Woman says she was a victim of police ‘spy’ during six-month affair 

I want undercover officer who tricked me into an affair charged with state-sponsored sex abuse: Former activist tells how she was a victim of police ‘spy’ during six-month affair

  • Metropolitan Police officer Jim Boyling went undercover as activist Jim Sutton
  • He lived a double life for five years posing as an environmental campaigner 
  • He dated a woman known as ‘Monica’ and she is urging the CPS to charge him with sexual assault and misconduct in public office

An environmental activist who had a passionate six-month relationship with an undercover police ‘spy’ claims she was a victim of ‘state-sponsored sexual abuse’ and is calling for him to face criminal charges.

Speaking out for the first time about her ordeal the woman, who has been granted anonymity and is known as Monica, told The Mail on Sunday about her liaison with renegade Metropolitan Police officer Jim Boyling.

He lived a double life for five years, posing as an environmental and animal rights campaigner. Although the Met has paid civil damages to 12 other women tricked into relationships with undercover officers from the infamous covert Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), criminal charges have repeatedly been ruled out by the Crown Prosecution Service.

In Monica’s case the CPS decided the woman’s relationship with Boyling was based on ‘genuine’ feelings on his part. Now, in a groundbreaking legal action, she has launched a bid to fight for that decision to be reversed in a judicial review, urging that charges of sexual assault, misconduct in public office or procurement should be considered against him.

Jim Boyling went undercover as Jim Sutton, and dated environmental activist ‘Monica’

Monica’s lawyer argues that:

  • Boyling’s deception meant that her consent to have sex with him was invalid, therefore he committed an assault;
  • Her case is comparable to a sexual assault trial last year where a lesbian tricked a woman into having sex with her by posing as a man;
  • Because Boyling was breaking police rules by having sex with her, it could constitute misconduct in public office.

Monica’s solicitor, Harriet Wistrich of Birnberg Peirce, said: ‘It’s really important for the court to examine if sexual offences have been committed.’

In 2017, lesbian Gayle Newland was jailed for six years for sexual assault after disguising herself as a man and duping a woman friend into sex, using a prosthetic penis Ms Wistrich said: ‘If a woman can be prosecuted for a sexual assault for deception based on her gender, I don’t see why a police officer cannot be prosecuted as well because of the extreme level of deceit.’

DC Boyling, part of the Met’s now-disbanded SDS, formed three sexual relationships with women he spied on. He married one of them, fathering two children. Monica, the first of those women, recalled the devastating moment in 2011, a full 14 years after they parted, when she discovered the man she had loved never really existed.

‘Your life explodes,’ she said, ‘and when you get through that explosion you can’t put it back together the way it used to be.’

Last week Boyling was sacked from the Met for gross misconduct after a tribunal heard he had pursued an ‘unauthorised’ sexual relationship using a false identity with a woman known as ‘Rosa’ and even concealed his marriage to her. The force said that sexual relationships between undercover officers and members of the public were forbidden.

Monica, an attractive dark-haired woman from the North West, moved to London in the autumn of 1995 and became an activist with hard-line environmental group Reclaim The Streets (RTS) which opposed fossil fuel use and would illegally block off inner-city roads to stage impromptu street parties.

In 1997 the ‘painfully shy’ 26-year-old was introduced to ‘Hunt Sab Jim’. It was Boyling, posing as an animal rights activist. With shoulder-length hair and a long beard, he was also known as ‘grumpy Jim’ or ‘Jim with the van’, as he was unique among the group in having his own vehicle, which he said he used for building work.

Both new to the group, Monica said she and Jim struck up an immediate bond and they would often adjourn to a nearby pub after meetings. Their relationship soon turned sexual and before long she was sleeping at his South London flat two or three nights a week, leaving a toothbrush and some clothes there. She said: ‘He had a good sense of humour and was also charming – though he was a bit of a cynic. I don’t think I personally was targeted apart from being someone who attended meetings with the group.’

Jim lived a double life for five years, posing as an environmental and animal rights campaigner

But it’s easy to see how her insecurity and vulnerability made her easily malleable at the hands of a man trained for a life of deception.

‘I thought he was somebody who shared my ideals. I hadn’t had a happy life, I felt very underconfident and painfully shy. Our sexual relationship lasted for six or seven months, but he was my friend before and after that relationship and somebody that I trusted.’

