Mark Kennedy was a prolific spycop, working as an agent provocateur in numerous countries on behalf of UK intelligence (via the National Public Order Intelligence Unit) and, later, via private security firms. One of Kennedy’s more publicised operations saw him infiltrate a group of campaigners targetting Ratcliffe-on-Soar, a coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire. The campaigners were arrested and prosecuted, but had their convictions overturned once Kennedy’s role was exposed, as also the concealment of vital evidence by the CPS. Below we publish and forensically examine extracts from a collection of police files – the CPS undisclosed evidence – that describes Kennedy’s undercover movements, the ‘orders’ he received and – more importantly – the names of those who authorised his actions. What these files show is that knowledge of and approval of Kennedy’s undercover operations (and, by implication, other undercover ops) was by no means limited to one or two handlers but involved a range of senior officers.
(Part 2 of The Mark Kennedy Police Files (Operation Pegasus) will be published next and includes evidence that links the operation to a covert op in France.)
Police officers identified in the files below (section ‘C’) or in related documents as being either aware of Kennedy’s role in Operation Aeroscope, or who provided authorisation to Kennedy, include:
- Detective Inspector David Hutcheson (now believed to work for the Met)
- Assistant Chief Constable Ian Ackerley (now retired)
- Detective Inspector Bateman (assumed to be Nottinghamshire Constabulary)
- Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale (assumed to be Nottinghamsire Constabulary)
- Detective Chief Inspector Andy Robbins (currently head? of NDET)
- Detective Inspector Hedley (NDET)
- Detective Superintendent Adrian Pearson (Nottinghamshire Constabulary)
- Detective Inspector Andrew Roberts (Nottinghamshire Constabulary)
- Detective Constable Nigel Malik (Nottinghamshire Constabulary)
- Manjeet Matharu (‘Civilian Investigator’, Nottinghamshire Constabulary)
- Detective Constable Mark Zajac (Nottinghamshire Constabulary)
- Detective Chief Superintendent Neil James (retired)
- Assistant Chief Constable Anton Setchell (who headed Kennedy’s and related undercover units)
Reports – see section ‘E’ – also show close liaison between police officers Setchell, Pearson and Roberts with CPS prosecutors Ian Cunningham and Nick Paul.
(Note: the bulk of the files are not published here to ensure the privacy of the activists is not intruded upon.)
Firstly, here is a summary of Kennedy’s spycop roles…
A. The ubiquitous Mr Kennedy
Mark Kennedy spent seven years undercover, from 2003 until his exposure in October 2010. He worked with groups such as Dissent!, Rising Tide, Saving Iceland, Workers’ Solidarity Movement, Rossport Solidarity, Climate Camp, Climate Justice Action and many others. Kennedy is believed to have worked undercover in Scotland, in Ireland, in Germany, in Spain, in Denmark, in France, in the USA, in Italy, in Belgium, in Poland and in Iceland, amongst other places. His exposure led to demands in many of those countries for official information about his activities.
‘Lily’ was an activist mobilising for the 2005 G8 summit in Scotland, when she had a long term relationship with Kennedy (she co-wrote an article about the impact of this relationship 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. (See also Mark Kennedy: A mole in Tarnac (France & Euro-wide ops) and “Using false documents against ‘Euro-anarchists'”.)
In January 2010, before leaving the police, Kennedy set up a company called “Stanage Consulting” in Basingstoke and another called Tokra Ltd, which was linked to Global Open (run by former Animal Rights National Index and Special Branch cop-turned-private sector spymaster, Rod Leeming). In March 2010 Kennedy set up a second company, Black Star High Access Limited. In December 2011, Kennedy also applied for work with the US intelligence company, Stratfor (he didn’t get a job). Another company Kennedy worked for, from March 2012, was the Densus Group, for whom he was a consultant (Densus is a US surveillance company, specialising in spying on political activists, including those involved with Occupy).
For a summary of Kennedy’s undercover activities, click here.
