For seven years, a police officer posed as an environmental activist and then sparked the collapse of a prosecution case against six other activists when he switched sides and offered to give evidence against the Crown. The bizarre story, which now it seems involves a second undercover police woman, does make one question just who is running the police force and exactly what their priorities are. PC Mark Kennedy is understood to have confirmed the woman was a fellow police officer two months ago, when being confronted by friends over his true identity. Kennedy later quit the Metropolitan Police, expressing misgivings over an audacious operation that saw him betray close personal friendships and their is mounting concern over what appears to have been a co-ordinated police operation to disrupt a peaceful activists’ campaign against climate change.
Kennedy’s double life under the fake identity “Mark Stone” (nicknamed ‘Flash’) was exposed two months ago by activists who had become suspicious of his willingness to help plan and pay for a planned invasion of a power station near Nottingham. In Parliament, Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said he would write to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, after questions emerged over the accuracy of parliamentary testimony about the use of plain clothes officers at protests. Vaz said it had appeared the Commissioner and one of his commanders, Bob Broadhurst, had failed to disclose “the full facts” about the infiltration of protests when giving parliamentary evidence in 2009. “During our inquiry into the G20 protests,
Posing as a “freelance climber”, Kennedy had infiltrated dozens of protest groups in 22 countries. His true identity was only discovered in October, when friends who had grown suspicious of his behaviour discovered a passport bearing his real name. Confronted with other documents that proved he had been a police officer since 1994, Kennedy admitted that he had been working undercover. A German MP has now said that Kennedy ‘tresspassed’ into the lives of German political activists. Andrej Hunko, an MP for the leftwing Linke party, issued a press release saying Kennedy had been “active” in Germany as well as the UK and had “trespassed” in the private lives of activists. The German government had refused to answer a series of parliamentary questions that Hunko posed using information from the Guardian newspapers investigation into Kennedy, Hunko today (11th January) demanded the German Bundestag reveal the extent to which German authorities had been complicit in Kennedy’s operations.
Twenty other activists were convicted of conspiring to break into the power station last month, after they failed to convince a jury that their actions were designed to stop 150,000 tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere. Those activists were given reasonably lenient sentences last week, after Judge Jonathan Teare recognised their protest was intended as a “legitimate” demonstration with “the highest possible motives” saying “You are all decent men and women with a genuine concern for others, and in particular for the survival of planet Earth in something resembling its present form”.
The Times newspaper (Saturday 15th January) now claims the case was scrapped because Nottinghamshire Police may have hidden evidence. An independent probe has been launched amid the claims, which suggests that the Crown Prosecution Service was informed the force had hidden tapes that “fatally undermined” the case against the protesters. Nottinghamshire Police has also confirmed they would hold an internal review into the secret operation.
UPDATE 20th January 2011
It seems that in the wake of the Mark Kennedy fiasco, The Association of Chief Police Officers will be stripped of the power to run operational police units. Nick Herbert MP, the Police Minister, told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee that the Metropolitan Police would take over the running of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit to provide “proper accountability” for its undercover activities. As well as an Independent Police Complaints Commission enquiry and a HMIC (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary) enquiry, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency will also review Mr Kennedy’s deployment.