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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Third undercover police officer in UK identified as infiltrating environmental group...

Police surveillance row grows as third undercover officer identified
A third undercover police officer has been identified as the controversy over police surveillance tactics continues to grow.
By Patrick Sawer 1:13PM GMT 15 Jan 2011

Criticism of undercover operations used by police to infiltrate radical protest groups is set to increase following revelations that the officer, known only as Officer B, had a sexual relationship with a woman who thought he was a fellow activist.

She said on Saturday she felt "colossally betrayed" by his actions.

News of the existence of the 44-year-old officer comes as regulators prepare two separate official inquiries into the activities of the secret police surveillance network, following the unmasking of Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer who had infiltrated environmental groups in Nottingham.

His activity came to light after the collapse of a trial against six activists involved in the campaign against Ratcliffe -on-Soar power station.

Officer B, whose identity has been withheld amid fears for his safety in other criminal operations, worked undercover for four years after infiltrating an anarchist group in Cardiff.

A 29-year-old member of the group who had a three-month relationship with Officer B in the summer of 2008 told The Guardian newspaper: "I was doing nothing wrong, I was not breaking the law at all.

"So for him to come along and lie to us and get that deep into our lives was a colossal, colossal betrayal."

Officer B arrived in Cardiff in 2005, becoming an important member of the 20-strong Anarchist network in the city and one of the woman's "best friends".

They had known each for three years before their relationship began and she said she did not suspect his true identity until after he left Cardiff in October 2009, claiming he had been offered a job as a gardener on Corfu.

According to the woman Officer B's flat was very empty, with no pictures of friends or family and he rarely spoke about his past.

She said: "He always said he could not tell his family or friends about us because of the age difference ... if it had been anyone else I would have thought that was strange, but because [he] had been such a good friend for so long it really did not enter my mind that he was anything but a stand-up honest man."

Before he left for Corfu he held a goodbye dinner. His former girlfriend said she kept in touch with him for about a month via email, text message and the occasional postcard. Then the contact dried up.

"At first friends started messaging him asking if he was all right, then when there was no response, a few messaged him to say they were worried he was a spy, but we never heard anything."

The woman said that the experience had shaken her confidence and made her suspicious of other campaigners.

She said: "I am incredibly, incredibly angry. Obviously to do that to anybody is pretty low, but to do that to someone who trusted you and cared about you and did their best to look after you is just unspeakable.

"I cannot imagine the kind of person who would lie to someone they were having a relationship with for that long and that seriously ... I strongly suspect that he felt very bad about what he was doing, but that is not an excuse."

The latest revelations came as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced it was widening its inquiry to include the controversy surrounding PC Kennedy, who also had a number of sexual relationships while undercover.

It is understood a second inquiry is to be launched by Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate of Constabulary on Monday into whether the undercover surveillance into environmental protest groups was disproportionate.

It was reported on Saturday that the trial of the six campaigners accused of trying to shutdown Ratcliffe-on-Soar collapsed because police had withheld secret recordings featuring Kennedy and the activists.

The Times said the Crown Prosecution Service abandoned the trial when it was informed that Nottinghamshire police had suppressed tapes that "fatally undermined the case against the protesters".

IPCC Commissioner Amerdeep Somal said: “We have now assessed the referral from Nottinghamshire Police of a specific issue around disclosure relating to this high-profile case.

"After assessment, I have decided we will look independently at whether Nottinghamshire Police met their obligations under relevant procedures to disclose evidence to the CPS in this case.”

More details on the scale of Kennedy's key role in protest movements across Europe emerged yesterday, with allegations that he acted as an agent provocateur in Ireland, Germany and Iceland.

It was also revealed that a second undercover agent to be exposed – known as "Officer A" – was arrested for glueing herself to the Department for Transport during a protest against Heathrow's expansion in February 2008.
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