Woman reveals police spy tricked her into relationship in 1970s
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Woman reveals police spy tricked her into relationship in 1970s

Former leftwing student says she was deceived by undercover officer who adopted fake identity










A public inquiry is scrutinising the police’s use of undercover officers to spy on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968.
Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

A woman has disclosed how she has discovered after 40 years that she was deceived into a sexual relationship by a police spy.

The woman, known as Mary, said the discovery was “very embarrassing and upsetting”. “I feel very used by him, and by the state, invading my privacy and my body,” she added.

She was a young leftwing student in the 1970s when she was tricked by the undercover officer, who had adopted the fake identity of Rick Gibson.

The woman made the discovery last month after a public inquiry, led by a judge, Sir John Mitting, confirmed in August that Gibson had infiltrated leftwing groups between 1974 and 1976.

The inquiry is scrutinising the police’s use of undercover officers to spy on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968. It is examining how undercover officers frequently began intimate relationships with campaigners they had been sent to spy on. Gibson is the earliest undercover officer who is known to have formed a sexual relationship with a campaigner.

In a statement published this week by the inquiry, Mary said she hoped the inquiry would understand that her experience illustrated “that the tactic and strategy of the police having intimate relationships with women activists was not a 1990s phenomenon but something that was employed much earlier”.

She said Gibson, who is now dead, also had a sexual relationship with her flatmate. “I do wonder how many other people he has deceived and hurt over time,” she said.

She added she and others were entitled to know whether Gibson was operating on instruction from senior figures in the police and government.

“I came from South Africa, thinking I had escaped that kind of interference by the state in the life of its citizens. To find that the police and the state in the UK operate in a similar fashion is very disturbing to me.”

Her statement disclosing her relationship with Gibson came ahead of a public hearing next Monday to help settle protracted legal arguments about how many undercover officers should be identified at the inquiry.

Mary has been granted anonymity by the inquiry after being located by campaigners in the Undercover Research Group, which investigates the covert infiltration of political movements.

She described how Gibson befriended her and her flatmate while they were at Goldsmiths college in south London and “very quickly became a frequent visitor” to their flat to socialise and co-ordinate political campaigning.

“At one point while he was still a regular visitor, Gibson and I became sexually intimate for a short period of time”, she wrote. “Between the two of us, my flatmate and I realised that there was something very odd about our encounters with him,” she wrote. He never spent the whole night with them, did not talk about his life or family, nor invited them to his home.

Police have previously admitted Gibson’s covert deployment was cut short in 1976 after activists grew suspicious about his background. The activists confronted him after uncovering a death certificate that showed that the individual that Gibson was purporting to be had died as a child. He disappeared, leaving the activists unable to confirm that he was an infiltrator.

Gibson infiltrated the Troops Out Movement, which campaigned for the withdrawal of British troops from Ireland, and Big Flame, a revolutionary group of socialists and feminists.

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