Mark Kennedy

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This article is part of the Undercover Research Portal - a project of the Undercover Research Group in conjunction with SpinWatch.

--- Written in September 2011 ---

Mark Kennedy was an undercover police officer who used the name Mark Stone in his infiltrations of the climate protest movement and was known as 'Flash' to campaigners.[1] He was exposed as a police officer in October 2010[2] and in January 2011 after wide media coverage he went public with his story in a Mail on Sunday interview. [3] [4]

Mark Kennedy: a chronology of his activities

A detailed chronology of Mark Kennedy's movements and contact with various groups has been compiled: Mark Kennedy: A chronology of his activities.

Mark Kennedy's interview with The Daily Mail

Amid all the media coverage Mark Kennedy, purportedly in hiding in the USA, chose to give an exclusive interview to the Daily Mail.[5] His account contains interesting information about his intelligence-gathering activities over the 8 years undercover, though it has not been verified by other sources.

Career in the Metropolitan Police

According to the Daily Mail, Mark Kennedy was recruited in 2002 by the Met’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit. He left school at 16, worked as a court usher and joined the City of London Police in 1990, aged 21. 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,’ says Mark Kennedy in his interview. ‘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.’ in 2000, 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.[5] In early 2003 – that he was selected as a candidate for a classified operation, The Guardian tells us. In the summer of 2003 he was issued with a driving licence and passport bearing his new identity – Mark Stone – and a plausible backstory that explained his long absences.[6]

In September 2009, he was apparently informed via text message that his activities were over and that he had 3 weeks to return his Mark Stone papers. ‘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'.[5]. It was in January 2010 that he was approached by Global Open the private security company whose clients included BAE and E.ON.[5] Kennedy handed in his resignation from the police in January 2010, 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.’[5]He claims he then resumed his relationship with his girlfriend while he worked for Global Open as a consultant.

Reporting to a cover officer

The media generated a lot of speculation as to whether Mark Kennedy "went rogue" or acted without the authorisation of his superiors. His interview with the Daily Mail reveals patterns of frequent communication with his cover officer. ‘I had a cover officer whom I spoke to numerous times a day,’ said Kennedy. ‘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.’ 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.’[5] 'I texted and informed on a daily basis' he claims in his interview. ‘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.[5] 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.’[5]

The costs of intelligence gathering

The salary of an undercover officer

The Daily Mail claims 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. [5] "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" explained Kennedy in his interview. ‘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.’

The Daily Mail article, in Mark's words, reveals that:

Each undercover officer cost £250,000 a year in wages, overtime, cost of transport and housing. Every day I was on the job, even if I was at 'home' in bed watching telly and doing the laundry, I got five hours’ overtime. My handler got the same overtime. When I was actively involved in operations I would get the maximum, which was 14 hours of overtime on top of my eight-hour working day. They paid me for 22 hours of work which was the maximum I could claim in a 24-hour period. This could go on for weeks. My handler, or cover officer, would get the same.[7]

The same article itemised controversially expensive cars and accommodation purchased by the NPOIU.[7]

The costs of policing operations

In the pre-emptive arrest of the 114 activists, among them Kennedy, at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, a coal-fired plant owned by E.ON, the police operation cost £300,000, according to The Guardian.[6]

Though not involving Kennedy, in 2009 revelations on amounts paid for intelligence were also disclosed after Strathclyde Police attempted to recruit spies within Plane Stupid.[8] Through a Freedom of Information request, it was revealed that £762,459 was paid between 2004 and 2008 by Strathclyde Police force, almost doubled the annual amount it paid to informants since 2004.[9]

Intelligence gathering tactics

Recording device built into a Casio watch

The Daily Mail interview also presents insights as to how intelligence was gathered and in what form.

