Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Last Chance for Human Rights

Some of the women survivors of long-term relationships with undercover police are back in court next week. Although very similar things happened to them all over a long period of time - hence suing the bosses for the strategy of psychological and sexual abuse, rather than the individual officers - only incidents that occurred after the Human Rights Act have a human rights claim in UK courts. So this case just involves three women who had long term relationships with Mark Kennedy.

The rest of the claimants do have the same human rights regarding privacy and freedom from degrading and inhumane treatment, but would need to have the money to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Remember that next time you hear Tory clamour - now a manifesto pledge for 2015 - to repeal the Human Rights Act. It wouldn't be withdrawing human rights, just ensuring that they're only enforcable for the rich. (Although as of last month they are talking about withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights entirely.)

When the Human Rights Act was introduced, the government spotted that state espionage will often breach human rights, and relevant cases under the Act might involve very sensitive, even life threatening information. To deal with this, they set up Investigatory Powers Tribunals. These are bullshit Stalinist secret courts that the claimant is not allowed into. The state presents its evidence, the claimants don't see what the state has said to see if its true (or see what is true but ahs been omitted). The claimants are not there to cross-examine anyone. The judge then makes up their mind and says who has won, without giving any reasons for their decision. There is no right of appeal.

In cases of genuine secrecy with lives on the line you can imagine how such measure might appear necessary. But in the case of environmental activists it's nonsense. More, the case of Mark Kennedy, who hired Max Clifford to repeatedly sell his stories to the Daily Mail, could scarcely be less secret. Yet in January a judge decided that the womens' human rights claim should go to a Bullshit Stalinist Tribunal.

It is not about the interests of national security. It is plainly an obstacle being used by the guilty to avoid accountability. Yet again we see state powers enacting a double injustice - committing a gross offence against citizens, then when it is caught it tries every trick available to deny them justice.

Next week the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal against the decision to go to the Bullshit Stalinist Tribunal. It is the last chance to ensure press and public scrutiny of Mark Kennedy’s police commanders over Human Rights Act abuses.

The support group for some of the women, Police Spies Out Of Lives, has called for a picket on the opening day:

- Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube)
- Tuesday 15 October, 9am-10am

There is more info and explanation about the hearing in their press release.

The 'Where We Stand' statement by the eight women in the Police Spies Out of Lives case is an absolute must-read.

The group finally set up social media this week, so you can keep up to date with the cases by following them on Twitter @out_of_lives or liking them on Facebook at

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