British undercover police officers can start sexual relationships with suspected criminals if it means they are more plausible, a minister said Wednesday.
Home office minister Nick Herbert said that under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), officers were permitted to have sex as part of their job.
There had been confusion about whether undercover police were allowed to go that far following the collapse of a case against environmental activists in Nottinghamshire.
It emerged that the group was infiltrated by an officer called Mark Kennedy, who had been in sexual relationships with two women in the campaign, The Telegraph reported.
Kennedy spent seven years posing as long-haired dropout climber Mark "Flash" Stone to infiltrate activists and admitted having sex with women during the operation.
Speaking in a debate in Westminster Hall, Herbert said it was important police were allowed to have sex with activists because otherwise it could be used as a way of outing potential undercover officers.
"But this would depend on the circumstances of each individual case and consideration should always be given to seeking legal advice."