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.

Photo: Getty
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No, Virgin Trains East Coast, I will not bid for the “luxury” of first class

Train tickets are already the height of decadence. 

You're sitting in standard class on a train journey from London to Edinburgh, and it's rammed. The man whose elbow keeps digging into yours is eating chips, and the grease is making you feel sick. You keep bumping legs with the man opposite. The woman sitting next to him is listening to music, with headphones seemingly designed to emit a tinny, irritating beat. And this is only the start. You've got five hours left to go. 

Virgin Trains East Coast wants to offer you a way out of this hellhole. Disgruntled standard class passengers can now bid for an upgrade to first class, where they can stretch out their legs, log in to the free wifi, proffer their glass for a top up of wine and look forward to their complimentary dinner. Prices start at just £5. According to the company's commercial director, this will allow passengers a chance to "treat themselves". The chief executive of Seatfrog, Iain Griffin, which runs the bidding platform, said it gave passengers "the chance to get a really good deal".

I can only assume Iain is a man who has never caught a Virgin Trains East Coast train before. Let's assume you're able to plan ahead. An advance ticket for a train leaving London on Wednesday 11 October at 7pm and returning at 7.35pm on Friday will set you back £72.50. That's the cheapest option. Or you can catch the Megabus, which takes more than 9 hours to get there. In fact, the price varies wildly. Buy a similar journey next week, and the cheapest tickets cost £102.50.

What riles the true East Coaster is also that it wasn't always this way. During the golden age, 2009 to 2015, East Coast was managed by the government (yes,  nationalised trains), and it had a generous loyalty programme, which allowed frequent travellers to trade points for full train journeys. It was still pricey (and profitable for the government), but regular customers felt valued, and there was a vigorous campaign to stop the government handing the franchise to Virgin Trains. 

Virgin promptly switched the loyalty scheme to Nectar. As the campaign group Save East Coast Rewards pointed out at the time, a £255 spend that once earned you a free train ticket now merely bought a sandwich. Not only that, but travellers complained that the cheapest advance tickets were harder to get hold of. 

It is already common for the East Coast traveller sitting in a packed train to be serenaded by announcements that the First Class carriages are spacious and empty. With First Class carriages taking up a third of all carriages on some journeys, there seems to me a more obvious solution - abolish First Class. 

Over the years, and especially during the golden age of nationalisation, I did occasionally find it worth my while to upgrade and drink wine for five hours straight. For £5 extra, it is great. One time, before it was abolished, I even had dinner in the buffet car. But £5 is the minimum starting bid, not the maximum, and frankly, I don't need to "treat myself" when I travel by Virgin Trains East Coast. Every time I pay more than £100 for a train to go home to visit my family in Edinburgh, I'm spending more than I would do for any other luxury. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.