Whistleblower Clive Ponting dies

I didn’t realise that Clive Ponting passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Ponting was the high-flying civil servant who leaked information which undermined ministerial claims about the circumstances of the sinking of the Argentinian warship General Belgrano in the prelude to the main act of the Falklands War.

After being unmasked, he was offered a deal in which he confessed and resigned – but was then arrested under the Official Secrets Act and prosecuted, leading to a memorable trial in which the jury disregarded the judge’s directions and acquitted Ponting as a matter of conscience.

I didn’t realise that he had been a Bristol boy, attending the (then directly-maintained but subsequently private) Grammar School in the 1960s (not that the websites of the school or the Old Bristolians acknowledge this.

Like the other prominent 80s leaker whom we studied in my days, Sarah Tisdall (who has her own Bristol connection), he was undone by unique markings on the physical documents he supplied. There’s a warning there for any would-be lamplighters. (Would-be leakers would be wise to discreetly look at the lie of the land with regards their options before doing anything that might be irreversible and personally damaging, whether they intend to go the boring route or take the sensational road.)

I found his writing to be lucid and transparent. His account of his OSA woes, The Right To Know: The Inside Story Of The Belgrano Affair, and its follow up, Whitehall – Tragedy And Farce, were both eminently readable.

Apparently a member of the SDP on the quiet – this I did not know, and a quick look through Crewe & King does not reveal any tasty morsels.

Anyone wishing to find out more about Ponting and the context in which his infamy emerged could do worse than watch through the very first edition of the open-ended, late night discussion programme After Dark. Hosted by Tony Wilson (and featuring among others Northern Ireland psyops whistleblower Colin Wallace), it is nearly three hours of serious-minded talk around heady topics of the day. It is available to watch and download in its entirety on The Dossier.

Wikipediaphile: Marshalsea

Marshalsea prison

Well, this is both grim and fascinating.

The Marshalsea (1373–1842) was a notorious prison in Southwark, just south of the River Thames. Although it housed a variety of prisoners, including men accused of crimes at sea and political figures charged with sedition, it became known, in particular, for its incarceration of the poorest of London’s debtors. Over half the population of England’s prisons in the 18th century were in jail because of debt.

Run privately for profit, as were all English prisons until the 19th century, the Marshalsea looked like an Oxbridge college and functioned as an extortion racket.

Not a fun place to reside:

By all accounts, living conditions in the common side were horrific. In 1639 prisoners complained that 23 women were being held in one room without space to lie down, leading to a revolt, with prisoners pulling down fences and attacking the guards with stones. Prisoners were regularly beaten with a “bull’s pizzle” (a whip made from a bull’s penis), or tortured with thumbscrews and a skullcap, a vice for the head that weighed 12 pounds (5.4 kg).

Thomas Bliss had a particularly grim time of it. A carpenter who was imprisoned over a debt, he wasn’t able to pay gaol fees, and so facing starvation he attempted to escape “by throwing a rope over the wall, but his pursuers severed it and he fell 20 feet into the prison yard.” He was tortured by prison boss William Acton and his goons, who wanted him to grass up who had supplied the rope. “Acton beat him with a bull’s pizzle, stamped on his stomach, placed him in the hole (a damp space under the stairs), then in the strong room.”

The ‘strong room’ was a fetid, airless, unlit hellhole originally designed to incarcerate pirates and located adjacent to the prison’s sewer.

Bliss was left in the strong room for three weeks wearing a skullcap (a heavy vice for the head), thumb screws, iron collar, leg irons, and irons round his ankles called sheers. One witness said the swelling in his legs was so bad that the irons on one side could no longer be seen for overflowing flesh. His wife, who was able to see him through a small hole in the door, testified that he was bleeding from the mouth and thumbs. He was given a small amount of food but the skullcap prevented him from chewing; he had to ask another prisoner, Susannah Dodd, to chew his meat for him. He was eventually released from the prison, but his health deteriorated and he died in St. Thomas’s Hospital.

You can almost hear the brows furrowing approvingly in boardrooms at companies like Sodexo, G4S and Serco as they consider the profitable lessons to be learned from the past.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshalsea

Mmmmmzzzzzines

I found a folder of zine cover scans. Halcyon days 🙂

Rock stars and their spook dads

There’s a quite nice article in today’s Graun on Stewart Copeland and his father Miles, plugging a podcast.

