Donna McLean: I was engaged to an undercover police officer – everything in the relationship was a lie

The Guardian | January 29, 2022

To me, Carlo was the activist who swept me off my feet. Only years later did I discover that nothing he told me had been real – and that he was a spy cop and already married.

It’s September 2015 and my mum and my sister have come by train from Scotland to visit me at home on the Kent coast, hoping to catch the last of the autumn heat. They live in the rainiest part of the UK, and I’ve moved to the corner with the most sun.

I close the kitchen door on my twin daughters playing in the living room, shushing the dogs away.

“I need to talk to you about Carlo,” I say.

“Carlo?” my mum splutters. This is not what either of them had expected. It is almost 11 years since Carlo and I split up, leaving me homeless and devastated. It’s not something we talk about any more.

“Has he been in touch with you? Tell him to get to – ”

“No. No, Mum, he hasn’t been in touch.”

“What’s he done?”

“Well. It’s kind of a long story. Have you heard in the news about the women who had relationships with men who turned out to be undercover police officers?”

“Yes,” my sister says. “That guy with the funny eye. He was in Scotland for the G8. What’s his name?”

“Kennedy. Mark Kennedy.”

“He was targeting environmental groups, right?” My sister has always been politically aware. It’s one of the things we have in common.

“Well … Carlo was one of them, too.”

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