msnbc.com
updated 1/19/2011 9:41:40 PM ET 2011-01-20T02:41:40

A police officer sent to spy on the environmental movement in Britain married an activist and had children with her, the Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.

The newspaper reported that the details were revealed even as the senior officer managing the response to allegations of undercover shenanigans insisted that officers were strictly banned from having sexual relationships with their targets.

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This police spy is the fourth identified as an undercover officer engaged in surveillance of eco-activists. Three of those are accused of having sexual relations with their targets.

"Something has gone badly wrong here. We would not be where we are if it had not," Jon Murphy, the chief constable of Merseyside, told the Guardian.  "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," he said.

The Guardian reported that the officer, Jim Boyling, infiltrated Reclaim the Streets, a group that brought streets to a standstill in protests against cars.

He became a key organizer and began a relationship with a 28-year-old woman, then disappeared. A year later, he reappeared and told her he was a police officer. They married and had two children but divorced a couple of years ago, the Guardian reported.

The woman told the Guardian that Boyling had her change her name to conceal their relationship from his superiors and didn't tell them about her until around the time they married in 2005.

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The woman told the Guardian that Boyling revealed to her the names of at least two other undercover officers.

She said she was speaking out because she hoped to reveal how infiltration of the protest movement "wrecks lives."

Murphy defended the tactics, telling the Guardian that the activists had amidst them a small number "intent on causing harm, committing crime and on occasions disabling parts of the national critical infrastructure."

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