For those not familiar with the Copelands, Stewart was the drummer with 70s/80s new wave band The Police, whilst Miles was a career CIA officer who began his service back when the Agency was first founded. And when we say CIA officer, we’re not talking about driving a desk in Langley analysing diplomatic reports – this was someone actively involved in infamous regime change operations like in Iran in 1953 alongside Kermit Roosevelt.

Operation Ajax on the bookshelf

Anyway, it reminded me of the Cradocks, Steve and Chris. Steve was a guitarist with dadrockers Ocean Colour Scene (and a member of the backing band used by former contemporary of The Police, The Jam co-founder Paul Weller), whilst Chris was in the group’s early years manager of OCS.

Oh, and before that he was a member of the West Midlands Police Special Branch, handling spies within political groups, most notably far right activist Peter Marriner, whom he had infiltrate a local Labour party in Birmingham.

Chris Cradock from ‘True Spies’

Anyway, it tickled me.

Bonus point: whilst watching documentary The Spy Who Went Into The Cold about Soviet mole Kim Philby, you can just about see a copy of ex-EastEnders soap star Sid Owen’s cook book in the bottom left of the screen whilst Stewart’s brother Miles Copeland III (who managed The Police in the early years) discusses his father’s failure to realise his friend Philby was a Russian plant…

Sid Owen, Miles Copeland III & Kim Philby
Sid Owen book

Mind blown.

Notes on ‘Inside The Mossad’

Former Mossad chief Zvi Zamir

Been digging around the hard drives and turning up all sorts of pointless treasures.

Here’s a chart I created summarising who the talking heads are in the documentary series Inside The Mossad about Israel’s best-known intelligence organisation:

 

Alan Parker remembers the making of ‘Bugsy Malone’

My fondness for Bugsy Malone has never been hidden: I loved it as a kid, and I love it today, for its warmth, humour, songs, memorable lines and, of course, splurge guns.

So it was sad to hear a couple of days ago of director Alan Parker’s passing at what now we might consider no age at all, 76. But when your legacy includes something as joyous as Bugsy Malone, I think you can consider it a life which others will remember as well-lived.

Here’s some nice footage from a couple of Q&As with Parker, filmed at BFI screenings of the movie in 2011 and 2015, where he is accompanied by Dexter Fletcher, who at nine played Baby Face, before a long career as a stalwart actor on TV and in film, and more recently as a director in his own right, and Paul Murphy, who played the inimitable Leroy Smith. The affection of the audience is clear.

‘Love/Hate’ – five seasons of Dublin-based mayhem

Nidge from ‘Love/Hate’Recently I rewatched all five seasons of Irish crime drama Love/Hate, whose twenty-eight episodes were originally broadcast between 2010 and 2014. It was exhilarating, and I caught a lot more second time round than when first I caught it.

I can’t remember how I first came upon it – I vaguely recall someone mentioning something on Twitter, and seeking it out using the usual methods, and quickly getting hooked, a bit like with Underbelly. It’s one of the few TV shows in recent years where I’ve seen it unfold episode-by-episode like in The Old Days, though because it was not broadcast in the UK (except, I think, series one getting shown on Channel Five a couple of years after it was made), some weeks it was harder to find than others. All five seasons are now available as a box set on BritBox, however.

The show’s strength for me is that creator Stuart Carolan executes a masterful feat of misdirection, encouraging the audience from the very beginning to invest emotionally in the wrong people, and playing with genre tropes to wrong-foot viewers in terms of expected outcomes. Simultaneously he builds in long-term arcs, he respects dramatic inevitability, and he has his characters act as real people, despite the artifice that cannot be ignored. Finally, his story is one which reflects real life – both Dublin criminal underworld-specific, and more universally (friendship, loyalty, stupidity, greed, betrayal).

Season one sets us up for a breezy, roustabout crime drama where sure, there’s violence, but it’s aesthetic and for a reason, and the good bad guys are clearly distinguishable from the bad bad guys, there are codes in place which everyone is aware of and generally abides by, and so on. By the close of season five, many bad things have been done by good people and good things done by bad people, heinous violence is routinely committed almost as a tic rather for any real reason, and we the audience root not for blameless innocents, but for the most charismatic sociopaths.

Anyway, in case anyone is interested I went through all of the incidents of violence in the show and created a spreadsheet to track who did what to whom. Naturally enough, it contains spoilers. Many, many spoilers.

