Saturday, March 31, 2012

mark kennedy spying to the last

The Mark Kennedy media bandwagon lurched to America earlier this month in the form of a feature article in Rolling Stone (paywalled link).

Rather like his documentary last autumn, it buys into the idea of a divided soul who loved his comrades and after he was sacked from the cops came back to the activists out of camaraderie. In fact, he set up his own private spy firm and came back to keep betraying those activists. He would still be doing it today had the activists not caught him.

Neither the Rolling Stone journo nor the documentary makers mentioned this, meaning either they were told not to by Kennedy's notorious publicity agent Max Clifford, or else they were too lazy to do some elementary googling.

The Rolling Stone piece goes one further: the documentary claimed he came back to activists for the sense of community, but Rolling Stone posit that he entirely gave up activism when he did so. This is demonstrably and unarguably wrong.

So let's set out what is known about this bit of his career in order to make it harder for lazy/puppetted journalists to get away with perpetuating a lie.

After he left the police Mark Kennedy took a break of several months then returned in early 2010, still as the activist Mark Stone. He was active all over Europe, mainly with a sudden interest in animal rights, an odd thing for someone who (despite his recent claims in the press) wasn't even vegetarian.

After Kennedy was uncovered, activists compiled a strictly factual database of all activism he could be verified as having taken part in. It has numerous entries from 2010 after his police career, including his trip to Italy for an animal rights gathering which has also been reported in other interviews with him, as well as animal rights work in Germany, anti-capitalist meetings in France and several animal rights and environmental things in the UK.

The sense of him being torn is hype. Rolling Stone says Kennedy's faith in policing was 'shattered' when he got a beating from the police at a protest in the summer of 2006 (none of the beatings, raids and fit-ups of the activists he loved made him feel that way, though, even when he'd helped to organise them). Yet despite this supposed lack of faith in his role he did not truncate or quit his mission, he continued as ordered for over three years until his superiors decided to withdraw him.

The article claims that he offered to help the activists being prosecuted in the Ratcliffe trial. Well yes, he said 'I'd like to help' to someone who was making him squirm in what he thought was a private conversation (you can hear it in this news report). He made no specific offer, no public offer, and most importantly he did not - then or at any time before or since - ever do anything to help the activists. Thus he upholds his police work.

Kennedy came to the environmental direct action movement in 2003. The police ended his mission in autumn 2009. A serious drop in income is a frightening prospect for anyone, let alone someone on the kind of salary he was used to. When he left the police he had no saleable skills bar his spying. So he continued to stab backs for money, just as he did previously in the police, just as he does these days in the press.

The world of corporate spies is not new. During the McLibel trial it was revealed that there had been meetings of London Greenpeace where genuine activists were in the minority. Most people there were police, private spies watching activists, or a second lot of spies hired to watch the first lot.

One such spy company is Global Open. It was set up in 2001 by ex-Special Branch officer Rod Leeming. It is known to have worked for Eon at the time of the Kingsnorth Climate Camp, a protest Kennedy was spying at for the police.

Kennedy told the Daily Mail that he was approached by Global Open's director Rod Leeming to work for him in January 2010 as he was leaving the police, and that he accepted and worked for them.

Of course, this is a claim of Kennedy's so must be subjected to extra scrutiny. He isn't just a liar in the normal sense but appears to be someone beyond that point who cannot actually determine truth from falsehood. His string of self-contradictions are evidence of this. But the lies tend to be things that mitigate him, things that make him out to be the victim, to be a good guy who has sympathy with all sides. Any statements that don't feed into this myth - and in fact make him look like more of a bastard, like being a private corporate spy - are more likely to be credible.

All companies in the UK have to be registered, and the names and addresses of directors are made public. The Guardian revealed that in February 2010, as he was leaving the police, Kennedy set up Tokra Ltd. He registered himself as the sole director and called himself 'logistics officer'. The address he used was the Bedfordshire work address of Heather Millgate, who was then a director of Global Open.

The fact that Kennedy did not stop spying after he left the police is perhaps the most damning aspect of his story. This is the one area where he appears to be far worse than any of the other officers so far exposed. He chose of his own free will to continue betraying the activists he lived among, scuppering their work and undermining the things they held most dear.

If, as he claims, he did genuinely feel any sympathy for the activists' cause then that makes him even worse; he not only wronged these people, he knew it to be wrong but did it anyway for money. Either he ideologically wanted to ruin them or he loved them but loved his own bank balance even more. Whichever it is, Mark Kennedy's post-police career was not one of someone who cared for the activists he lived among.

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