Kennedy used a specially modified Casio G Shock watch worth £7,000 and equipped with a microchip to record a meeting of activists prior to the planned raid on the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in 2009. Kennedy said the meeting was recorded on a chip in the watch then the information was downloaded to a police computer. The tape was transcribed and Kennedy went through each line to note which activist was talking.[7]

it appears this device was used to record the two meetings, with 114 other protesters, at Iona School in Nottingham, to discuss shutting down the power plant on April 12 and 13 2010. Mr Kennedy said that before these meetings he was instructed to wear a recording device, the first time he had been ordered to do so by his handlers. "The meetings were over two days and I recorded both days. The first recording didn’t record because the office had failed to charge the battery on the device".[7]

Printed matter handed to his superiors

From his interview it also appears he was handing hard copies of activist booklets to be "studied and copied". He states that in Berlin in 2007 "I had a meeting with one person who gave me a booklet. It was a highly prized asset. This booklet was a “how to” manual on building incendiary devices and derailing trains."[7]. In Mark's words, "I took it home to the UK and immediately gave it to my cover officer so it could be studied and copied".[7]

Communicating with cover officer

As seen in the above section Reporting to cover officer, Mark Kennedy claims he "texted and informed on a daily basis". ‘I had a cover officer whom I spoke to numerous times a day’, he states.


Controversy surrounds the trial of those charged with conspiracy to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, a plan for an action in which Mark Kennedy was actively involved.

Collapse of prosecution case

According to the Daily Mail, the Crown Prosecution Service said it was abandoning the £1 million prosecution against the environmental activists after fresh information had been made available.[5] When defence barristers submitted a disclosure request asking for information about Mark Kennedy's involvement, the prosecution apparently opted to abandon the case rather than have ‘murky’ evidence about the police’s involvement heard in public, suggests the Daily Mail.

Recordings by Mark Kennedy withheld

Mr Kennedy told the Daily Mail that the case was doomed to fail anyway because covert recordings he supplied police proved undeniably that the six men facing trial for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass were innocent. Kennedy, who subsequently mentioned assisting the activists’ defence team, said there was no agreement to commit the offence and his recordings prove it. According to his interview, these recordings were made on April 12 and 13th 2010, Mr Kennedy says he attended two meetings, with 114 other protesters, in Nottingham, to discuss shutting down the power plant.[5]

Mike Schwarz, the lawyer representing the activists involved, said Mr Kennedy’s evidence cast doubt on the legality of the whole police operation.[5] Mike Schwarz explains that 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.[10] 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.[10]

The Daily Mail explains that under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act of 1996, the police have a duty to make the CPS and the defence team aware of evidence they have collected. Mr Kennedy’s identity could have been protected by the judge granting a Public Interest Immunity order should the tapes have been heard in court.[5]

Investigation into convictions

Jezz Davis, one of the jurors, in February 2011, spoke out after hearing revelations that Nottinghamshire police allegedly suppressed surveillance tapes of activists. He told The Guardian that "when called for jury service, you assume with good faith that all relevant evidence will be presented. The absence of potentially verdict-changing evidence is utterly outrageous." [11] Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, has ordered an investigation into the safety of the convictions, while the Independent Police Complaints Commission is scrutinising the police's alleged failure to disclose the tapes to court.[11]

Undercover agent abroad

The Irish, Icelandic and German governments have made statements regarding Mark Kennedy's presence abroad. Questions regarding the legality of his actions as an under-cover agent abroad have been raised, and about the level of collusion between police forces internationally in the monitoring of protest.

According to the Irish media, he was

allowed to take part in environmental protests in Dublin under an agreement between the Irish and British authorities. Garda officers confirmed last night that they had been alerted in advance by British police that he wanted to take part in the demonstrations here to bolster his 'eco warrior' status.[12]

The Icelandic position remains unclear. The National Commissioner of the Police of Iceland and the Icelandic Ministry of the Interior's statements have been denounced as contradictory by the campaign Saving Iceland.[13] Germany's federal police chief Jörg Ziercke admitted Kennedy had been hired by police in three German states, of them where the G8 meeting was taking place. The Guardian reports the agent was working on a contract brokered directly by the German parliament, Der Spiegel claims. He was, the newspaper adds, considered to be a "trusted agent" and safe pair of hands by the authorities. His relationship with a woman in Berlin has lead to allegations of "tactical love relationships".[14]

Infiltrating activist networks

One means of accessing covert information was to move between groups of campaigners as a trusted activist. His skills as a climber, his van for transportation and his access to money were all useful attributes in accessing activist circles.

Kennedy took part in many major environmental protests from 2003, also infiltrating groups of anti-racists, anarchists and animal rights protesters. Using a fake passport, Kennedy visited more than 22 countries whilst being involved in campaigns, including Iceland, Spain, Denmark and Germany, reports The Guardian.[6]

Embedded in the protest community

The Earth First! environmental gatherings featured often in his seven years undercover. He first appeared within the protest movement in 2003 at a UK Earth First! gathering.[6] So embedded in the protest community did he become that about 200 people turned up for a joint celebration of his 40th birthday, described as a "three-day bender" on a farm.[6] More controversially, he had intimate relationships with a number of women, including a serious and involved relationship.[5] Questions have been raised as to whether this is a calculated infiltration tactic used by the police forces.

