Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's Not Just Activists

In June 2008 a group of 29 climate activists stopped a coal train bound for Britain's biggest source of carbon emissions, Drax power station. They were all convicted, but it was a miscarriage of justice as evidence had been withheld  from the defence - reports from one of the drivers, Mark Stone aka undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. The convictions were quashed last year.

Quite how many other wrongful convictions are being left to stand - hundreds? thousands? - is unknown. It's worth noting that Mark Ellison QC's report into it was projected to take a year and be published in March, yet we've still seen nothing, implying that it's turned out to be a larger task than aniticipated.

In the partially redacted papers that were disclosed in the overturning of the Drax 29's convictions we get an insight into the political secret police units' paranoia about political dissent and their cavalier attitude to citizens. with each authorisation they are forced to consider the 'collateral intrusion' into lives of those who aren't targeted, but in this instance it is blithely batted away.

On 24 April 2008 they write:

It is very rare for collateral intrusion to occur because [Kennedy’s name redacted] spends the majority of their time with likeminded people engaged in activism. [Kennedy’s name redacted] does have contact with ‘non activists’ (neighbours etc) which is unavoidable whilst appearing to live a ‘normal’ life but no product from these contacts is reported or retained.

[Kennedy’s name redacted] is an experienced UCO [undercover officer] well aware of their unique situation in the lives of members of the public and remains entirely focused on the objectives and subjects of the authority.
 

Kennedy's notebook describes dropping some of the Drax 29 on the protest and then glosses over 'a gathering' that he spends the next two days at. The word is 'gathering' common among grassroots activist groups that don't have hierarchical structure.

Friday 13th June 2008

I drove a van with a number of people in the back to a holding point for 0600 hours. A number of spotters were positioned along the train’s route to call in when a coal train was spotted.

At 0755 I drove to Gowdall level crossing. I pulled up and people got out the back of the van. I saw them walk up the track. I saw people in bright orange uniforms with a red flag walk along the track towards the Aire River rail bridge. I also saw a person using the telephone box linked to the signal box to warn the signal man that people were on the line at Gowdall and called C/O [probably ‘cover officer’ – Kennedy’s handler and link with the wider structure of the police].

I returned to Nottingham where I collected a number of marquees belonging to the ATC which were destined for a gathering in the Hope Valley. I travelled to the Hope Valley and co-ordinated the setting up of the marquees.

Sunday 15th June 2008

I co-ordinated the taking down of the marquees and returned them to the ATC in Nottingham store.




The 'gathering' was actually a wedding. Kennedy was the long standing friend of both partners, the following year he had a joint birthday party with one of them. There were many people there - children, partners, friends and relatives - who were not activists, and a number of them knew Kennedy well and had already formed significant friendships with him. He will forever be in the wedding pictures.

Did Kennedy tell his cover officer, with whom he was in contact numerous times a day, what was going on? Or are we expected to believe he made stuff up about it being a two day gathering of political discussion and planning? Essentially, was it approval or negligence by his managers?

He and his superiors were 'well aware of their unique situation in the lives of members of the public' and had no compunction about abusing it. There was no need for him to be at the wedding, apart from clocking up overtime. If this does not qualify as 'collateral intrusion' then nothing does.

As we already knew, you don't need to be an activist to have your life intruded upon by the political secret police.

1 comment:

Joachim Habisan said...

Here in Germany we had the same scandal, a police officer infiltrating a "leftist" group of students, including having sex with female members and eventually fleeing. He was recognized by accident...
https://de.nachrichten.yahoo.com/blogs/reingezoomt/verdeckte-ermittlungen-skandal-um-uni-spitzelskandal-20110119-115931-372.html