ROYAUME-UNI • Un espion chez les écolos
Pendant près de sept ans, le policier Mark Kennedy a infiltré des réseaux de militants écologistes... jusqu’à prendre leur parti fait le récit de cette double vie.
27.01.2011 | Paul Lewis, Rob Evans | The Guardian
Il est arrivé un jour avec ses cheveux longs, ses tatouages et la passion de grimper aux arbres. On ne s’est pas méfié de ce type qui se présentait sous le nom de Mark Stone à l’entrée d’une ferme reconvertie en base militante. On était le 12 août 2003 et Mark Stone était venu dans le Yorkshire, en pleine vague de chaleur, pour assister à une réunion de militants écologistes baptisés Earth First.
En dehors du fait qu’il gagnait visiblement bien sa vie et qu’il mangeait de la viande, rien ne différenciait Mark Stone des centaines d’autres militants occupés à fumer des joints, jouer de la guitare et préparer des actions publiques sous des tentes.
Ce que personne n’aurait pu deviner, c’est qu’en dépit des apparences, cet “alpiniste free-lance” de 33 ans était en réalité un policier en service chargé d’un ambitieux projet d’infiltration des milieux écologistes.
Mark Kennedy a mené une incroyable double vie pendant plus de sept ans. Le policier s’est tellement bien intégré à la communauté des militants que près de deux cents personnes étaient là pour fêter ses 40 ans. Naturellement, personne ne savait que Kennedy transmettait des rapports détaillés à ses supérieurs alors qu’il participait à certains des plus grands événements militants des dix dernières années, et parfois même les organisait. Mark Kennedy a été de presque toutes les grandes manifestations écologistes du Royaume-Uni depuis 2003. Muni d’un faux passeport, il s’est rendu dans plus de vingt-deux pays, manifestant contre la construction d’un barrage en Islande, rejoignant des militants verts espagnols, pénétrant les réseaux anarchistes d’Allemagne et d’Italie.
Sa mission nécessitait d’entrer illégalement sur des sites de centrales électriques, d’envahir des aéroports ; elle a pris fin lors d’une opération au cours de laquelle le policier aurait fini par franchir la ligne, oubliant son rôle d’espion pour inciter les militants à agir illégalement. Mais Kennedy semble également avoir évolué de manière inattendue sur le plan personnel. Ces dernières semaines, après que les militants eurent découvert sa véritable identité et fait savoir qu’il travaillait pour la police, Kennedy a exprimé ses remords auprès de ses amis trahis et cherche à présent un moyen de racheter sa faute.
Kennedy est entré dans la police vers 1994. Début 2003, il est choisi pour une opération top secret. Cela fait des dizaines d’années que la police infiltre les milieux protestataires, mais Kennedy doit être l’un des premiers agents à travailler pour la nouvelle National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), chargée de surveiller les “extrémistes de l’intérieur”. Cet été-là, il se voit remettre un permis de conduire, un passeport établissant sa nouvelle identité - Mark Stone - et une histoire crédible pour expliquer ses absences : alpiniste professionnel, il part souvent à l’étranger pour des contrats bien rémunérés. Kennedy a deux atouts qui vont bientôt le rendre indispensable au sein du mouvement. D’une part, il conduit et posséde un pick-up ; ensuite, il sait se montrer généreux, acceptant de payer l’impression de documents, louant des véhicules et payant les amendes infligées par les tribunaux. Il obtient rapidement la confiance des militants. En 2004, il devient membre de Dissent !, un réseau chargé de préparer des manifestations liées au sommet du G8, prévu pour l’année suivante à Gleneagles [en Ecosse]. En 2005, l’agent infiltré grimpe aux arbres de la capitale pour accrocher des bannières contre BP. Il se rend ensuite en Ecosse où son pick-up sert à transporter des équipements pour un campement écolo près de Stirling [à proximité de Gleneagles]. Après le G8, Kennedy file en Islande pour manifester contre la construction d’un barrage. Conscients d’être surveillés par la police, les militants limitent au maximum le nombre de personnes informées des détails logistiques de l’opération. Pour des raisons pratiques, les personnes chargées du transport en font généralement partie.
