A woman duped into a relationship by an undercover officer targeting leftist activists says she feels violated
Repost of David Collins, Northern Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 24 December 2017.
It was more like a honeymoon than a holiday when Lindsay’s charismatic British-Italian boyfriend whisked her away on a magical trip to Venice — whispering on the plane that he loved her and wanted to spend his life by her side.
They spent two days eating pasta and drinking red wine, sightseeing in the Piazza San Marco, and enjoying passionate encounters in their apartment.
Lindsay, then a bubbly 30-year-old from Liverpool with an interest in left-wing politics, thought Carlo Neri was “the one”. What she did not know, however, was that Neri was an undercover police officer on a mission to infiltrate the Socialist Party — and Lindsay was his designated target.
Speaking for the first time to The Sunday Times, Lindsay, now 47, whose real name is legally protected, feels betrayed not only by the police but by the British government.
I had committed no crime. I knew lots of people in the Socialist Party in London and Liverpool. I used to be politically active and took part in a few demonstrations, Stop the War and things like that. The Metropolitan police saw fit to make me a target of that man. Even now, I struggle to understand that our police force could be capable of such deception.
The police planted a spy in my bedroom, and I thought he loved me. The police were using sex as a weapon, and I feel violated.
I thought I was in a loving relationship, and all the time he was reporting on our lives together, reporting on my closest friends and family.
He took me to Venice. How can it possibly be of benefit to the British taxpayer to pay thousands of pounds for a police officer to take someone to Venice for sex and sightseeing?
Neri, a fake undercover name, was working for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a highly secretive unit in the Metropolitan police that kept tabs on political activists from the late 1960s until 2008. His conduct, and the behaviour of his colleagues, is the subject of a public inquiry led by Sir John Mitting. But two years after it was set up, the inquiry has yet to hear evidence in public because it is mired in legal tussles about how open it should be.
The officer is one of dozens currently applying to the Undercover Policing Inquiry for anonymity, arguing that naming him would have an adverse effect on his children.
The inquiry will not hear evidence from Lindsay and at least 12 women seduced by undercover police — some of whom had children with the spies — until 2019 at the earliest.
Sources close to the inquiry say police have been “dragging their feet” in arguing that evidence should be heard in secret about their scandal-hit undercover operations into political groups such as the Socialist Party, Youth against Racism in Europe and various environmental groups. The Socialist Party, formerly known as Militant, was a Trotskyite group which practised entryist tactics in the Labour Party in the 1980s, with prominent supporters including the MPs Dave Nellist and Pat Wall.
Some of the duped women fear that Mitting will hear important evidence in secret. “The police have been slow in making anonymity requests for its officers,” a source said. “It’s time for them to stop dragging their feet.”
In total, Neri had relationships with three women while undercover. His nine-month relationship with Lindsay ended in 2002. He soon began dating a second woman, an activist known as Andrea whom he met on an anti-war protest. Neri attended Socialist Party branch meetings in Hackney and Camden in London.
It is believed he was reporting to the Met on campaigning work in trade unions, housing campaigns, strikes and anti-fascist activity across Europe.
He seduced me because he thought I could introduce him to other members of the Socialist Party. His wife can’t have known what he was doing for a day job. He showed me pictures of his son and said he had not seen him since he was a baby. He said he wanted to be part of his son’s life again. I thought he was opening up to me — but it was all lies.
After being introduced through friends, Lindsay quickly fell in love with Neri. He bought her thoughtful presents: an expensive camera, a set of bongos, and political books. “He seemed to me to be open and honest. He didn’t talk much about politics, and I never felt like he was trying to get information out of me.
I had just come out of a long-term relationship and was looking for a bit of fun. I found him physically attractive. Starting off, I would see him three or four times a week, usually at a flat he had in Hackney. We would go out with friends together, drinking, doing the normal things couples do.
Neri’s cover story was that he was a locksmith in north London. Lindsay was never introduced to his family or friends. When her friend organised a surprise birthday party for her in Liverpool, Neri turned up at Keith’s wine bar in Lark Lane — the life and soul of the party.
He met my mum and dad. They loved him. Everybody did. To think that I even introduced him to my parents — I feel completely humiliated.
The relationship ended when he began to disappear for days without good reason. Eventually, he told her his mother in Italy was ill. Soon after that, they parted ways.
Thirteen years later, in 2015, a close friend from activist circles informed her that her past love was a police spy. Lindsay was incredulous.
At first I didn’t believe it. I just couldn’t process it. There was no clue, nothing. I’m still in shock. I have a son who doesn’t know about it. But when he grows up, I’m going to tell him the lengths the police and government will go to, to spy on its citizens.
She is suing the Metropolitan police for damages. The Met has paid compensation to at least 12 women who were deceived into sexual relationships by undercover officers.
The Met said it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.