But for the exposure of police agent Mark Kennedy, there is every likelihood that six climate activists would shortly be staring at long prison sentences, framed on conspiracy charges by the state. You can be sure that no one at Scotland Yard would have given a damn.
Kennedy, known as Stone to activists, cost the state an estimated £2.25 million over nine years, most of which was spent infiltrating the climate change movement and passing information back to his masters within the sinister Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
No one will know how many people were victims of Kennedy’s duplicity but what is clear is that he actively encouraged activists to plan a shut-down of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottingham in 2009. More than 100 people were arrested before the action in a pre-emptive raid and have appeared in court recently charged with various offences.
That Kennedy acted as an agent provocateur during this whole episode is proved by the fact that the trial of the six collapsed charged with conspiracy collapsed yesterday when he indicated that he would give evidence for the defence.
Kennedy worked for the National Public Order Intelligence unit which was set up in late 1990s to spy on “domestic activists”. It now one of three groups run by the National Co-Ordinator Domestic Extremism, which has an £8 million budget. This allowed Kennedy to visit more than 20 countries on a false passport and to fund transport and other resources used by climate activists.
At the heart of the operation is ACPO, which has the status of a private company with a board of directors. There are presently 349 members of ACPO from police forces around the UK. In what are deemed times of “national need”, ACPO co-ordinates a countrywide, strategic response. During the 1984-5 miners’ strike, it was a law unto itself, setting up road blocks and organising mass arrests of strikers.
It was the alertness of those who had worked with Kennedy in Nottingham that revealed his true identity and the defence barristers’ demand for information that led to the dropping of the case – after 20 months. It’s a great thing that he has been exposed.
The state is clearly prepared to pay over the odds, and even finance activities in order to frame and arrest activists. This is also the case in anti-terror operations where people have been entrapped and sent to jail as a result of the work of agents provocateurs.
The state’s target are the leaders and those organising things so it is vital to get information from the inside. Technology cannot replace agents. But this causes moral and psychological problems – as shown by Kennedy’s breaking down after being confronted by his ex-comrades.
Does Kennedy’s “going native” indicate the existence of “conscience” in the police? No it doesn’t. The moral high ground may indeed belong to eco-campaigners, but for every one exposed, dozens if not hundreds are likely to in place as informers and provocateurs.
No organisation or group challenging corporate power and the state’s agencies can consider itself immune. The present state exists to defend the status quo and will act independently of elected politicians where necessary. It is definitely not for turning.
“Domestic terrorism” units undoubtedly operate today amongst students, eco-campaigners, anti-cuts activists, left-wing organisations and other groups small and large. What are the best means of undermining them and their aims? By organising to involve the maximum number of people in a strategy to reconstruct the state along democratic lines.
The police and their secret agencies should be exposed, disbanded and replaced with bodies accountable and under the control of communities and elected bodies like People’s Assemblies. A charter of democratic rights would guarantee the freedom to organise without the fear of state infiltration and provocation.