Access to transport and money

His ready supply of cash led to him being nicknamed ‘Flash’ by activists. Often he provided money to pay for campaign literature, rented vans and fines imposed on activists in magistrates courts.[6] 'I was one of the few people that had a van', said Kennedy.[15] Conscious of police surveillance, activists keep those who know about the logistics of a protest "action" to a small circle. For practical reasons, these typically include people responsible for transport.[6] At Climate Camp, Kennedy was trusted enough to be given the important role of organising transport needed to set up a camp near Heathrow.[6]

Climbing skills

Claiming to be a professional climber, Kennedy told people he encountered in Nottingham – many of them connected to Earth First! – that he often had well-paid work abroad.[6] In Italy he offered workshops in climbing at the Animal Rights conference.[16]


In his interview Kennedy suggests it was the legal implications of the raided action in Nottingham which blew his cover. ‘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.’ ‘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.’ in July – when he his girlfriend discovered his passport in the name of Mark Kennedy. ‘She told the other activists about it and they started investigating me'.[5] Six of Kennedy's close friends confronted him in a house in Nottingham in the early hours of 21 October 2010. He confessed. Those claims – along with his apparent remorse – were not believed by everyone present. "He is duplicitous. He was undercover for seven years. I didn't trust a word of what he was saying," said one activist.[6] Since being exposed, the line between Infiltrator and agent provocateur has been questioned. Legal documents suggest Kennedy's activities, working for the NPOIU, went beyond those of a passive spy. Did his role in organising and helping to fund protests meant he turned into an agent provocateur, ask a BBC NewsNight interview.[17] Mark Kennedy's role was in one instance pivotal as to whether the action in Nottingham should be abandoned or carried-out. He was sent on a reconnaissance mission, his information was reported as crucial in deciding to continue with the action.[18] By multiple accounts, it seems his role was more than peripheral in certain protests. As told by The Guardian, Kennedy allowed his house to be used for planning meetings and, days before the protest was due to take place he used his fake ID to pay £778 to hire a 7.5-tonne truck to transport equipment.[6]

Private security sector

Global Open and Tokra

Though he had ended his work with the NPOIU Kennedy, controversially, continued his life undercover and kept his false name, working in the private security sector. Kennedy says in in January 2010 "I was approached by a private company which advises corporations about activist trends. It’s run by Rod Leeming, a former Special Branch officer." Kennedy claims to have worked as an consultant for Global Open. In February 2010 Kennedy set up his own private security firm, naming it after the sci-fi reference Tokra.Intriguingly, the address he used is the work address of Heather Millgate, then a director of Global Open.[19]

Transferable skills and alliances: police and private security industry

Questions have been raised regarding the ethics of "former police officers cashing in on their surveillance skills for a host of companies that target protesters".[11] See the Powerbase overview of the revolving door between the private security industry and the police.

Media analysis of the Mark Kennedy case

The media's handling of the Mark Kennedy case is of interest in itself. The story was seemingly broken by The Guardian on 9th January 2011. It caused significant public outrage and generated subsequent waves of top stories and front pages from a range of media outlets. Answers were demanded of ACPO, questions were asked of MPs (in the UK and in Europe[20]) and public enquiries were launched.

First published on Indymedia in October 2010

It was back in October 2010 that the uncovering of Mark Kennedy as a police-spy was first made public and accessible, on Indymedia's website.[21]

Following the first public account on Indymedia on 24th October, The Sunday Times covered the story on 19th December 2010.[22]. The material was not dissimilar to that published on Indymedia, the article was of an average size and The Sunday Times erroneously suggested Kennedy was part of the Special Demonstration Squad - which had by then been disbanded.[22] An article of modest size was printed in The Daily Telegraph and the issue appeared to attract little further attention.[23]

