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  • The case of Mark Kennedy: Cross-border operations of undercover police officers should be investigated in Germany as well

The case of Mark Kennedy: Cross-border operations of undercover police officers should be investigated in Germany as well

Pitchford-Inquiry-Protest-October-2015-Banner-onlySince he was disclosed six years ago, we have been trying to discover upon whose orders the British undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was active for several years in Berlin and other German cities. Kennedy established “friendships”, took part in meetings, entered private dwellings, committed crimes, and lied to the police and the public prosecutor under his false persona. From 2004 to 2010 Kennedy was active in at least ten other countries alongside Germany, including the United States. The German Federal Government claims that his activities helped form his “legend” – his believable backstory. Kennedy himself has stated that he was able to convey evidence from Berlin to his superiors in the police force in London. 

Eight women from the UK initiated legal action against the Metropolitan Police, stating that they were deceived into sexual and intimate emotional relationships as part of the spying activities of undercover police officers. In at least two cases, the women in question fell pregnant. In the meantime the British police have apologised for this practice, which was followed for years, and the women affected have received financial compensation. 

Under whose orders did Mark Kennedy work in Berlin for all those years?

Mark Kennedy himself is certainly one of the perpetrators. Now, his actions are the subject of an inquiry led by Lord Justice Pitchford. However, the inquiry, set to last at least three years, will only look into Kennedy’s activities in England and Wales. Lord Pitchford is to shed light onto cases where undercover agents are known to have engaged in sexual contact. He will also investigate whether such agents are guilty of further breaches of the law, including instigation of offences. I am aware of such cases in Berlin. I assume that Kennedy also had sexual relations with target and contact persons in Germany.

There is a considerable legal gap in the use of undercover agents from abroad. Although crimes committed by such agents while they are in the country are investigated on the ground, i.e. by the respective German Land, the authority that deployed the officer is responsible for disciplinary prosecution – in this case that is in London. The British government does not seem to be interested in pursuing the case of Mark Kennedy. 

I therefore welcome the fact that, following our numerous petitions, queries and open letters, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior has decided to call for an extension of the Pitchford Inquiry into the undercover activities of British police officers in Germany. This secret policing scandal has been discussed at Parliament and Minister level in Iceland and the Republic of Ireland. The Scottish and Northern Irish governments have officially requested the initiation of investigations covering their territories. The requested extension will be decided by the British Home Secretary Theresa May.  I call upon the German Federal Government to go beyond merely penning a request and to exert the necessary pressure to ensure the Pitchford Inquiry is extended to other countries.

What groups and movements in Germany were spied upon?

Since 1968, at least 100 British undercover police officers have infiltrated 460 political groups, including in Germany. This figure relates to only one of several units that are permitted to conduct undercover operations. As in the case of Mark Kennedy, many of these deployments were simply intended to criminalise left-wing activists. Cases I know of in Germany are the former "Dissent!" network and "Jugend gegen Rassismus in Europa" (Youth Against Racism in Europe). The British Home Office must disclose which other German groups and movements were investigated and on whose orders.

But that is not enough. I can only assume that not all the affected persons in Germany know that their sexual partner “Mark Stone” was actually undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. They are therefore not in a position to press charges for the infringements of their rights (for emotional or sexual exploitation or coercion). The German and British authorities therefore have an obligation to provide relevant information. 

The German Federal Ministry of the Interior must request information from the British authorities about the persons with which undercover British agents in Germany had emotional and sexual relationships, illicitly or in breach of their duty. The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (or its successor organisation) must give this information that they already admitted to hold in their possession. After all, Mark Kennedy stated that superior officers in the police force always know where their spies are spending the night. If the German Federal Ministry of the Interior becomes aware of such cases, I demand that they inform the affected persons that their sexual partners were police officers operating under false personas. 

Parliamentary scrutiny is impeded 

The scandalous deployment of Mark Kennedy led to the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Conference of Interior Ministers revising several regulations. We insist that the resulting “Handreichung zum Einsatz verdeckt eingesetzer ausländischer Polizeibeamter in Deutschland” (Manual on the deployment of foreign undercover police officers in Germany), which has been categorised as classified information, be made accessible to Members of the Bundestag. That is the only way that we can establish any kind of parliamentary scrutiny over cross-border undercover operations. In Berlin, for example, it was not until 2012 that regulations were laid down stating that foreign undercover agents must be informed of the ban on sexual contact.

However, in Germany more and more cases are coming to light in which domestic undercover agents have also been entering into sexual and intimate relations with target and contact persons. These individuals are regularly overstepping their mandate and their mission. These incidents must be investigated at federal level. In my view, this is a police apparatus that is answerable to nonone but itself. 

That is why we also need a committee of inquiry here in Germany in order to assess all these incidents and closely investigate the operations of undercover agents. This includes German police authorities collaborating within two international police networks working on undercover operations, which have become established outside of official scrutiny.

Andrej Hunko, Member of the German Bundestag