Judge overturns activist conviction

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UNDISCLOSED secret recordings showed that a Belper environmental protester’s plan to help shut down one of the country’s largest power stations was not a “publicity stunt”, the Lord Chief Justice said.

Spencer Cooke, 43, of Nottingham Road, was one of 20 activists whose convictions for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass were overturned by Lord Judge.

The men and women, part of a much larger group, had plotted to invade the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, in Nottinghamshire, in a protest against climate change in April 2009.

But they had been infiltrated by an undercover police officer, Mark Kennedy, who, under the alias of Mark Stone, participated in the planning of the invasion.

Lord Judge said secret recordings featuring Mr Cooke – undisclosed to the defence team – had been central in overturning the convictions.

One of the contentions of the Crown at trial was that the protesters’ main objective was publicity for their cause and so their defence of concern about the imminent problem from carbon emission should fail.

“However, the transcripts of the recordings made by Kennedy show that during the course of briefings on April 12, one of the appellants, Spencer Cooke, and indeed another person who was never prosecuted, show they placed great emphasis on the objective of the intended actions,” said Lord Judge.

“This was to bring about an enormous reduction in carbon emissions by keeping the power station closed for seven days.

“In other words, this material tended to show that this was not a mere publicity stunt.

“The importance of safety and non-violence and the avoidance of criminal damage to property were underlined.”