Evidence that the police are actively being used for political purposes against dissent is continuing to emerge:
Government officials handed confidential police intelligence about environmental activists to the energy giant E.ON before a planned peaceful demonstration, according to private emails seen by the Guardian.
Correspondence between civil servants and security officials at the company reveals how intelligence was shared about the peaceful direct action group Climate Camp in the run-up to the demonstration at Kingsnorth, the proposed site of a new coal-fired power station in north Kent.
Intelligence passed to the energy firm by officials from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) included detailed information about the movements of protesters and their meetings. E.ON was also given a secret strategy document written by environmental campaigners and information from the Police National Information and Coordination Centre (PNICC), which gathers national and international intelligence for emergency planning.
At first officials at BERR refused to release the emails, despite a request under the Freedom of Information Act from the Liberal Democrats. The decision was reversed on appeal and although large sections have been blacked out, they show:
• BERR officials passed a strategy document belonging to the “environmental protest community” to E.ON, saying: “If you haven’t seen this then you will be interested in its contents.”
• Government officials forwarded a Metropolitan police intelligence document to E.ON, detailing the movements and whereabouts of climate protesters in the run-up to demonstration.
• E.ON passed its planning strategy for the protest to the department’s civil servants, adding: “Contact numbers will follow.”
• BERR and E.ON tried to share information about their media strategies before the protest, and civil servants asked the energy company for press contacts for EDF, BP and Kent police.
Last night the disclosures were criticised by environmentalists, MPs and civil liberty groups, adding to the growing controversy over the policing of protests.
We’ve already seen the effects of the government’s secret dealings with corporate energy at Kingsnorth, Bishopsgate and Ratcliffe-on-Soar. If anyone thinks that the latter two are coincidences after Kingsnorth think again – it’s increasingly clear that the police have been turned into a tool to support partisan corporate interests, significantly against climate/environment protest. George Monbiot reminds us:
Their treatment of the climate camp protesters at Kingsnorth last year was wildly disproportionate and repressive. They also appear to have misled the press on the power company’s behalf. The police claimed that if the protesters reached the power station, “there would have been a possible loss of power to over 300,000 homes”.
In fact E.ON had already shut down the power station, with no consequences for local people: hardly surprising in view of the fact that its electricity is sold on to the grid rather than supplied locally.
Now we learn that the police, the Department for Business and E.ON have been working together to thwart a peaceful protest, and sharing information obtained by bugging or informants. This is partisan policing: siding with one social sector against another. (I’ll examine the implications in my column tomorrow). Worse, both the police and the government appear to be taking their instructions from a multinational company.
Just who is running this country? And at what point do we decide that corporate power is making a mockery of democracy?
The almost identical lies presented as truth after the mass arrests at Ratcliffe-on-Soar are what we can expect in the future, particularly when now supine news organisations like the BBC repeat them as fact. The right to protest is being subverted by corporate interests, with the collusion of the government and the enforcement by the police.