Monday, June 13, 2011

Mark Kennedy - the saga continues

Well, this is currently making me feel pretty vindicated about this (and, to a lesser extent, this).

For those without the time or energy to follow links: it turns out the CPS knew about the infiltration of the climate movement by police spy Mark Kennedy at the time they were prosecuting 26 activists for thinking about taking direct action - and, more crucially, knew about the evidence he'd obtained that basically exonerated six activists of the charges they faced. The trial of these six activists collapsed when that evidence became public, after the activists themselves uncovered the spy. It's now being suggested that the convictions of the remaining 20 may be unsafe.

The CPS's position on Ian Tomlinson now looks even more absurd than it did before. It was bad enough that they refused to charge the officer involved because there was 'no realistic prospect of a conviction', based on nothing more than the testimony of a dodgy pathologist. It became worse when that pathologist's evidence was soundly rejected by the jury at Tomlinson's inquest, thus demonstrating that it might indeed have been possible to bring a successful prosecution.

But it seems like an obscene irony that, we now discover, the CPS was quite happy to proceed with charges against well-meaning activists who, let's not forget, hadn't actually done anything, despite having much more serious and credible evidence to cast doubt on their culpability. Of course, in this case there was a realistic prospect of a conviction - because, um, the police and CPS suppressed said evidence.

As ever, there are now calls for an inquiry - but, as this person points out, we've had half-baked inquiries every time a tiny corner of the huge festering mess that is the policing of protest in this country has been exposed. I wouldn't say they've made no difference at all, but there has to come a point where we stop chin-stroking about the symptoms and address the cause: police contempt for the right to peaceful civil disobedience, and the insidious rise of the category 'domestic extremist' which puts those who believe in it neatly in the same box as Abu Hamza and the BNP. There does need to be a proper inquiry, but it needs to be serious, independent and far-reaching - and most importantly, it needs to come at the issue with a respect for the traditions of civil disobedience and a willingness to ask the right questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment