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 who were targetting a goods train carrying coal for the Drax power station in North Yorkshire. 29 of the campaigners involved were charged and convicted, but in 2014 these convictions were overturned after Kennedy’s role in the action and – a CPS cover-up – was exposed. Below, we publish and forensically examine extracts from a collection of police files that describes Kennedy’s undercover movements, the ‘orders’ he received and – more importantly – the names of the supervisors who authorised his actions. Overall, it is clear that knowledge of and approval of Kennedy’s operations (and, by implication, the operations of all ‘spycops’) was extensive. Also, the documents include a section that appears to provide authorisation to Kennedy to spy on French environmental activists (later dubbed the ‘Tarnac 9’).
Part 1 of The Kennedy Police Files (Operation Aeroscope) can be found here.
Police officers identified in the files below, or related documents, as being either aware of Kennedy’s role in Operation Aeroscope, or who provided authorisation to Kennedy, include:
- Detective Inspector Hutcheson (now believed to work for the Met)
- Detective Superintendent (?) Wilson
- Assistant Chief Constable (?) Pavey
- Superintendent Phil Trendle (British Transport Police)
- Chief Inspector (?) Flood
- Detective Sergeant (?) Trimble (believed assigned to Special Branch)
- Assistant Chief Constable (Colin?) Sampson
- Acting Assistant Chief Constable John Parkinson (West Yorkshire constabulary, then counter-terrorism etc)
- Assistant Chief Constable Anton Setchell (National Coordinator, Domestic Extremism and who headed Kennedy’s and related undercover units)
- Detective Superintendent Young
- The bulk of the files are not published here in order to ensure the privacy of the activists is not intruded upon.
- The specific undercover intelligence operation involving Mark Kennedy and his ‘deep cover’ work with environmental activists targetting the Drax power station was referred to under the wider operation name of Operation Pegasus (which also covered an earlier action on the Drax facility in 2006 that involved Kennedy).
- The files – headed ‘West Yorkshire Police’ and referencing the ‘National Public Order Intelligence Unit’ – are marked ‘Confidential’.
- The files provide an insight into how the 2008 Drax operation was managed, with every move planned by the activists logged.
- The files also show how every aspect of the operation was approved, together with the names of the authorising and supervising officers, none of whom have been prosecuted.
- Mark Kennedy worked for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which was part of the National Domestic Extremism Team.
A. First, a recap…
29 protesters were convicted of various offences in 2009 after they had blocked a train carrying coal heading for the Drax power station in North Yorkshire.
Kennedy had used £250 of state money to hire a van to ferry the protesters to the site where the train would be ‘hijacked’ (Kennedy was the sole driver). He then posed as a builder with another activist, awaiting information about the approaching coal train. Kennedy dropped off approximately 15 other people from the back of his van. Kennedy then drove off.
After it was shown that the role of spycop Mark Kennedy in infiltrating the protesters’ group had been excluded from evidence at the trial of the activists, the DPP, Keir Starmer, invited the 29 people who were convicted of stopping the coal train in June 2008 to appeal. Subsequently the 29 convictions were overturned.
Here is the full judgement of the court hearing. The judgement stated: “The result of his investigation is that although it was beyond argument that the involvement of Mark Kennedy should have been disclosed, it was not. It appears that this was either the fault of the police or someone in the Crown Prosecution Service, or possibly counsel involved at that time. Each of those interviewed has given a different account. It is not the function of this court to enquire into the position, save for one matter with which we shall deal at the conclusion of our judgment. What is important, however, is that the applicants were all convicted without disclosure having been made of the role of Mr Kennedy”.
In June 2015 prosecutors were ordered to pay the legal bill of the 29 protesters unjustly convicted. In his jugement, Lord Thomas said that Kennnedy had kept a detailed record of what had happened and had made regular reports to his handler, who communicated them to senior West Yorkshire police officers. He added: “None of that was disclosed at the trial or at any time prior to it” and that either the prosecutors or the police were at fault for what eventuated.
B. The extracts from the Kennedy Files
Note: where it says ‘Intelligence states’ or ‘Source’, this is referring to Mark Kennedy (also known as UCO 113).
In the following two extracts it is clear that Kennedy provided his supervising team with very detailed and regular reports on what the campaigners were planning/doing. Unequivocally, his role is pivotal and that of agent-provocateur.
The following three extracts show a log of real-time reports from Kennedy on the Drax action. Five senior police officers were appraised about what was happening: Detective Inspector Hutcheson, Superintendent Wilson, Assistant Chief Constable Pavey, Superintendent Phil Trendle (British Transport Police) and Chief Inspector Flood. Another senior officer is mentioned too: Detective Sergeant Trimble (‘SB’ is presumed to mean Special Branch).
(Elsewhere in the files (not shown) the following police officers are listed as providing authorisation to the undercover operation: ACC Sampson, Detective Superintendent Young and Acting ACC John Parkinson.)
Finally, one intriguing section of the files includes authorisation for Kennedy to infiltrate – yes, infiltrate – French environmental activists, including Julien Coupat (whom the French authorities regarded as the mastermind of the Tarnac ‘anarchist cell’) and Sandra Gobels.
Yes, read that again: it’s an instruction in black and white by UK police intelligence to Mark Kennedy to undertake covert surveillance on French activists, presumably in France (or anywhere else) and presumably (though not necessarily) in conjunction with the French authorities. Indeed, this is exactly what Kennedy did – and the outcome was a police raid on the French activists in November 2008 – see here. (No wonder the CPS wanted to keep these files secret!)
- The CPS were privy to the above documents, but did not release copies of them to the defence team (presumably to avoid compromising the police ‘asset(s)’.
- 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.
- Another undercover police officer was involved, together with Kennedy, in an earlier Drax action in August 2006. ‘Lynn Watson’, like Kennedy, was working to the NPOIU and together with Kennedy and the activists attempted to storm the grounds of the Drax facility, prior to its official opening. (Kennedy was caught and badly beaten by police – who had no idea of his status – before he could effect entry.)