Woman deceived by undercover police attacks inquiry into tactics

Police officer Mark Jenner, who used a fake identity.
Police officer Mark Jenner, who used a fake identity.
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A woman who won an apology from the Metropolitan Police after being tricked into having a relationship with an undercover officer has become the latest to criticise a Scottish review of controversial surveillance methods.

“Alison” was one of a number of women who received unreserved apologies and compensation from Scotland Yard in 2015 after being deceived by undercover operatives.

A former teacher and left-wing activist, for four years she shared a flat with a man she knew as Mark Cassidy before he vanished in 2000.

He was later unmasked as Mark Jenner, an undercover officer in the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) which specialised in infiltrating protest groups.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Alison expressed concerns over trips Jenner made to Scotland with her that will not be examined by a review set up by the Scottish Government.

Officers working for the Met are known to have operated in Scotland, including spying on activists before the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) has confirmed its review will look at operations carried out in Scotland by the London-based National Public Order Intelligence Unit and Special Branch’s SDS, both now defunct.

However, campaigners have criticised the review’s limited reach – it will only go back to 2000 – and perceived links between HMICS and the forces it is investigating.

Alison said she visited Applecross, in Wester Ross, and the Cairngorms with Cassidy in 1997 and 1998.

“I’ve no idea what he was up to. Everything he did when he was with me was work, so if it was just a holiday, then it was a monstrous waste of public money,” she said.

The Scottish Government set up the undercover policing review after the Home Office refused to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry led by Sir Christopher Pitchford – which is looking at operations dating back to 1968 – north of the border.

“I just don’t understand the thinking of the Scottish review,” Alison said. “It makes you wonder if there is stuff they don’t want to uncover. By only going back to 2000, they’re writing huge chunks out of the story.”

Campaigner Dónal O’Driscoll added: “From the beginning we’ve denounced this [Scottish] review as police investigating police.

“The investigation is limited to anything after the year 2000, though abuses were taking place long before then. These are grave injustices; there is no statute of limitation, so no reason to stop investigating.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The review will be essential in gathering facts about existing and historical undercover policing activities, over the period the Scottish Parliament has had responsibility in this area, and will inform any future decisions we make. People can have full confidence that the HMICS review will be thorough and independent.”