Undercover cops and protest
The case against six protestors collapsed today in the wake of an extraordinary saga involving an erstwhile undercover policeman. Even now, early in the story’s unfolding, it is worth saying that in principle the police are probably right to operate undercover amongst protestors, even at considerable expense.
The environmentalists had been charged with conspiring to shut down the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Soar plant outside Nottingham in April 2009.
Mike Schwarz, the protestors’ lawyer, has talked about climate protest as “accountable” and Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, has talked of it as being the “pink, fluffy” end of protest.
The difficulty is that a fair few climate protestors have declared themselves to be committed to “peaceful direct action” which they seem happy to define as including criminal economic damage. They are not remotely accountable, except (with luck) to the law. Any tax-payer or airline passenger or energy consumer should be pleased that the police want to understand the inner workings of their operations.
This is not to say the police handled their undercover work well, or that the prosecution authorities played their part properly.
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