Police allow undercover officers to lie in court
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Oct 19 22:54:19 BST 2011
Police accused of allowing undercover officers to lie in court
False evidence claim arises from papers suggesting undercover officer
Jim Boyling hid identity when prosecuted over protest
Rob Evans and Paul Lewis - guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 October 2011 17.11 BST
Police chiefs are facing damaging allegations that they authorised
undercover officers embedded in protest groups to give false evidence
in court in order to protect their undercover status.
Documents seen by the Guardian suggest that an undercover officer
concealed his true identity from a court when he was prosecuted
alongside a group of protesters for occupying a government office
during a demonstration.
From the moment he was arrested, he gave a false name and
occupation, maintaining this fiction throughout the entire
prosecution, even when he gave evidence under oath to barristers. The
officer, Jim Boyling, and his police handlers never revealed to the
activists who stood alongside him in court that he was actually an
undercover policeman who had penetrated their campaign months earlier
under a fake identity.
Boyling was undercover, using the name Jim Sutton, between 1995 and
2000 in the campaign Reclaim the Streets, which organised colourful,
nonviolent demonstrations against the overuse of cars, such as
blocking roads and holding street parties.
Boyling and the protesters were represented by the same law firm,
Bindmans, as they held sensitive discussions to decide how they were
going to defend themselves in court. The activists allege that
Boyling and his superiors broke the campaigners' fundamental right to
hold legally protected consultations with their lawyers and illicitly
obtained details of the private discussions.
The fresh allegations triggered another wave of criticism of police
chiefs over their infiltration of protest movements, and came on the
eve of a major report by Bernard Hogan-Howe, in his previous role at
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.
The Guardian has learned that police chiefs have authorised
undercover officers to hide their real identities from courts when
they have been prosecuted for offences arising out of their deployment.
Peter Black, another police officer who worked with Boyling in the
same covert unit penetrating political campaigns, said Boyling's case
was not unique. He said from time to time, prosecutions were allowed
to go ahead, as this helped to build up their credibility with the
activists they were infiltrating.
He added that being prosecuted was "part of their cover", as they
were regularly involved in public disorder.
Police chiefs authorised their spies to be prosecuted only for
offences that fell short of a jail sentence, according to Black. If a
police spy was in danger of being locked up, prosecutions of the
officer and the other activists would be "mysteriously dropped", he said.
Alternatively, undercover officers faced with a stretch in jail would
disappear, telling activists things were too hot and they were going
on the run. They would thereby enhance their reputations among the
activists and at the same time solve a difficult problem for their handlers.
Hogan-Howe has been leading an inquiry into the legality and
accountability of planting undercover police officers into political
groups after revelations about Mark Kennedy, the police spy who spent
seven years infiltrating the environmental movement.
So far this year, eight official inquiries have been set up to
examine the conduct of police and prosecutors after the exposure of a
network of police spies in political movements.
Three court of appeal judges have overturned the convictions of 20
environmental protesters, ruling that crucial evidence recorded by
Kennedy was withheld from their original trial. Another trial, of
protesters accused of plotting to break into a power station, also
had to be abandoned.
Police have been accused of wasting huge sums of public money by
spying on protesters pursuing legitimate campaigns. They were also
castigated after it was disclosed that Kennedy and other spies had
sexual relationships with the activists they were targeting.
One of these spies was Boyling, a serving Metropolitan police
officer, who was revealed by the Guardian in January to have married
an activist he met while undercover in the environmental protest
movement, and to have gone on to have children with her.
In the latest twist to his tale, it is alleged that he maintained the
charade of being a committed activist when he was prosecuted in
Horseferry Road magistrates court in London in 1997 for disorderly
behaviour in a three-day trial.
He was among a group of Reclaim the Streets activists who occupied
the office of the chairman of London Transport, which ran the
capital's tube and rail system.
Official records show that when he was arrested and taken to Charing
Cross police station he told police he was "Pete James Sutton", and
that his occupation was "cleaner". He signed to say this was correct
on the police forms recording his arrest. The date of birth he gave
conflicts with the one on other official records.
Under the fictitious identity, he instructed a solicitor from
Bindmans to represent him at the police station and in court,
according to the law firm.
Bindmans also represented the other activists as they appeared in
court five times between September 1996 and January 1997.
When Boyling went into the witness box at the trial, he swore under
oath that he was Sutton, and gave evidence under questioning from the
barrister for the defendants and the prosecution, according to a
legal note of the hearing.
All but one of the activists were acquitted. John Jordan, the
activist who was convicted of assaulting a police officer and given a
conditional discharge for a year, has launched an appeal to have his
Jordan, an art lecturer, also alleges that a police officer involved
in the case offered to give favourable evidence in court if he became
an informer. Jordan says he refused the offer.
His lawyer, Mike Schwarz from Bindmans, said: "This case raises the
most fundamental constitutional issues about the limits of acceptable
policing, the sanctity of lawyer-client confidentiality, and the
integrity of the criminal justice system. At first sight, it seems
that the police have wildly overstepped all recognised boundaries."
The Metropolitan police declined to comment.
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"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which
alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered that shall not be
revealed; and nothing hid that shall not be made known. What I tell
you in darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye hear in the
ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27
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