Readings — From the April 2016 issue

The Spy Who Came

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From oral evidence given in 2013 by Mark Kennedy, a former undercover British police officer, to the British Home Affairs Committee. Between 2003 and 2010, Kennedy used a fake identity, Mark Stone, to infiltrate environmental-advocacy groups. During this period, he pursued a relationship with a female activist. In November, London’s Metropolitan Police agreed to pay compensation to seven women who had been unwittingly involved in intimate relationships with undercover officers. David Winnick, Michael Ellis, and Bridget Phillipson were members of the Home Affairs Committee. Keith Vaz was the committee chair.

keith vaz: I want to start by asking you: Were you allowed to have sexual relations with these women? Was it expected of you, or is it something that just happens?

mark kennedy: It was not expected.

vaz: At the start, when they say, “You are now an undercover agent,” do they give you any ground rules? You said, “My BlackBerry was fitted with a tracking device and they sanctioned every move I made.”

kennedy: That is what I said, yes. . . . The circumstances of these operations are such that my whereabouts were known all the time. Where Mark Stone lived, who his girlfriend might have been, what car he drove, was all intelligence that I am sure was coming into various police departments around the U.K.

vaz: You said, “My superiors knew who I was sleeping with, but chose to turn a blind eye because I was getting valuable information. They did nothing to prevent me falling in love.”

kennedy: It would have been difficult to believe that they did not know that I was sleeping with somebody.

vaz: Do you know whether other undercover agents would have been involved in similar activities? It seems to be standard for the job.

kennedy: When you attend the undercover course, part of the training is to say that you are not to engage in sexual activities.

vaz: But you went on and did it?

kennedy: Circumstances were such that, yes, I did.

vaz: We heard from your former partner who is, as you know from public utterances, traumatized.

kennedy: I understand.

vaz: Do you feel any guilt or responsibility? You also were married with children.

kennedy: Yes, sir.

david winnick: What are your feelings about the woman that you deceived, who feels very distraught, feels she has been exploited, and that she has been used in a “dirty” way?

kennedy: I loved her.

winnick: To what extent?

kennedy: I loved her more than anybody I have ever loved.

vaz: So why did you leave her?

kennedy: With respect, sir, I thought this inquiry was regarding the processes and the elements of the undercover operation in which I was working.

vaz: It is, but did you leave her because you were ordered to leave her?

kennedy: No, sir.

vaz: You left her of your own accord?

kennedy: Yes.

michael ellis: You feel the other party fully gave her consent?

kennedy: Correct.

ellis: You accept there was deception in the relationship, in that she did not know your true identity?

kennedy: No, I disagree.

ellis: Can you explain why?

kennedy: Because the person that I was seeing was sleeping with Mark Stone.

ellis: So you are saying that there was no deception, in that she did not know your other job?

kennedy: In the sense that I was an undercover police officer, I accept your point, but in the world that I was working in, for all intents and purposes I was Mark Stone.

bridget phillipson: You said the groups that you were involved with were promiscuous, and presumably you mean the women.

kennedy: Those women had relationships with other men and women throughout. Promiscuity was rife; non-monogamy was positively promoted and practiced.

phillipson: We have heard from some of the women that they feel this is an attempt to suggest that what happened to them was not as serious because they were all promiscuous anyway.

kennedy: It is certainly not something that I am attempting.

vaz: You are suing the Metropolitan Police?

kennedy: Yes, sir.

vaz: For what?

kennedy: For post-traumatic stress, for a lack of duty of care, and for subsequent loss of earnings.

vaz: You think they should have been more caring of you in your role.

kennedy: I do, yes. I certainly do.

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