A l’été 2006, Mark Kennedy est un militant à part entière. Il rejoint le cercle des organisateurs du premier Camp climat et participe à son installation près de la centrale à charbon de Drax, dans le Yorkshire [organisés par le groupe militant Camp action climat (CAC), une dizaine de campements se sont installés depuis sur des sites jugés stratégiques, principalement au Royaume-Uni].
Lors du Camp climat de l’année suivante à l’aéroport de Heathrow, près de Londres, Kennedy se voit confier la charge importante de l’organisation des transports. Ce n’est que le 12 avril 2009, après l’assaut par la police d’une école dans la banlieue de Nottingham, que la double vie de Mark Kennedy commence à éclater au grand jour.
La police avait appris - probablement par Kennedy lui-même - que des militants prévoyaient d’entrer sur le site de la centrale de Ratcliffe-on-Soar, une centrale à charbon située à proximité.
Au cours d’un vaste coup de filet, la police prend d’assaut le bâtiment de l’école où les militants se sont rassemblés depuis la veille. A l’intérieur, ils trouvent cent quatorze personnes, dont Kennedy. Le 5 janvier 2011, vingt militants seront finalement condamnés pour le délit mineur de préparation à une effraction après avoir reconnu qu’ils avaient prévu d’occuper la centrale pendant une semaine afin d’empêcher l’émission de 150 000 tonnes de carbone. Ce jour-là, après avoir prononcé des condamnations “indulgentes”, le président du tribunal de Nottingham a déclaré que cette occupation avait été pacifique et non dangereuse et estimé que les militants étaient des personnes “honnêtes”, dotées “des plus louables intentions”.
Stone/Kennedy avait joué un rôle déterminant dans la préparation de cette opération. Lorsque les militants furent avertis de la présence de nombreux policiers à l’extérieur de la centrale, il fut question d’abandonner le plan. On chargea toutefois Kennedy d’aller vérifier la gravité du problème. A son retour, il déclara [faussement] qu’il n’y avait aucun policier [pour inciter les écolos à pénétrer sur le site]. Les forces de police débarquèrent peu de temps après.
Certains militants se mirent immédiatement à soupçonner Kennedy. Ces soupçons ne firent que s’aggraver lorsque celui-ci, inculpé en même temps que vingt-sept de ses compagnons, décida de faire appel à un autre cabinet d’avocats. Lui seul fut relaxé. Ce n’est toutefois qu’après avoir découvert par hasard son véritable passeport, des mois plus tard, que les militants finirent par apprendre sa véritable identité. Le 21 octobre 2010, six de ses amis proches le pressèrent de questions. Il finit par avouer et exprimer, en larmes, ses regrets. Kennedy vit à présent à l’étranger, mais les derniers développements de l’affaire semblent indiquer que son repentir était sincère. Dans des courriers électroniques échangés avec les militants, Kennedy demande qu’on lui “fasse confiance” et s’engage à donner des preuves à leurs avocats afin de “les aider”.
Daily Mail, 2:22 AM on 17th January 2011
The undercover policeman who posed as an eco-warrior for eight years came out of hiding to tell his full, extraordinary story - and reveal that he fears for his life.
Mark Kennedy, 41, denies ‘going native’ and triggering the collapse of the trial of six environmental activists accused of trying to shut down one of Britain’s biggest power stations.
He is also furious at what he calls a ‘smear campaign’ that he bedded a string of vulnerable women to extract information.
He said angrily : ‘I had two relationships while I was undercover, one of which was serious. I am the first one to hold up my hands and say, yes, that was wrong.’
Scroll down to watch his interview with The Mail on Sunday...
Pc Mark Kennedy
Former undercover cop Mark Kennedy
Double identity : Mark Kennedy in his undercover days (left) and as he is now (right). He has received death threats from activists and sleeps in a barricaded room
He says it was to ‘do the exit strategy properly’ and offer a more credible explanation for why he was leaving the activist movement. He bought a canal boat, the Tamarisk, as ‘an affordable place to live’.
