LONDON (AP) — Scotland Yard has settled legal claims from seven female activists who said undercover police had formed "intimate sexual relationships" while investigating protest movements.
The police apologized Friday for the "totally unacceptable" behavior of a number of undercover officers in the now-disbanded units. The financial terms of the settlement are being kept secret.
Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said "some officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong."
He said the intimate relationships were a violation of the women's human rights and an abuse of police power that caused "significant trauma." He said the women had been deceived into entering relationships with the undercover officers.
The police worked for the Special Demonstration Squad, an undercover unit within the elite Special Branch until 2008, and for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit that ceased operation in 2011. They infiltrated environmental groups, animal rights activists and anarchists.
The British press reported in 2012 that two of the undercover police had fathered children with women from the groups they had infiltrated. Hewitt said the women sought assurances that undercover police would not enter into sexual relationships with subjects in the future.
"They referred to the risks that children could be conceived through and into such relationships and I understand that," he said.
Hewitt said a criminal investigation and a misconduct investigation into the conduct of the undercover police is continuing.