Wrongful convictions resulting from undercover police operations back in the spotlight | Guardian Undercover Blog

More campaigners are appealing against their convictions over the withholding of evidence gathered by undercover police officers

The rising tide of unjust convictions will be back on the agenda over the next couple of weeks.

The first case comes up tomorrow morning at the Court of Appeal when 29 environmental campaigners will have their appeal heard.

They were invited to challenge their convictions by the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, who said that a senior prosecutor may have withheld evidence from their original trial.

Starmer said that evidence related to Mark Kennedy, the undercover police officer who had infiltrated the environmental movement for seven years.

If (as expected) their convictions are quashed, it will bring to 56 the number of campaigners who have – so far – been wrongly convicted or prosecuted as a result of undercover police operations.

Here is some background to the case of the 29 environmental campaigners who were convicted in 2009 after stopping a train carrying a huge amount of coal to the Drax power station in Yorkshire. This blog here goes into the case in more depth.

The appeal is due to start at 10.30 am on Tuesday at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London.

Their case follows that of 20 environmental campaigners who had plotted to break into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire in 2009.

Their convictions were wiped after prosecutors and police failed to disclose vital evidence gathered by Kennedy to their trial.

The prosecution of a further six activists over the same protest also had to be abandoned.

Meanwhile attention will turn next Monday to the wrongful conviction of John Jordan, who was part of a group of protesters who occupied a government building.

His conviction was challenged after it was revealed that one of the protesters was an undercover police officer, Jim Boyling, who allegedly used his fake cover identity in court.

At Southwark crown court in London on January 27, Jordan will be arguing that he should be given an explanation of why his conviction has been quashed, and if, and how, it resulted from the activities of Boyling.

Three media organisations – the Guardian, the BBC, and the Press Association – will also be arguing that the public should be allowed to know why his conviction was overturned.

Accounts of the covert work of Kennedy and Boyling are contained in our book, Undercover.

These convictions have only be overturned because Kennedy and Boyling have been unmasked by activists. But what about all those other 100 or so undercover officers who infiltrated political campaigns over the past four decades?

They remain concealed by the police and prosecutors. How many other convictions of campaigners would be rendered unsafe if their activities were exposed to the sunlight ?

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