Undercover officers and open justice

Heather Williams QC, Phillippa Kaufmann QC and Charlotte Kilroy appeared in the High Court resisting applications by the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers to strike out claims brought by women who had long-term sexual relationships with undercover police officer Mark Kennedy whom they believed at the time to be a fellow environmental activist, and also claims brought by a further three other individuals in relation to sexual relationships conducted with another undercover police officer known as Mark Jacobs. The police's argument is that these claims, which raise causes of action both under the Human Rights Act 1998 and in tort, should all be heard in secret in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) and not in the High Court. The IPT would hear these claims almost entirely in secret and in the absence of the claimants. The application raises important issues about the construction of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), and the powers of the IPT. In particular it raises the question of whether RIPA permits police forces and other public authorities to authorise undercover police officers to establish sexual relationships with members of the public in order to gather intelligence. The first set of claimants are represented by Phillippa Kaufmann QC and Charlotte Kilroy and the second set of claimants by Heather Williams QC and Helen Law. For a fuller account of the proceedings and background please see here

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