Helen Steel thought she was in a loving relationship. But instead, she was part of an elaborate cover story for an undercover police officer.
Now, after almost two decades, she has finally confronted him about his long running deception.
The former police spy duped her into a two year relationship before disappearing, claiming he was having a “mental breakdown”.
Steel is one of a number of women who became involved with undercover officers in the UK in the 1980s. The police officers were planted throughout left-wing activist communities, allegedly to weed out “extremism”.
“John was part of the…special demonstration squad which spied on trade unionists, anti-racists and environmental campaigners,” Steel told the Guardian, who have shared footage of the meeting, which took place at Sydney airport.
An outspoken social justice campaigner, Steel characterises the deception as a “human rights abuse” and was part of a group action against the police force which sought reparations for the emotional trauma caused by “abusive”, “manipulative” relationships.
Steel spoke exclusively with the Guardian about the meeting:
In 1987 Dines was given the identity of an eight year-old-boy who had died of leukaemia and met Steel while posing as an anti-capitalist activist for five years.
The couple began a two year relationship and he told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
When he began having mental health issues in 1991 he said it was because his parents had abused him.
He said he needed to run away to escape his “inner demons”.
A year later when Dines vanished, Steel was left to cope with a “complete rollercoaster of emotions”.
While she worried he had killed himself, he was busily working at Metropolitan police headquarters.
“It was like a bereavement but it was not something that I could talk to people about,” she said.