Andy Davey was my first proper boyfriend. A member of the same animal rights group as me, we started an intimate relationship when he was 24, single, and worked as a ‘man with a van’.
Or at least that’s what I believed for 25 years.
The truth was ‘Andy Davey’ never existed. The person pretending to be my boyfriend was, in reality, 32, married – and an undercover police officer named Andy Coles. An officer in the Special Demonstration Squad, he was deployed to spy and collect information on protest groups in the UK.
It was decades later that I found out the truth, but nothing prepares you for finding out the person you shared your most intimate moments with was a paid actor, a total stranger. Through a network of activists supporting those affected by undercover police abuses I discovered the truth: that in his ‘real’ life, Coles had gone on to become deputy police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire, and a Conservative councillor. His arrogance, working in two publicly respected positions despite the completely unjustified relationship he had with me, turned my stomach. How could someone who used me like that be fit for public office?
The guilt and shame I feel for what happened, knowing I didn’t protect the 19-year-old me, is driving my need to continue campaigning.
As painful as it was, I decided I had to tell my story publicly. People have a right to know what these undercover officers were doing to women like me; by exposing the truth, I hope to ensure this never happens to anybody else. In May 2017, Channel 4 ran my story. Three days later, Coles stepped down as deputy police and crime commissioner.
I knew then I needed to make an official complaint. I wanted the police to investigate the wrongdoing. I wanted to put my case on record, and I wanted the police to look at the evidence and state who they believed was telling the truth. To get to that point, I had to give a four-hour interview, answering everything they asked, including...