Hackney police spy scandal: Duped activists tell of their ‘psychological torture’ at packed-out Chats Palace meeting

Mark Jenner with the Colin Roach Centre banner

Mark Jenner with the Colin Roach Centre banner - Credit: Archant

The lawyer representing the eight women duped into relationships with undercover cops, has said the only way to prevent it happening in future would be to make it illegal.

Harriet Wistrich was speaking at a packed-out Chat’s Palace in Homerton on Friday night, ahead of the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inqury investigating the Met’s infiltration of political groups since 1968.

The Met has apologised “unreservedly” over the “abusive and manipulative” long-term relationships with undercover officers, and paid substantial compensation.

Ms Wistrich said: “You have investigation after investigation and police officers saying these platitudes – ‘that was terrible; it will never happen again’ – but until the police are made to feel the pain and held properly to account, things won’t change.

“These were not consensual relationships and it’s easy to say – as you would say in relation to a teacher having a relationship with a pupil – that amounts to misconduct in public office.”

The woman known as “Alison”, who was deceived by undercover police spy Mark Jenner, spoke in public there for the first time. Audience members including the Gazette were told not to take photos of her, which could breach the legal order protecting her anonymity.

She met Jenner, who she knew as Mark Cassidy, at the Colin Roach Centre in Bradbury Street in 1995.

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Alison screened an emotional video at Friday’s meeting showing footage of her and Jenner.

It featured the pair lip-syncing pop tunes together.

They were so close the video even included the moment Alison last saw her grandmother alive, with Jenner in tow.

Helen Steel, who had a relationship with cop John Dines – a man she’d known as John Barker – was also present, along with another woman whose identity is also protected, who described the “psychological torture” of what happened to her.

She said: She said: “I remember I was trying to climb out of a black hole with my finger nails, those women will seek out answers, one of the things about this is the police are hiding but more and more are coming to light.

“The point I want to make is that once the children are born, the state gives that officer permanent access to that family and the state operation never ends.

“So far, no one has been able to clarify how to end that operation how that woman can ever close the door to the state spying constantly and having rights on the interior of her family.

“It goes on for generations. That officer, they refuse to move him – they go: ‘Oh, well, it’s a bit complicated now, isn’t it?’

“I want to see protection against that put into law, once the state abuses the human rights of those women and children are born out of it, they don’t just go, ‘Oh well we will keep on accessing you when we feel like it’, there has to be some acknowledgement that’s not a standard family.”

Speaking to the Gazette last month, Alison called for a list of the fake names used by others in his unit to be released, so the extent of the Met’s deception can finally be known.

But Graham Smith, co-founder and Secretary of the Hackney Community Defence Association (HCDA), which investigated claims of police brutality in the 80s and 90s, and exposed 77 police officers at Stoke Newington were dealing cocaine – went a step further on Friday night, and said the officers’ real names should be revealed too.

However in a detailed legal submission to the Pitchford Inquiry lawyers for the Met have argued the move to hear evidence in private is necessary to protect the identity of the officers, and the covert nature of their tactics.