Judge defends undercover police lovers with Bond reference

"Ian Fleming did not dwell on the extent to which his hero used deception…"

A British judge based part of his decision on a case involving women deceived into having sexual relationships with an undercover policeman on a bizarre reference to James Bond, according to his concluding remarks, published today.

A joint lawsuit by 10 women and one man alledges emotional trauma following the revelation that the two men, Mark Kennedy and a second man who posed as "Mark Jacobs", who they had "deeply personal" relationships with were in fact police spies. But the judge hearing the case only gave them a partial right to trial, ruling that half the cases would have to be heard first by a closed court more commonly used to deal with cases involving the security service. Judge Tugendhat did, however, reject the Metropolitan Police's attempt to have the entire case thrown out of court.

In explaining his reasoning, the judge cited Ian Fleming's Bond books. The comments can be found at paragraph 177 in the ruling:

Other examples come to mind from the realms of fiction. James Bond is the most famous fictional example of a member of the intelligence services who used relationships with women to obtain information, or access to persons or property. Since he was writing a light entertainment, Ian Fleming did not dwell on the extent to which his hero used deception, still less upon the psychological harm he might have done to the women concerned. But fictional accounts (and there are others) lend credence to the view that the intelligence and police services have for many years deployed both men and women officers to form personal relationships of an intimate sexual nature (whether or not they were physical relationships) in order to obtain information or access.

In the context of the rest of the ruling, the judge appears to be claiming that, because a famous fictional spy had fictional sexual relationships with fictional women in fiction, Parliament must have intended the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to bestow the ability to have deceptive sexual relationships on police spies.

The Guardian explains the conclusion of Judge Tugendhat:

In his ruling, the judge said that claims against two police officers - Mark Kennedy and a second spy who posed as Mark Jacobs - should first be heard by the IPT. Both of these officers were deployed after 2000, and some of the claims allege their activities constituted a breach of the Human Rights Act, which came into force in October that year.

However, the judge said that other claims for damages under common law, including torts of misfeasance in public office, deceit, assault and negligence, should be heard by the high court.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.