Even though she enjoyed his company, there were occasional glimpses of a harder side to him.

One came when the couple slept in the back of Jim’s van in the Lake District en route to an ‘action’.

‘He had a really good sleeping bag and mine wasn’t,’ recalled Monica. ‘I woke in the night freezing and told him I was cold, but he just turned his back on me and went back to sleep. I remember feeling that it was almost as if I did not exist.’

She said Jim was always vague about his background, claiming to be adopted, yet showed no interest in finding his birth mother.

‘He told me he didn’t want to find out who his parents were because he didn’t care, which I thought was a bit odd but accepted at face value. He was a committed activist, as far as I’m concerned.’

In her High Court statement Monica said Jim smoked cannabis ‘a lot’, which led her back to a smoking habit she had kicked, exacerbating a bronchial problem. She added: ‘He lived in a nice one-bed flat with a garden. He used to play Bob Marley.’

Monica said Jim moved up the ranks to become one of the organisers of RTS ‘actions’. One was a protest called ‘Never Mind the Ballots’ in April 1997, which urged people to abstain from voting in that year’s General Election because of a lack of electoral choice. There was a huge street party in Trafalgar Square attended by thousands.

After six months their relationship ended but it was Monica who broke it off, and the tears that flowed were his, not hers.

‘I realised I didn’t feel 100 per cent committed to Jim and I didn’t want to hurt him. I remember being on the phone to him after we split up and him saying, “I’m really missing you,” and he cried.’

The pair remained friends until Monica moved from the capital to the South Coast in 1999, and she never saw Jim again.

In 2011, when she had drifted away from activism and become a social worker, a scandal was brewing which would blow the Met’s use of undercover policemen wide open – and turn her life upside down.

A reclaim the streets demo in London in 1997

A dozen other women had brought a High Court action against the Met after being tricked into sexual relationships with officers from the SDS. Among them was Rosa, the woman who married Boyling, and when friends of Monica’s from her RTS days read about the lawsuit and heard the alias ‘Jim Sutton’, they realised that she too had been duped by the police spy.

‘They knew I needed to know,’ said Monica. ‘Everything I thought was a reality, that I had a friend called Jim Sutton who I had a relationship with, wasn’t real. Someone I thought cared for me didn’t exist.

‘He was a hero to me, who really put his neck on the line.’

Insult would be added to injury as details emerged of the ‘Tradecraft’ training manual of the SDS, which referred to activists as ‘Wearies’ – deemed wearisome individuals by the officers spying on them.

Initially, Monica didn’t feel confident enough to mount her own legal case against the Met. ‘I would get in my car, go to work and I would hear about what was going on in the women’s cases on the radio and my whole day at work would be affected. I’d be all over the place. I had a friend who would say to me, “It’s like rape.” ’

As time went by, her shock transformed into a profound anger.

‘Now I can see the level of violation in a way I couldn’t previously. I think it was state-sponsored sexual abuse. It was taking something that wasn’t offered or freely given because no one had the full facts. The key thing is I had sex with somebody who was an undercover police officer, in the guise of an intimate relationship, because I thought he was somebody else. That identity was constructed by him, his managers or the people he worked with.’

Quite apart from her legal fight, she would like to judge for herself how genuine the Met’s apology was in 2011 when they admitted that undercover police had deceived women into ‘abusive, deceitful, manipulative’ relationships.

The measure of this, Monica says, would be a meeting with the woman now at the force’s helm, Commissioner Cressida Dick.

‘I hope the Met Police can have the courage to continue to address this with honesty and openness.

‘The CPS thought we cannot prosecute this man – let’s think how we can reason this away. That is why I’m challenging them. They didn’t consider me or my human rights or the other two women. The Met also has to change. I would like Cressida Dick to meet us woman to woman.’

Monica is left tortured by doubts about what the man she loved really thought of her. ‘I look back and think there were a few times he was laughing at me. I thought we shared an identity and ideology.

‘But actually this person is the son of a policeman, been to university, joined Special Branch. He’s a successful person in the eyes of the system and the State.’

She reflects bitterly how she feels she was used for his sexual gratification and was merely ‘a fringe benefit of the job’.

Boyling, now 53, who served as an officer for 30 years, and was undercover from 1995-2000, declined to comment on Monica’s claims or her legal action. Earlier this week he denied he had begun a relationship ‘without authorisation’.

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