Power plant protest trial collapses

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Six people were accused of trying to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station

The trial of six people accused of trying to shut down one of Britain’s biggest power stations has collapsed amid claims that an undercover policeman who infiltrated their group offered to give evidence on their behalf.

The six were charged with conspiring to shut down the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire in 2009. Their case was abandoned after the officer apparently contacted the defence team to say he would be prepared to help.

But the Crown Prosecution Service said the new information which led to the collapse of the trial was “not the existence of an undercover officer”.

In a statement, the CPS said: “Previously unavailable information that significantly undermined the prosecution’s case came to light on Wednesday, 5 January 2011. In light of this information, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the case and decided there was no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. There will be a hearing on Monday at which we will offer no evidence, thereby discontinuing the case.”

Hundreds of activists were arrested when police raided the Iona School in Sneinton, Nottingham, on the morning of Easter Monday, April 13, last year.

The protesters planned to trespass at the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station and shut it down for a week, a trial at Nottingham Crown Court heard.

The undercover officer involved has been named as Pc Mark Kennedy, a former member of the Metropolitan Police who has spent the past seven years undercover in the environmental protest movement. He is said to have recently resigned from the force and moved abroad.

Some activists have claimed that his role went beyond that of a police observer and that he planned to take on a main role in disrupting the power station.

Earlier this month, 20 protesters were sentenced to a mixture of community orders and conditional discharges after they were convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe.

The Met Police said it was “not prepared to discuss” Mr Kennedy.

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