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Damning report into case collapse

Police leading undercover stings will be forced to disclose more details to prosecutors after a damning report into a high-profile case collapse.

Both senior lawyers and officers were to blame for failures to declare surveillance evidence during attempts to convict protesters accused of plotting to shut Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, an inquiry said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said the findings were a "watershed" moment as he ordered disciplinary action against Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Ian Cunningham. He also wrote to the Attorney General expressing concern about communication between prosecutors and police.

"To avoid any recurrence of similar issues, I propose that a police/CPS memorandum of understanding be prepared that makes it absolutely clear that in any future cases, the full extent of any authorisation and activity of an undercover officer must be shared between the police and the CPS as soon as a criminal prosecution is contemplated," Mr Starmer wrote.

Critics claim the independent report had not gone far enough to expose an "institutionalised corruption of the legal process".

The No Police Spies campaign group identified a string of other cases where prosecutors failed to fulfil obligations to declare activities of officers. Michael Schwarz, of law firm Bindmans, added: "I think it is unacceptable that the CPS should produce the Rose report to hide behind."

Mr Cunningham could be sacked after retired High Court judge Sir Christopher Rose outlined a catalogue of individual failings during attempts to prosecute protesters. Sir Christopher said Mr Cunningham should have done more to establish the extent of Pc Mark Kennedy's undercover involvement during the investigation.

The lawyer "relied too heavily on what he was told by police in relation to the undercover officer and failed to probe what material there was in relation to the undercover officer's activities", Sir Christopher said. Although there were individual failings, "at no stage of the prosecution was there a deliberate, still less dishonest, withholding of information", the report said.

The case sparked widespread concern after it emerged that Mr Kennedy, a former Scotland Yard officer, spent years posing as an activist known as Mark Stone. Six protesters accused of planning to invade the power station in Nottingham, the second largest in the UK, claimed prosecutors dropped charges against them after Mr Kennedy offered to give evidence on their behalf.

And 20 people have had their convictions quashed after previously being convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. Disclosures were not made during the case because of "failures, over many months and at more than one level, by the police and the CPS", Sir Christopher said.


From Belfast Telegraph