Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageOp-Ed: Court of Appeal quashes 'Mark Kennedy' convictions

By Alexander Baron     Jul 22, 2011 in Crime
The tide could be turning for the police and other organs of state security who incite crimes in order to discredit political ideologies and their activists, in Britain at least.
The world and especially the Internet is awash with lunatic so-called conspiracy theories, which are in reality for the most part simply scurrilous and unsubstantiated gossip about how the CIA rather than Oswald assassinated the President, how the White House rather than eighteen angry young men with boxcutters perpetrated 9/11, and how Dr David Kelly was murdered by MI5 rather than driven to suicide by a media frenzy, public humiliation and disgrace. Occasionally though, a real life story of subversion and intrigue does come to light when someone lifts up a rock and something nasty crawls out from underneath.
Undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was one of these nasty creatures; for seven years he posed as an eco-activist creating a new identity complete with fake official documents and a fake – or should that be genuine-fake? – passport. If you or I had a fake passport in our possession we’d be off to clink in an instant. When one of the state’s organs has one though, it is issued by the Royal Prerogative, and none of your business, pal.
This is of course not a new development, and to some extent the police and more importantly the shadowy intelligence agencies have to cross the line on occasion. The men convicted of organising the Heathrow bomb plot which was said to have been bigger than 9/11 had to be given enough rope; they were kept under close surveillance, and the authorities did not make their move until they felt they had sufficient evidence to obtain convictions. It would though have been a different matter for an undercover agent to join a conspiracy of this nature and edge others on. And it would be an entirely different matter yet again for an agent provocateur to recruit fanatics or people of poor character and low intelligence for the express purpose of inciting them to commit acts of terror so that they could be exposed, and sent to gaol for decades, as happened in the United States recently.
There is no suggestion that Mark Kennedy came anywhere near doing anything of that nature, but he did participate in peaceful though unlawful activity directed against private property, and we have only his word for it that he was not responsible for initiating or attempting to initiate anything more serious.
To his credit though, he appears to have either seen the light or been converted to some degree to the cause he had been sent to monitor or even subvert. There can be no doubt that the vast majority of the eco-warriors with whom he rubbed shoulders for years have their hearts in the right place, and the fact that he may have in some sense acted as an agent provocateur is undoubtedly one of the reasons why earlier this week, the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of a number of activists for conspiring to break into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station two years ago. The fact that the Director of Public Prosecutions himself had urged them to appeal may also have had something to do with it.
In spite of scathing criticism directed at the police, no one has really been brought to book; the only way to put a stop to this sort of nonsense is to hold people personally accountable; that means police officers who act illegally must be prosecuted in the criminal courts, not simply found liable in tort and their fines paid by their employer – ie the taxpayer – as happens inevitably in cases of police brutality, unlawful arrest and seizures etc, in the rare cases where the victim can obtain Legal Aid to bring a prosecution or has sufficient means to mount one himself.
It is probably too much to ask that this will happen at any time in the near future, but there is another consideration here. Earlier this week it was announced that in this new age of austerity, Essex Police are to lose up to four hundred frontline officers over the next three years. Similar cuts are being imposed on all Britain’s local police forces. The police have more important things to do than play games subverting bona fide if feisty pressure groups, like patrolling the streets, and tracking down serial killers, as in the current Stockport hospital investigation.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Mark Kennedy, Court of Appeal, Agents provocateurs, agent provocateur, Metropolitan police
More news from
Latest News
Top News