The Guardian’s Jonathan Freeland comments on a new principle created by Mr Justice Tugendhat this week as he ruled on whether a case brought by 10 women and one man duped into fraudulent relationships by undercover police officers should be heard in open court or in a secret tribunal. The decision hinged on whether the law governing agents of the state allows them to form sexual relationships with those they spy upon. The good judge believes that when MPs wrote the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) in 2000, permitting undercover police to form ‘personal or other’ relationships, they must have meant it to include sexual relationships.
According to Mr Justice Tugendhat, the framers of the legislation would have had a specific secret agent (James Bond) in mind when wording the law:
James Bond is the most famous fictional example of a member of the intelligence services who used relationships with women… [lending] 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.
The author goes on to discuss the reasons which lead him to brand what he describes as the ‘007 standard’ as absurd.