Climate Camp whitewash

Climate Camp 2008 at Kingsnorth

The policing of last year’s Climate Camp near Kingsnorth power station in Kent lacked “tactical plan”, according to a review by South Yorkshire Police. Maybe so, but its strategic objectives were clear enough to those of us who witnessed the operation at first hand. These appeared to include the intimidation of protesters, and obstruction of journalists whose accreditation is supposedly accepted by police forces across the land.

Such issues are not addressed in the South Yorkshire report, which, despite its criticisms of Kent Police, amounts to a whitewash of “Operation Oasis”. If the repeated searching of protesters and confiscation of personal property that could have no criminal purpose were not bad enough, in the report there is not a single reference to the searching of journalists entering and leaving the camp. Selective searching, that is, as I can testify that employees of media entities seen as friendly to the police and hostile to the climate camp were left alone.

The South Yorkshire report follows an earlier investigation, the results of which were buried by the Home Office and Kent Police, despite government assurances that they would be published. Kent chief constable Michael Fuller commissioned the second investigation after objecting to the content of the original report from the National Policing Improvement Agency.

Fuller not only refused to publish the NPIA report, the Kent police chief wouldn’t even allow it to be seen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is responsible for investigating the many official complaints made about the Kingsnorth policing operation. Parliamentary questions concerning this blatant cover-up have been met with silence from government.

The National Union of Journalists continues to investigate the matter. Now I don’t know what the detailed legal position is, but I would hope that we could launch an action of some kind against the Home Office, Kent Police, and the various regional police forces involved with the climate camp operation at Kingsnorth.