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UK trial collapses after undercover officer switched sides

Undercover policeman believed to have become ‘agent provocateur’ after infiltrating green activist group who planned to occupy and shut down a coal-fired power plant.

File photo of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
File photo of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire

THE TRIAL OF SIX GREEN activists, who were charged with conspiring to shut down a British power station, has fallen apart after a policeman who had infiltrated the group switched sides, and offered to appear as a witness for the defence.

The group was charged with conspiring to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power plant in Nottinghamshire, England, in 2009. They all denied the charge.

The six were among 114 people arrested in April 2009 ahead of a protest and planned occupation of the plant and the same solicitor represented 113 of those arrested.

The 114th person, undercover policeman Mark Kennedy, who has since quit the police force and now lives abroad, was involved with the movement since 2000. He successfully infiltrated protests groups in over 20 different countries, according to the Guardian.

The six activists have called for an inquiry into Kennedy’s role. Their solicitor said he believed Kennedy had been won over by the group’s arguments on climate change and had offered to assist the case for their defence.

The judge entered ‘not guilty’ verdicts for all six after the Crown Prosecution Service said new information had come to light which meant there was no point in pursuing a prosecution. However, the CPS denied that the information concerned the existence of an undercover policeman, AFP reports.

In a statement the CPS said it had reviewed the case and “decided there was no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction”.

The BBC reports that one of the six activists claimed Kennedy had not simply been an observer, but was actively involved with the group and in organising the power plant protest.

Twenty-six of the 114 people originally arrested were charged, and 20 were convicted last month of planning to break into the plant last month and given light sentences in view of their intention to protest legitimately. The remaining six were those whose trial has collapsed.

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