Chronology of violence in five seasons of Love/Hate

Wikipediaphile: The Stennes Revolt

I’ve not done a WPP in ages, so I’ve shaken me folders and seen what drops out. This’un’s an interesting one, especially giving the brown-shirted tumults of recent year…

The Stennes Revolt was a revolt within the Nazi Party in 1930-1931 led by Walter Stennes (1895–1983), the Berlin commandant of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi’s “brownshirt” storm troops. The revolt arose from internal tensions and conflicts within the Nazi Party of Germany, particularly between the party organization headquartered in Munich and Adolf Hitler on the one hand, and the SA and its leadership on the other hand.[1] There is some evidence that Stennes may have been paid by the government of German chancellor Heinrich Brüning, with the intention of causing conflict within the Nazi movement.[2]

The role and purpose of the SA within National Socialism was still unsettled in 1930.[3] Hitler viewed the SA as serving strictly political purposes, a subordinate body whose function was to foster Nazi expansion and development. The SA’s proper functions, in Hitler’s view, were political ones such as protecting Nazi meetings from disruption by protesters, disrupting meetings of Nazi adversaries, distributing propaganda, recruiting, marching in the streets to propagandize by showing support for the Nazi cause, political campaigning, and brawling with Communists in the streets. He did not advocate the SA’s functioning as a military or paramilitary organization.[4]

Many in the SA itself — including the leadership — held a contrary, and more glorious, view of the SA’s role. To them, the SA was a nascent military organization: the basis for a future citizen-army on the Napoleonic model, an army which would, ideally, absorb the Reichswehr and displace its outmoded Prussian concepts with “modern” Nazi ideals.[5]

We then hear the details of the actual ‘revolt’. First, in the run-up to the Reichstag elections of September 1930, Stennes put forward a platform of demands (“These included the issuance of strident denunciations of Catholicism and capitalism (hardly a propos just before an election in a country with a substantial Catholic population), an end to corruption and bureaucratization in the NSDAP, the removal of Gauleiter power over SA men, the administration of SA independent of party administration and a fixed appropriation from party funds to be earmarked for the SA”). This did not go down well with the Hitlerian leadership. So Stennes doubled down and took his men into action, demonstrating against Goebbels instead of providing a security detail for his Sportspalast speech, and then storming the Gau office in Berlin, cracking SS heads into the bargain. In the immediate interim Hitler folded – taking personal control of the SA, to demonstrate its importance (rather than it being subordinate to the Gau bureaucracy), and raising funding for the stormtroopers. The revolutionary rump of the SA represented by Stennes saw it as vindication and perhaps even victory.

However, Hitler soon moved on to the next thing, and brought back sketchy scarface Ernst Röhm from his South American bolthole to run the SA on a day-to-day basis. Did this go down well with Stennes and his faction? No, it did not – especially when it also meant “emoving control of Silesia from Stennes”. “Stennes continued to complain; he noted that the SA in Breslau were not able to turn out for inspection in February 1931 because they lacked footwear.[28] He also complained about Röhm’s return to run the SA, objecting to the Chief of Staff’s homosexuality.[21]”

The pushback continued: “On 20 February 1931 Hitler issued a decree making the SA subordinate to the party organization at the Gau level…On 26 February, Röhm forbade the SA from taking part in street battles and also forbade its leaders from speaking in public.[30]”

When Brüning, the centrist Chancellor under the Presidency of Hindenburg (1930-1932) issued an emergency decree in March 1931 “requiring all political meetings to be registered and requiring all posters and political handouts to be subject to censorship [and delegating] wide powers to Brüning to curb ’political excesses.’,” Stennes was pushed over the edge, not least because Hitler’s “‘policy of legality’ appeared to be paying dividends in the economic misery of the depression—ordered strict compliance.”

And so Stennes “rebelled again.”

The SA once again stormed the party offices in Berlin on the night of March 31-April 1 and took physical control of them. In addition, the SA took over the offices of Goebbels’ newspaper, Der Angriff. Pro-Stennes versions of the newspaper appeared on 1 April and 2 April.[25]

The response from the leadership this time was swift and uncompromising.

