AN UNDERCOVER cop put up the money for a speaking tour of Ireland so that he could spy on activist groups, campaigners alleged yesterday.
Mark Kennedy, one of a number of officers for whose activities the Metropolitan Police apologised last month, reportedly took part in events in Belfast, Dublin and Clare in 2005.
Last night the Met was facing new scrutiny over why undercover officers were operating in Northern Ireland in spite of having no remit to do so.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland insisted that Mr Kennedy’s covert squad, the national public order intelligence unit, “did not operate in Northern Ireland.”
But campaigner Kim Bryan told the BBC that she had travelled to Belfast with Mr Kennedy at his suggestion.
“Mark Kennedy organised the travel. He paid for the trip and we went in his vehicle, so he drove us around Ireland when he came to visit,” she said.
“I don’t know exactly what he was doing but I suspect he used the opportunity to spy on activists in Ireland…
“I suspect that information was fed back to his superiors.
“But again, I think what’s highly problematic is that we would not have gone to Ireland if Mark Kennedy had not paid for us to go to Ireland.”
Environmental activist Jason Kirkpatrick said that Mr Kennedy had played “anti-globalisation bingo” with a group of campaigners at a church in Belfast.
The continuing Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing has also heard claims that Special Branch officers spied on a woman in a prominent Irish family business after an Irish police officer was bribed to feed back intelligence to her half-brother.
Yesterday campaigners accused Mr Kennedy of “manufacturing activism so he could spy on people.”
Network for Police Monitoring spokesman Sam Walton asked: “Why were the police spying on a harmless series of talks in a area where they had no remit to operate?
“It appears that Mark Kennedy went out of his way to make the tour happen.
“Right now it is hard to believe that this is anything but the tip of the iceberg. The next step is for the Pitchford inquiry to make public a list of all protest groups spied on.”
The Met said it could “neither confirm nor deny” whether the unit’s officers were deployed in Northern Ireland.