Nick Collings / The Telegraph – 2011-01-11 22:25:32
Trial against Environmental Activists Dropped after Undercover Met Police Officer Wwitches Sides
Nick Collings / The Telegraph
LONDON (January 10, 2011) — A trial against six environmental activists has been suddenly dropped after an undercover police officer switched allegiance and offered to testify on their behalf.
He said Mr Mark Kennedy had been helping to plan the Ratcliffe-on-Soar demonstration for “months” and had driven a team in his van to recce [reconnoiter] the site ahead of the protest. Mr Kennedy had also been one of the “key people” in organising protests against the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles, he claimed.
In April 2009, police arrested 114 people for “conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass” over the Ratcliffe-on-Soar protest and 18 were subsequently convicted. They could now appeal. â€¨â€¨When he was later confronted by activists who discovered his double identity, Mr Kennedy said he quit the force after the arrests were made in 2009.
The campaigners had been accused of conspiring to shut down a power station, but the trial collapsed after Pc Mark Kennedy, who had infiltrated the group, indicated he would give evidence to support them in court, it has been reported.
Prosecutors dropped the case, which was due to start on Monday, after learning that Mr Kennedy had offered to help the defence, according to BBC Newsnight.
The charges related to an alleged plan by the activists to try to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station in Nottingham in 2009 to protest against global warming.
Under the alias Mark Stone, Mr Kennedy led a second life as an environmental campaigner in Nottingham. The undercover agent had become a key member of the group since 2000 until his secret was discovered by protesters last October.
But the activists claimed that, rather than simply watching the group, Mr Kennedy had been intimately involved in planning protests and bringing new members into the group.
Danny Chivers, one of the six defendants, said: “We’re not talking about someone sitting at the back of the meeting taking notes — he was in the thick of it.”
He said Mr Kennedy had been helping to plan the Ratcliffe-on-Soar demonstration for “months” and had driven a team in his van to recce the site ahead of the protest.
Mr Kennedy had also been one of the “key people” in organising protests against the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles, he claimed.
In April 2009, police arrested 114 people for “conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass” over the Ratcliffe-on-Soar protest and 18 were subsequently convicted. They could now appeal.
When he was later confronted by activists who discovered his double identity, Mr Kennedy said he quit the force after the arrests were made in 2009.
It is not known whether he has indeed left the force, or where he is now, but he is understood to have contacted defence lawyers saying he would help them in court. Prosecutors then dropped the case.
The Met Police have made no official comment.
Full story: Newsnight, BBC Two, 10.30pm, Monday 10 January
More than 100 Campaigners
Arrested over ‘Power Station Plot’
More than 100 people are in custody after police smashed a major plot to sabotage one of Britain’s biggest power-stations
LONDON (April 13, 2009) — Officers swooped on environmental protesters as they prepared a mass raid that could have disrupted supplies to tens of thousands of homes. The demonstrators are thought to have gathered at night in readiness to move on Ratcliffe-on-Soar power-station, Nottinghamshire. They were rounded up shortly after midnight on Sunday at the Bakersfield Community Centre in Sneinton, Notts, by scores of officers.
Detectives later revealed they recovered specialist equipment that suggested the group represented a “serious threat” to the station’s safety. Supt Mike Manley, of the Nottinghamshire force, said 114 men and women from across the UK were detained during the dramatic swoop. They were being questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage at Ratcliffe-on-Soar.
Supt Manley said: “In view of specialist equipment recovered by police, those arrested posed a serious threat to the safe running of the site. This was a significant operation, with large-scale arrests. There were no injuries during the arrests, and the police investigation is ongoing.”
Witnesses told how officers in more than 20 police vans descended on the plotters’ apparent rendezvous point in the early hours.
Tess Rearden, who lives near the scene, said: “We were woken up by the sound of doors slamming and saw all these police vans and riot vans. My son came out of his bedroom and said: ‘Have you seen what’s going on?’ They were all up and down the roads. It was bedlam — real bedlam.”
