The collapse of trials and quashing of convictions of those allegedly involved in a planned protest at Ratcliffe-on-Soar and Drax power stations contributed to the setting up this year of the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. But the original convictions may well have remained in force had not the true identity of undercover police officer Mark Stone – real name, Mark Kennedy – been discovered and revealed by activists. Consequently, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided at an appeal hearing to quash the convictions, largely to avoid embarrassing evidence being presented in open court. This undisclosed evidence – extracts of which are reproduced below – would also have provided proof that the CPS and trial prosecutors were fully aware of Kennedy’s pivotal role prior to and during the initial trials, and right up to and including the appeal hearings. Importantly, that evidence demonstrates a conspiracy between the CPS and police to, in effect, pervert the course of justice.
Note: The above video features three activists targeted by Mark Kennedy, speaking at the recent Chaos Communication Camp in Germany. ‘Lily’ was an activist mobilising for the 2005 G8 summit in Scotland, when she had a long term relationship with Kennedy (she is one of the women suing Kennedy’s bosses in the Police Spies Out of Lives case and recently co-wrote an article about the impact of these relationships for the Guardian). Jason Kirkpatrick was a Berlin-based anti-G8 activist, who Kennedy used as a springboard into German activism (more recently he has been researching Britain’s political secret police and is making a documentary, Spied Upon). Harry Halpin is a digital rights activist who was spied on by Kennedy in several countries.
A. The Kennedy files (transcript of testimony to CPS/Prosecution):
The Ratcliffe disclosures:
(Note: defendants names have been hidden via a whiteout tool; ‘Source’ = UC133 = Mark Kennedy.)
B. The context
When police pre-emptively arrested 114 climate activists at a 2009 meeting to plan the shutdown of a coal fired power station, one of those arrested was Mark Stone, aka police officer Mark Kennedy. Charges were subsequently brought against twenty-six persons. Twenty of these admitted participation, but said their actions were justified (the other six said they had not participated in the plan). The trial of the 20 accused saw all convicted of conspiracy to committ aggravated trespass, though not jailed.
In the meantime, the remaining six pointed out before their trial that they had uncovered Kennedy’s true identity. According to Danny Chivers, one of 114 arrested…
“I now know (from some of my fellow arrestees) that he [Kennedy] had been involved in planning the Ratcliffe-on-Soar action from the very beginning. It turns out that when a small group of people first hatched the power station invasion plan back in January 2009, they needed a trusted driver to help them scope out the site – so they gave Mark Stone a call. He showed them round the location, pointing out useful access points and footpaths, and helped make a film of the site to show at the April briefing day. He was also lined up for some key roles in the action itself. According to one of the other arrestees, Mark was going to drive people to the power station and then climb under the coal conveyor belt, suspending himself there to prevent it being switched back on. He was at the whole of the Sunday briefing, apparently preparing himself for these roles, and was arrested with everyone else when the police arrived. Once we’d got over the initial shock, we realised that this had serious implications for the six of us in the second trial. Kennedy was at the Nottingham school for the whole of that April briefing meeting, and must have submitted some kind of report of the day to his superiors. That report would show that most people at the meeting didn’t know the plan in advance, and be of great use in our defence. Surely the prosecution must have known that this evidence existed – which means they must have chosen to conceal it and continue with the case regardless.”
The six who were charged asked to see the undisclosed evidence but, rather than hand that over, prosecutors dropped the charges against them. Indeed the CPS ensured that Kennedy’s evidence was kept from court. Moreover, the Independent Police Complaints Commission later found that the CPS also knew about the activists’ plan, not only before it happened but before many of the activists themselves. Furthermore, Felicity Gerry, the prosecutor in the trial of the 20, had been informed about the existence of an undercover officer and had known Mark Kennedy’s true identity a week before any of the activists did. And so, for the six weeks before the trial, and every second she was in court, Ms. Gerry knew that a police officer had filed evidence on the case that the defence were unaware of – yet she failed to mention this to the court. It also transpired that Kennedy had recorded a meeting that exonerated the six, but which the prosecutors and police withheld from the defence.
Danny Chivers again:
“We firmly believe that this trial collapsed not because of the existence of the officer, but because of the existence of evidence from that officer, evidence that would have supported our defence. Rather than disclose that evidence – which could have exonerated us, exposed the fact that they’d been sitting on it all along, and given the world further insights into the murky Kennedy affair – they chose to drop the case.”
The reluctant admittance by the CPS of Kennedy’s role eventually resulted in the initial 20 defendants having their convictions quashed too, on the basis that evidence had been withheld from the CPS that could have benefited the defence case.
C. The aftermath
The collapse of the second Ratcliffe-on-Soar trial, together with subsequent revelations about the role of many other undercover police in political protest groups, led to a review of national police units that provide intelligence on criminality associated with protests. Ex-judge Sir Christopher Rose’s was also asked to investigate the Ratcliffe case – here is his report.
Both the Ratcliffe and Drax cases were overseen by the same Domestic Extremism Co-ordinator, Nick Paul, in the London CPS office, where he shared that office with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer. Soon after Kennedy was exposed, Mr Paul left the CPS and entered into private practice at Doughty Street Chambers and after Starmer stepped down as DPP he joined Paul at the law firm.
It should also be noted that Anton Setchell (who was the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE) and who had oversight of three political policing units – Kennedy’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit, the corporate advisory National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, and the National Domestic Extremism Team – was keen to show his backing for Kennedy in all his undercover roles. His endorsement (see Appendix for handwritten version) was as follows:
“I have today been briefed by [redacted] on this operation prior to it being forwarded to ACC Sampson [Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police John Sampson who gave authorisation for Kennedy’s deployment on the Drax coal train protest]. My role is not that of authorising officer, but as NCDE, to have the opportunity to comment on this deployment prior to the AO [authorising officer] reviewing the authority. This operation has now had an SIO [senior investigating officer] appointed to help oversee it – [redacted]. The [redacted] aspect now has an investigative strategy developed which will seek to exploit evidential opportunities when they arise (amongst other things). [redacted] has reviewed this operation and some recommendations in his report (to be distributed soon) will be considered by [redacted], the SIO and the AO in due course. This operation/deployment is focused on key areas of Domestic Extremism which I can say sit in the ‘priority area’ of DE for England and Wales and without this asset in place, our intelligence picture would be significantly reduced and I would seek to replace this asset very quickly to regain our understanding of the intentions of the DE groups that are listed. I recommend that the authority continues.” Anton Setchell – National Co-ordinator DE
(Note: Setchell eventually resigned from the Police and took up a position as head of Global Security for Laing O’ Rourke, one of the construction firms involved in the construction industry blacklist, which was assisted by National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit whilst under Setchell’s command.)
Appendix: the Setchell memo