AGAIN PLUCKING THE WHITE ROSE: FASCISM IN YORKSHIRE REVISITED

AGAIN PLUCKING THE WHITE ROSE: YORKSHIRE FASCISM REVISITED

In my book 'Turning Up the Heat: MI5 After the Cold War', published October 1994, there was one section that brought the house down, provoking a furious response, culminating in October 1995 with my near-lynching at the Anarchist Book Fair in Conway Hall, London. This concerned my daring to allude to events surrounding the theft of a contact/address book from a Leftist/Community newspaper in Leeds, the now defunct Northern Star, and the subsequent appearance of its contents in Combat 18 magazines issues 1 and 3, distributed in 1993 and 1994 [1]. What makes a review of events in Leeds timely is two recent items that have sent shock-waves throughout the anti-fascist movement. The first item was the April 1998 revelation in Fighting Talk (journal of Anti-Fascist Action) that AFA have proscribed the Searchlight organisation for their activities in Yorkshire and elsewhere. The second item is the follow up explanation in the June-July issue of Red Action--going into more detail on the circumstances of that proscription, and revealing that AFA in Yorkshire have been reconstituted, following the forcible dissolution of Leeds AFA and Huddersfield AFA branches for working hand-in-glove with Searchlight. The former piece I reproduce in full later on--the latter piece I strongly suggest interested readers purchase [2].2010 update: click on the links in footnote 2 below to access the relevant articles online

Below I outline the essential features of what happened in Leeds 1993-4, and the various responses to it. Then a few events in the last year or so, most significantly in Bradford, will be sketched in. Finally, I will draw attention to the possible ramifications of what has gone on, both in Yorkshire and nationally.

WHAT HAPPENED IN LEEDS 1993-4

Nobody disputes that in Spring 1993 local Leeds fascist Tony White went into the offices of the Northern Star and took their telephone contacts book listing details of people the magazine was in touch with nationally and Yorkshire especially. Leeds AFA at the time were crystal-clear, stating in 1994 that "in Spring last year nazi activist Tony White went into the Northern Star offices and stole the address book belonging to the editor" [3]. White doesn't deny it, nor does Searchlight. This wasn't an isolated act--over an extended period the Northern Star was subject to a vicious, incessant and unwarranted campaign by nazis throughout Yorkshire to shut them down--which eventually succeeded. This campaign included arson attacks, threatening phone-calls, break-ins and assaults, carried out by fascists.

There are two interesting things about White obtaining the Northern Star address book, making it of national significance. First, how he got hold of it. Second, how it was used. On the first point, sources on both Left and Right agree that all was not as straightforward as it appeared. As Mike Peters of now-defunct magazine Here & Now said to me in 1994, and repeated in 1995, he'd heard it was "dodgy", an "inside job". This is a serious allegation: it is one thing to be under constant siege, but for someone 'inside the walls' to be helping the enemy in this way, if true, would be disgraceful. At my near-lynching in October 1995, the liberals present seemed to find it utterly unthinkable that anybody would do such a thing. The idea that the vast majority of those under virtual daily attack would contemplate this sort of action is unthinkable and wrong. But all an 'inside job' needed was one person who knew the layout of the centre and when staffing levels would be low to tell White exactly where the book was, and he could then do the rest in a trice. That, I suspect, is exactly what happened.

WHY THESE EVENTS MATTER

What might have been the possible motive for tipping White off about the address book location, and putting him up to stealing it? Here, events in Leeds intersect with national developments. In 1993 Combat 18 first broke into the political scene, courtesy of a World In Action/Searchlight special in April, and were relentlessly hyped thereafter. White sent the address book to Charlie Sargent, then C18 boss. C18 graduated from producing an irregular photocopied bulletin Redwatch to a glossy 40 page magazine entitled (with zero originality) Combat 18. In late 1993, as well as lurid attacks on 'race-mixers' and other perceived 'race traitors' the whole of the first half of the Northern Star address book was printed. All hell then broke loose on the national political stage. Labour MPs in Yorkshire were so furious their details appeared on this hit-list they signed an Early Day Motion in the Commons (14/2/94) calling for C18 to be investigated. By May 1994 Max Madden MP was calling for MI5 to get involved [4]. In December 1994 the second C18 magazine of 88 pages came out misleadingly numbered 3 (rather than 2) and it contained the rest of the Northern Star address book, thereby piling on the political pressure. The timing of events in Leeds struck me as suspicious in terms of the national picture; in December 1993 Searchlight editor Gerry Gable appeared before a House of Commons Select Committee and urged that MI5 be used to 'investigate' Combat 18. Given Gable's proven status as low-grade MI5 errand-boy/pimp, the Northern Star address book theft was exactly his type of operation.

The motive for MI5 is straightforward--get someone (White) under your control but plausibly deniable, to steal and send details of Yorkshire Leftists to C18. They print them, MPs get annoyed, leading to the spectacle whereby Labour MPs, normally critical of MI5 (because of past efforts to undermine Harold Wilson for example), have a change of heart. Ironically, my attention was first drawn to Leeds by a Leeds AFA circular in 1993, disseminated throughout Europe, denouncing me among others, by name, for performing no useful service to the anti-fascist movement etc. Evidently, this circular was written under the instructions of, if not actually by, Gerry Gable or his local representative Nick Lowles. I have drawn attention before to the track-record of Searchlight in compiling and circulating hit-lists. Indeed, the circular attacked me for writing 'A Lie Too Far' exposing Searchlight for doing exactly that. So I was even quicker to get on the case than I might have been otherwise.
WHY YORKSHIRE?

