Met/NPCC statement – compensation awarded in Investigatory Powers Tribunal case
On 30 September 2021, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) handed down Judgment in relation to the claim brought by Kate Wilson against the Met and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
The claim related to the actions of undercover police officers deployed to gather intelligence on protest groups and people associated with those groups between 2003 -2010.
Part of the claim related to a sexual relationship Ms Wilson was deceived into by an undercover officer, Mark Kennedy.
Kennedy, using his cover identity “Mark Stone”, was deployed by the now disbanded National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), into an environmental activist group Ms Wilson was associated with.
The sexual relationship ended in 2005. Kennedy resigned from policing in 2010.
The Met and the NPCC admitted to a number of breaches of Ms Wilson’s human rights. The IPT also considered evidence and issues relating to the severity of the admitted breaches, and several other complaints that were disputed.
On Monday, 24 January 2021, the IPT issued an Order detailing the compensation that is to be awarded to Ms Wilson.
Ms Wilson received formal apologies before these proceedings took place and during the IPT hearing in April last year, the Met and the NPCC reiterated their regret for the hurt and damage suffered as a result of the intelligence operation.
As acknowledged in these apologies, the sexual relationship was wrong and constituted a serious violation of Ms Wilson’s human rights. It was an abuse of police power which caused significant trauma.
The Tribunal in its Judgment found that the sexual relationship had not been an authorised tactic. However, as was admitted, the relationship demonstrated that there had been failures in the supervision and management of Mark Kennedy.
Helen Ball, the Met’s Assistant Commissioner for Professionalism, said: “We recognise the gravity of the Judgment in this case, which outlined a series of serious failings that allowed Kennedy to remain deployed on a long-term undercover deployment without the appropriate level of supervision and oversight. This resulted in Ms Wilson’s human rights being breached.
“In entering into a sexual relationship, Kennedy’s actions went against the training and guidelines undercover officers received at the time. However, the Tribunal found that the training was inadequate and more should have been done to consider the risks of male undercover officers forming relationships with women. We accept these findings.
“It is important to note that since Mark Kennedy’s deployment there has been enormous change in undercover policing, both in the Met and nationally, and I want to be clear that this case in no way reflects modern-day undercover policing.
“We are completely committed to learning from past mistakes, and to make the necessary changes to try to ensure they aren’t repeated. The issues explored in this case are among those being closely examined by the Undercover Policing Inquiry, with which we continue to cooperate fully.
“Lessons learnt from this Judgment, the Inquiry and other reviews have been, and will continue to be, used to inform changes to training and guidance for undercover officers.”
Chief Constable Alan Pughsley, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for undercover policing, added: “Since the conduct of Mark Kennedy came to light, a number of reviews into undercover officer activity have been undertaken. These have resulted in significant changes to the way undercover policing is conducted nationally.
“The selection and training of all undercover officers has been standardised and is licensed by the independent body, the College of Policing.
“The training is significantly more rigorous than that during Mark Kennedy’s time, both in duration and content. Cover officers and those supervising and managing operations are now required to complete standardised training courses tailored to their roles.
“The psychological fitness and well-being of undercover officers is a key consideration during their recruitment, training and deployment. In addition to the relevant laws, regulations and rules in place, the conduct of undercover officers is governed by a National Code of Conduct and the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics.
“Significant work has been undertaken to ensure undercover officers and those authorising their deployment understand the legal limits within which they operate, including the core concepts of deployments needing to be necessary and proportionate, and the need to minimise collateral intrusion into the private lives of others.
“Oversight of undercover deployments is maintained at a senior level. At least those of Assistant Chief Constable rank or equivalent now authorise deployments, and for deployments exceeding 12 months, this is conducted by a Chief Constable or equivalent. The independent Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office is informed of, and scrutinises undercover deployments.
“As the Tribunal in this case acknowledged, undercover policing remains an effective and vital tactic in the fight against serious organised crime. Officers in these roles put themselves at great risk every day to protect the public.
“Policing will continue to review current policies to ensure tactics are used lawfully and ethically, and all officers uphold the highest professional standards.”