Britain: Cops caught spying on activists

Issue 
Lynn Watson, an undercover police officer who infiltrated the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, was found to be a ‘total

In 2009, more than a 100 activists were arrested in a swoop on a community centre in Nottingham in an operation involving hundreds of police.

They were alleged to be planning to close down Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. It was revealed that one of the organisers of the alleged protest, Mark Stone, was an undercover cop who had tipped off the police.

Stone was unveiled after his partner found a passport in his real name of Mark Kennedy. He was confronted by Camp for Climate Action activists and confessed all.

The 40-year-old infiltrated the protest movement in 2000 and spent seven years at its heart. To justify his high spending life style, he told activists he was a former drug dealer who wanted to put something back into society.

In reality he was paid £100,000 a year by the police. Kennedy/Stone played a key role in the British protest movement as a driver and organiser. Ironically he was injured by the police on at least one occasion.

He recorded meetings he attended with a device contained in his wrist watch. The trial of six activists accused of attempting to shut down the Ratcliffe power station collapsed, after Kennedy offered to appear for the defence.

Other cops have since emerged. Lynn Watson, an undercover cop, infiltrated the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army at the climate camp. She spied as a clown during the G20 protest in Scotland

Rebel Clown organiser John Jordan told the January 27 Morning Star: “She was a totally bad clown, could not let go and be free, which is what clowns have to learn to do.”

Watson moved to Leeds and infiltrated local activist networks, before being identified.

Mark Jacobs was spotted infiltrating the Cardiff Anarchist movement, who were heavily involved in climate action. A January 20 Cardiff Anarchist Network statement said: “In 2007, having managed to get himself included in the planning process for an action against the LNG pipeline terminal at Milford Haven in west Wales, he was able to pass information to the local police that resulted in the arrests of a number of activists.

“All criminal prosecutions ultimately collapsed, but not before the police had raided houses, including Marco’s own flat, and obtained computer equipment in what seems to have been a massive fishing expedition.

“Much of Marco’s time though was spent getting involved in all the normal activities of a political group — meetings, film showings, gatherings and events designed to provoke discussion and debate about radical politics.

“We believe that in at least one case — the showing of an animal rights film with an accompanying talk — he put on an event purely to gather intelligence on the people who would attend.”

Both Kennedy and Jacobs were involved, in their false identities, with activist movements in other European countries. While living undercover, Kennedy had travelled to 22 countries gathering intelligence.

In December, Andrej Hunko, an MP for the left-wing party Die Linketabled questions in the German parliament about whether the German government knew about Kennedy’s undercover work in Germany.

He also asked: “How does the federal government justify the fact that [Mark Kennedy], as part of his operation in Germany, didn't only initiate long-term, meaningful friendships but also sexual relationships, clearly under false pretences?”

Several of the infiltrators carried out long-term and multiple relationships with those they were spying on.

An article in the March 14 Observer featured the confessions of “Officer A” of the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS), who had infiltrated anti-racist movements in the 1990s, including the campaign against racist killings in police custody.

“He himself had slept with two members of his target group. Although not officially sanctioned, such activity among SDS officers — both male and female — was tacitly accepted and in many cases was vital in maintaining an undercover role,” the Observer said.

He reiterated his claim that deceptively engaging in sexual relationships with activists was routine for SDS infiltrators and approved by police command on the pretext that undercover cops had to be promiscuous to fit in with activists.

Undercover cop Jim Boylin even married an activist and fathered two children with her before getting a divorce.

On January 24, women picketed the Metropolitan Police headquarters in New Scotland Yard.

Protest organiser Sophie Stephens told the January 24 Morning Star: “Women are not able to make an informed decision about who they are having a relationship with if they are being duped by police officers. It's time for the abuse of women by undercover police officers to stop.”

The scale of infiltration and its discovery has caused a crisis for the British police. A number of legal cases are being initiated by activists against the police. Clearly protest in Britain is heavily targeted. But activists can fight back, identify infiltrators and use such cases to challenge the authorities.

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