That any one area rather than another is chosen for a covert operation, as I believe happened in Yorkshire, will hardly be a matter of chance rather than design. In the political jungle that is the extra- parliamentary milieu, there are a multiplicity of state and para-state agencies competing for space. MI5 obviously have their own assets separate from any they share with Searchlight, and there is also Special Branch or even (as persistently alleged locally) Army Intelligence. Yorkshire seems to be a political laboratory, looked at in much the same way as Northern Ireland, with experimental covert operations using ethnicity rather than religion as an organising factor. Advantages of using Yorkshire include its social mix and densely populated urban metropolises as well as a distinctive regional identity, enabling experimental results to be more easily quantified. Then there is the long-standing propensity for street politics in the area to get nasty of their own accord, particularly (though not exclusively) on the fascist side.
Another great advantage of Yorkshire as a site of political intrigue is the ideology of what I call 'inverse provincialism'. The way it works is this: most political/media cognoscenti are London-based and couldn't care less what happens outside the M25, or even place Leeds on a map, never mind follow events there closely. This also applies to the leadership of most 'radical' political groups of Left and Right. Therefore, shady antics are far easier to perpetrate longer without being nationally 'spotted' in such a place. Understandably many Leftists living in places such as Yorkshire, if independent of spirit and intellect, strongly resent this Southern arrogance, and continually point to the negative or more usually absent coverage of such areas. Quite rightly. Paradoxically, this can lead to an ultra-defensive reaction whereby people outside Yorkshire are both taken to task for not covering events there, or for covering them in a way not entirely in accordance with perceived 'local wisdom' however misguided or partial that might be. Probably the most characteristic expression of this ideology at work in the Yorkshire context has been the coverage in the highly self-regarding but now defunct Here & Now magazine. They sought to dismiss the controversy surrounding Searchlight's activities as a "London phenomenon" and referred to Leeds as "the site for a particularly nasty episode in the fascist/anti-fascist game in which both Gable and O'Hara have been active". They finish with a (rather good) quote from Groucho Marx, when told garbage-men were at the door "tell them we don't want any" [5].

The deeper message though, confirmed by the outrageous and relentless smears on me they printed, was that I had transgressed by daring to take a concerned interest in their patch which raised uncomfortable local questions better swept under the carpet. After all, as just mentioned, Mike Peters of Here & Now was well aware the Northern Star address book theft was suspicious. In deference to local pressure, Here & Now not only misrepresented my research, but allowed their PO Box to be used by an anonymous thug to issue threats against me. Very post-modern. More to the point, if this stance was taken by people previously affecting sympathy and interest in my work, no wonder Yorkshire has been (and still is) a useful site for the secret state to try out occasional role plays. And unlike Here & Now, that isn't a "game" I find amusing in the slightest. In all then, Yorkshire, especially West Yorkshire, is as good a place as any for skullduggery, and rather better than most.

MENTIONED IN DISPATCHES?

Even allowing for the 'inverse provincialism' factor at work, and the importance of personal loyalty to those involved, I was still slightly surprised at the ferocity with which some people jumped down my throat at the 1995 Anarchist Book Fair. One could be forgiven for thinking it was myself who stole the Northern Star address book, or printed it, or made harassing phone calls as a result! All I did was draw attention in print to the circumstances surrounding the theft and later use of the book before anybody (Left or Right). The recent Red Action article confirms things I suspected, but couldn't definitively prove. "It would appear that Leeds AFA has over the years been nothing less than a Searchlight dynasty, with each organiser grooming his successor. Since the early 90's four have operated in that particular organising capacity" for example. One of the central 'link-people' between Searchlight nationally and Leeds AFA was Nick Lowles, Searchlight editor-in-waiting. As 1994 progressed, violence in Yorkshire escalated, peaking with the arrival in the area of a Channel 4 Dispatches TV crew. Tony White appeared on the programme (screened 26/10/94)--though wasn't named. His father later admitted to me (29/8/95) White worked with the documentary team. If this had been a genuine investigative programme it would surely have been worth naming White, especially as other key fascists were featured and one even visited at home. As Red Action points out, Lowles was involved in that show, "which zeroed in on the situation in Leeds in 1994. A situation it can now be assumed was primarily of Searchlight's creation" [6].

QUESTIONS THAT STILL NEED ANSWERING

There are important unanswered questions about this Leeds "situation primarily of Searchlight's creation"--not least, how much of the violence in Leeds/Yorkshire that took place when the Dispatches crew were in the area was encouraged by their presence and would not have happened otherwise. In 1994 (and not subsequently to my knowledge) the SWP were so under attack they held their regional paper sales en masse in Leeds for safety of numbers. What inciting role was played by Dispatches 'advisers' such as Gable and local link-man Lowles? On 20/8/94 a flat very recently vacated by Leeds AFA Organiser Paul Bowman suffered a cross-bow attack: just coincidence? The Channel 4 crew was conveniently on hand to witness glass being cleared up the night after a fascist attack on another man's home. It is fascinating there was more political violence just before and during Dispatches' visit to West Yorkshire than before or since [7]. All this while Tony White was working with elements of Leeds AFA in league with Searchlight. One scene showed local fascists in Leeds city centre, as they had been led to expect an AFA 'attack' on a drinking place. In a further twist, both White & Dave Appleyard (a prominent local fascist who's been in and out of more groups groups than Paul Gascoigne has had drinking binges) seemed to be under the impression Charlie Sargent and other C18 leaders were due in Leeds that day. Where did that rumour originate, and whose interests did it serve? Obviously, the vast majority of Leeds AFA members did not know about the precise relationship between the local leadership and Searchlight/Dispatches TV crew, which is why full disclosure now would be most welcome. As for White, what state agencies did he liaise with directly, and what involvement direct or indirect was there between the local Special Branch and AFA? White has conceded (in handwritten evidence reproduced in the original article) that he "gained the trust of this AFA group only 2 members of AFA know and 1 or 2 Jewish people that for 3 months I gave them details of racist activities and names and addresses of persons responsible for attacks....From this info which was also passed onto Leeds police and Special Branch, Leeds BNP and so-called Combat 18 have cooled activities" [8]. Was it just for three months? I doubt it. White admits he passed on names and addresses of fascists: not disturbing in itself necessarily, but set it alongside another admission: in a taped conversation with Appleyard. White boasted of passing on names and addresses of anti-fascists to Combat 18, for inclusion in their magazine. Therefore, he passed fascist addresses to anti-fascists/the state, and anti-fascist addresses to fascists.
At one point in my lynching, the penny almost dropped for Alice Nutter, well-known member of Leeds band Chumbawumba, whose speciality is macho drinking songs (eg Tub-Thumping). She asked, incredulously--did I mean someone was passing iunformation on fascists to anti-fascists and anti-fascists to fascists? Why do that? A good question, even if she wasn't interested in the answer. This is strange activity,: outside common-sense behaviour patterns. It does fit the MI5 agenda of escalating violence, and proven Searchlight involvement in such elsewhere (through the activities of Tim Hepple Matthew Collins etc). Local Special Branch involvement is revealed by Searchlight's March 1994 boast that a "large scale plain clothes police operation was mounted" against the BNP, and April 1994 boast that "joint intelligence operations enabled Leeds AFA and Searchlight last month to help expose key players in the Yorkshire region of the BNP", [9], reiterating next month "joint work by Searchlight and anti-fascists in Leeds has led to a number of nazis being detained, and some charged" (May 1994 p.2). Case proven: to those who can read.

