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Allegations regarding "Butch" Merritt, Watergate, Intelligence Agencies and "Crimson Rose," Vol. XXI PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kris Millegan   
Sunday, 24 April 2011 17:04

Allegations regarding "Butch" Merritt, Watergate, Intelligence Agencies and "Crimson Rose," Vol. XXI

By Kris Millegan

Splitting HaresPart One

"We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth,
"Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"
                                                                                                           –Aesop, The Shepherd Boy Who Cried Wolf


Confidential informants aren’t born, they are chosen.

Confidential informants may break the law – let alone ethics – with impunity.

Current federal regulations appear to be very specific as to what can and can’t be done to and by a confidential informant. (CI) These can be found at - purpose.

Here is a portion:


1. General Provisions 

a. A JLEA [Department of Justice Law Enforcement Agency] shall not authorize a CI to engage in any activity that otherwise would constitute a misdemeanor or felony under federal, state, or local law if engaged in by a person acting without authorization, except as provided in the authorization provisions in paragraph (III)(C)(2) below.[emphasis added]

b. A JLEA is never permitted to authorize a CI to:

(i) participate in an act of violence;

(ii) participate in an act that constitutes obstruction of justice (e.g., perjury, witness tampering, witness intimidation, entrapment, or the fabrication, alteration, or destruction of evidence);

(iii) participate in an act designed to obtain information for the JLEA that would be unlawful if conducted by a law enforcement agent (e.g., breaking and entering, illegal wiretapping, illegal opening or tampering with the mail, or trespass amounting to an illegal search); or

(iv) initiate or instigate a plan or strategy to commit a federal, state, or local offense.

2. Authorization 

a. Tier 1 Otherwise Illegal Activity must be authorized in advance and in writing for a specified period, not to exceed 90 days, by:

(i) a JLEA's Special Agent in Charge (or the equivalent); and

(ii) the appropriate Chief Federal Prosecutor.(8)

b. Tier 2 Otherwise Illegal Activity must be authorized in advance and in writing for a specified period, not to exceed 90 days, by a JLEA's Senior Field Manager.

c. For purposes of this paragraph, the "appropriate Chief Federal Prosecutor" is the Chief Federal Prosecutor that: (i) is participating in the conduct of an investigation by a JLEA that is utilizing that active CI, or is working with that active CI in connection with a prosecution; (ii) with respect to Otherwise Illegal Activity that would constitute a violation of federal law, would have primary jurisdiction to prosecute the Otherwise Illegal Activity; or (iii) with respect to Otherwise Illegal Activity that would constitute a violation only of state or local law, is located where the otherwise criminal activity is to occur. [emphasis added]

3. Findings 

a. The JLEA official who authorizes Tier 1 or 2 Otherwise Illegal Activity must make a finding, which shall be documented in the CI's files, that authorization for the CI to engage in the Tier 1 or 2 Otherwise Illegal Activity is --

(i) necessary either to --

(A) obtain information or evidence essential for the success of an investigation that is not reasonably available without such authorization, or

(B) prevent death, serious bodily injury, or significant damage to property;


(ii) that in either case the benefits to be obtained from the CI's participation in the Tier 1 or 2 Otherwise Illegal Activity outweigh the risks.

b. In making these findings, the JLEA shall consider, among other things:

(i) the importance of the investigation;

(ii) the likelihood that the information or evidence sought will be obtained;

(iii) the risk that the CI might misunderstand or exceed the scope of his authorization;

(iv) the extent of the CI's participation in the Otherwise Illegal Activity;

(v) the risk that the JLEA will not be able to supervise closely the CI's participation in the Otherwise Illegal Activity;

(vi) the risk of violence, physical injury, property damage, and financial loss to the CI or others; and

(vii) the risk that the JLEA will not be able to ensure that the CI does not profit from his or her participation in the authorized Otherwise Illegal Activity. [emphasis added] 

Not quite a tight leash, but there is some stricture, and here is the rub, these “guidelines” only apply to Department of Justice Law Enforcement Agency or JLEA, which consist of:

  • ·The Drug Enforcement Administration;
  • ·The Federal Bureau of Investigation;
  • ·The Immigration and Naturalization Service;
  • ·The United States Marshals Service; and
  • ·The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.

