Policing scandal in spotlight with Any Means Necessary

Any Means Necessary (In rehearsal). Images Robert Day
Any Means Necessary (In rehearsal). Images Robert Day

In a week when the Met has admitted an undercover officer has been in a relationship with his target, comes a drama that couldn’t be more relevant.

Nottingham Playhouse tells the victims’ stories in a scandal that has rocked the establishment with Kefi Chadwick’s hard-hitting production, Any Means Necessary, which opens at the theatre next month.

When Mel meets Dave at a protest, she believes she has met her kindred spirit. Dave soon becomes central to her life and her activist friends. But is he who he appears to be?

It is an emotionally compelling drama that explores love, betrayal, secrets and lies and exposes the brutality of a police policy that used any means necessary to undermine political protest.

any means necessary in rehearsal

In 2011 a major legal scandal broke as it was revealed that that an undercover police officer had, for years, been living among political activists in Nottingham. Not only had he been spying on legitimate protest groups but, in his undercover persona, he had been engaging in long term intimate relationships with individuals within.

Dismissed by police as a ‘rogue officer’, it soon became clear that he was not alone and many undercover police had been spying on activists for decades, forming supposedly loving relationships and even fathering children with women in the groups. All their activity was fully sanctioned and funded by Special Branch.

With the subsequent collapse of high profile legal cases following these revelations, in July 2015, Lord Justice Pitchford opened a public inquiry into undercover policing.

As The Pitchford inquiry continued, Nottingham Playhouse commissioned a play from Kefi Chadwick. Any Means Necessary is inspired by interviews with many of those involved and drawn from unprecedented access to the women and legal teams involved.

This is a fictionalised account of what happened, how the abuse was perpetrated, the emotional costs it wrought and the victims’ drive to find out the truth about the men who had, for years, systematically and devastatingly deceived them.

The cast comprises Beatrice Comins (Fantabulosa – BBC, Coronation Street – ITV), writer and actress Lily Lowe-Myers, Jo Dockery (Great Britain – NT, Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time-West End, Samuel Oatley (New Tricks – BBC, Partners In Crime- BBC), Louise Mai Newbury (RSC, Bristol Old Vic), Kate Sissons (Vampire Diary – feature film) and Nick Karimi (Warhorse – West End, Titus Andronicus – Shakespeare’s Globe)

Kefi Chadwick said: “These cases show an incredible abuse of human rights and civil liberties and are one of the biggest police scandals of all time.

“To be able to bring the events to life on the stage at Nottingham, where one of the worst offenders lived and spied, is a great privilege and an important part of the victims’ right to have their stories heard.”

Artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse, and director of Any Means Necessary, Giles Croft said: “We are thrilled to be working with Kefi on the telling of this important story which has local, national and international implications.

“The beauty of her approach is to centre the drama on the human cost of the undercover police operations and to examine the effects on the families on both sides of the divide.”

Any Means Necessary runs at Nottingham Playhouse from February 5-20.

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