UK eco-trial collapses
10 January 2011, 22:24
London - The trial of six green campaigners, accused of trying to shut down one of Britain's biggest power stations, collapsed on Monday amid claims that an undercover policeman offered to give evidence on their behalf.
Defence lawyer Mike Schwarz said police needed to answer "serious questions" about the use of an undercover police officer who had, the BBC said, infiltrated the group.
The Crown Prosecution Service would not say why it had abandoned the case, due to have begun on Monday, only to say "previously unavailable information that significantly undermined" its case had come to light last week.
"In light of this information, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the case and decided there was no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction," it said in a statement.
Nottingham Crown Court heard that the six activists were charged with conspiring to shut down the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire in 2009. Hundreds of people were arrested when police carried out a raid in Nottingham last April.
The court heard protesters planned to shut down the power station for a week, the Press Association reported.
The undercover officer was named as PC Mark Kennedy, a former member of the Metropolitan Police, who was known as Mark Stone within the group, the BBC said. It said he had recently resigned from the force and moved abroad.
Lawyer Schwarz, who represented the protesters, said after the case: "I have no doubt that our attempts to get disclosure about Kennedy's role have 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."
Kennedy disappeared after being confronted by some of the activists last October. They had found documents which forced him to admit his true identity, the BBC said.
Earlier this month, 20 protesters were sentenced after they were convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe.
Scotland Yard declined to comment.