UK: Undercover policing round-up

Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.

Statewatch News Online
Undercover policing round-up: former spycop guilty of gross misconduct; judicial review launched against Crown Prosecution Service; whistleblower abandons inquiry; analysis of names released so far; inquiry considers anonymity for NPOIU officers
Follow us: | | Tweet

  • Former undercover police officer Jim Boyling found guilty of gross misconduct
  • Judicial review launched after Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refuses toprosecute Jim Boyling under Sexual Offences Act 1956
  • Former Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) undercover Metropolitan Police Officer and now Police whistleblower, Peter Francis, decides to stop participating in part of the Undercover Policing Inquiry
  • Undercover Research Group analysis examines what is known so far about the names of Special Demonstration Squad officers
  • Judge Mitting, head of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, publishes "minded to" note favouring anonymity for former National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) officers

Jim Boyling found guilty of Gross Misconduct (Police Spies Out of Lives, link):

"Today former SDS undercover police officer Jim Boyling has been found guilty of gross misconduct for pursuing an unauthorised sexual relationship with 'Rosa' (a pseudonym) using his false identity, failing to inform his line management of the extent of his relationship, and disclosing confidential information to his target.

A Disciplinary Panel convened by the Metropolitan Police heard evidence from his former partner 'Rosa' / DIL, who was deceived into a relationship with Boyling in 1999 when he infiltrated 'Reclaim the Streets' and 'Earth First!' using the cover identity 'Jim Sutton'.

Boyling also had prior relationships with two other women in 'Reclaim the Streets', 'Monica' and 'Ruth'.

Less than two weeks before the disciplinary hearing, which was scheduled to last 3 weeks, Boyling opted not to attend the hearing or send a representative to challenge the evidence but made no formal admission to the allegations. His defence consisted only of written responses he gave in prepared statements. The panel nonetheless considered those responses along with other evidence, including video interviews with Rosa /DIL. Following the verdict, Boyling was ‘dismissed without notice’ from the police force; the highest sanction available to the disciplinary panel."

Judicial Review launched of CPS decision on undercover police sexual & psychological abuse (Police Spies Out of Lives, link):

"An application for a Judicial Review of the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute former undercover police officer Jim Boyling has today been lodged by one of three women deceived into a sexual relationship by him whilst he was deployed to infiltrate environmental and social justice protest groups.

The claimant, granted anonymity by the Undercover Policing Inquiry, goes under the pseudonym of 'Monica' and was deceived into a relationship by Boyling in 1997.

Monica’s legal representatives argue that, contrary to arguments put forward by the CPS, the disgraced former undercover officer should have been prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, and been charged with Misconduct in Public Office.


The CPS previously decided not to prosecute following a lengthy investigation into Boyling’s conduct arising from a formal complaint made by the third woman 'Rosa', whose relationship commenced in 1999. In both cases the women instigated a Victim’s Right of Review and were shocked to receive detailed replies which implied that the abuse of women was condoned since it suggested that an officer operating for five years 'in the upper eschelon of an activist organisation may well have sexual contact or intimate relationships whilst maintaining his cover.'

This contradicts historic public apology in November 2015, when the Metropolitan Police acknowledged that relationships between undercover police and their targets were 'abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong…a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma.' The apology clearly stated that such relationships were not authorised, and never would be. These statements were echoed by the police’s own investigation into undercover police activities and behaviours, Operation Herne. The CPS refusal to prosecute flies in the face of these."

Statement from Peter Francis: Former SDS undercover Metropolitan Police Officer and now Police whistleblower has given this statement as he decides to stop participating in part of the Undercover Policing Inquiry(Leigh Day, link):

"It is with great disappointment that I have decided to stop participating in the Restriction Order process of this Inquiry, as far as police applications for such orders are concerned.

Three years ago, Stafford Scott (another Core Participant) said that walking into the Inquiry was like walking into a boxing ring, facing the Metropolitan Police with one hand tied behind your back and a blindfold covering your eyes. Sadly, his assessment has proved correct.

The approach adopted by the Inquiry to restriction orders has undermined its ability to uncover the truth about undercover policing in the UK. I had hoped my involvement in this process would in part remedy the unfair advantages identified by Mr. Scott but this has not proved possible.

I was an undercover SDS officer for five years. I helped my managers to organise the SDS’s 25th reunion and I personally attended the 30th.

I know at least half of all SDS officers. Armed with such knowledge, I had hoped to assist the Inquiry to critically assess the applications being made by former undercover police officers to keep their cover names secret. But the level of redactions accepted by the Inquiry Team is so high, even I am often unable to decipher from whom the applications are made.

The police officers’ requests for anonymity are, on many occasions, being accepted by the Inquiry wholesale, with minimal, obfuscatory or no reasoning provided at all. Even when a risk assessment concludes that risks faced by an individual are “low”, the Inquiry has refused to publish his or her cover name. In such circumstances, I cannot justify continuing to incur tax payers’ money drafting written submissions or attending hearings which are clearly not going to change the approach adopted by the Chairman."

The Spycops Inquiry: dealing in half-truths (Undercover Research Group, link) by Donal O'Driscoll:

"The truth, the whole truth, or nothing but 50% of the truth? What is known of its undercovers and managers and what is still to come…

Over the last few months details of the Metropolitan Police officers who worked for the political secret police unit the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) have been slowly emerging from the Undercover Policing Inquiry. Piecing together the information, here are the figures for what we know, and what it indicates about those as yet unknown.

The Inquiry is currently working through anonymity applications from SDS officers, both undercover and management. They use a ‘nominal’ system, where each officer is referred to by a cipher – a number prefixed by the letters HN – the H comes from Operation Herne, the Met’s internal investigation into the SDS, who initially assigned the numbers to individuals.

In July 2018, the Inquiry will start hearing anonymity applications in relation to officers from the other main political undercover unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), who will be given ciphers beginning with EN – from Operation Elter, the NPOIU’s counter-part to Operation Herne. So for the moment, we can only do reliable calculations for the Special Demonstration Squad."

Anonymity for National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) officers

In the matter of section 19 (3) of the Inquiries Act 2005: Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and its predecessor/successor units 'Minded to' Note (pdf)

In which it is argued that in over 20 cases anonymity should be maintained for both cover names and real names of former NPOIU officers, apart from those cover names already in the public domain.

The release of the cover names used by police officers infilitrating social movements, protest groups and other organisations is one of the key demands of those affected by that infilitration.

Search our database for more articles and information or subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates from Statewatch News Online.

Our work is only possible with your support.
Become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.


Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error