Despite departing the role in utter disgrace, and ongoing internal police investigations into his conduct while infiltrating anti-war and animal rights groups under the guise of ‘Andy Davey' — which included deceiving then-19-year-old ‘Jessica' (a pseudonym) into a year-long romantic relationship in 1992 — Coles stubbornly remains a governor at a Peterborough primary school and Conservative member of the local Council.
Believing it wholly inappropriate for an individual with a history of abusing their power, violating human rights and sexually exploiting teenagers to hold these positions, ever since his unmasking activists have staged demonstrations at the city's town hall concurrent with monthly Council meetings, calling for his resignation or dismissal. In response, the Council has closed the building's public gallery, forcing their protests outside.
'You're Going to Jail!'
"With the local elections coming up, we produced a leaflet titled ‘This is who the Tories think is suitable to be your councillor', and a fellow activist and I went to Peterborough to distribute them in Coles' council ward [Fletton and Woodston]. We'd just finished posting them through front doors in a cul-de-sac, when I turned round and he was standing 20 yards away filming us. It was a total shock — we hadn't been face-to-face since 1993. I pulled my hat down and my friend shielded his face with leaflets, but Coles yelled that it didn't matter because he had lots of footage of us already. I felt sick," Jessica tells me.
Forced to pass their harasser to exit the road, the pair attempted to make a hurried exit, but Coles accosted Jessica's friend, violently snatching a stack of leaflets from them and wrenching their fingers in the process — "I've got your fingerprints now, you're going to jail!" he shouted menacingly, chasing after them and continuing to film all the while.
Andy Coles is currently under police investigation for sexual offences against Jessica. She is also the subject of a court anonymity order, so photographing her is especially intimidating. The volunteer is also a core participant at @ucpinquiry whose life was violated by #spycops— Sack Andy Coles (@sackandycoles) April 29, 2019
After a few minutes they finally managed to give Coles the slip, by which time the adrenaline had worn off and Jessica's friend was in severe pain. Fearing their fingers may be broken, the duo rushed to Peterborough City Hospital's accident and emergency department — an x-ray revealed there were no breaks, but the scuffle had seemingly inflicted tendon and tissue damage.
"I left the hospital to report the theft of our leaflets to the police, and while there mentioned what Coles had done to my friend — they said it sounded like assault. Officers have since spoken to them, and are now looking at Coles' actions as potential actual bodily harm," Jessica says.
Coles himself seems to have reported the incident to police, and lodged a complaint with the Council about their activities. During Jessica's second meeting with officers they had one of the leaflets in their possession, which was torn — suggesting it'd been one of the flyers aggressively prised from her friend's hand.
The person Andy Coles assaulted this morning has been discharged from hospital, tissue damage but thankfully nothing broken.— Sack Andy Coles (@sackandycoles) April 29, 2019
I rang Coles for comment, but he terminated the call when I identified myself and where I was calling from. Nonetheless, he issued a statement to the Peterborough Telegraph within hours of the incident.
"The circumstances are already reported to the council's electoral services and I await their contact with police to investigate offences. It's probably best not to comment further until officers have completed their investigation into the matter," he said.
Coles' appearance wasn't only noteworthy for the brutality he apparently employed. He's rarely been seen or heard from in the two years since his very public outing as a former spycop, and has gone to some lengths to shield himself from public view, deleting a number of his social media accounts and personal blog — intriguingly, a post written in 2013 indicated Coles was planning to write a historical novel about an undercover police officer infiltrating radical groups in the 1830s.
Andy Coles resigns as Deputy Police Commissioner. Jessica, woman he abused, asks if he's resigning as councillor too https://t.co/w8XE9sgsaZ— COPS (@copscampaign) May 15, 2017
He also refused to confirm or deny he'd previously been an undercover infiltrator, or comment on allegations of sexual misconduct while deployed, until the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UPCI) publicly named Coles as a former Special Branch operative 18th March 2018.
He finally broke his silence the next day in an interview with the Peterborough Telegraph, during which he made a number of false and misleading statements. Dishonestly implying he'd been prevented from discussing his undercover role prior to the UPCI's announcement, he framed himself as a fearless crusader against "the most committed and violent animal liberation extremists" in the UK — a risible suggestion given the groups he infiltrated have been publicly named, and their activities are known to have almost exclusively consisted of leaflet campaigns, sabotaging fox hunts and horse races, and picketing shops selling fur coats.
Moreover, Coles said he was "pleased to confirm" both the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Metropolitan Police had investigated Jessica's "lurid claims", and informed him he faced no charges or there would be no further investigation into her allegations, "which I am now able to deny publicly".
Predictably, Jessica was thoroughly enraged by his comments. For one, his behaviour towards women and their relationship were witnessed by dozens of people — but moreover, neither body had investigated his undercover activities at that point, or spoken to any of the women who'd accused him of sexual impropriety.
Coles' denials are particularly suspect given on the same day he was definitively exposed by the UCPI, the Inquiry also released the Special Demonstration Squad's (SDS) ‘tradecraft manual', a document outlining practical tips and guidance for future undercover officers. Authored by none other than Coles himself, one section specifically offers advice on sexual relationships.
"The thorny issue of romantic entanglements during a tour is the cause of much soul-searching and concern. In the past emotional ties to the opposition have happened and caused all sorts of difficulties, including divorce, deception and disciplinary charges. While it's not my place to moralise, one should try to avoid the opposite sex for as long as possible. The ‘free love' attitudes of the 60s and 70s have largely disappeared in the minds of extremists following herpes, hepatitis and AIDS. However, if you're doing your job properly men and women in the field will experience occasional approaches from males and females…one should never use the excuse of homosexuality to avoid a heterosexual partner…you may well find homosexuals making a beeline for you. There may come a time when your lack of interest may become suspicious. If you have no other option but to become involved, you should try to have fleeting, disastrous relationships…One cannot be involved with a weary in a relationship for any period of time without risking serious consequences," he wrote.