It has since been claimed that Kennedy used the boat to bed more women - a claim he strongly denies.
‘It’s my home,’ he says. ‘I am now having to read reports about how it was my shag pad. That’s simply not true.’
Describing a life lived ‘constantly on the edge’, he claims his former police bosses are searching for him in America, where he fled last year.
He has received death threats from activists and sleeps in a barricaded room.
‘I am in fear for my life and don’t know where to turn,’ he says. Mr Kennedy refutes suggestions that he crossed the line, became an agent provocateur and played a central role in organising the very protests police wanted him to sabotage.
‘My superiors knew where I was at all times - my BlackBerry was fitted with a tracking device - and they sanctioned every move I made. I didn’t sneeze without them knowing about it. I feel I’ve been hung out to dry.’
Speaking from a safe house, the former police officer tells how he led an astonishing double life as committed green anarchist Mark Stone before being ultimately let down by his handlers.
In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday he reveals that :
* He was unmasked as a spy after his beautiful redhead girlfriend of five years found his real passport.
* Five policemen unaware of his undercover role savagely beat him up at a protest.
* Intelligence he gathered was passed directly to Tony Blair, then Prime Minister.
* Campaigners subjected him to a terrifying kangaroo court ordeal when his cover was blown.
* He was ‘incompetently’ handled by officers and was denied psychological counselling.
Mr Kennedy is estranged from his wife, with whom he has two children, a boy of 12 and a ten-year-old girl.
‘My son has been crying and says he never wants to see me again,’ he says.
Former undercover cop Mark Kennedy
’A living nightmare’ : Mark Kennedy says both police and eco-activists are out to get him
The officer was recruited in 2002 by the Met’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit.
After his exposure last week, the secretive unit faced accusations that it ran ‘undemocratic’ operations. It has been urged to reveal the extent of its covert surveillance of peaceful protesters.
Mr Kennedy says he knows of at least 15 other officers who infiltrated the ranks of green campaigners in the past decade and of four who remain undercover.
He infiltrated and became a key member of the hardline group behind the alleged plot to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire in 2009.
When defence barristers submitted a disclosure request asking for information about his involvement, the prosecution apparently opted to abandon the case rather than have ‘murky’ evidence about the police’s involvement heard in public.
But Mr Kennedy says the case was doomed to fail anyway because covert recordings he supplied police proved undeniably that the six men facing trial last week for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass were innocent.
Police withheld the recordings which, it was claimed yesterday, was the real reason the case collapsed.
Mr Kennedy’s case is now the subject of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
I’ve always respected the police. But the world of undercover policing is grey and murky. There is some bad stuff going on. Really bad stuff...
By CAROLINE GRAHAM
In an astonishing and revealing interview, Mark Kennedy today presents a very different image of the murky world of undercover policing to the one splashed across the media all week.
As Mark Stone, a long-haired drop-out mountaineer, nicknamed ‘Flash’ because of his access to ready cash, he attended scores of environmental protests in the UK and Europe.
But the man who sits before me is unrecognisable. His once lanky hair has been shorn into a neat short-back-and-sides. His grungy eco-warrior outfit of torn jeans and grubby T-shirt has been replaced by neatly pressed trousers, starched shirt and designer sweater. His full arm tattoos are covered by long sleeves. The only reminders of his former life are the piercings in his ears.
Mark Kennedy/Mark Stone
Hurt : Showing the injuries caused by uniformed officers at the 2006 Drax protest
He is on the run, he says, from both his former police bosses and from activists who have made death threats against him. But he has also been swamped with offers for book and movie rights to his life story.
Speaking for the first time about what he calls ‘my living nightmare’, he says :
‘I can’t sleep. I have lost weight and am constantly on edge. I barricade the door with chairs at night. I am in genuine fear for my life. I have been told that my former bosses from the force are out here in America looking for me. I have been told by activists to watch my back as people are out to get me.
‘I have chosen to speak out because I want my story out there. People like to think of things in terms of black and white. But the world of undercover policing is grey and murky. There is some bad stuff going on. Really bad stuff.’
