A woman deceived into a relationship with an undercover police officer has been awarded almost £230,000 after a tribunal ruled her human rights had been breached.
Environmental activist Kate Wilson, 41, started a relationship with Mark Stone in 2003 and had a “whirlwind romance” for nearly two years before breaking up.
She found out in 2010 he was a married policeman called Mark Kennedy – part of Metropolitan Police’s public order intelligence unit – who was undercover to spy on activists.
Kennedy had sexual relationships with up to 10 other women during the operation.
One – with a woman known as “Lisa” – went on for six years before she saw his real name in a passport.
An Investigatory Powers Tribunal has now ruled there were human rights breaches and ordered the Met and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) to pay Ms Wilson £229,471.
The activist also had contact with half a dozen other undercover officers between 1998 and 2010, including some from the Special Demonstration Squad unit.
She argued her right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, her right to privacy and right to freedom of expression had been infringed.
The Met and NPCC accepted her case but denied other officers, apart from Kennedy and his cover officer, knew or suspected there was a sexual relationship.
Helen Ball, the Met’s assistant commissioner for professionalism, said there had been “serious failings” that meant Kennedy wasn’t properly supervised.
“In entering into a sexual relationship, Kennedy’s actions went against the training and guidelines undercover officers received at the time,” she said.
“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.”
The tribunal also said a failure to guard against the risk of undercover officers having sexual relationships amounted to unlawful discrimination against women.
Spying on protesters ‘political policing’
Ms Wilson said in a statement: “It is important to note the IPT compensation is not about the relationship I was deceived into by Mark Kennedy. That was settled in a civil claim back in 2017.
“It is compensation for the parts of the claim that the police denied right up to the end – how complicit Mark’s managers were, and the role of five other undercover officers in violating my political rights, and the fact that they dragged out those denials for 10 years.”
She said the ruling was also recognition that “spying on the protest movement is political policing and has no place in a democratic society”.
The NPCC said “significant” changes to undercover policing had been implemented and that training is now “significantly more rigorous than that during Mark Kennedy’s time, both in duration and content”.
Approval from assistant chief constable rank or equivalent is now needed and the “independent Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office is informed of and scrutinises undercover deployments”.