Op-Ed: Britain's political police want secret tribunal for Kennedy case

Posted Oct 3, 2012 by Alexander Baron
Last week, the police officer who shot dead Mark Duggan on August 4 last year was permitted to testify anonymously in a criminal trial. Now, the police are demanding secrecy in another high profile case.
Undercover police officer Mark Kennedy received extensive coverage from media outlets such as BBC Ne...
Undercover police officer Mark Kennedy received extensive coverage from media outlets such as BBC News, The Telegraph and Guardian.
Digital Journal / Guardian
The trial of the man accused of passing a gun to Mark Duggan continues in a public forum with the caveat of that anonymous witness. Now, in an entirely different setting, the Metropolitan Police want to hold an entire trial in secret, one which does not involve gangsters, gangstas or even criminals in the generally recognised sense, but people who have a social conscience.
Mark Kennedy may be an odious individual but to his credit, he had a change of heart. Kennedy was an undercover police officer. Using the name Mark Stone, he spent some seven years hanging out with environmental protest groups, and according to several understandably chagrined young ladies, putting into practice that well known slogan from the hippy era, make love not war.
After Kennedy was outed, he changed sides as it were, and last year the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of 20 environmental activists for minor criminal offences alleged to have been committed during the course of their protests.
Now, no fewer than eight women who claim to have had relationships with Kennedy and four other undercover police officers are suing the police claiming their relationships "caused them lasting psychological damage, with symptoms including panic attacks, extreme paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder".
Some people may regard this as a try on, but whether or not any of these women have suffered psychological damage, whether or not any of them were damaged already, they are rightly aggrieved.
In the first place, police officers are not under any circumstances permitted to have sexual relationships or relationships in the generally accepted sense with members of the public they are investigating or who may be potential suspects in any sort of investigation. The reason for this is obvious and should need no explaining. In the second place, what have these undercover Casanovas been writing about their conquests in their official reports?
The claim that "There is nothing in the law regulating the police's surveillance activities to prohibit undercover officers having sexual relationships with those they are spying on" may be technically correct, but by the same token there is nothing in the law to prevent your local vicar holding a drunken orgy after hours; if he did though, he would soon be your local former vicar.
And how about this ludicrous claim from Patricia Gallan, a senior police officer: "There are lots of safeguards put in place to ensure officers are not only gathering evidence but it is done ethically and with integrityā€¯. As the man said, pull the other one, it's got bells on.
Unable to cover up this scandal, the Metropolitan Police have embarked on a damage limitation exercise, and what better way to limit the damage than to ensure that any investigation is conducted in camera? Normally one would expect an action such as these women are bringing to be heard in a civil court, but the police want it to be heard by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which would mean as it almost always does a whitewash and the rubber stamping of their deceit, graft and gratuitous law-breaking. Sadly, this should surprise no one when the man in charge of the force believes it is perfectly acceptable for police officers to use false identities in court. How does that oath go? The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...