Like other activists romantically targeted by spycops, Jessica feels she couldn't have given informed sexual consent, the key litmus test for determining the legality of sexual contact. Whether or not Coles' activities amount to "state-sanctioned rape", as other women deceived into relationships by undercover officers have characterised their experiences, at the very least Jessica feels her youth and vulnerability were exploited by Coles, and she was manipulated into a sexual relationship — her first ever — with an acting police officer 13-years her senior, whose real name she didn't know. He even lied about his age, presenting himself to her as 24, when he was in fact 32 at the time, and had been married for four years when they met.
Here's 'Andy Davey' — #spycops officer Andy Coles — sabbing a hunt in Hampshire on 25 January 1992 (foreground in black hat, bodywarmer & green top). He groomed a vulnerable teenager @Jessica_me2 into a relationship yet is now a school governor. See @sackandycoles for more. pic.twitter.com/RwBmiT4I8t— COPS (@copscampaign) June 28, 2018
Their courtship — "which wasn't fleeting, but certainly was disastrous," Jessica says — began when Coles, with whom she'd only crossed paths on a few occasions previously, turned up unannounced and uninvited at a residence she shared with a number of fellow activists. While his presence was thought somewhat strange given neither she nor her housemates knew him particularly well, they decided to let him in as they felt sorry for him — ‘Davey' was a quiet and self-effacing figure in the movement, not particularly liked or trusted by other activists, and Jessica's household thought he was just trying to make friends.
After Coles' initial visit, he began routinely appearing on their doorstep, until one night he made an unsolicited sexual advance on Jessica, "lunging" at her "with no preamble".
"I didn't know how to react. I felt no romantic feelings for him at all, but he was so determined. I was embarrassed, awkward, and didn't want to hurt his feelings, somehow. I was a very young and naive 19, and lacked the tools to reject his advances. Had I been older, it wouldn't have happened. It certainly wouldn't have happened if I'd known his real age, let alone he was a police officer," Jessica says.
At the time, she wrote off the inept manner in which he initiated their contact as mere inexperience — today, knowing he'd been married for some time by that point, she views his actions in an extremely sinister light.
Moreover, Jessica wasn't the only one targeted by Coles in this manner, a lecherous litany she believes amounts to a "pattern of predatory behaviour".
For instance, activist ‘Emily' (a pseudonym) was a concerted subject of his lascivious intentions — as with Jessica, Andy arrived uninvited at her flat one evening, sat next to her on the sofa, and placed his hand on her knee and tried to kiss her. This attempt was rebuffed, and he departed.
Later that year, she was preparing to leave London and needed a place to stay on her last night — Coles invited her to camp at his bedsit, an offer she reluctantly accepted. There, he insistently tried to initiate sex, despite her making abundantly clear she wasn't interested.
Coles also inappropriately pursued women while infiltrating the Active Resistance to the Roots of War (ARROW) group in early 1991, prior to his animal rights deployments. On one such occasion, he drove someone also named Emily home from an event, staying with her until the early hours of the morning.
"It was late, I was tired and I wanted to be in control so, mischievously, asked if he wanted to stay the night. He was very eager. I told him he could have a mattress on the floor. At that point, he left in a rage. I used to tell this as my funny 'I-bet-he-was-an-infiltrator' story…now this is not a funny story. There was a cop grooming me to gain an operating base in the peace movement," she has written.
"‘I am absolutely disgusted and appalled at his comments. I can confirm Coles was a serial sex pest. He was a known creep who liked to get women on their own so he could try and get off with them. He turned up at my flat unannounced uninvited late one evening and proceeded to chase me around my living room attempting to kiss and cuddle me. I was forced to repeatedly move away and eventually he gave up. I have no doubt there are other women he has predated upon that have not come forward yet. I hope they now will. The UCPI needs to get to the bottom of this shameful behaviour of an older police officer towards a much younger woman. He has no shame and is arrogant in the extreme. [His] statement shows his ongoing contempt for women in general. He should not be a councillor or in any position of authority whatsoever," she fulminated.
Ironically, prompted by Coles' public denials of their relationship, Jessica met with representatives of Operation Herne — an ongoing internal investigation into the activities of the SDS — directing them to dozens of witnesses who could verify they'd been romantically connected, and supplying much documentation supporting her story, such as letters she sent and received from the time which mention him. Herne very much is investigating her allegations now, and the Crown Prosecution Service are considering whether he should face criminal charges.
Coles may have good reason to worry — the Operation's second report, written by Chief Constable Mick Creedon, was scathing in the extreme when discussing the widespread issue of SDS officers engaging in sexual relationships while undercover.
"There are and never have been any circumstances where it would be appropriate for such covertly deployed officers to engage in intimate sexual relationships with those they are employed to infiltrate and target. Such an activity can only be seen as an abject failure of the deployment, a gross abuse of their role and their position as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing," the author stated.
"Funnily enough, I went back to Peterborough to carry on our leafleting campaign just two days after the incident — on my own this time though, I don't want anyone else getting injured on my behalf. During the trip I met with police again and gave a full written statement about what happened too. I'm not going to let him bully and intimidate me into silence. The public needs to know what the people they're told are protecting them get up to when they think they can get away with it, and he can't be allowed to be in positions of trust any longer. It's high time for Coles to admit to what he did to us and step down. He shouldn't be in any position of authority ever again," Jessica concludes.