Kennedy’s account

Video footage from the day of the arrest shows Kennedy being arrested with others. According to his own account, the Nottinghamshire police who interviewed him were unaware of his true identity as an undercover police officer:[1]Simon Hattenstone, Mark Kennedy: Confessions of an undercover cop, The Guardian, 26 March 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).

As far as they were concerned, they were interviewing Mark Stone, a thorn in their side for the past seven years – he’s a catch, let’s make sure we push charges.

 

This corresponds, initially at least, with what is revealed in the reports on the Aeroscope investigation. There, as shown in previous sections, the presence of an undercover was protected at the highest levels, even from the senior investigating officers. Only slowly did they learn that an undercover had been involved, then it took further time for it to be understood that the undercover had played a significant role in the group. Even for the investigating team, the undercover’s actual identity among those arrested seems to have been a highly protected bit of knowledge, known to only a couple of senior investigators and their superiors.

Mark Kennedy being arrested as ‘Mark Stone’ at the Iona School, 13 April 2009.

According to his account, Kennedy was interviewed twice, firstly when the 114 were arrested, and the second time presumably when he was among the 47 selected to answer bail. Neither time had he a solicitor present, as he had been told by his NPOIU handlers he would not need one. However, he claimed he argued that it looked odd that he had not the same firm of solicitors as the other 113 arrested.[2]Caroline Graham, ‘I’m the victim of smears’: Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Daily Mail, 17 January 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016). It is unclear whether he made a statement at this point to police, or gave a no comment interview. He also claimed his house in Nottingham had been raided, though whether or not this happened is unconfirmed. Later, the impact of the police question and investigation on his well-being would be woven into his exit strategy,[3]Simon Hattenstone, Mark Kennedy: Confessions of an undercover cop, The Guardian, 26 March 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016). including the raid on his house.[4]Author: conversations with people close to Mark Kennedy in his persona as ‘Mark Stone’ at the time.

On 6 July 2009, Nottinghamshire Police announce that no action will be taken against 67 of the protestors, leaving 47 including Kennedy, on bail as investigations continue.[5]No charges for most protestors held near power plant, Press Association (regional newswire), 6 July 2009 (accessed via Nexis).

The extent to which the NPOIU had influence in the decisions as to who would be re-interviewed and the further selection of those to send to trial is unknown. A number of those finally charged were named in pre-event intelligence reports from Kennedy as being involved in the planning and had appeared in the NPOIU material passed to Nottinghamshire investigating team.[6]Disclosure in the case agaisnt the ‘Deniers’, released ahead of the hearing of 10 January 2011. Now fully made public at SpecialBranchFiles.uk. Some of the material had appeared previously at Tom Coburg, The Mark Kennedy police files that CPS hid – part 1: ‘Operation Aeroscope’, UndercoverInfo (blog), 26 December 2015.

One of those charged noted that the mix of those selected for trial seemed to be a bit of lottery:[7]Danny Chivers, Undercover and over-the-top: The collapse of the Ratcliffe trial, New Internationalist, 12 January 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).

Exactly why this particular group of 26 was singled out has never been explained by the prosecutors; there was no obvious common factor to distinguish us from the rest of the 114.

 

Following the second set of interviews, the number to go forward with being charged was whittled down to 27 – with Kennedy still among them. In July 2009, the NPOIU asked that the charges against Kennedy be dropped, but Nick Paul apparently refused this (see above).[8]Sir Christopher Rose, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest: Inquiry into Disclosure, Crown Prosecution Service, December 2011. This is noteworthy in itself, as it indicated that Paul had a direct involvement or responsibility in charging decisions. And that he had the power to overrule Special Branch, to leave a prized asset of theirs in the firing line. It also begs the question as to why he thought charges against Mark should proceeded, as it indicates there was sufficient evidence to that effect.

Kennedy told the Daily Mail:[9]Caroline Graham, ‘I’m the victim of smears’: Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Daily Mail, 17 January 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).

No further action was taken against most of them, but 27 people, including me, were to be charged with conspiracy offences. I kept being told by my cover officer, “Don’t worry, they are going to drop it,” but they never did. You can’t lie to a lawyer. So I couldn’t have a lawyer. I was a few days from being charged, then the case was dropped.

 

Kennedy stated he had contacted his handlers every day for three months about this and was not until shortly before charges were to be formally made against others that he was informed his own charges were to be dropped. He told press that he had argued that the charges against the other drivers for the action should also be dropped to avoid suspicion, but this was not taken up.[10]Simon Hattenstone, Mark Kennedy: Confessions of an undercover cop, The Guardian, 26 March 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016). In a newspaper article, Kennedy claimed he was informed only a week before the decision was made public.[11]Caroline Graham, ‘I’m the victim of smears’: Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Daily Mail, 17 January 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).

On the weekend of the 18-20th September, was the ’69ers’ party, a large birthday celebration a number of environmentalists who had been born in the year 1969 – including several who had been among the 114 arrested. Among those celebrating their birthday was Kennedy. It was during this event he received the text saying his deployment was over and he was being called back in.[12]Caroline Graham, ‘I’m the victim of smears’: Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Daily Mail, 17 January 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).

