by Michaela Whitton
United Kingdom — British activist Helen Steel, who was duped into a relationship with an undercover spy, has confronted the former Metropolitan police officer at Sydney airport. Social justice campaigner Steel flew from London to Australia to meet John Dines, with whom she had a two year relationship before realising she was a victim of state-backed deception.Steel met Dines in 1987 when she was a Greenpeace activist. Within six months of beginning a relationship, they moved in together, planned to buy a house, and talked of starting a family — before he had a supposed breakdown and completely disappeared.
Heartbroken and distraught, Steel started a painstaking search for the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with, and spent years attempting to piece together his identity. Her search for truth finally led to the discovery that the man she knew as John Barker was actually John Dines — a member of the special demonstration squad — who had even used the name of a dead child in his state-backed identity forging.
Steel is one of seven women to receive an apology from the Met Police for their suffering at the hands of long-term undercover operations that infiltrated political and social causes and campaigns groups.
Ironically, the airport confrontation took place 24 years to the day since she had last seen Dines. “I remember because it was International Women’s Day,” she told the Guardian.
Apologies from the former officer for the harm he caused her hasn’t allayed Steel’s fears at Dines’ current involvement in police training courses in Australia, and she is concerned about what he may be teaching:
“When I found out he was a course director and that the course included leftwing extremism I was very concerned about what tactics they were being trained in and whether they were going to be trained in many of the discredited tactics that were used in the U.K. which have been now acknowledged to be human rights abuses,” she said.
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