He says he is ‘horrified’ by accusations that he ‘crossed the line’, goading activists into actions they would not normally have considered.
‘I had a cover officer whom I spoke to numerous times a day,’ he says.
‘He was the first person I spoke to in the morning and the last person I spoke to at night. I didn’t sneeze without a superior officer knowing about it. My BlackBerry had a tracking device. My cover officer joked that he knew when I went to the loo.’
He is also furious at what he calls a ‘smear campaign’ that he bedded a string of vulnerable women to extract information.
He said angrily : ‘I had two relationships while I was undercover, one of which was serious. I am the first one to hold up my hands and say, yes, that was wrong.
‘I crossed the line. I fell deeply in love with the second woman. I was embedded into a group of people for nearly a decade. They became my friends. They supported me and they loved me. All I can do now is tell the truth. I don’t think the police are the good guys and the activists are bad or vice versa. Both sides did good things and bad things. I am speaking out as I hope the police can learn from the mistakes they made.
‘I was at the heart of a very sensitive operation. I was told my work was the benchmark for other undercover officers. My superior officer told me on more than one occasion, particularly during the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005, that information I was providing was going directly to Tony Blair’s desk.’
He admits he has had ‘a total transformation’ since his undercover days.
‘I am physically and mentally exhausted,’ he says. ‘I have had some dark thoughts. I thought I could end this very quickly.
‘I went to see a psychiatrist recently and told her I was having thoughts of suicide. I don’t have any confidence. My world has been destroyed. I don’t have any friends, they were all in the activist movement.’
Kennedy was born and raised in Orpington, Kent, the eldest son of traffic police officer John and housewife Sheila. His younger brother Ian is a landscape artist in America.
He left school at 16, worked as a court usher and joined the City of London Police in 1990, aged 21.
‘I always respected the police,’ he says. ‘I’ve given my life to them. I never imagined I would end up in this situation.’
As he speaks, over a period of several hours, it is abundantly clear he is a police officer. He talks in a clipped, concise manner. He gives details in a monotone voice. He often uses ‘police-speak’ and acronyms.
In the early Nineties he was a uniformed member of the ‘Ring of Steel’ around the City of London. He transferred to the Metropolitan Police and in 1996 was recruited to his first undercover course on street-level drug dealing.
‘I was a natural at undercover work and I loved it,’ he says.
‘Drug work was black and white. You identify the bad guys, record and film the evidence, present it in court and take them down. I did that for four years and loved it.’
Mark Kennedy/Mark Stone in a band playing at his 40th Birthday weekend
Birthday bash : Mark Kennedy/Mark Stone on stage at his ’69ers party’
Kennedy married in 1994 and had two children, a boy, now aged 12, and a daughter, ten. His wife lives in Ireland and is a staunch Catholic and for that reason they have not divorced.
He says his children are ‘heartbroken’ by the current turn of events : ‘My son has been crying and says he never wants to see me again,’ he says sadly.
His marriage failed in 2000, around the same time as he was approached by the Animal Rights National Index, a unit which became the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), a shadowy body that runs a nationwide intelligence database of political activists.
The unit comes under the control of the Association of Chief Police Officers which, as The Mail on Sunday has previously reported, is a limited company that sells information from the Police National Computer, among other concerns.
Kennedy says his cover officer would report back up a line of command who ‘were aware of everything I was doing. Every action I took had to receive something called an “authority” which covered me to infiltrate activist groups and be involved in minor crime such as trespass and criminal damage. In all the time I worked undercover I never broke the law.’
Kennedy says : ‘The NPOIU is extremely specialised and intense. It is difficult work. To infiltrate a group like the activists is hard, even though they are sociable and friendly at the lower level. I had to create a whole life, a whole backstory, and maintain credibility for years.’
Kennedy says he knew of 15 other operatives doing the same work as him during his eight years undercover.
‘Some got busted, others left,’ he says. ‘I was the longest-serving operative. At the time I left in 2009, there were at least four other operatives. I never did anything to jeopardise the work or lives of my fellow officers and I will not start now.’
Kennedy created what is known in the trade as ‘a legend’ - a believable backstory.