January 2011: story hits the headlines one day before scheduled trial

Only 10 weeks after its first appearance did the story erupt in the public arena. The headline on 9th January 2011 claimed "Guardian investigation reveals details of PC Mark Kennedy's infiltration".[24]. The following day, 10th January 2011, was to be the trial of the activists which Mark Kennedy had been infiltrating. The six were charged with conspiracy in a high profile direct-action case, for which 114 people were originally arrested.[25] Mark Kennedy was one of the arrestees and was, controversially, involved in the planning of this action.[26] That same day the prosecution case collapsed and the trial was cancelled. The activists walked free amid public outcry about the "previously unavailable information" which prompted the collapse of the trial. [26] There was widespread media speculation that this new information was connected to Mark Kennedy.[27]

See also

External resources


  1. Paul Lewis and Nidhi Prakash,Ratcliffe coal protesters spared jail sentences The Guardian 05/01/11, accessed 11/01/11
  2. Indymedia UK,Mark Kennedy/Stone exposed as undercover cop, 24 October 2010.
  3. Mail on Sunday, Video interview with Caroline Graham, 16 January 2010.
  4. Caroline Graham, 'I'm the victim of smears': Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Mail on Sunday, 16 January 2011.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 Caroline Graham 'I'm the victim of smears': Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Mail on Sunday, 16/01/11, accessed 25/02/11
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 Paul Lewis and Rob Evans Mark Kennedy: A journey from undercover cop to 'bona fide' activist The Guardian,10/01/11, accessed 12/01/11 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Lewis" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Lewis" defined multiple times with different content
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Caroline Graham How undercover officers squandered millions of pounds Daily Mail, 23/01/11, accessed 20/01/11
  8. Rob Edwards Revealed: a web of police bids to infiltrate protest groups The Sunday Herald 25 April 2009, accessed 06/12/10
  9. Paul Lewis Police force paid informants £750,000 in four yearsThe Guardian 8 May 2009, accessed 06/12/10
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mike Schwarz Lawyer Mike Schwarz's statement on Mark Kennedy and the Ratcliffe trial The Guardian, 10/01/11, accessed 12/01/11
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Paul Lewis and Rob Evans Juror in activists' trial hits out at absence of police tapes The Guardian, 14/02/11, accessed 25/02/11 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Evans2" defined multiple times with different content
  12. Tom Brady Gardai let undercover UK officer protest here, 25/01/11, accessed 08/03/11
  13. Saving Iceland National Commissioner Did Not Deny Involvement with UK Police Spies 17/02/11, accessed 08/03/11
  14. Amelia Hill and Luke Harding Mark Kennedy infiltrated German anti-fascists, Bundestag told The Guardian, 26/01/11, accessed 08/03/11
  15. Andrew Malone My life on the run: The police 'spy' lifts lid on eight years as eco-warrior The Daily Mail, 17/01/11, accessed 25/02/11
  16. PowerBase Mark Kennedy: A chronology of his activities, article created 11/02/11, accessed 28/02/11
  17. Kirsty Wark, NewsNight "BBC2" 10/01/11, accessed 11/01/11
  18. BBC website Undercover Pc Mark Kennedy 'really sorry for betrayal'11/01/11, accessed 04/03/11
  19. Rob Evans, Amelia Hill, Paul Lewis and Patrick Kingsley Mark Kennedy: secret policeman's sideline as corporate spy The Guardian, 13/01/11, accessed 17/ 01/11
  20. Meirion JonesTrial collapses after undercover officer changes sides BBC News, 10/01/11, accessed 03/0311
  21. Indymedia UK website Mark Kennedy/Stone exposed as undercover cop , 24/10/10, accessed 28/02/11
  22. 22.0 22.1 Tim Rayment & Jonathan Leake 7 Year snitch: Flash the activist is a secret cop 20/12/11, accessed 28/02/11
  23. NewsCore Climate protester unmasked as cop The Daily Telegraph, 20/12/10, accessed 03/03/11
  24. Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, Undercover officer spied on green activists The Guardian, 9/01/ 2011, accessed 03/03/11
  25. Nick Collins Trial against environmental activists dropped after undercover Met police officer switches sides The Telegraph, 10/01/11, accessed 04/03/11
  26. 26.0 26.1 Paul Lewis and Rob Evans, Activists walk free as undercover officer prompts collapse of case, The Guardian, 10/01/ 2011, 03/03/11
  27. Mike Schwarz Mike Schwarz's statement on Mark Kennedy and the Ratcliffe trialThe Guardian, 10.01/11, accessed 04/03/11