UK & World News
Drax Convictions Quashed Over Undercover Cop
The convictions of 29 environmental campaigners involved in a protest at a power station have been quashed because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose the involvement of an undercover police officer.
The protesters were convicted of obstructing engines or carriages on railways - an offence under the Malicious Damage Act 1861 - and sentenced at Leeds Crown Court in 2009 and 2010 after stopping a freight train heading to the Drax power station.
The plant in North Yorkshire is Europe's largest coal-fired power station.
Among those involved in the 2008 protest was undercover police officer Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years posing as Mark "Flash" Stone.
His actions led to the collapse of another case in 2011, in which six environmental campaigners had been accused of planning to storm the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire.
That led the-then Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, to question the safety of the Drax convictions before inviting the protesters to appeal.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said on Tuesday: "There was a complete and total failure, for reasons which remain unclear, to make a disclosure fundamental to the defence.
"In those circumstances, this court has no alternative but to quash the convictions."
Mr Kennedy hired a van and took the protesters to the site where the protest took place, according to records kept by his West Yorkshire Police handler.
Outside court, Beth Stratford, speaking on behalf of the 29, said: "We are pleased because this shines a light on the underhand tactics of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service in their policing of political movements.
"It underlines further the need for public independent inquiry into the use of political policing."
The collapse of the 2011 Nottinghamshire protests led to a review of police undercover tactics.
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