‘I was an avid rock climber and I had been to Pakistan so I created a story about being involved in the importation of drugs,’ he says.
‘I knew the London drug scene well so I purported to be a courier. That is how I justified having money.
‘I said I’d led a bad life and wanted to make amends, which was why I was drawn to eco-activism. I was also a keen climber, so I often worked as an industrial climber, which meant I had a means of showing I was “making” money, rather than the truth - which was that the NPOIU would wire it to me.
‘I was given a fake passport as Mark Stone, a driver’s licence, bank accounts, a credit card and a phone with a tracking device.’
His £50,000 annual police salary was paid into a private account in his real name. All other payments, which he says came to £200,000 a year, went into his ‘Mark Stone’ account. He says since dropping his cover ‘I have found it hard to sign my own name on cheques again’.
Mark Kennedy says he knew of 15 other operatives doing the same work as him during the eight years undercover
He was sent to Nottingham to the Sumac Centre, a hub of activists : ‘I started slowly and made friends. Then I went to my first gathering of the Earth First group where I met an activist called Mark Barnsley.
’Our friendship blossomed and he treated me like a brother. He is a cantankerous figure but was well respected for his anarchist and vegan principles and the fact that he had fought with the PLO.
‘I was one of the few people who had a van, which made me a real asset. Things we take for granted in the real world are rare in the activist world. In those days very few of them had a mobile phone. Even now not many drive. That’s how the Flash nickname came about. I had stuff.’
Kennedy was involved in numerous activities, ranging from protests at the Drax power station in Yorkshire to picketing arms fairs in London and the Karahnjukar Dam in Iceland. His climbing skills were used to scale towers and buildings to unfurl banners. He drove hundreds of activists to demonstrations.
‘I began to live the life and enjoy it,’ he says frankly. ‘People have this image of hairy tree huggers and, yes, there is an element of that. I used to joke about them not just being vegans, but “freegans”. I was with people who would dive into skips to get food if it was free. But there are also a lot of educated, passionate people with degrees who really believe in what they are doing.’
I ask if the line between the activism and his police work ever became blurred : ‘As the years went on, I did get a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, (where kidnap victims fall for their abductors). But I never lost sight of my work. I texted and informed on a daily basis. But I began to like the people I was with. I formed lasting friendships.
‘I had no other friends. I was estranged from my wife. My life was undercover. Of course I cared about them. But I didn’t go rogue. I was immersing myself in the culture to do my job, to be credible.
‘I reported everything. There were many instances of shoplifting. I was offered counterfeit money. I was offered drugs many, many times. Yes, I had a serious relationship but there was another undercover female operative there who definitely knew about it.
’If anyone had asked, I would have told them. But no one asked. That is the problem about this whole undercover police operation. There seem to be no guidelines, no rules. I was pretty much left to fend for myself.
‘I got great information to keep police a step ahead of the game. I also prevented violence. At a G8 protest in Germany the riot cops were planning to go in heavy, but I knew the crowd was planning to disperse. I texted that information in, and the charge was called off. That stopped bloodshed.’
The low point of his career came in 2006 when he was beaten up by five uniformed police officers on the perimeter fence of the Drax power station - who were only there because he tipped them off.
‘A young petite woman I knew as Cathleen began to crawl through a hole in the fence,’ he says. ‘Then I saw a uniformed police officer start to strike her very hard on her legs and lower back with his baton.
‘I tried to stand between her and him. I didn’t do anything aggressive. That’s when I got jumped on by five officers who kicked and beat me. They had batons and pummelled my head. They punched me. One officer repeatedly stamped on my back.’
Kennedy went to hospital with a head wound, broken finger and a prolapsed disc. His attempt to claim for injuries incurred on duty was denied as it would blow his cover. ‘That p***ed me off,’ he says.
He says he was embraced by activists throughout Europe who he found ‘more militant and volatile’ than in Britain. In 2008 he was invited to a forest on the French-German border where groups from around Europe would share skills.
‘It was almost stereotypical. The Germans made very technical, clean and precise incendiary devices, the French were flamboyant and used Gauloises cigarettes to light the fuse and the Greeks were all for a big bang : they strapped a gas canister to a basic incendiary device.
‘When it was my turn I shared details of arm tubes - when protestors clip their arms into steel tubes to create a barrier. I think the others were a bit disappointed but British activism didn’t have the militancy or violence of other countries.’
Kennedy says he would travel abroad with fellow activists, and feed information back to his British superiors to share with other nations. ‘Activism has no borders,’ he says. ‘I would never go abroad without authority from my superiors and the local police.’
But Kennedy claims there were repeated cases of police mismanagement.
‘I was supposed to get psychological counselling every three months,’ he said.
‘I would go two years without seeing the shrink. Initially meetings were regular. Then it became a farce. The office was so greedy for intelligence that they didn’t set up the meetings. They went by the wayside. I’m sure that’s the same for other undercover officers too.’
He adds : ‘Plans were constantly changed at the last minute. It wore on my nerves. They just assumed I could change everything on the whim of the officer in control. It wasn’t that easy.
‘I became increasingly paranoid. I was stressed out. I was fried. I never stopped being a cop, but I was pushed to the limit of what I could endure.’
Kennedy says his cover was blown when a meeting planning action at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire was raided in April 2009.
‘When it all kicked off, 114 people were arrested, including me. No further action was taken against most of them, but 27 people, including me, were to be charged with conspiracy offences. I kept being told by my cover officer, “Don’t worry, they are going to drop it,” but they never did.’
Meanwhile, Kennedy continued to work undercover, including the climate camp in London in the summer of 2009, but the Ratcliffe-on-Soar arrest was still hanging over him.
‘I was interviewed twice by detectives,’ he says. ‘The second time, I was the only one without a solicitor, which was hugely weird.
‘You can’t lie to a lawyer. So I couldn’t have a lawyer. I was a few days from being charged, then the case was dropped. That pretty much blew my cover.’
He says he was told his eight-year undercover operation was over in a curt text message in September 2009.
‘I’d just had a huge 40th birthday party for me and ten others born in 1969 called the 69ers party at a farm in Herefordshire. I was told, “At least you had a great party and now it’s over.” Then the text came telling me I had three weeks.
‘I had to clear out of the house where I was living in Nottingham. I was made to hand over my Mark Stone passport, driving licence and credit cards. I was then driven to Ireland.
‘I didn’t say goodbye properly. I’d told the activists I was feeling burned out and was going to visit my brother in America “indefinitely”. It was ridiculous, everyone knows you can’t just go to America like that.
‘I was given a mailing address in the US which was a PO Box. I had Facebook accounts and email accounts but wasn’t allowed to use those. I had lots of leave to take, which I spent with my children in Ireland.
‘I had an interview with the Met’s personnel department in December 2009 and was told I wasn’t qualified.
‘I was in there less than 20 minutes. I came out hugely depressed. I’d done 20 years’ service and they were basically telling me I was only qualified to drive a panda car. So long undercover had left me totally inequipped to go back into mainstream policing. I couldn’t even use the radios or computers.
‘Then in January last year I was approached by a private company which advises corporations about activist trends. It’s run by Rod Leeming, a former Special Branch officer. I’d never met him before.’
The company, Global Open, is based in London and has advised major corporations including E.On - which runs the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant - and BAE.
Kennedy handed in his resignation from the police in January, ending work in March.
He then went back to Nottingham and contacted his old friends : ‘People were worried about me. I wanted to withdraw myself in a more believable way. I didn’t tell police I was going back.’
He resumed his relationship with his girlfriend while he worked for Global Open as a consultant - although he says he did not operate undercover for the company.
‘I was using the time to try to extract myself in a proper way,’ he says.
‘I did a course on servicing wind turbines. I made the excuse that I was going to go off around the world doing that. That would have been a far more acceptable exit than just vanishing.’
In July he and his girlfriend went on holiday to Europe - when she discovered his passport in the name of Mark Kennedy. ‘She told the other activists about it and they started investigating me.
‘When I went to visit my kids in October I got a menacing phone call saying they knew I was a cop.
‘I knew then that it was over.’