MORE WHITE LIES?

This is not the place to go over my detailed 1995 review of the Leeds BNP pamphlet 'White Lies' for Green Anarchist. I suggest those who dismiss what I wrote there read it--because evidently many never have. I referred to the motives of White LIes' author/compiler David Owens as being to "implausibly present the BNP as a thoroughly law-abiding party" and commented that whatever White had "got up to, this in no way exonerates or justifies the attacks on Leftists undertaken by local fascists"[10]. Owens himself, then BNP Regional Organiser, wasn't exactly ecstatic about my review, and wrote [11], telling me so. "Obviously you have written the piece with the dual intention of wounding Gerry Gable and attempting to carry out a campaign of lies and innuendo against myself...the person you say produced the booklet (me) is a State asset and has brought out a booklet that exposes another State asset (White) and put pressure on another State asset (Gable)....Yet you say it was produced by a State asset, wow step aside John Le Carre...step aside Gerry Gable, the real liar is ready to spring forth". I don't think he liked it, do you? In a display of chutzpah Leeds AFA claimed to be a "fiercely independent anti-fascist group and we are effective because of that. No-one pulls our strings". They attributed to the BNP the claim that Leeds AFA was run by Searchlight [12], neatly side-stepping the issue. The truth, however, has now caught up with them. Although it was always evident, for those who cared to look--the Spring 1994 edition of Leeds AFA's Attitude publication sold & advertised Searchlight, for example, but did not sell, or even advertise, Fighting Talk, the then national AFA magazine...

I was first drawn to look at Leeds by the 1993 Leeds AFA Security Alert, and noted the individual credited with this had penned a hilarious three page 'Call For Class War Members to Isolate Larry O'Hara' in the internal bulletin. Although he had named me twice in attacks it was hoped I would never see, far less be able to reply to, I probably concentrated far too much fire on defending myself against this person, Paul Bowman. Up until this point I had not named Bowman, despite being well aware who he was. Because debate around Leeds got side-tracked onto Bowman this helped those who wanted to bury more central issues like Lowles. In retrospect, this was probably the intention--Bowman was used as a diversion for both me and others to concentrate on. There is nonetheless a lesson here for those who act as Searchlight patsies--when the shit hits the fan, Gable is usually down-wind. To be self-critical, before going to print I should have taken my criticisms to AFA nationally. I all too readily assumed they wouldn't see things the way I did. That was too pessimistic (although in mitigation I am a life-long Everton supporter)--as Red Action recently pointed out concerning the 1996 inquiry triggered in large part by my published writings, "in hindsight, the 'not proven' outcome can be seen more clearly as an order for more rope" [13]. On the inquiry itself see editorial 'Notice to Quit' in Red Action 73 Spring 1996. There is no way I set myself up as the ultimate arbiter of any situation. It is though, gratifying that AFA nationally now seem to broadly agree with my earlier criticisms of some Leeds AFA people. Certainly, AFA had to conduct their own investigation, which they have done. AFA is a militant combat organisation, operating in an increasingly hostile climate, and for them organisational integrity has to come first. Nonetheless, given the anti-statist orientation of my research I am bound to come across information to all anti-state forces. At the heart of all this is the possibility of independent non-state-compromised anti-fascism. Intervention of the political police in the ranks of fascists and anti-fascists concerns me as much in one milleu as the other--the role of assets in either sphere is likely to be the encouragement of political violence, and as we've seen with White, passing details of each side over to the other. Thankfully, the most important chapter in the Tony White story was never written--his access to weapons and CS gas, which he claimed to have offered to football 'crews' throughout the North West, didn't result in the mayhem he and his controllers hoped for. That I played a part in preventing it is something I am well pleased about.

Unfortunately, at the 1995 Anarchist book-Fair, the issue was not White's activities, the overlap between sections of Leeds AFA Searchlight and the police, or even C18 hit-lists. No, the problem was--me for having raised questions about all this! The widely distributed (and anonymous, slightly 'nutty') leaflet 'A Bosnia of Trivia' accused me of taking up the rumour in a BNP pamphlet on the affair (White Lies) that "a member of Leeds AFA is an MI5 agent". Interestingly, the leaflet admits AFA contact with White, saying he "sang like a bird when encountered on the street by anti-fascists" [14]. Writing in their own publication Attitude rather than a flag of convenience, Leeds AFA reiterated the point. They stated "Tony White did speak to Leeds AFA, but then again he also spoke to the Anti-Nazi League, Militant, animal rights campaigners, the police, CID, Special Branch, Lord Lucan and the little pixies at the bottom of the garden" (1995/p.10). Rather clever this sentence as was the whole article--by mixing in fact with palpable fiction, and ending on a humorous note, the full force of the admission about White is weakened, even destroyed for most readers. I have to hand it to those writing Leeds AFA's script at that time--as masterpieces of evasion, conflating serious charges and known facts with extrapolations, their propaganda was very effective. Given the aim wasn't to answer questions, but avoid them while constructing a damage-limitation firewall, they did a very good job. The hard questions still remain unanswered--in particular, how long did the relationship between White and AFA continue? After all, White's involvement in the Dispatches programme (screened October 1994) was so valuable he wasn't even named in it. A rare feat, given the programme did manage to mention theNorthern Star address book theft, which nobody disputes White carried out. What was the exact role played by the leadership of Leeds AFA in the Dispatches programme? Another unanswered question. It would be happy to think the whole White/Northern Star address book matter was past. That is not the case, there have been curious recent happenings in Yorkshire worthy of mention.