Nothing is said about guidelines for the military, military intelligence agencies or the NSA, CIA or other intelligence agencies. Matter-of-fact the General Provisons state, “These Guidelines do not apply to the use of Confidential Informants in foreign intelligence or foreign counterintelligence investigations.” And “These Guidelines apply to the use of a Confidential Informant in a foreign country only to the extent that the Confidential Informant is reasonably likely to be called to testify in a domestic case.”

Does one interpret the absence of guidelines as “anything goes.”

The history of CIs is replete with abuse. Many times the CI also becomes an Agent Provocateur.


Traditionally, an agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs, French for "inciting agent(s)") is a person employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act. More generally, the term may refer to a person or group that seeks to discredit or harm another by provoking them to commit a wrong or rash action.

As a known tool to prevent infiltration by agents provocateurs, the organizers of large or controversial assemblies may deploy and coordinate demonstration marshals, also called stewards.

An agent provocateur may be a police officer or a secret agent of police who encourages suspects to carry out a crime under conditions where evidence can be obtained; or who suggests the commission of a crime to another, in hopes they will go along with the suggestion and be convicted of the crime.

A political organization or government may use agents provocateurs against political opponents. The provocateurs try to incite the opponent to do counter-productive or ineffective acts to foster public disdain—or provide a pretext for aggression against the opponent (see Red-baiting).

Historically, labor spies, hired to infiltrate, monitor, disrupt, or subvert union activities, have used agent provocateur tactics.

Agent provocateur activities raise ethical and legal issues. In common law jurisdictions, the legal concept of entrapment may apply if the main impetus for the crime was the provocateur.

United States

In the United States, the COINTELPRO program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had FBI agents pose as political radicals to disrupt the activities of political groups in the U.S., such as the Black Panthers, Ku Klux Klan, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

New York City police officers were accused of acting as agents provocateurs during protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.

Denver police officers were also found to have used undercover detectives to instigate violence against police during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. This ultimately resulted in the accidental use of chemical agents against their own men.


Notorious were the activities of agents provocateurs against revolutionaries in Imperial Russia. Yevno Azef and Father Gapon are examples of such provocateurs.

Sir John Retcliffe was an agent provocateur for the Prussian secret police.

At the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, police and security services infiltrated black blocs with agents provocateurs. Allegations first surfaced after video footage in which "men in black were seen getting out of police vans near protest marches"

Francesco Cossiga, former head of secret services and Head of state of Italy, advised the 2008 minister in charge of the police, on how to deal with the protests from teachers and students:

He should do what I did when I was Minister of the Interior. [...] infiltrate the movement with agents provocateurs inclined to do anything [...] And after that, with the strength of the gained population consent, [...] beat them for blood and beat for blood also those teachers that incite them. Especially the teachers. Not the elderly, of course, but the girl teachers yes.

It is alleged by British Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake that the Metropolitan Police made use of agents provocateurs during the G20 Protests in London.

After the 2011 anti-cuts protest in London, a video filmed by the BBC was distributed throughout the internet, which shows an alleged agent provocateur being passed through police lines after displaying his identification to the officers.

Here are some “case studies”:


The recent arrest of the potential Christmas tree bomber is reflective of the FBI's myopic strategy of using glitzy, expensive sting operations and dubious confidential informants to further erode Muslim American relations instead of concentrating on effective partnerships to combat radicalisation. The FBI is promoting the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-born teenager accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, as a triumph of effective law enforcement. Instead, the operation reeks of gratuitous self-adulation, requiring 6 months of time and precious expenditures to "uncover" a dummy terrorist plot wholly scripted and concocted by the FBI in the first place.

Although many argue that this was simply entrapment, evidence does indicate that Mohamud became increasingly radicalised and voluntarily continued with the FBI's fake terror plot. Regardless, CAIR attorney Zahra Billo told me, "The FBI seek out troubled people – nobody is arguing that some of these individuals aren't deeply troubled – and then enable and facilitate their aspirations. It is the FBI's job to stop operational terrorists. It is not the FBI's job to enable aspirational terrorists."

Attorney General Eric Holder recently suggested the use of such sting operations were "part of a forward-leaning way" in which law enforcement could proactively find those individuals committed to harming Americans, and a study revealed that 62% of terror prosecutions relied on confidential informants. But recent episodes suggest these tactics are neither "forward-looking", nor effective. Instead, they contribute towards a deepening, polarising wedge between law enforcement officials and some of their most important assets in the war against extremism: Muslim American communities.

