Over the last few weeks, 20 protestors had been appearing in Nottingham crown Court, accused of conspiring to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station. They were found guilty and were sentenced on the 5th January.
Today was to have been the beginning of a trial of a further 6 people arrested during the police Operation Aeroscope in which 114 people had been arrested by Nottinghamshire Police to prevent the action going ahead.
Integral to this case is the revelations of the work of the undercover Metropolitan Police Officer Mark Kennedy.
Mark ‘Stone/Kennedy’ exposed as undercover police officer? – Indymedia UK 21 October 2010
Mike Schwarz,a solicitor at the Bindmans law firm who represented the activists, said last night:
“I have no doubt that our attempts to get disclosure about Kennedy’s role has led to the collapse of the trial. It is no coincidence that just 48 hours after we told the CPS our clients could not receive a fair trial unless they disclosed material about Kennedy, they halted the prosecution. Given that Kennedy was, until recently, willing to assist the defence, one has to ask if the police were facing up to the possibility their undercover agent had turned native.”
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer was spotted in Nottingham Crown Court this morning. A few of us were wondering if that his presence had anything to do with the trial collapse? A couple of journalist asked court staff if this was so. But, no!! Apparently he was on a routine visit to the court. We looked at each other and said: “yea right” at the same time 🙂
Sitting in Court 3 the defendant initially seated in the dock [glass tank!] were invited to seating within the court. Before His Honour Judge Milmo QC, Miss Felicity Gerry for the prosecution said that on last Wednesday [5th January], the Crown Prosecution Service undertook a review of the case and that as a result, the crown had decided to offer no evidence. The judge therefore declares all six defendants not guilty. The defendant were represented by six individual barristers each of which then applied to the court for an assortment of legal and travel costs all being agreed by the judge.
He then rose.
The whole gig done and dusted in under ten minutes!
Of course the defendants had had this case hanging over their lives since Easter 2009. Obviously being in possession of more of the facts than they had let on. It would of course have been nice if the prosecution might have alleviated their distress by pulling the plug earlier. But no!
Outside, speaking on the court steps, solicitor Mick Schwartz said that the reason for the collapse of the trial was that:
“Previously unavailable material that significantly undermines the prosecution’s case came to light on Wednesday 5 January’. The discovery of this material came at the time when the prosecution were informed that we planned to pursue disclosure of the evidence relating to PC Kennedy with the judge. Unsurprisingly, they have declined to confirm whether the new material relates to PC Kennedy. In my opinion the two are obviously connected. The timing speaks for itself. These events also beg wider, serious questions. Would this evidence have been uncovered had the defence not become aware of it through other avenues?”
The primary difference in the defence operated in these two trials was that the first 20 said in court, that they were going to carry out the action that they were accused of, but claimed that it was ‘necessary’. A lawful excuse for action. This latest trial of the six, would have said that yes, they were there, but had not decided whether to have taken part in any action, or not. PC Kennedy being present there, might have been able to help the court with that!!
It seems obvious to me that with the scale of the climate emergency in front of us, these [and similar] cases are only just the beginning. As time progresses [runs out], many other concerned citizens will be taking direct actions on these issues. The law will of course be 47 steps behind, uncertain if action is necessary or not, or, if democracy and political process can save us. Having heard all the evidence from the last trial ….. I think not. Personally, I hope one day, the law might progress that we can eventually take action against companies / government for the new offence of ecocide, rather than defending individual peoples actions to be ‘necessary’.
Why we need a law on ecocide – Polly Higgins barrister, international environmental lawyer Guardian 5 January 2011
This Is Ecocide | Making the destruction of our planet a crime
I wish everyone with concerns about our future, the very best in any action they can take to help us protect it. For all future generations and species on the planet. My thanks.
Mike Schwarz’s of Bindmans Solicitors statement on undercover policeman Mark Kennedy and the Ratcliffe trial
On Easter Monday 2009 over 400 police officers were involved in a raid at Iona school in Nottingham, which led to 114 arrests. I represented 113 of those arrested. The 114th we now know was PC Kennedy, an undercover police officer. Six of my clients were due to face a long trial starting today. However, the prosecution told the defence on Friday 7th January 2011, just before the trial was due to begin, and almost 20 months after the investigation began, that ‘Previously unavailable material that significantly undermines the prosecution’s case came to light on Wednesday 5 January’. The discovery of this material came at the time when the prosecution were informed that we planned to pursue disclosure of the evidence relating to PC Kennedy with the judge. Unsurprisingly, they have declined to confirm whether the new material relates to PC Kennedy. In my opinion the two are obviously connected. The timing speaks for itself. These events also beg wider, serious questions. Would this evidence have been uncovered had the defence not become aware of it through other avenues? And is it appropriate that access to, and decisions about, disclosure of key evidence should exclusively be in the hands of a prosecution whose primary function is to secure convictions? Let me be clear about this. My clients were not guilty. They did not agree to join in any plan to occupy the power station. The evidence of PC Kennedy presumably confirmed this. Yet that evidence, had it been kept secret, could have led to a miscarriage of justice. Serious questions must be asked relating to the policing of protest, from the use of undercover officers, to the use of expensive and legally questionable mass pre-emptive arrest of protesters, to extremely restrictive pre-charge bail condition, to the seemingly arbitrary nature by which the 114 initially arrested were reduced to the final 26 who were eventually charged. The police need to answer some serious questions about their conduct relating to protesters generally.
Undercover officer spied on green activists – Rob Evans and Paul Lewis Guardian 9 January 2011
Mark Kennedy: A journey from undercover cop to ‘bona fide’ activist – Rob Evans and Paul Lewis Guardian 10 January 2011