STILL LIVELY ON THE NORTHERN FRONT

The focus of fascist/anti-fascist street conflict in the region shifted in 1997 from Leeds to Huddersfield and Bradford. Reports are patchy, but what seems to have happened is this. Just as the Northern Star was subject to fascist attack, ao too has been the Bradford Resource Centre, perhaps by the same people, and with similar motives. These include driving out of existence an alternative political space represented by the Centre, whose personnel overlap to an extent with the 1 in 12 anarchist Club, who have in the past produced some excellent research on their local ruling class/Freemasons. That is the fascist game-plan, which I am in as little sympathy with (none) as when carried out against the Northern Star. They got away with it then, hopefully they won't now.

The intriguing thing about these events is they show people up to dirty tricks in Yorkshire have, as a result of the White affair, undergone a sharp learning curve. It is disturbing that the actions of Bowman, Lowles White and others involved in the Leeds episode have encouraged the invention of specious stories by fascists, who no doubt view the 'White Lies' affair as a propaganda success. It would not have been a success if Leeds AFA hadn't been so operationally compromised. This is the saddest aspect of the White affair, though one that a creature like Lowles will have regarded with glee. After all, his role in relation to AFA can only be characterised as infiltration and disruption--in which he was successful for a good while. Disinformation is still being peddled and violent attacks/threats are still happening, only it is far from clear exactly who is responsible for everything that is going on.

As I wrote about White, it is inevitable that besides my own independent information sources, various people in Yorkshire, including fascists featured in events, have contacted me. David Appleyard, suspected by the local police of producing at least one issue of the Northern Front, and facing two charges of assault on local anti-fascists, has sent a stream of letters and allegations. Like communications from any source, I have read carefully what he has had to say, and measured it against my own sources/the known facts. Unsurprisingly, Appleyard and other local fascists seek to blame everything on a unholy alliance of Searchlight, the local Special Branch, and local AFA branches, particularly the now-disbanded Huddersfield AFA. They and Leeds AFA were dissolved for closeness to Searchlight, a relevant background fact. While Appleyard has sent a profusion of documents (most also obtained from 'other sources'), the refusal of Huddersfield AFA to respond to queries has certainly hampered my investigation. If Appleyard's motives are clear, Huddersfield AFA's refusal is strange, given they have previously ordered a number of my publications, and are well aware of my legitimate interest in events. Perhaps they are just closing ranks under pressure. Or maybe they really believe what Searchlight writes about my research, rather than actually read it. Dear oh dear! Lack of sufficient information from this quarter means in what follows there are more loose ends than I would like. Lack of hard evidence in crucial respects also means I am not prepared, at this stage to print the names of anti-fascists allegedly in league with Special Branch. I do not intend to give false succour to those whose idea of political fun is printing hit lists.

HOW DID THE FASCISTS GET THEIR INFORMATION?

In Spring 1997 a bulletin--the Northern Front--began circulating on the far right in Yorkshire. I have only seen four, and suspect there are more. I appeal to readers with other copies to send them, including what you know of provenance/post-marks etc. Reproduced above are the tops of those seen.

The Northern Front is a typical fascist/Searchlight hit-list, evidently written by people within the locality, full of Leftist names and addresses/phone numbers. Considering previous events in Leeds, how fascists got hold of this information is of interest. The fascists provide an explanation, but more about how they got hold of details theyhaven't printed. According to the Northern Front "nearly all the personal details of the reds produced in Northern Front are from sources in Leeds". [15] As well as Leeds, information on selected Bradford enemies was printed. As the bulletins go on, the story develops and surmise/speculation turns into hard fact. Issue 1 (as I call it: only one has a number on it and that's false!) remarks that "stupidly staff at the {Bradford} Resource Centre (who never expected Nationalists to visit their 'establishment') had their membership lists on public display. We hear nationalists spent up to two weeks happily copying all their most vital addresses down before they were rumbled" (p.2). On this reading, staff were merely slightly remiss at allowing this to happen. That it took fascists two weeks to gather such information doesn't point to collusion between the centre and the fascists. In any case, if you are running a community centre (as opposed to the Press Complaints Commission or Hitler's bunker) encouraging members of the public you may not know to use the service is what it's all about. By the next issue of Northern Front I have seen, entitled 'Anarchists co-operate with Bradford's police' there was reference to misplaced keys and "good old-fashioned nationalist harrassment" of visitors to the 1 in 12 Club. Also there was talk of keys having been 'misplaced' by a Committee member, but I take this to mean straightforward theft. In what is probably the third Northern Front, (although misleadingly numbered 7 & distributed June 1997) the story of how the information was obtained hasn't changed signifcantly. "Scum at the AFA Bradford Resource Centre have pissed off their comrades by letting their membership lists pass into nazi hands". (p.1)

By the July 1997 'Special Bulletin' edition of Northern Front the story was significantly modified. The person running the Bradford Centre was now described as a "long time AFA activist and police informer". This person "deliberately allowed nationalists access to his membership files...it is inconceivable to think that [a] long time AFA activist would not recognise top nationalists wo spent up to 2 weeks walking around the centre, the membership files were left in an open box on a table allowing nationalists to take handfuls, photocopy and then replace them". Even though each edition of Northern Front is supposedly produced by different people, this is still a significant change. Implausible. If the staff at the centre consciously allowed fascists to take the information, why did it take 2 weeks? Why didn't the AFA activist walk out and allow the Nazi to take membership files and not bring them back as in the Northern Star case? In the absence of evidence, apart from the possible naivete of an AFA member not recognising a presumably well known local fascist, and given how the story changed after the fact the charge of collusion has to be dismissed. My conclusion will no doubt be greeted with fury in various quarters - but the reasons are clear. Indeed it is disingenuous of Northern Front's authors to congratulate themselves on not having fallen for the Tony White/Northern Star scam of printing hit-lists when issue 3 prints address details of 57 people! I have said it before, and I'll say it again - hit-lists are as reprehensible when issued by fascists as bySearchlight. The fact Searchlight publish such information in their own magazine, or get assets like Hepple & Dave Roberts/Daphne Liddle or White to arrange it, without a word of criticism or complaint from the media does not make the publication of hit-lists by anybody, whether fascists or anti-fascists acceptable.

