Trespass by Clare Clark review – on the trail of an undercover police officer

Based on true events, this harrowing novel charts the police infiltration of environmental groups and its moral fallout

Clare Clark’s seventh novel, her first book to be set in the contemporary world, explores one of the defining scandals of recent times: from the 1980s to the present day, undercover police officers infiltrated activist groups in the UK. They developed sexual relationships with their targets as part of their cover, in some cases fathering children. This story was brought to public attention by the unmasking and subsequent disclosures of the former undercover officer Mark Kennedy. It was also exposed in the Guardian by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, whose landmark work, Undercover, is credited as the source material for Trespass.

Clark’s novel is a harrowing and compelling act of excavation. It feels almost like a moral necessity to read it, and through doing so bear witness to something that wasn’t just perpetrated by the police against political activists. It was done in the name of the people whose taxes fund the state and whose votes decide its direction.

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