B. Ratcliffe on-Soar actions (summary)
In January 2009 activists met with Mark Kennedy and he agreed to drive them on a recce to the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant.
Some weeks later, after a sighting of police cars by the power station, Kennedy agreed to check the scene out again. He later returned to where some of the activists were preparing briefings and equipment for the raid and told them that the police cars had gone.
The next day Kennedy attended a day long briefing prior to the raid. Kennedy had originally agreed to drive the activists to the power plant and drop them off, but changed his mind and agreed to climb into the facility with them. As it was, the police pre-emptively raided the planning metting and arrested 114 of the climate activists, including Kennedy.
Charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass were subsequently brought against twenty-six of those arrested. 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 in December 2010 saw all convicted, though not jailed.
C. Extracts from the Kennedy Files
The specific undercover intelligence operation involving Mark Kennedy and his ‘deep cover’ work with environmental activists targetting the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station was known as Operation Aeroscope.
All of the files are marked ‘Secret’ and reference the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). In totality they consist of the following:
(i) The authorisation documentation in relation to Kennedy whereby he was authorised throughout to participate in “criminal damage, obstruction and aggravated trespass onto land” and to use audio-recording equipment.
(ii) Kennedy’s note book with entries between 10 January and 13 April 2009.
(iii) Intelligence reports by NPOIU officers between 12 January and 7 May 2009.
(iv) The audio recording made by Kennedy of the discussions at Iona School on 12 April.
(v) The draft transcript of that audio recording.
(vi) The corrected transcript.
vii) A draft statement by Kennedy.
(viii) A statement signed by Kennedy on 23 September 2009.
(ix) “A de-brief document”.
This first extract (below) outlines the risks faced by Kennedy (referred to as “UCO 133”), including the possibility of having the same solicitor as his fellow defendants (which would contaminate any trial proceedings). Indeed, the document clearly states that to avoid this any prosecutions may have to be halted. It was recommended that if Kennedy is arrested he should decline any offer of a solicitor; better still, that he should avoid arrest by not attending the action (though he could drive the activists to the power plant). Kennedy’s supervisor is named as David Hutcheson.
The second extract is signed off by DI Hutcheson and refers to another authorising officer: Assistant Chief Constable Ackerley (a more senior officer). The document states that crimes of criminal damage, obstruction and trespass would be allowed (i.e. enabled).
The third extract provides details of how Kennedy would facilitate the Ratcliffe actions. He was instructed to organise the vehicle that would transport the activists (note, only to outside the Ratcliffe facility); he would organise a ‘dry run’ of the action; and he would audio record all meetings prior to the action (which he did and which recordings form part of the files).
The fourth extract is but one of many reports that provided details of actions monitored, logged and reported on.
Other authorising officers named in the Mr Kennedy’s police files include Detective Inspector Bateman, Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale, Detective Chief Inspector Robbins and Detective Inspector Hedley (National Domestic Extremism Team) as well as contacts in Nottinghamshire Special Branch and South Wales Special Branch.
Below are extracts of transcripts of reports by Mark Kennedy (the original of each bearing the above heading) and signed off by ‘M’ (Kennedy).
Note: defendants names have been hidden from these extracts for privacy purposes via a whiteout tool.
The CPS had in its possession copies of the entire Mark Kennedy files months prior to the Ratcliffe trial but were deliberately held back from the defence team.
D. The aftermath
The case against the six accused of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe spectacularly collapsed in January 2011, following the revelations of Mark Kennedy’s activities as an undercover policeman. The Crown Prosecution Service had been forced to withdraw the case after it was shown that the CPS had withheld evidence from the defence.
On 19 July, 2011, England’s Court of Appeals quashed all 20 convictions of the ‘justifiers’ (those arrested who had admitted participation in the raid on the Ratcliffe facility) on the basis that evidence had been withheld from the CPS that could have benefited the defence case. The Court described Kennedy’s role “as an enthusiastic supporter” in the planned power plant protest as “arguably, an agent provocateur,” because he had “a significant role in assisting, advising and supporting…the very activity for which these appellants were prosecuted”.