A TRANSATLANTIC CONNECTION?

In June 1997 matters took yet another violent turn. Amongst fascists in Yorkshire there is often vicious infighting, such as the classic brawl at the Halifax NSA meeting 26/8/95. According to the Northern Front 'Special Bulletin' (July 1997) long-time Leeds fascist Sid Carthew was targeted by a fire-bomb, on the morning of 17/6/97, a few hours before the laughable 'Cook Report' programme on the BNP was screened [16]. The motive put forward as to why Carthew was attacked is certainly plausible. His testimony was used by James Pepper, lawyer for the late James Earl Ray, (probably) falsely accused of the murder of Martin Luther King. Pepper's book on the case 'Orders To Kill' says Carthew met a mysterious gun-runner called Raoul (whose existance is crucial to Earl Ray's defence) by chance in a Montreal bar. Carthew is one of four sources corroborating Pepper's case that Earl Ray was involved in gun-running, so his evidence is important, if not crucial. [17]. The book didn't mention that Carthew is a BNP member and sometime Organiser and even back in the 1960s was a racist sympathiser, something surely relevant to a racist killing.

This omission of Pepper's was seized upon by Searchlight as a pretext for rubbishing the book in January 1996. The article's purpose was transparent - an errand run for the FBI to get them off the hook. Martin Luther King's family, the people with most interest in the matter, have supported Pepper's call to reopen the enquiry, as too has the Reverend Jesse Jackson - rather more credible figures than trash like Searchlight/the FBI [18]. Thankfully this request was recently granted by UA Attorney General Janet Reno (27/8/98), even if limited in scope. Searchlight concluded their hatchet-job with a revealing statement that "Pepper's analysis, focusing blame on the state rather than the nazis, serves only to let them off the hook for whatever role they may have played in this heinous crime" (p.6) If you substitute the word Searchlight for Pepper, and swap around the words nazis and state, a perfect summary of where they are coming from.

From the above, it is certainly possible Carthew's house was attacked for a transatlantic motive. US ruling circles have sought to place their own people in positions of power in the Labour party, as in the 'British American Project'[19]. Thus there is no reason why the FBI wouldn't contemplate dirty tricks in the UK on a street level. Attacking activists and producing dummy documents hand over fist was a feature of the FBI's own COINTELPRO initiative [20] never wound up, merely continued in a different form. So the attack on Carthew could have been inspired by some transatlantic agenda.

WHO ATTACKED CARTHEW?

There are four possible candidates for carrying out the firebomb attack. They are the FBI or their direct agents, Searchlight, local AFA activists and fascists themselves. Linked with the fire-bombing is a supposed communique issued by those responsible Northern Cunts, accompanied by a one page document entitled 'Paramilitary Red Commando'. Careful examination of both indicate they are poor forgeries, in no way the Leftist product they purport to be. Taking that as given for the moment, various possible perpetrators will be looked at in turn.

SEARCHLIGHT ARSONISTS?

The Searchlight organisation, or 'team' as they call themselves, have to be strong suspects, given the proven role of their public (magazine) face in a FBI propaganda campaign against Pepper. Their response to Northern Front alleging they had a hand in it was hardly robust, merely describing it as a "childish dirty tricks" and said if Carthew is Earl Ray's "best witness" the "right-wing murdering rat will end his days in jail" [21]. Are Searchlight capable of carrying out such an attack, or having dupes under their control carry out such an attack? Unquestionably. Their first star asset Dave Roberts (consort of the charming Daphne Liddle) was caught red-handed about to fire-bomb an Indian restaurant in Birmingham, and staff member Manny Carpel apprehended by police after an arson attack in Sussex. [22].

Searchlight's usual role, however is plausibly deniable incitement and facilitation. So is it likely Searchlight were involved in this particular case? On current evidence the answer has to be no. While it made sense for the FBI to use a disinformation conduit and media agenda- setting magazine like Searchlight to scorn Pepper's book - damage limitation - a physical attack is something else. There is no way the FBI would entrust an important operation like physical witness intimidation to low grade pimp/errand-boy like Gable. His notorious unreliability, and the marked leakiness of the organisation surrounding him makes this a non-starter. The bulletin claims the attack on Carthew was preceded by Ku Klux Klan stickers being plastered over the area, and KKK daubed on Carthew's house and surrounds. The now deceased English KKK seemed to have as few members in Yorkshire as elsewhere.

It is suggestive, certainly, that at that very moment Searchlight Special Branch and the Cook report were hyping the Klan from Land's End to John O'Groats, as featured in the last NFB. However, due to Griffin's resistance to being set up, the Cook Report screening was so eagerly awaited by various people on all sides, so isn't conclusive of anything. I don't think the FBI, however incompetent and in crisis they might be, would dream of using clowns like Searchlight for witness intimidation.

When it comes to dummy documents such as the 'Paramilitary Red Commando' Searchlight are experts editor Gable probably fell out of his cradle doing it [23]. There obviously has to be a possibility the Searchlight gang were involved in the fire-bombing and subsequent communique. However, despite powerful media and secret state contacts, Searchlight are not clever or reliable enough to undertake this type of operation. While they have a death-grip monopoly on most TV documentaries, and outposts of influence like Radio 4, there are less and less print-media stories (apart from free adverts in the Guardian and Independent.) They are increasingly a laughing-stock, a fact as noticeable to overseas observers like the FBI as people in the UK. I may be wrong about their non-involvement here, and welcome hard evidence ot the contrary. Searchlight not taking part wouldn't preclude a state operation - the White affair would hardly inspire the secret state to routinely inform Searchlight of such things.

WHAT ABOUT THE FBI THEMSELVES?

Assuming the FBI did not want to get Carthew sorted out, the actions described hardly seem wise. The FBI are no amateurs, having perpetrated a massacre at WACO, culminating in a horrific fire, in front of TV cameras and got away with it in 1993. The ineptitude of Carthew's assailants, merely throwing a petrol bomb at the wrong car (his daughter's) hardly seems up to FBI standards. Why bother sending a crew over and stop at such a half-hearted attack?