A week later, on the 25th September the first of those arrested on 13 April for planning the protest at Ratcliffe arrests was formally charged. On 1st October 2009, the NPOIU’s sister unit, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit released a statement announcing that 26 people had been formally charged with ‘conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass’, providing their names and addresses.[13]26 charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass, National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, 1 October 2009 (archive copy provided by Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge).

During October, Kennedy feigns a breakdown, using the Ratcliffe arrests and police investigation as the reason for his turmoil. By the end of the month he had given up his house in Nottingham, saying he was going to the United States to visit family there. He would subsequently leave the police in March 2010, but by that stage he had returned to the activist scene, still in his police identity of Mark Stone, but now working for the private intelligence firm Global Open. Meanwhile many of the others he had been arrested with remained awaiting trial.

Exposure of Kennedy & trial collapse

Cover of Nottingham Evening Post, 11 January 2011 (via Alan Lodge)

Barrister David Herbert was originally chosen to lead the prosecution. However, he was instructed on a different case and in September 2010 passed the brief over to Felicity Gerry.[14]Sir Christopher Rose, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest: Inquiry into Disclosure, Crown Prosecution Service, December 2011. She would have been known to the CPS’s Domestic Extremism unit prior to this, due to her role as prosecuting barrister in two animal rights trials related to a Lincolnshire farm that breed animals for vivisection.[15]Animal rights rabbit farm recce trial begins, Market Raisen Mail, 28 April 2009 (accessed 21 July 2017).[16]December 16, 2009: Animal rights activist convicted as CPS stretch definition of blackmail, Corporate Watch, 16 December 2009 (accessed 21 July 2017). Given one of these prosecutions depended on links between those charged and Huntingdon Life Sciences, it is likely that she had contact with officers from the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) as part of building the prosecution case there. NDEU, the parent organisation to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, had conducted the 2007 raids and investigations that had seen many anti-vivisection campaigners from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty imprisoned.[17]Undercover Research Group, National Domestic Extremism Unit: activities, powerbase.info, 2016. (Indeed, Andy Robbins of NDEU and who lead the animal rights investigations, was among those who was copied into some of the intelligence reports from Kennedy.)[18]Intelligence reports relating to 2009 planned protest at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, National Public Order Intelligence Unit, 2009. Accessed via SpecialBranchFiles.uk. See report of 23 March 2009 (page 5).

Pearson informed Gerry that an undercover had been among those arrested at a meeting on 13 October 2010, at the CPS’s Complex Crimes Unit in Nottingham; Cunningham and Zajac, and possibly Roberts, were also present.[19]Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure: Final Report, Independent Police Complaints Commission, March 2012.

There is a difference among those interviewed as to just how much information Gerry was given regarding the role of Kennedy the planning for the Ratcliffe action. At the meeting of 13 October, Pearson said he had debriefed Gerry about the presence of Mark Kennedy at the Iona School. Parties there who were interviewed said that he gave her a one-page letter on the matter relating to Kennedy. Pearson claimed this was Kennedy’s statement, but since he says elsewhere that the statement was 5 1/2 pages this cannot be true. Gerry later also said though her memory was hazy, the statement which turned up in the box of material given to her by Zajac in January 2011 was not the same document. Pearson also said that he told the meeting that Kennedy’s identity as a police officer had reached the public, something which was not the case. The Rose report notes that Gerry left the meeting under the impression that disclosure on Kennedy was complete and did not learn otherwise until January 2011.[20]Sir Christopher Rose, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest: Inquiry into Disclosure, Crown Prosecution Service, December 2011.

On 21 October 2010, activists confront Kennedy and he admits he had been a police officer infiltrating the environmental movement. The following day he is exposed publicly, though at first it only really makes waves in activist circles.[21]Mark Kennedy/Stone exposed as undercover cop, Indymedia UK, 24 October 2010 (accessed 6 July 2017). However, on 22 October, Zajac, Cunningham and Gerry were all made aware of the public identification.[22]Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure: Final Report, Independent Police Complaints Commission, March 2012.

9 November 2010, Pearson, Roberts and Cunningham met with the NPOIU DCI to discuss the exposure of Kennedy. Several of those present noted Cunningham had stated that it would not affect the prosecutions’ case.[23]Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure: Final Report, Independent Police Complaints Commission, March 2012.

Also that month, a week before the first trial begins, the NPOIU DCI meets Bethan David, who had replaced Nick Paul as Domestic Extremism Co-ordinator for the CPS in January 2010. The NPOIU officer briefed her on a separate and unconnected operation Kennedy was also involved with, but at this meeting gave her five secret briefing notes relating to the Ratcliffe-on-Soar case. In one of the secret briefing notes, dated 19 May 2010, the NPOIU DCI noted his opinion that it was ‘essential [Kennedy] had participating status’ in the action, and had used a recording device.[24]Sir Christopher Rose, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest: Inquiry into Disclosure, Crown Prosecution Service, December 2011.

