Police allow undercover officers to lie in court

Tony Gosling 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 
conviction quashed.
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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"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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