The Northern Front bulletin tries to make something of the police taking 30 minutes to arrive, hinting at possible collusion with the arsonists. Little should be read into this - I have personal experience [24] of recent shootings in separate cities where police took over two hours to arrive. Crime affecting ordinary working class people is, as those of us who live in working class areas know, something the police have no interest in. 30 minutes seems a good response time to me, especially as it was 2am (club chucking out time). Furthermore, it would be highly unusual for any state agency (British or foreign) to inform the local plod about any illegal act in advance. Need to know and all that.

ARE AFA PARAMILITARY RED COMMANDOS?

The Northern Front 'Special Bulletin' states the 'Paramilitary Red Commando' was Huddersfield AFA. They produce no real evidence for this, other than speculating the "bulletin claiming responsibility for the attack could have been produced in the Bradford anti-fascist resource centre" (p.1) Certainly it could have been - or anywhere else. This isn't evidence, merely assertion.

Before examining this in detail, what might be a hypothetical AFA motive? The fascist answer would be to provoke local fascists into launching a counter-strike against anti-fascists and other 'soft' targets, using information already gathered from the Bradford Resource Centre. This would parallel the Northern Star case, but with information printed locally rather than nationally. It might explain the fact that despite Searchlight being sold in the Centre, people featured in its pages (such as Appleyard) were not recognised early enough. However matching faces to photographs isn't something I would expect Resource Centre workers to spend time doing unless the persons concerned were behaving aggressively. Also, I have already disposed of the fascist claim they were given the information from inside sources at the Centre. Therefore in the absence of an overall game plan there was no strategy for the firebombing and communique to fit into. In any case, the Northern Front was already in production, so the fascists can't credibly off-load blame like that.

Ironically, the item Northern Front states points most strongly to the involvement of Huddersfield AFA doesn't do any such thing. This is the Northern Cunts document sent to various PO Boxes in the North. It mentions the attack on Carthew's home, and is supposedly anti-fascist in origin. Yet there is no way it reads like a genuine anti-fascist production. The title 'cunts' is, in these politically correct times, not credible as something put out by such sources. Some language sounds anti-fascist - e.g. the reference to identifying Klan members by 'soiled bedsheets and hoods". Other phrases are unbelievable like a self-description of Huddersfield anti-fascists as "Brave Red Warriors". Classic fascist language, accompanied by a threat to local fascist Kevin Watmough that "we may have to shoot him just to silence his mad nazi rantings" [25]. Not AFA rhetoric - cracks about introducing fascists to the pavement certainly, but I have never seen a reference to shooting people in any AFA document. Another thing to make me doubt is the only two address details given are Sid Carthew's and Ian Wilson's (Dewsbury), older BNP members seen by some local Nazis as past it.

A further factor suggesting the document wasn't Leftist is the ludicrous self-description as the 'Paramilitary Red Commando'. A name virtually unthinkable for Leftists because of similarities with the Ulster Loyalist Red Hand Commando, a Loyalist paramilitary force founded in 1972 and later merged with the UVF, a cover-name still used for various actions from time to time. While the fascist image of all AFA members as Republican sympathisers is caricature, any AFA member would be aware of the similarity of the names - a non-starter then. Especially as the communique describes the 'Red Hand of Ulster' as neo-nazi propaganda. There is a magazine called the Red Hand widely distributed amongst fascist circles, but it hails from Airdrie, and is hard-line Loyalist not Nazi. Finally, the promise to "Execute Any Person Suspected Of Involvement In The Distribution Of Neo-Nazi Propaganda" is equally unlikely - not AFA policy, and silly to advertise even if it were. If those attacking Carthew were responsible for this communique, I hardly see how it would help the cause of dealing with him. Why would people who intend to 'Execute' Carthew warn "Sid has a large dog" - wouldn't they advise (themselves!) to use a silencer? Laughable.

The Northern Front alleges that accompanying the 'Paramilitary Red Commando' communique were "photos of shotguns, grenades and other weapons". One of the photos had been used before by Searchlight mole and police informer Tony White when he launched his "Revolutionary Action Force - RAF". If they are right that must mean they had seen them before, perhaps White distributed them? Or maybe they were taken from his home/dust-bin by the 'counter-intelligence unit' involved in gathering material for the 'White Lies' pamphlet? White certainly boasted about access to weapons - but would it really be wise for an AFA group (even if not Leeds) to use such photos traceable back to him?

Analysis of 'Northern Cunts' and the 'Paramilitary Red Commando' leads me to think there is no way AFA was involved. A counter-argument is the communique is so unbelievable it was meant to look like fascists trying to be anti-fascists. Why would anti-fascists produce such an implausible text? Far easier, surely, to fabriacate an apparently fascist document, to put opponents off the scent. After all, there's no shortage of fascist groups who have it in for each other.

FASCISTS THE MOST LIKELY CULPRITS

Another scenario could fit the known facts more easily - state assets among fascist ranks without help from the other side, implementing a proactive programme of escalating politcal violence. Or even fascists acting the same way for palpable political reasons. Either way, the attempt to falsely smear anti-fascists as involved in this enterprise could be seen as a fairly clever attempt at an intoxicating smoke screen.

This seems closer the mark than blaming anti-fascists. Interestingly, especially given much information in Northern Front refers to students in Leeds, the University newspaper Leeds Student for 7/6/96 had a sensationalist article fingering Appleyard as somebody who "over the last two years has regularly been seen entering Leeds University Union in an attempt to collect names and phone numbers of left-wing students". The main source quoted in the article was Searchlight team member Nick Lowles, using his pseudonym of Peter Brighton, which makes the article suspect - but not necessarily untrue in every detail. Another local fascist, Arthur Bentley, an ex-Third Way member, is put forward by Searchlight as having possibly had a hand in the Northern Front. Unlikely, but not impossible: although such a scam seems rather too complicated for him.

HELPING POLICE WITH THEIR ENQUIRIES?