Beginning on 22 November and running into December, the first trial of 20 protestors took place.[25]For a contemporary account and set of documents relating to the ‘justifier’ and ‘denier’ trials and the Ratcliffe-on-Soar case in general, see the accounts of Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge, Ratcliffe Power Station Trials 1 & Ratcliffe Power Station Trials 1a, both via issuu.com. They ran an unsuccessful defence of justification (for which they are known as the ‘justifiers’) and were found guilty.[26]Power station protestors found guilty, Nottingham Evening Post, 14 December 2010 (accessed 28 August 2016). The second trial, of the remaining six defendants, began in January 2011. They were known as the ‘deniers’ as they argued they were not part of the conspiracy at the time of the arrests. They planned to call Mark Kennedy as a witness, ahead of which they asked for disclosure of material relating to him.[27]Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure: Final Report, Independent Police Complaints Commission, March 2012.

Just before the start of the ‘deniers’ trial, Zajac provided Gerry with a box of sensitive material relating to Kennedy. It is apparently on the basis of its contents that she advises the case should be discontinued, something she confirmed with Cunningham. Zajac was clear that this was material that had been available to the CPS for over 18 months and included nothing new; among it was draft statements from Kennedy and transcripts of his recordings, neither of which had been previously disclosed.[28]Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure: Final Report, Independent Police Complaints Commission, March 2012.

The CPS gave the reason for abandoning the trial as ‘unspecified new evidence’ emerging and explicitly refuted that it had anything to do with Mark Kennedy. However, the defendant’s solicitor, Mike Schwarz of Bindmans, read out statement clearly pointing the finger at Kennedy.[29]Mike Schwarz, Bindmans comments on collapse of prosecution against 6 environmental campaigners at Nottingham Crown Court today, Bindmans LLP, 10 January 2011 (accessed 20 August 2016). This led to considerable media interest and it reaching the wider public attention the role of Mark Kennedy as an under officer targeting environmentalists.[30]Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013.

Operation Aeroscope was later revealed to have cost Nottinghamshire Police £208,000.[31]Marcus Boocock, Police spend £1.15m on major operations, Nottingham Evening Post, 19 July 2010 (accessed via Nexis).

References   [ + ]

1, 3, 10. Simon Hattenstone, Mark Kennedy: Confessions of an undercover cop, The Guardian, 26 March 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).
2, 9, 11, 12. Caroline Graham, ‘I’m the victim of smears’: Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Daily Mail, 17 January 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).
4. Author: conversations with people close to Mark Kennedy in his persona as ‘Mark Stone’ at the time.
5. No charges for most protestors held near power plant, Press Association (regional newswire), 6 July 2009 (accessed via Nexis).
6. Disclosure in the case agaisnt the ‘Deniers’, released ahead of the hearing of 10 January 2011. Now fully made public at SpecialBranchFiles.uk. Some of the material had appeared previously at Tom Coburg, The Mark Kennedy police files that CPS hid – part 1: ‘Operation Aeroscope’, UndercoverInfo (blog), 26 December 2015.
7. Danny Chivers, Undercover and over-the-top: The collapse of the Ratcliffe trial, New Internationalist, 12 January 2011 (accessed 28 August 2016).
8, 14, 20, 24. Sir Christopher Rose, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest: Inquiry into Disclosure, Crown Prosecution Service, December 2011.
13. 26 charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass, National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, 1 October 2009 (archive copy provided by Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge).
15. Animal rights rabbit farm recce trial begins, Market Raisen Mail, 28 April 2009 (accessed 21 July 2017).
16. December 16, 2009: Animal rights activist convicted as CPS stretch definition of blackmail, Corporate Watch, 16 December 2009 (accessed 21 July 2017).
17. Undercover Research Group, National Domestic Extremism Unit: activities, powerbase.info, 2016.
18. Intelligence reports relating to 2009 planned protest at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, National Public Order Intelligence Unit, 2009. Accessed via SpecialBranchFiles.uk. See report of 23 March 2009 (page 5).
19, 22, 23, 27, 28. Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure: Final Report, Independent Police Complaints Commission, March 2012.
21. Mark Kennedy/Stone exposed as undercover cop, Indymedia UK, 24 October 2010 (accessed 6 July 2017).
25. For a contemporary account and set of documents relating to the ‘justifier’ and ‘denier’ trials and the Ratcliffe-on-Soar case in general, see the accounts of Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge, Ratcliffe Power Station Trials 1 & Ratcliffe Power Station Trials 1a, both via issuu.com.
26. Power station protestors found guilty, Nottingham Evening Post, 14 December 2010 (accessed 28 August 2016).
29. Mike Schwarz, Bindmans comments on collapse of prosecution against 6 environmental campaigners at Nottingham Crown Court today, Bindmans LLP, 10 January 2011 (accessed 20 August 2016).
30. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013.
31. Marcus Boocock, Police spend £1.15m on major operations, Nottingham Evening Post, 19 July 2010 (accessed via Nexis).