An undercover police officer has admitted that women he deceived into sexual relationships would not have given their consent if they had known his true identity, a public inquiry has heard.
Vince Miller, who infiltrated a leftwing campaign group for three years, admitted it had been “morally questionable, inappropriate and unprofessional” to have deceived the women. He said he had made a mistake and accepted responsibility for it.
Miller has been accused of lying to the inquiry about the full extent of his sexual relationships during his deployment.
He is the first of the undercover officers who deceived campaigners into intimate relationships during their deployments to give evidence to the inquiry, which is headed by a retired judge, Sir John Mitting.
The inquiry is examining how an estimated 139 undercover officers spied on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968. At least 20 officers deceived women into sexual relationships between the mid-1970s and 2010.
Miller has claimed that he had “one night stands” with four women while he was undercover between 1976 and 1979.
One of the women, known only as Madeleine, said Miller had lied to the inquiry about the nature of their relationship.
Madeleine told the inquiry on Monday she had a relationship with Miller for several months in 1979 after the end of her marriage to her abusive and controlling husband. She said she now regarded her sexual relationship with Miller as rape. The other three women have not given evidence.
On Tuesday, Mitting said Madeleine “impressed me as a sincere and essentially truthful person” and asked Miller why their accounts were different.
Miller, whose testimony was punctuated by long pauses, said: “I could believe what she said. It’s just that my memory is to the contrary.”
Miller was asked by David Barr, the inquiry’s QC: “Is it possible that you are not being quite as forthcoming about the full extent of your sexual relations with Madeleine because you know that a relationship is worse than a one night stand?”
Miller said: “I have no recollection of any further sexual relations with her.”
Barr also asked: “Would Madeleine have slept with someone who she knew to be an undercover police officer?” Miller agreed that she would not have, adding that he gave no thought to that question at the time.
When asked if he accepted that his conduct in relation to all four women had been “morally questionable”, Miller answered: “Yes.”
Miller, who infiltrated the leftwing group the Socialist Workers party, said that it had been inevitable that some of his colleagues would deceive women into sexual relationships, but added that he did not know if the managers did anything about it.
Police chiefs have admitted in recent years that undercover officers who infiltrated political groups formed “abusive and deceitful” relationships with at least 12 women between the 198os and 2010 and have paid them compensation.
Last week, the women published training videos online to persuade undercover officers not to have intimate relationships during their deployments. The videos are voiced by the actors Maxine Peake and Siobhán McSweeney and focus on issues such as consent, privacy, institutional sexism and the right to protest.
The inquiry, which is currently concentrating on undercover operations in the 1970s and early 1980s, continues.