Having dismissed claims Bradford anti-fascists were involved in the theft of information from their own centre, or fire-bombing/subsequent communique, there is one final matter. Collaboration with local Special Branch/Inspector Keith Fixter. Rumours are flying around about this, at present only rumours. A reliable source has suggested that during the 1997 May Festival in Bradford there was some sort of low level police surveillance operation, to prevent the 1 in 12 Club being attacked by local fascists, with co-operation from those involved, at least to the extent of passing the police selected CCTV footage. Relaible as my source is in terms of integrity, their information is not based on direct personal experience, so cannot be taken as hard fact. That similar allegations have been repeated in the Northern Front bulletin means virtually nothing. It is in the fascist interest to divert attention from their own attacks on anarchists/anti-fascists.

I am not saying there was anti-fascist/Special Branch collaboration, merely seeking to ask questions publicly because attempts to get to the bottom of this matter have made little progress. Three different Festival-goers have told me they saw no hint of any working relationship with the police. Therefore, if the above was all there was to go on, it would probably not be worth putting in print, even as speculation. Although it must be remembered the gist of it has already been put in print by Searchlight, even if to deny it (see below). But a couple of other things make it worth exploring the matter. First is the undeniable fact that throughout the 1990s, as Red Action have pointed out, Searchlight have been very influential in Yorkshire, thoroughly compromising the independence and integrity of Leeds AFA. The AFA statement dissolving Leeds and Huddersfield branches branches divulged their representatives had"failed to carry out their responsibilities in the Northern Network and have refused to participate in the national AFA structures or abide by agreed decisions". [26]. Searchlight accounts of anti-fascist activity in Yorkshire they approve of (the only sort they report) contain constantr references to joint actions with police. In April 1994 they spoke of a "large scale plain clothes police operation" (p.3). This would inevitably involve Special Branch. Perhaps due to criticism of local supporters, recent references to Yorkshire, and particularly Bradford, are more coy. Their July 1997 issue had this to say of the thefts. "While some anti-fascist activists are taking very seriously indeed the nazis capture of personal details and their reproduction in local hate sheets, and have been trying to prevent a repeat, others have gone off at a tangent and started accusing a long-time anti-fascist in the area of being an agent of the state. One can only wonder who put that idea into their hands". (p.10) There are two relevant things here. First, the admission some Bradford anti-fascists fear collusion with local politcial police. Stalinist in method as well as orientation, Searchlight will only have mentioned this because anti-fascist discontent locally is substantial - otherwise they'd blame it on fascist malcontents posing as anti-fascists. Secondly, a favourable talk of those "trying to prevent a repeat" in the same sentence as, and therefore connected in some way, to the accusation of 'being an agent of the state'. Matters are not spelt out fully, but given Searchlight is an organ of disinformation rather than information, this isn't surprising.

One thing is certain - Appleyard is facing various charges over violent attacks on local anti-fascists, including an assault with a hammer and an alleged stabbing threat. He seems to be on so many charges, so often, that it is diffcult to keep tack of them. One, still pending, is for writing/distributing an issue of the Northern Front: the same issue naming Inspector Fixter as the contact for two local anti-fascists. The charge in this case is one of witness intimidation, both by the Northern Front and directly. The search warrant for Appleyard's premises in August 1997 was signed by Fixter. This isn't in itself proof of collusion between Fixter and those named in the bulletin. It does show Fixter takes an operational interest in politically motivated crimes in the West Yorkshire area, and local anti-fascists have used the courts. Which raises an issue that will have occurred pages ago to liberal readers - what does it matter if the courts are used? Some readers will not see it as untoward if local anti-fascists have co-operated with the police. I do.

BACK TO BASICS

This is not a merely academic matter. It isn't for me, and I have no doubt anti-fascists in Bradford, like Leeds before them, have been subjected to a vicious unprovoked and totally unjustifiable campaign of violence, threats and intimidation from fascist thugs, over a long period. It is not even a temptation for liberals like the Anti-Nazi League to run to the police for politcal protection, they do it naturally. Inasmuch as some of those involved in the Bradford affair were AFA members, a higher set of rules applies.

To recall historical precedent first - in the two years before the Nazis took power in Germany, they were banned in various parts of Germany 30 times: yet this had no harmful effect on their seizure of power. If there is a ground swell of support for a fascist group, then a high percentage of their supporters have traditionally come from within the state apparatus. On the rare occasions fascists projected themselves as being 'outside and gainst the state' as with Codreanou's Iron Guard in Rumania, they got crushed. This point hasn't been lost on most UK fascists, who while spouting extravagent anti-state rhetoric from time to time, have usually, when the chips are down, made their peace with the state, from Mosley on. Nobody seriously doubts John Tyndall has frequent meetings with Special Branch, and I understand Special Branch in Yorkshire make regular (even if not always scheduled) trips to see local BNP Organisers. This doesn't mean the BNP either nationally or locally is 'run by' Special Branch, merely that there is a working relationship between them: whether it has helped or hindered the BNP isn't quite the point. That such visits to 'key players' on the far right happen is confirmed by a recent article in the BNP's Spearhead. It chronicled the arrival of two local SB officers at the home of a key National Democratic Party member (Steve Edwards) about to defect to the BNP. That they attempted to pressure him isn't surprising - I find it more significant that he actually let them into his home to discuss politcs. [27].

The political police are thus very interested in establishing working relationships with both fascists and anti-fascists in any given area, Yorkshire included. What they need is a pretext, a lever to enable them to make inroads: and politcal violence is one of those ways in. The first AFA Organiser's Handbook had these words to say on such matters, as wise now as they were then (1986). "On no account allow yourself to be drawn into any sort of 'consultative' relationship directly with the local police. Any apparent short-term gains from too close a relationship with the police will ALWAYS backfire... The police will always abuse any apparently friendly relationship you develop by using it top gain information on Left activists" (p.3) The Handbook went on to say "When appro-priate where information is available about, say a serious firebombing, then there is nothing wrong in passing it to the police. Be very careful not to be drawn into acting as police grasses when doing this. The chances are that local fascists are also passing information about you to the Special Branch. In most cases a campaign by AFA with the local community is nearly always the best way of dealing with racist attacks rather than expecting the police to act" (p.4)

Special Branch/police are not neutral forces, there to help in the event of violence. Help will be available - but at a price. Any information passed to the local Special Branch it must be assumed is in principle available to MI5. Both Special Branch and MI5 have their own agendas in any given situation, which might well dictate the escalation of politcal violence.

