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Former British undercover officer admits deceiving woman into 19-year relationship

Former British undercover officer

A former United Kingdom undercover police officer has admitted that he used a fake identity to deceive a woman into a 19-year relationship in which they had a child together. The officer, who was part of a secret unit that infiltrated political groups, never revealed his real name or occupation to the woman, who only discovered the truth in 2020. The case is one of many that have exposed the unethical and unlawful practices of undercover policing in the UK, which have caused harm and trauma to the victims and raised questions about the accountability and oversight of covert operations. The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which was set up in 2015, is currently investigating the extent and impact of undercover policing since 1968.

The former undercover police officer used a fake identity to deceive a woman into a 19-year relationship in which they became partners and had a child together. The officer concealed his real identity from the woman for the duration of that period, never telling her his real occupation, and using his fictitious identity on the birth certificate of their son1. The woman, whom the Guardian is referring to as “Mary” to protect her identity, discovered the truth in 2020, after the couple were engaged to be married.

This is not an isolated case. Several undercover officers were found to have had multiple intimate relationships with those they were investigating, some of them fathering children in these relationships. These officers were part of historic undercover policing units that infiltrated political groups and social movements, such as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). These units were also found to have routinely used the identities of dead children to construct undercover personas for officers.

The legal and ethical issues of undercover policing are complex and controversial. Undercover policing, when carried out ethically and lawfully, is a vital tactic for keeping people safe and bringing dangerous criminals and gangs to justice. However, when it involves deception, manipulation, and violation of human rights, it can cause serious harm to individuals and society. The use of undercover police officers is governed by Part II of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), which sets out the legal framework for the use of ‘covert human intelligence sources’ by public authorities, including the police. However, RIPA has been criticized for being vague, outdated, and inadequate to protect the rights and interests of those affected by undercover policing.

One of the main challenges is to balance the public interest in preventing crime and maintaining order with the private interest in respecting personal autonomy and dignity. The harm that undercover policing does can only make ethical sense if collateral damage is kept to a minimum if officers work strictly within tight regulation, and if covert work is used as a clearly necessary last resort to prevent serious public disorder and violence. However, in practice, these conditions are often not met or enforced. There have been questions about the effectiveness of undercover policing and the appropriateness of its use against certain protest movements that pose no threat to national security or public safety. There have also been cases where evidence collected by undercover officers was mishandled or withheld, leading to miscarriages of justice.

The victims of undercover policing have suffered psychological trauma, emotional distress, and loss of trust. They have also faced legal obstacles in seeking redress and accountability. Some have filed human rights claims against the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), alleging that the deception of undercover officers violated their right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The MPS has recently admitted liability in some cases and offered apologies and compensation. However, some victims are still pursuing legal action against individual officers or other public authorities involved in undercover policing.


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