Recently, a former FBI confidential informant, Craig Monteilh, humorously codenamed "Oracle", revealed he was paid $177,000 tax-free by the FBI to infiltrate and entrap a southern California Muslim community. The convicted forger, who went by "Farouk al-Aziz", was served with a restraining order by the mosque after he repeatedly pestered attendees with absurd conversations about engaging in violent jihad. Not to be deterred, the FBI heavily relied upon Oracle's superlative evidence, consisting of taped conversations, to indict an Afghan-American language instructor for allegedly making false statements regarding his ties to terrorists. Moreover, prosecutors alleged he was the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden's security coordinator.

Surely, this bombshell discovery paved the way for a successful prosecution and conviction? Nearly a year and a half later, the judge agreed with the prosecutors to dismiss the case citing lack of an overseas witness and "evidentiary issues". The result is a widening distrust of the FBI, since "the community feels betrayed," said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic shura council of southern California, an umbrella group of more than 75 mosques.

In the deeply flawed 2005 Lodi terror case, the FBI boasted of capturing two, alleged high-level terrorists, Hamid and Umer Hyatt – Pakistani father and son immigrants, who drove ice cream trucks for a living – based on the evidence of an unreliable Pakistani-American informant, codenamed "Wildkat". Indeed, his fact-finding lived up to his name, since he told the FBI he saw al-Qaida's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, at his Lodi, California mosque. Although the FBI [thankfully] conceded his reporting as false, they nonetheless proceeded to pay him nearly $300,000 to infiltrate the sleepy Muslim community and scour for terrorists. His taped conversations with Umer Hyatt reveal him badgering and allegedly conning Umer to make incriminating statements. Furthermore, videotapes of the Hyatts' absurd alleged "confessions", which former veteran FBI agent James Wedick Jr reviewed and concluded were a result of illegal questioning and coaxing, nonetheless convinced a jury to convict Hamid of providing material support to terrorists and making false statements to the FBI.

Aside from a miscarriage of justice, perhaps the most poisonous result of such belligerent law enforcement procedures, is a "chilling effect" on the Muslim American community, in which citizens legitimately feel fear and alienation from, and a deepening mistrust of, their government, as a result of such harassment. "Time and again, Muslims prove themselves to be good and smart when it comes to reporting potential crimes. The problem with this method of law enforcement is that strains the very relationships that are critical to effective community policing," says Billo.

In a country where 60% of its citizens claim to not know a Muslim and 45% regard Islam as a religion that promotes violence, these self-aggrandising displays of "successful" prosecutions also contribute to the volatile climate of anti-Muslim bigotry and reactionary rhetoric. Recently, Glenn Beck delved into his hyperactive, paranoid imagination to produce the utterly baseless statistic that nearly 10% of Muslims are terrorists. Although many of Beck's audience will not question the veracity of his "facts", a comprehensive study undertaken by Duke University reveals that the number of radicalised Muslim-Americans remains very small. The study reports that "Muslim American communities have been active in preventing radicalisation… This is one reason that Muslim American terrorism has resulted in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11."

Thus, a Senegalese Muslim immigrant was the first to witness and report failed jihadist Faisal Shahzad's burning car in Times Square. A Muslim American community in Virginia went to local law enforcements and the FBI after discovering troubling videotapes left by five youths who allegedly went to Pakistan to commit jihad. A convert to Islam tipped off the FBI about the Christian militant group, the Hutarees, who were planning a terrorist attack on American soil. Even the Nigerian underwear bomber's own father warned British authorities that his son was radicalised and could potentially harm himself and others.

Undoubtedly, radicalisation and terrorism are real threats, which afflict all US citizens, regardless of race or religion. Perhaps the FBI should now cease treating most Muslim American citizens as potential suspects, whose privacy rights and civil liberties are now curtailed in clumsy ways – such as faulty GPS tracking devices sloppily attached on their cars. Perhaps the FBI needs to spend its considerable (taxpayer-paid-for) resources to re-engage them as partners and allies – instead of contributing to the heightened climate of fear and paranoia by employing shady informants with cheesy, comic-book codenames.


