It’s been more than two years since the Metropolitan Police apologised for Special Demonstration Squad officers abusing their power to deceive women they spied on into relationships.
The extraordinary admission went into some detail:
‘relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity…
‘Firstly, none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple. I want to make it clear that the Metropolitan Police does not suggest that any of these women could be in any way criticized for the way in which these relationships developed.
‘Second, at the mediation process the women spoke of the way in which their privacy had been violated by these relationships. I entirely agree that it was a gross violation and also accept that it may well have reflected attitudes towards women that should have no part in the culture of the Metropolitan Police.’
There was also an especially startling sentence:
‘these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’
The Met did not specify which human rights were breached. That detail has been given this week when their lawyers told a hearing that Mark Kennedy’s deceiving Kate Wilson into a relationship was a violation of Articles 3 and 8:
‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’
– Article 3, European Convention on Human Rights
This is an absolute right, there are no circumstances in which it can be permissible or justified.
‘Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
‘There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety, or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others’.
– Article 8, European Convention on Human Rights
Article 8 is conditional which, if anything, makes the Met’s admission even more important. It plainly concedes that, even if you think the people spied on deserved it, the sexual relationships were still absolutely unjustified.
Kate Wilson is able to bring her case because her abuse by Kennedy took place after the Human Rights Act made the European convention enforceable in UK courts. Those abused by officers, like Andy Coles, deployed before that time, would have to find the money and resources to take a case to the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The Met’s 2015 apology was given to eight women deceived either side of the Human Rights Act, and it referred to the practice of spycops’ relationships in general rather than the specific cases. By the same token, their belated specifying which human rights were violated is clearly not just true for Kate Wilson, but for all women deceived in this way.
Our banner saying ‘HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSER ANDY COLES’ caused controversy when unfurled at the Peterborough City Council meeting in July. Yet it is a statement of plain, agreed fact. Moreover, it was made by Jessica herself, a woman sexually abused by Coles and whose voice has been quiet for too long.
We are proud to bear that banner, that her words may be heard where Coles is in public roles for which he is unfit. We will have it with us again at the City Council meeting on Wednesday 13 December. Join us at the Town Hall from 6pm.
With the violations of Coles and his colleagues starkly spelled out, there can be no defence. There should be no place in positions of public trust for someone with a history of such serious and sustained abuse of the power and trust the public had given him.