Another resident added: “I was leaving my house when I saw a line of traffic approaching me, which seemed strange for the time of night. It was only when the vehicles got closer and started to pass me that I noticed every single one was either a police car or a police van. I counted 20-plus vans, all one after the other, with police cars at the rear. Then they blocked off all the roads around the community centre.”
One resident told how the protesters did not fight with officers during the swoop but signalled their defiance as they were being led away. She said: “The police jumped out of their vans and ran behind the community centre. The people they brought out were singing: ‘We’ll be back again.'”
It is thought detectives had prior knowledge of the plot but chose to wait till the demonstrators were together in one place before moving in.
Local city councillor David Mellen added: “I understand there was some kind of gathering of people here in connection with the power-station. If the police had information that there was a danger to the power supply in the East Midlands then obviously they had to take action.”
The Derbyshire and Leicestershire forces helped in the operation and later provided additional custody facilities for some of those arrested.
Ratcliffe-on-Soar has been the target of a number of protests in the past, including one two years ago in which protesters tried to shut down the plant. Environmentalists who stormed the site on that occasion later failed in a landmark legal bid to prove they were acting in the interests of humanity.
Climate-change campaigners admitted they attempted to force the site’s closure by chaining themselves to conveyor belts and filtration systems. But they argued that, because they were saving the planet from global warming, their actions were legal under the so-called “defence of necessity”. Had they won their case, they would have paved the way for campaigners around the country to stage similar protests without fear of prosecution.
At the time Eastside Climate Action, the group involved, said the break-in reflected “the threat climate change poses to the human population”. A spokesman said: “We argue that the threat to human life is so serious that it is a proportionate and reasonable response to take direct action.”
Giving evidence at the court hearing, station manager Raymond Smith told how production at the site was threatened during the incident.
He said: “People chained themselves to the conveyor system and the filtration system. They were non-violent, but none had permission to be on the site. If the protest had continued to the extent that the power station ran out of coal we would have had to shut it down. But we called the police.”
Eastside denied any involvement in yesterday’s events — thought to be linked to plans for a new coal-fired power-station in Kingsthorpe, Kent.
E.on, the power giant behind Kingsthorpe, owns Ratcliffe-on-Soar — allegedly Britain’s second-largest producer of carbon-dioxide emissions.
An E.on spokesman said: “While we understand everyone has a right to protest peacefully and lawfully, this was clearly neither of those things. We will be assisting police in their investigations into what could have been a very dangerous attempt to disrupt an operational power-plant.”
What is the National Public Order Intelligence Unit?
Nick Collins / The Telegraph
The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which exists to counter “domestic extremism”, is so secretive that police will not confirm the precise location of its base or the identity of its head.
LONDON (January 10, 2011) — PC Mark Kennedy spent seven years undercover with green activists as part of his work with the NPOIU, but very little is known about the operation. Set up in 1999 as an expansion of the Animal Rights National Index, which collected details on animal rights campaigners, the organisation is based somewhere in central London.
It is run by a detective superintendent who reports to Detective Chief Supt Adrian Tudway, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism. The unit employs only 60 to 70 officers and its central feature is a national intelligence database holding details collected on activists and extremists by local forces.
It has recently undergone a period of significant growth, with its budget more than doubling in four years from Â£2.6 million in 2005/06 to Â£5.7 million in 2009/10. Its purpose is to gather information on extremist protesters so that police can assess potential threats posed to public safety and to investigate crimes linked to protests.
According to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the NPOIU “performs an intelligence function in relation to politically motivated disorder” by “co-ordinat[ing] the national collection, analysis, exploitation and dissemination of intelligence on the extremist threat to public order”.
Its database contains entries on protesters — not all of whom have criminal records — including descriptions, nicknames and aliases. The NPOIU incorporates the Confidential Intelligence Unit, which holds sensitive details such as those provided by informants and intercepted information.
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