In a story that seems lifted from a romance — albeit a dark, gritty one — an undercover police officer fell for and married the eco-activist he'd been assigned to spy on. But there's no happy ending.
Recently, four police spies were accused of having sexual relationships with their eco-activist targets; but Jim Boyling's case is unique: after starting a relationship while undercover — which he was for 5 years — he afterward secretly married and had kids with his activist girlfriend. Summarizes the Guardian, .
Using the false identity "Jim Sutton", Boyling infiltrated Reclaim the Streets, an environmental group famed for bringing streets to a standstill in unruly protests against cars. During his time undercover, when he is said to have become a key organiser, Boyling met a 28-year-old woman and began a relationship with her. He later disappeared from her life. It was only when he reappeared a year later that he told the woman he was a police officer. They later married and had two children but divorced two years ago.
Needless to say, this is verboten: says the chief constable,
It is grossly unprofessional. It is a diversion from what they are there to do. It is morally wrong because people have been put there to do a particular task and people have got trust in them.
There's no word yet on disciplinatry action. On the other hand, Boyling allegedly told his ex-wife that forming relationships made sense — hell, was "a necessary tool in maintaining cover."
But this ex, the activist, now says the involvement was hurtful and played havoc with her life: "Everybody knows there are people in the movement who aren't who they say they are...Being too paranoid would hinder everything. But you don't expect the one person you trust most in the world not to exist."
Clearly, what sounds dreamy in a Harlequin subgenre ("Undercover Lovers" or "Secret Identities" spring to mind) is seriously complicated — if human — in real life.
Undercover Policeman Married Activist He Was Sent To Spy On [Guardian]