Mark Kennedy: Confessions of an undercover cop

After seven years spent living as an environmental activist, Mark Stone was revealed to be policeman Mark Kennedy. He talks to Simon Hattenstone about life on the outside, with no job, no friends and no idea who he really is

The Guardian, Saturday 26 March 2011

Article history


Mark Kennedy: 'I was lying because it was my job to lie. I'm not a dishonest person.' Photograph: Philipp Ebeling

There are two distinct images of Mark Kennedy that have emerged in the press. The first is a long-haired, unshaven, multi-earringed rebel – that is Kennedy the undercover cop in his role as eco-activist "Mark Stone". The second is a man with short hair, swept to the side, clean-shaven, so spruce you can almost smell the soap – the "real" Mark Kennedy, returned from life undercover.

Today, it takes me a while to recognise him. He could be a composite – the hair is longer and unkempt, the face unshaven, tattoos are on display under his rolled-up sleeve. He seems to be morphing back into the eco-activist before my eyes.

Kennedy was an undercover police officer who spent seven years infiltrating a group of environmental activists under the alias Mark Stone. In 2009, as protesters planned to occupy and temporarily shut down one of Britain's biggest coal-fired power stations at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire, Kennedy passed on the information to his handlers. Nottinghamshire police subsequently arrested 114 people in a late-night swoop. Among them was "Stone" himself, who faced a prison sentence for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. Kennedy was trapped – if he was not charged, it would blow his cover, yet he couldn't appear in court as somebody who did not actually exist. In the end, the case collapsed, leaving a trail of collateral damage – up to £1m lost on the trial, hundreds of thousands wasted on his surveillance work, a community torn apart, lives shattered.

The story led to four ongoing inquiries about the nature of undercover policing and questions in parliament: did the environmental protesters need to be monitored so closely? Wasn't it a waste of police time and taxpayers' money? Were police acting as agents provocateurs? Did they have any right to inveigle their way into people's lives in such a manner? The story caught the popular imagination, not least because it emerged that for many of his years undercover, Kennedy – who was married with children – was involved in a serious relationship with one of the activists.

What kind of man could do that: nurture, befriend and ultimately love a group of people, then betray them? Kennedy, 41, wants to tell his side of the story. But at times he no longer seems sure what that story is.

He grew up in Orpington, Kent. His mother was a housewife, his father a traffic police officer. At 19, Kennedy also joined the police. He considered himself a modern cop with modern attitudes – he had no time for the old racist views, was sympathetic to protesters in the environmental movement, and believed the job of the police was to enable society to operate fairly and democratically. He worked initially in uniform, then undercover in south London, buying drugs and weapons from dealers and passing information back to Scotland Yard. He was good at the job and was headhunted by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, a secret body that runs an intelligence database of political activists. They asked him to help expose race-hate crimes – more undercover work. This was just the kind of thing he had joined the police to do. Again, he was successful. It was then suggested that he hook up with a group of environmental activists in Nottinghamshire. Yes, it was infiltration and, yes, it involved spying on people he regarded largely as good guys, but he convinced himself he was on the side of the angels – if he could tip the wink to his handlers about extremists and demonstrations, they could be policed efficiently and he would be working as a good officer while assisting a movement to which he was sympathetic. Of course, if his fellow activists had known this at the time, they would have regarded it all very differently.

"My role was to gather intelligence so appro priate policing could take place," Kennedy says. "It wasn't to prevent people from demonstrating. I met loads of great people who would go out every weekend and show their concern and demonstrate. Then there were other people who would want to take things further and maybe want to break into somewhere or destroy things, and then you start infringing on the rights of other people to go about their lawful business."

Kennedy still talks like an officer. His sentences are punctuated with words such as "tasked", "gatherings" and "proportionate policing". We meet at the offices of the publicist Max Clifford, whose help Kennedy sought when he reached a nadir. He had lost everything – his old friends, his family, his activist friends. I had expected a cool, confident man – a James Bond or Jason Bourne – but Kennedy is fidgety and diffident. His neck reddens as he talks and only one eye focuses because of a childhood accident (at two, he climbed inside a cardboard box and a loose staple ripped an ocular muscle). After a few minutes he starts to stammer – a schoolboy affliction that has only recently returned.

It was not easy to immerse himself among the activists, he says. They were a group of close-knit friends, many of whom had known each other since school. He went to meetings and marches, and gradually became accepted. The more involved he became, the more he changed physically. His hair grew long enough to wear in a ponytail, he got more piercings and tattoos. Gradually, he proved himself an indispensable comrade – he could drive (many activists couldn't or wouldn't), he had money (made, he said, by drug dealing in Pakistan – he told the activists he now wanted to turn his life around), he was a skilled climber and, perhaps most importantly, he was popular.