This is where Searchlight are of great use to SB/MI5 and the other agencies they pimp for, acting as a conduit/interface between anti-fascists and the political police. They make no secret of their dedication in principle to collboration with the police. Not only was editor Gable formerly employed giving lectures to police cadets at Hendon before they found him to be too much of a joke, their 'Community Handbook' has a whole section on the subject. It states the Searchlight gang's strong belief in "multi-agency projects...one positive sign has been the amount of Searchlight's material that is found in the training materials sent out by the Home Office for police recruits" (Section 9:6) for example. This subject I have dealt with elsewhere, suffice to say any anti-fascist groups who work withSearchlight are collaborating with the state - exactly why AFA nationally proscribed them, as a direct result of their malign influence in Yorkshire.

Inasmuch as the Bradford Centre receives council funds, any attacks on the premises have to be reported to the police, for legal/insurance reasons. It will also have made sense to install security cameras, the existance of which is confirmed by Searchlight. {28} Would police be interested in footage/personal details of all visitors to the Centre? Certainly. Whether they have got information on anti-fascists, in the guise of looking for fascists is the big question. An answer may well come out in the various trials, especially of Appleyard, that are due to take place. Those trials may provide information about Appleyard at least as interesting as that on others. Hopefully, readers in Yorkshire will consider this matter worthwhile enough to attend the cases and report the outcome.

MORE RECENT EVENTS IN BRADFORD

As an illustration of how complex the situation in Bradford is, consider one final development. This is the short-lived intervention by the English Nationalist Movement (ENM) in the area, alluded to in a widely distributed (anonymous) 'Urgent Message' of March 1998 issued by 'The Heaton Defence Group'. According to this message,'Heaton in the Bradford West ward is a white enclave surrounded by a heavy Asian population. This is where the action is." The authors issued a once in a life time offer to "all genuine racial nationalists who are serious about the cause to move into the Bradford District". They went on to say (in what is possibly an understatement) "There's never a dull moment here. Something is always going on!". The ENM (now renamed the National Revolutionary Fraction) was attacked, though not mentioned by name "for security reasons". (p.2) This was because they had allegedly "done a runner when things came on top with the police" indeed the Bradford project "is now under the surveillance of Special Branch" and no doubt other agencies - why have a political laboratory without using it for experiments?

I draw attention to this because aside from the attack on the ENM, who definitely had a presence in the area recently [29] it contains a curious claim that "we were prepared to work with your group alone, so please don't use the BNP as a scapegoat for your 'hit and run' antics." Yet the issue of Bradford Nationalist (local BNP publication) for the very same month, seems to indicate a remarkably similar typeface and manner of arguing. Interestingly, there is a strong call to close down (guess what) the Bradford Resource Centre. As Alice would say, curiouser and curiouser.

Bradford BNP seem to be quite active, producing a monthly bulletin capitalising on local themes, acting as a magnet for BNP activists in Yorkshire and beyond. I suspect the consequences of that upsurge for local anti-fascists and ethnic minorites will not be favourable. Of one thing we can be sure - events in Yorkshire will continue to require careful observation.

This story is updated in NFB issue 8 'Redwatch Revisited'--click on the NFB shop icon above to purchase that issue.

FOOTNOTES

{1} pages 42-46.
{2} Volume 3 issue 1, pages 5/9/10 http://www.redaction.org/anti-fascism/secrets.html The AFA proscription of Searchlight is on-line at http://www.hughdenman.com/oldsites/ bogeypage/anarchy7
{3} Attitude Spring 1994 p.2
{4} Yorkshire on Sunday 29/5/94
{5}Here & Now 1996 issue 16/17 p.31
{6} June-July 1998 p.9
{7} see chronology in Yorkshire Evening Post 20/9/94
{8} no date: but December 1994
{9} April 1994 issue p.3
{10} Green Anarchist 38 Spring 1995 p.12
{11} letter postmarked 28/7/95
{12} Attitude Summer 1995 p.10
{13} Red Action June/July 1998 p.5
{14} see Green Anarchist issue 40 February 1996 p.25 'A Bosnia of Consequence' for a detailed refutation of 'A Bosnia of Trivia'. See also Here & Now issue 16/17 1996 & the response by me and others in Here & Now issue 18 1997 p.42-44. That Here & Now granted right of reply is a big point in their favour--only spoiled by their refusal to defend themselves or justify earlier lies.
{15} 'Special Bulletin' July 1997 p.2
{16} I say laughable because it was a failed attempt to entrap Griffin into illegal activity, which degenerated into a shock-horror expose revealing astounding facts like NF members are racist, and boosted Griffin's image as a serious contender for power within the far right. It even clearly allowed him to articulate his racist message, unchallenged, at the end of the show. I'll return to this another time.
{17} see 'Orders to Kill' Carroll & Graf/New York 1995 p.343-44,375,430
{18} see Daily Telegraph 17/2/97 & The Guardian 6/4/98 respectively. Other coverage of the matter is contained in The Observer 24/9/95 (Andrew Billen), Daily Telegraph 24/4/98 (David Sapsted) and The Guardian 25/4/98 (Jonathan Steele). All three journalists deserve credit for covering this story.
{19} see Robin Ramsay 'Prawn Cocktail Party: The Hidden Power Behind New Labour' Vision/London 1998
{20} Ward Churchill, Jim Vander Wall 'The Cointelpro Papers' South End Press 1990
{21} Searchlight August 1997 p.3
{22} see details in my 'Searchlight For Beginners' (1996)
{23} his birth certificate was in the name of that rather more well known practitioner of celluloid fiction Gerald Clarke Gable.
{24} Not as a victim some will be sad to hear
{25} Watmough wasn't even in the area at the time
{26} Fighting Talk issue 19 April 1998 p.6: http://www.hughdenman.com/oldsites/bogeypage/anarchy7
{27}Spearhead 351 May 1998 p.5. The relationship between C18 and the state I will look at next NFB
{28} Searchlight July 1997 p.10
{29} As illustrated by the 'How Much Further' leaflet sourced back to PO Box 248 Bradford in 1995

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