British police secretly monitored and recorded the personal activities of an environmental activist while she was being deceived into a two-year intimate relationship by an undercover officer, a tribunal has heard.
The files on the covert surveillance show how the activist, Kate Wilson, and the police spy, Mark Kennedy, frequently stayed together, visited her parents’ house, and went on holiday. They chronicle trips the couple made to the cinema, a museum and a concert, as well as a visit to the college where she had studied.
They also disclose that the police authorised Kennedy to buy Wilson a mountain bike to help maintain contact with her, and signed off cash to help her socialise with activists he wanted to spy on.
The disclosures were made on Wednesday at a hearing of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) where Wilson is taking a legal case against the Metropolitan police for violating her human rights.
The police have admitted Kennedy’s managers knew he was having an intimate relationship with Wilson and allowed it to continue.
It was the first such admission by police chiefs, who have claimed that their undercover officers were not allowed to have sexual relationships with campaigners they were spying on, under any circumstances. The police have been compelled to disclose a limited number of official files that were heavily censored.
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Drawing on these files Wilson submitted a statement outlining how she was subjected to “heavy and expensive surveillance” by the police. Entries in the files date from 2004 to 2006. For much of this time she was in a relationship with Kennedy, an undercover officer who spent seven years infiltrating the lives of environmental campaigners. Wilson discovered his true identity in 2010.
In her statement, she records her “painful” discovery from the files that she was one of the named targets of a covert surveillance operation into leftwing activists known as Pegasus.
The files, described in her statement, recorded how Kennedy stayed or visited her parents’ home on 11 occasions. Kennedy noted he had “fulfilled a promise to clean windows” at her parents’ home “as they were high up and Mrs W had a bad back”.
The records show that on another occasion Kennedy went from her parents’ home to Gatwick airport to drop her off for a flight, and that on another occasion he was “met at Heathrow airport” by her. He noted that he was “on holiday in Lake District” with her and others, according to another entry.
During their relationship Kennedy was given permission by his superiors to spend up to £80 on a secondhand mountain bike for her to “facilitate ease of travel around and also maintain contact”. Other entries recorded their campaigning activities around the country together.
After a lengthy legal battle police previously paid compensation to Wilson and 11 other women after admitting they had been deceived into abusive intimate relationships by undercover officers.
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Wilson has taken her claim to the IPT as she wants to establish how she was deceived and which senior officers knew about it. “After years of being lied to by the [police] I have a deep and desperate need to know the truth,” she told the IPT.
At the hearing on Wednesday the Met opposed an order to disclose more documents, arguing it would waste taxpayers’ money. It had argued the tribunal should adjudicate Wilson’s claim swiftly as it had already admitted her human rights had been violated.
Wilson criticised the police’s “cruel, obstructive and aggressive” approach to her legal claim.
At the hearing the Met disclosed that police have been conducting a criminal investigation, known as Operation Montrose, into Kennedy’s conduct when he was undercover.