Somehow, he successfully managed both lives. While Stone had a thrilling time visiting 22 countries on a false passport, demonstrating against the building of a dam in Iceland, touring Spain with eco-activists, picketing arms fairs in London and penetrating anarchist networks in Germany and Italy, Kennedy quietly slipped information back to the police, even managing occasionally to get back to visit his wife, Edel, and two young children in Ireland. The couple were estranged, but maintained they were together for the sake of the children (four and two when he went undercover in 2002). If they asked, he would tell the activists that he was working away for a few days as an industrial climber.

Did he have to be an incredibly good liar to do this job? "Yes." Was he always a good liar? "Not in that sense. I was lying because it was my job to lie. I'm not a dishonest person. I had to tell lies about who Mark Stone was and where he was from for it to be real." He pauses. "To be fair, a lot of the things you do, say and talk about are very much based upon who you are as a person and the places you've been to and the things you've done, because five years later somebody will go, 'Ah, Mark, didn't you say you went here?' and you have to remember that. So a lot of the things I would talk about were pretty true."

Such deceit was on a different level from what he'd practised on the streets, buying drugs and guns. "If I'm going to buy a kilo of coke, the dealer doesn't really want to know me that well; it's all about the commodity. But this is different. People don't actually want anything from you – all they want is to know you and be your friend."

Is it possible to do the job without becoming paranoid? "I'd use a different phrase. I never became complacent." That's a very different phrase, I say. He ums and ahs and stutters his way to a conclusion. "I never… I always liked to... I suppose I was a little bit paranoid." Can you do the job without it mentally unbalancing you? "I don't know." Where does Kennedy end and Stone begin? "Well... there is no line. You just can't say." He finally reaches a conclusion of sorts: "I always have understood and had a concern for the issues I was infiltrating. I don't think you could do this work if you didn't care about the climate."

Perhaps that is what ultimately made life impossible for Kennedy: he wanted to honour both sides – be the honest cop and the genuine activist. But in the end he was caught in the middle, despised as a Judas by both sides.

Kennedy experienced heavy-handed policing first-hand. In 2006 he was beaten up by officers on the perimeter fence of the Drax power station. He says he was trying to protect a woman being hit on the legs with a baton when he was jumped by five uniformed officers – they were there only because he had tipped off his handlers. "They kicked and beat me. They had batons and pummelled my head. One officer repeatedly stamped on my back. I had my finger broken, a big cut on my head and a prolapsed disc." There were plenty of other incidents, he says. "I experienced a lot of unjust policing. At times, I was appalled at being a police officer."

But he says that some of the best things in his life also happened as Mark Stone – and not just the dramatic stuff. "There are some amazing social centres that are all voluntary-based. Take the Sumac Centre in Nottingham, a community garden that provides free food. If you had a social centre like that in every city, it would be great. And I was fortunate enough to be involved in that and see how it works."

And this became his community? "Yes. So many people I knew, or Mark Stone knew, became really good friends. It wasn't just about being an activist all the time."

I ask if he ever wanted to be Stone, and he gives a surprising answer. No, he says, because it was so frustrating failing to achieve what he had set out to do. "There was a lot of commitment and effort and tears put into things that didn't change anything." The activists were too conservative? "Yeah, I would say, and just very small in numbers." Actually, he says, they were a bit useless at the most basic things – an effective group of protesters needs a number of competent climbers, to scale fences and gain access to buildings and power plants, and there were hardly any. Recently, it was announced there wouldn't be a climate camp this year, and that horrifies him. What better time to discuss the environment and policing and all the issues that have come about with his case?

It's bewildering listening to Kennedy make the case for a more radical and committed group of ecowarriors. The bottom line is that he went in to betray them and did just that. Does he feel guilty? "It's something I find very hard to think about. When you're on the front line in a riot situation, the people around you are your buddies. Everybody looks out for each other, and I experienced that on numerous occasions. There were people who, if they had only a couple of quid left, would buy you a pint. So, yes, there are some great people who didn't need to be reported on. They believed I was something else, and that hurts a lot."

And then there are the women. Those in the environment movement claim Kennedy had many sexual relationships through the years, and some believe it was a systematic means of gaining trust and gathering intelligence. One woman with whom he had a relationship overseas said she felt "violated" when he was outed as a police officer. Kennedy maintains there were only two relationships, one of which was serious.

