Scotland Yard has come under pressure to reveal the extent of its covert surveillance of protesters after the collapse of a case following the unmasking of an undercover policeman.
At Nottingham Crown Court yesterday prosecutors said they were dropping charges against six people accused of a 2009 plot to shut Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire.
Lawyers for the protesters had demanded the Crown Prosecution Service be forced by the judge to reveal what role the undercover officer, Constable Mark Kennedy, had played in aiding and encouraging the break-in.
The prosecution decided to drop the case rather than hand over details of Kennedy’s involvement.
Activists first suggested they had unmasked the police officer’s real identity in October last year.
Since beginning his covert work in 2000, he had used the assumed identity of Mark Stone. He earned the nickname “Flash” because he always seemed to have more money than his fellow protesters.
He was quickly put to use by the groups he infiltrated because of his driving skills. He was also a keen climber, who has been photographed scaling pylons as part of anti-climate change protests.
Kennedy subsequently fled overseas and left the Metropolitan Police.
But he has been in touch with lawyers defending the six protesters and has indicated he was willing to give evidence to help their case. All six claimed they had never finally agreed to aid the Ratcliffe protest.
The extent of the officer’s involvement in helping to organise protests led some to accuse the police of entrapment. Bradley Day, 23, a charity worker who has faced trial for his involvement in the Ratcliffe-on-Soar plot, said Kennedy had paid to hire a van used to transport equipment.
Day said that in January last year Kennedy had accompanied five or six protesters on a trip to the power station. But police waited for four months before taking action.
They arrested more than 100 people on April 13 last year when they raided a meeting of green activists in Sneinton, Nottingham.