person discovered who they really were. Those women were prosecuted by the CPS and imprisoned for those offenses. We're saying, what is the essential difference in a case like this? In this case the officers knew full well what they were doing, they weren't mentally vulnerable, they were using the resources given to them by the state for an improper purpose, [such as] for their own gratification, to advance their career, and to make their undercover operation successful," she said.

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