Hitler instructed Goebbels to take whatever means were necessary to put down the revolt. This time, the Berlin police were called to expel the SA intruders from the party’s offices. Goebbels and Göring purged the SA in Berlin and environs. Since all money for SA was dispensed through the Gau headquarters, it was a simple matter to cut this off and the lack of funding caused the rebellion to collapse. Stennes was expelled from the party.[32]

In an article by Hitler in the Völkischer Beobachter he justified Stennes’ expulsion, referring to him as a “salon socialist.” Hitler’s editorial demanded that all SA men choose between Stennes and Hitler, declaring that the mutinous Stennes was a conspirator against National Socialism.

Hitler demonstrated his confidence in the SS by his replacement of Stennes with an SS man.[33]

And what of Stennes?

Stennes had a following among leftist oriented SA in Berlin, Pomerania, Mecklenburg and Silesia. When he left the SA and NSDAP he founded the National Socialist Fighting League of Germany (Nationalsozialistische Kampfbewegung Deutschlands, NSKD) and made connection with Otto Strasser, as well as Hermann Ehrhardt, ex-leader of the defunct Viking League (Bund Wiking). He recruited about 2000 SA men from Berlin and elsewhere along with 2000 Ehrhardt followers, and the leaders protested that the ‘NSDAP has abandoned the revolutionary course of true national socialism’ and will become ‘just another coalition party.’[34]

Well, I guess things might not have panned out how he thought. But he did swerve the Night of the Long Knives the following year, by virtue of already having been expelled from the SA and left Germany in 1933 to work “as a military adviser to Chiang Kai-shek until 1949, when he returned to Germany.”

As noted elsewhere:

In 1951, he was a leading member of the right wing Deutsche Soziale Partei (German Social Party). Afterwards, Stennes retired to private life. He applied for recognition as a victim of National Socialist tyranny, which was rejected in 1957 by the Federal Court. He lived in Lüdenscheid, until his death in 1983.

Meanwhile, link-hopping from this takes us to Otto Wagener (29 April 1888 – 9 August 1971), “a German major general and, for a period, Adolf Hitler’s economic advisor and confidant.” After service in the Great War leading to a position in the General Staff as a twenty-something young officer, “Wagener was [subsequently] involved in the planning of an attack against the city of Posen (now Poznań, in Poland), but had to flee to the Baltic countries to avoid arrest. There he merged all Freikorps associations into the German Legion, and assumed leadership after its leader, Paul Siewert, was murdered. After returning to Germany, he was active in Freikorps operations in Upper Silesia, Saxony, and the Ruhr area.”

After spending most of the 1920s travelling, by the decade’s close he had joined the NSDAP and the SA following recruitment by old Freikorps pal Franz Pfeffer von Salomon. “Wagener was able to put his business acumen and contacts to good usage for the Nazi Party [and] the SA…”

Wagener had used his business contacts to persuade a cigarette firm to produce “Sturm” cigarettes for SA men – a “sponsorship” deal benefiting both the firm and SA coffers. Stormtroopers were strongly encouraged to smoke only these cigarettes. A cut from the profit went to the SA ….[1]

I think we are allowed something of a W. T. A. F?! reaction here.

Wagener “functioned as SA Chief of Staff from October 1929 through December 1930, assuming effective command of the SA for a few months in the wake of the Stennes Revolt until the assumption of command by Ernst Röhm as the new Chief of Staff in early January 1931.”

He then became a prominent economic advisor to Hitler, until internal wrangling and expediency saw him replaced. He was nicked during the Night of the Long Knives, though only briefly, and after ‘rehabilitation’ “he resumed his career in the army,” serving during the war “at the front, rising to the rank of major general and becoming a division commander. After the war, Wagener found himself first in British and later, from 1947 to 1952, Italian prisoner of war camps.”

In 1946 he wrote a memoir “about Hitler and the Nazi Party’s early history,” though “it was not published until seven years after his death, in 1978.”

He died in 1971 in the Bavarian town of Chieming.

Return to the ‘Drome

Been watching loads of Moviedrome intros. Such a difference between Alex Cox and Mark Cousins.

Cox – contextual, punchy, opinionated, funny and TO THE GODDAMNED POINT. Cousins – longer, round-the-houses, high-falutin’ and often not really telling you what the film is about. Strokes for different folks.

But to give Cousins his due, The Story Of Film was great.

