2008

October: climate change campaigners start considering a large scale protest at a coal-fired power station. National Public Order Intelligence Unit undercover, Mark Kennedy, posing as Nottingham-based environmentalist ‘Mark Stone’, is approached to be involved.

5 November: Kennedy authorised by Assistant Chief Constable Ian Ackerley of Nottinghamshire Police to gather intelligence on these plans.

2009

10 January: Kennedy takes part in the activists’ reconnaissance of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. The following day, activists choose it as their target. Kennedy immediately informs the NPOIU.

23 March: first known evidence that NPOIU informs Nottinghamshire Special Branch of specific details of action, including dates the protestors have settled on for it. The NPOIU seek further authorisation from Nottinghamshire Assistant Chief Constable Ian Ackerley for Kennedy’s activities in relation to the protest.

25 March: a high level ‘Gold’ meeting is held by Nottinghamshire Police.

7 April: Nottinghamshire Special Branch submit a review supporting Kennedy’s ongoing involvement. A second ‘Gold’ level meeting takes place the same day. Ackerley authorises Kennedy’s role, and formerly establishes Operation Aeroscope as Nottinghamshire Police’s investigation of and response to the planned protest.

Ackerley gives all responsibility for managing intelligence coming from Kennedy to NPOIU. Nick Paul, the Domestic Extremism Co-ordinator for the Crown Prosecution Service, had by then ‘an overview of the case’, if he was not already aware of Kennedy as an undercover himself due to previous cases.[1]Nick Paul had been involved in the June 2009 prosecution of the Drax 29, environmental protestors who had occupied a coal train in June 2008, and for which Mark Kennedy had hired a minibus to drive the campaigners to the action.

10 April: campaigners assemble at Sneinton to plan their protest.

12 April: Ackerley changes Aeroscope from a ‘reactive public order response’ to a pro-active mass arrest and major investigation.

13 April: early morning arrests of 114 campaigners, including Kennedy in major operation involving 200 officers from several forces.

13 April: a new investigation team is appointed to Aeroscope due to its changed nature.

16 April: Aeroscope investigators first learn from the NPOIU that an undercover police officer was source of the intelligence leading to the arrests.

7 May: seemingly a meeting on this day is when the NPOIU finally reveal Mark Stone’s real identity as undercover officer Mark Kennedy revealed to the Aeroscope investigators.

May – June: Nottingham prosecutor Ian Cunningham brought on board and informed about Mark Kennedy. Cunningham discusses this with Nick Paul, who was already aware of the situation.

July: 47 protestors selected to answer bail and re-interviewed, with all charges against the other 67 dropped. Of these 47, 27 are re-bailed including Mark Kennedy. Nick Paul apparently rejects a ‘tactical suggestion’ from the NPOIU that Kennedy is not charged. In a subsequent email the NPOIU talk about needing to find a way of intervening to prevent Kennedy being formally charged.

18/20 September: Kennedy informed his undercover deployment is over. It is appears that around this time that charges against him relating to the Ratcliffe action are dropped.

25 September: first of the Ratcliffe protestors formally charged.

1 October: the NPOIU’s sister unit, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit issues press release saying 26 of the protestors have now been charged.

October: by the end of month, Kennedy vanishes from Nottingham, supposedly having had a breakdown over the arrests and police investigation and leaving for the United States.

2010

January / February: Kennedy reappears in the activist scene. Bethan David takes over from Nick Paul as Domestic Extremism Co-ordinator for Crown Prosecution Service.
March: Kennedy leaves police and goes to work for private intelligence firm Global Open, though continues to use his ‘Mark Stone’ identity.

July: Kennedy’s passport in his real name and other material discovered that casts doubt on who he is. An investigation by activists close to him takes place. Over the next few months, evidence of his police role is discovered.

20/21 October: Kennedy confronted in Nottingham and admits he had been an undercover. He promises to help those he’d targeted, including the Ratcliffe defendants. He is exposed on the Indymedia alternative news site, but the story does not gain much traction outside activist circles.

Late November / Early December: first Ratcliffe trial. Twenty who said their planned protest had been justified, and hence known as the ‘Justifiers’, are found guilty.

2011

January: the second Ratcliffe trial, that of the ‘Deniers’, who said they had not been part of any conspiracy at the point of arrest, begins. They request disclosure on Kennedy’s infiltration, leading to the prosecution drop their case on 10 January. This effectively confirms Kennedy had been an undercover; this along with the collapse of the trial gains huge media attention. Various internal reports commissioned into what had gone wrong. Nottinghamshire Police refer the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

18 April: Keir Starmer, then Director of Public Prosecutions, writes to the 20 convicted ‘Justifiers’ inviting them to appeal their convictions.

July: ‘Justifiers’ appeal succeeds and their convictions overturned. Crown Prosecution Service commission Sir Christopher Rose to investigate what went wrong on their side, absorbing a number of other investigations.

December: Rose report released.

2012

March: IPCC report released.

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References   [ + ]

1. Nick Paul had been involved in the June 2009 prosecution of the Drax 29, environmental protestors who had occupied a coal train in June 2008, and for which Mark Kennedy had hired a minibus to drive the campaigners to the action.