Look, I say, it's easy to talk about the trauma of betraying a guy who buys you a pint, but when it's a lover, surely that's on a different level? Silence.

"For me, that whole kind of incident..." He starts again. "That's not the right word. I felt in some ways that I was really alone, that I was the only person as an undercover officer who had ever done that; subsequently, I discovered everyone was doing it. The person I had the relationship with is an amazing person, a really amazing person. The love I shared with her and the companionship we shared was the realest thing I ever did." More real than his marriage? "Yeah, there were no lies about that at all," he says without irony.

How did he feel when he was in bed at night? Was there not part of him desperate to confess? "Yes, all the time. All the time. Yes." But how could he continue in a relationship with someone who might be the love of his life and know it's all based on a lie? "It's one for the psychologists," he says quietly. "It's just how it was. I don't know." Did he never think of coming clean, begging forgiveness and leaving the police? "No, no. I'm not saying it didn't cross my mind, it just wasn't a realistic proposition. It would never have worked." Because he'd have ended up rejected by both sides? "Absolutely." He looks at me. "You know, our relationship was remarked upon in the activist community as being a great relationship."

Things reached a head in April 2009, when the activists planned to break into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant. It was initially suggested that "Stone" climb the power plant, but he refused. This was Kennedy the good policeman – if he led the protesters, any subsequent case could collapse because he would be regarded as an agent provocateur. He says he told his handlers that he had passed on all the necessary information and didn't want to be part of the protest, but they told him they wanted him there. He eventually agreed to drive a lorry. He recorded two meetings held at Iona school on 12 and 13 April, where protesters discussed shutting down the plant, and passed on the recordings. At one point activists heard there had been a leak and that security had gathered at the power station. According to activists, it was Kennedy who went to recce the station and reported back that all was clear.

On 14 April, the day before the planned takeover, the police arrested 114 activists. While the other 113 shared one law firm, Bindmans, Kennedy's handlers said he did not need one because he was a police officer. "I said, look, everybody else has got a solicitor, Mark Stone hasn't – it looks really odd. They said, don't worry about it, and I said, well, I have to worry about it because I'm now on bail to go back to be re-interviewed." The Nottinghamshire detectives had no idea that an undercover officer was involved. "As far as they were concerned, they were interviewing Mark Stone, a thorn in their side for the past seven years – he's a catch, let's make sure we push charges."

Every day for three months, Kennedy phoned his handlers to ask what was happening, and heard nothing. Eventually, a week before the day on which he and 26 others had been told they would be charged, the case against him was dropped. He had suggested that if he was released without charge, the other drivers should be, too, to avoid suspicion, but he was ignored and all the remaining 26 activists were charged. It left him in an impossible situation. "It totally exposed me. To sit in a pub with everyone else and for them to say, 'How did you get off?' What could I say? I didn't say anything. That was hugely stressful. Certainly it raised a lot of questions among people."

Soon after the case was dropped, he received a message from his handlers: the surveillance operation was being dropped and he was to tell the activists that he was leaving to visit family in America for an indefinite period.

When he returned to the Met in October 2009, he discovered two alarming things – one, his time undercover had left him out of touch; and two, he was now a pariah in police circles. "Over seven years, there was no training or keeping me up to speed with what was going on in the police. So when I went back, I probably wasn't even qualified to drive a Panda, didn't know how to use a radio. I didn't know how any of the systems worked. I went for an interview with the personnel department and they didn't even have my file." When they asked Kennedy what he wanted to do now, he told them, "I need a role that keeps me off the streets, reasonably covert, some kind of detective job." That was all very well, they said, but he'd have to apply like anyone else. "They said, 'We can't give you a job on merit of having done a good job before. You're not really qualified to do anything.'

"I was not looked after at all. I didn't think there was anything left for me in the police, so I left." Kennedy does not believe he is alone. He says he has talked to other former undercover officers who feel they were cast aside on their return to mainstream policing and later left the service suffering from post-traumatic stress.

In early 2010, he returned as Mark Stone to his friends in Nottingham. Perhaps he didn't know where else to go. He wanted to try to make things work with his girlfriend – or at the very least provide a more satisfactory ending to their relationship and his years among the protesters. (He had done a course on servicing wind turbines, and told his old friends he was going to travel the world doing that.) But when they were on holiday last July, his girlfriend came across a passport belonging to Mark Kennedy in the glove compartment of his van. Again, he lied and told her he had many passports from his drug smuggling days.