The collapse of the Ratcliffe trial and quashing of convictions contributed to the setting up of the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. However, it should be stressed that the convictions may have remained in force had not the true identity of Kennedy been discovered and revealed by activists.
The CPS unexpected decision to quash the convictions was entirely about avoiding embarrassing evidence being presented in open court. This embarrassing evidence would 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 demonstrated a conspiracy between the CPS and police to, in effect, pervert the course of justice.
Moreover, the Independent Police Complaints Commission later found that the CPS 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 activists 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.
Danny Chivers, one of the 114 arrested, later commented:
“We firmly believe that this trial collapsed not because of the existence of the officer [Kennedy], 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.”
“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.”
Here is the Independent Police Complaints Commission report into Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure. The report examines the behaviour of the following officers with Nottinghamshire Police: Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Ian Ackerley, Detective Superintendent (Det Supt) Adrian Pearson, Detective Inspector (DI) Andrew Roberts, Detective Constable (DC) Nigel Malik, Mr Manjeet Matharu, Civilian Investigator, DC Mark Zajac and Det Ch Supt Neil James (retired).
Significantly, the IPCC report states that: “ACC Ackerley also referred to a document marked ‘IMA 4 Operation Pegasus/Aeroscope’. This is a document containing a matrix prepared by ACC Ackerley that demonstrated the oversight he had and the liaison between him, Mr Cunningham, Mr Paul, the NPOIU DCI [Setchell], Det Supt Pearson and DI Roberts.” Both Paul and Cunningham are with the Crown Prosecution Service. The IPCC report provides evidence that confirms the CPS (via Cunningham and Paul) had access to all of Mark Kennedy’s undercover files before the trial of those charged.
The report also stated:
“Nottinghamshire Police officers have stated that they met with the lead CPS lawyer in May 2009 and provided him with the transcript and that this document was further discussed with the same lawyer in September of that year. A number of Nottinghamshire Police officers and a force civilian investigator state that they discussed the evidential products with the lead CPS lawyer at various points throughout the investigation. Whilst none of the officers adequately recorded the details of any of these meetings the IPCC investigation found, on the balance of probabilities, that the lead CPS lawyer had, at the very least, been told about the products generated by the undercover officer and had been given opportunities to read the relevant documents prior to January 2011.”
That there was collusion between the CPS, Nottinghamshire Police, the NPOIU and other agencies is not in doubt.
Finally, here is the Report of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest Inquiry into Disclosure by The Rt Hon Sir Christopher Rose.
The energy company E.ON, which runs the Ratcliffe-on-Soar facility, admitted to employing Global Open, a private security company set up by ex-spycop Rod Leeming and which employed Mark Kennedy too. (In 2011 it was revealed that E.ON also used another security company, Vericola, which had been infiltrating a number of political campaign strategy meetings. Leaked documents to the Guardian show how Vericola’s owner, Rebecca Todd, tipped off E.ON company executives about environmentalists’ plans after snooping on their emails; she also instructed an agent to attend campaign meetings and coached him on how to ingratiate himself with the activists.)
Whilst undercover, Kennedy had relationships with several women, including political activist ‘Lisa’ (for six years), aka ‘Megan’, aka ‘Lisa Jones’ and who had no idea Kennedy was a police officer until she found Kennedy’s passport – her story is here; ‘Lily’ (Kate Wilson); ‘Naomi’; and Sarah Hampton); and others.
Kennedy’s overall boss for all his undercover operations was Anton Setchell, who was the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE) and who had oversight of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), the corporate advisory National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, and the National Domestic Extremism Team.
There have been no prosecutions of any of the spycops, including Kennedy; nor of any of the spycops’ supervisors, including Hutcheson, Ackerley, Sampson, Setchell or the CPS lawyers involved in perverting the course of justice.