She might have given him the benefit of the doubt, but when she told the other activists, they did not. They demanded a meeting in which he was quizzed for four hours. "I was absolutely shitting myself. They sat in a semicircle around me. It was hugely menacing. I told them nothing to start with. They just kept saying they knew I was a cop, that I was married with kids. They knew my mum. They knew my home address." Eventually he broke down, and that was when they brought in his girlfriend. "The look of devastation on her face destroyed me."

He was asked to make a statement confessing everything. He said he would think about it, then ran away. Was it a relief that he was forced to come clean? He nods. "Yeah, a huge relief." He stops to correct himself. "Later it became a relief, after the initial shock."

He hoped to manage his own public outing, but was overtaken by events. Last December, 20 of the charged activists were convicted of trespass offences. Then, in January, the case of the remaining six collapsed. There were a number of stories circulating as to why – and Kennedy was at the centre of them all. One suggested that he had gone native – in one recorded phone conversation, he suggested he could give evidence for the defence and said the police tactics with which he was involved were like using "a hammer to crack a nut". Another version of events suggested that by taking such an active role in the protest, he had become an agent provocateur. But, ultimately, the case seems to have collapsed for less noble reasons – it is thought the CPS realised that the evidence Kennedy had recorded at the school actually helped the activists, showing that most were still making up their minds about whether and how to participate. If that was the case, the prosecution could not win – if they used the evidence, they undermined their own case; if they didn't use it, the defence would accuse them of non-disclosure.

Kennedy found himself front-page news. There was a rush of stories about him and, appropriately enough, it was impossible to distinguish fact from fiction. It was suggested that he had set up his own companies after leaving the police (true – he says he planned to start a business abseiling down skyscrapers to clean their windows) and that he had worked in private security spying on the activists after he had left the police (false, he insists – he was asked to advise a company on trends in activism, but says he declined).

According to Kennedy, the police did their utmost to distance themselves from him, telling reporters in off-the-record briefings that he was "a bad apple" and wholly unrepresentative of undercover officers. But a week after he was exposed in the national press, a number of similar stories emerged, including that of undercover officer Jim Boyling, who had married an activist he met while infiltrating Reclaim The Streets.

By now Kennedy had nowhere left to run. Every bridge was burned – he had not seen his children for three months, and neither the police nor the protesters wanted anything to do with him. He wasn't sleeping, barely eating, and was terrified. He was hiding in America, convinced his former police bosses were looking for him and that activists wanted revenge. A group of German anarchists said they hoped Kennedy "spends the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. That is the minimum price he should have to pay." In the US he told a psychiatrist that he was suicidal.

Kennedy returned to England in a desperate state but, having no fixed address, he could not sign up to a GP. While undercover, he should have received an assessment from a police psychologist every three months, but claims he went two whole years without even one. He also says he received no counselling from the police when he was removed from undercover work. When asked if they were remiss in their pastoral care, both the Metropolitan police and National Public Order Intelligence Unit declined to comment in light of ongoing inquiries.

"I felt hugely alone," Kennedy says. He looks away. "Still do. It was a really dark time. I had two choices: I was either going to top myself or try to get some help."

All the time we've been talking, I've wondered one thing: how would he have felt if his girlfriend had ended up in prison because of his actions? For the first time he seems shocked by a question. "She was nothing to do with anything." Why not? "She was doing something else." By chance, she was not involved in that particular protest. And if she had been? "It didn't occur to me."

As for the future, he hasn't a clue what it holds. There is a documentary being made about him, talk of a movie, even, but he knows that's not going to see him through the rest of his working life. He says he'd like to use his experience to show people that police officers and activists don't always fit a neat stereotype, but he's not sure how. For now, though, he says, he has plenty of work to do on himself. This week he is visiting his family to try to make a fresh start with the children. He says they were distraught to see him in the newspapers, and admits that his daughter is "quite frosty" with him.

Does he think people will ever trust him again? "Do you mean people I used to associate with? No, never. Never. I shattered that trust, I accept that."

Does he think he will ever be able to trust himself again? "In what way?" he asks. Well, I say, is he confident that he knows who he is now?

"No, not at all. Deep down, I know I have these core values, but it's going to be a long process to find out who I am."


to be continued…

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2011 17:11
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