Anyway, here’s the best of the intros I have seen today…

Manhunter (Cox)

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (Cox)

Talk Radio (Cox)

Rope (Cox)

The People Under The Stairs (Cox)

The Baby (Cox)

The Andromeda Strain (Cox)

Detour (Cox)

Walkabout (Cousins)

Bad Timing (Cousins)

Oh, and here’s the obligatory mention for Proper Pre-2.0 Web Page/GeoCities refugee Kurtodrome and its excellent Moviedrome resource page.

Obligatory my-Moviedrome-memories moment:

I can’t remember for certain when I first saw Moviedrome, but back then all the terrestrial channels ran film seasons and did stranded nights/weekends – even ol’ITV, where I remember catching the first three Omen movies over three weeks, as well as Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, The Sting and The Great Waldo Pepper, as a pre-teen staying up late with his Dad.

BBC2 and Channel 4 did them best, though, and I was all over them – the ‘Chinese Ghost Stories’ one was a particular delight – so I may well have caught some early season presentations before discovering Alex Cox introducing them. I’ve a feeling I must have caught The Wicker Man, Barbarella and The Parallax View in this way as an eleven year old. I think I may have seen The Sweet Smell Of Success in 1989, but I definitely saw Get Carter as part of season three, as I had just returned from a tenpin bowling competition Up North. It was also my first exposure to Assault On Precinct 13 (Cox rightly eulogised about Darwin Joston IIRC), Il Grande Silenzio, and – I am pretty sure – my first Kurosawa, Yojimbo. I’m somewhat hazy on if I watched An American Werewolf In London and The Terminator for the first time through this season. Might be I saw T1 on VHS at a schoolmate’s house?

Anyhow, by 1991, I was fully loaded and Coxed for action: The Beguiled, Knightriders, Something Wild, Badlands, Manhunter all confirmed kills in season four, followed by Mad Max II, F For Fake, Rabid, Escape From New York, the ever-memorable Alligator/Q: The Winged Serpent double bill, Play Misty For Me and Cox’s own
Walker.

In his final two series, Cox gifted me Darkman, House Of Games, The Hill, Lenny, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), Gothic, Django, The Long Riders, The Andromeda Strain, Talk Radio, Salvador, Carny, Race With The Devil, Detour, Naked Tango and Kiss Me Deadly. Not a bad haul.

Come the Cousins years, and I guess by then I was already familiar with a lot of the fare he was curating – your Scarface, your Westworld, your Blue Collar. I may have seen The Warriors for the first time on the ‘Drome, possibly; but I’d already seen La Haine and Spanking The Monkey at the cinema. Demon Seed I think was a new one for me, perhaps The Fog too, but The Conversation? I just don’t know. Bad Timing I’d say was a Cousins pick; Society was something I knew about from when it came out from the specialist press (Fear, Skeleton Crew, Fantazia – that sort of thing) but didn’t see until years later, so is a prime candidate.

By his second season Cousins has settled for a balance between ‘slightly overlooked mainstream American’ and ‘arty foreign’. I’m 90% certain I saw Trespass for the first time on his watch (you know, all Sierra Madre comparisons and whatnot) and ditto Funny Bones.

However, by his third innings the blood was draining – sure there were some decent movies, but they were often just not of the vibrant, exciting, different calibre that you would expect to see on Moviedrome. In 1999 I may have seen Clockers, and there is the slimmest of slivers that I imbibed Videodrome. (Plus I spent much of 1998-1999 without a TV, which somewhat limits things.) By the final curtain of the final season in 2000, I watched a grand total of two movies on Moviedrome: Clubbed To Death and White Of The Eye.

A somewhat inauspicious finish to a venerable institution.

Picturehouses and kinemas

Here’s a nice little piece I found, going into the origins of and reasons behind the names of cinemas:

Old Time Names for Cinemas – A Shroud Of Thoughts

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The Owl of the Inns

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Ian Tomlinson. Ten years. Rest in peace.

Ian Tomlinson RIP

Wikipediaphile: Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

Crest of the Volga German ASSRA bit of a call-back to an earlier Wikipediaphile entry, this – ten years ago my interest was piqued by mention of the ‘Jewish Autonomous Oblast’; this time round it’s the ‘Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic’.

The Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (RussianАвтономная Советская Социалистическая Республика Немцев ПоволжьяGermanAutonome Sozialistische Sowjetrepublik der Wolgadeutschen), abbreviated as Volga German ASSR (RussianАССР Немцев ПоволжьяGermanASSR der Wolgadeutschen) or VGASSR (RussianАССРНПGermanASSRWD), was an autonomous republic established in Soviet Russia. Its capital was the Volga River port of Engels (known as “Pokrovsk” or “Kosakenstadt” before 1931).

Apparently it all harks bark to Catherine the Great and an eighteenth century Windrush-style plea for immigrants: she “published manifestos in 1762 and 1763 inviting Europeans (except Jews)[3] [plus ça change] to immigrate and become Russian citizens and farm Russian lands while maintaining their language and culture…The settlers came mainly from BavariaBadenHesse, the Palatinate, and the Rhineland, over the years 1763 to 1767. They indeed helped modernize the backward agricultural sector by introducing numerous innovations regarding wheat production and flour milling, tobacco culture, sheep raising, and small-scale manufacturing [and] helped to populate Russia’s South adding a buffer against possible incursions by the Ottoman Empire.”

By the time of the Russian Revolution the Volga German minority was substantial and concentrated around the Volga river; and so it was that they secured in October 1918 first a ‘Volga German Workers’ Commune’, which subsequently earned an upgrade to an ASSR. Fast forward a couple of decades and yer man Jughashvili is in the saddle, Europe is once more ablaze, and before you know it the Schicklgruber fella is giving it large with the Napoleon complex, haring across the steppe Barborossa-style.

Not good news for the Volga Germans, whom His Steelness considered definitely suspect; and so orders were given, the ASSR was dissolved in September 1941 and practically the entire population of more than half a million was sent into ‘internal exile’, with 438,000 sent to Siberia and Kazakhstan.

Half Bakered at The Shard…

Occupy The Shard posterSo, the other day the owners (that would be various members of the Qatari royal family) of the Shard, a boutique towerblock in Central London notable for its numerous empty luxury apartments, initiated pre-emptive legal action against erstwhile anarchist Ian Bone (and that ever-popular beat combo ‘persons unknown’).

Why? Because the in-his-seventies-but-still-fuckin’-angry Class War founder called for protests against the Shard. He sees it as an example of the gilded skyscrapers increasingly dominating the London skyline, often empty of any actual residents, like enormous rich men’s follies, spunking steel-and-crystal tumescences contemptuously drawing shade over the capital’s poorer denizens. Turns out them vastly wealthy Qatari royal dudes do not have a sense of humour when it comes to shouty anarchists threatening to picket their valuable, shiny metropolitan real estate. Turns out they take it really fucking seriously, in fact.

Apart from the ridiculousness of them thinking even for a minute that they were going to win a propaganda war against Bone (IAN. FUCKING. BONE.), there were some interesting titbits which emerged from news stories about the injunction. Interesting titbits which, one might say, prove somewhat instructive at a time when elsewhere, for example, the judge running the supposedly independent Undercover Policing Inquiry has suggested giving ex-spycops anonymity on the frankly bizarre grounds that married men don’t tell lies; the Scottish Justice Minister has decided not to have a Scottish spycops inquiry because the HMICS police investigation of undercover policing has found no evidence of malfeasance (despite self-limiting its scope to after the Mark Kennedy shitstorm which blew the whole thing wide open); and top Scots cop Phil Gormley (himself sporran-deep in shady spycops shenanigans thanks to his time RUNNING SPECIAL BRANCH) deciding to take the I’m-leaving-before-you-sack-me-oh-is-that-my-pension-thank-you-very-much route to retirement, conveniently sidestepping the numerous investigations into his behaviour.

So anyway, those titbits. First off, the whole harassment-of-Bone shebang was organised by the Shard’s security manager, one André Frank Baker. He contracted a private security company, VSG, to compile a dossier on The Most Dangerous Man In Britain in order to put it before the court as evidence of the threat he and his unruly kind present to innocent empty multi-million pound flats. Currently Team Shard is looking to sting Bone for £525 for the privilege of being injuncted, with that figure only likely to rise.

In case you were wondering why that security manager’s name is familiar, it’s because he’s an ex-Met cop who over the years has popped up everywhere, a contemporary of such luminaries as John Yates (latterly an advisor to the democracy demonstration-crushing Bahraini police) and Bob ‘No Plainclothes Cops Here Honest Guv’ Broadhurst. After not doing very well in the Daniel Morgan or Milly Dowler murder inquiries, ‘Andy’ shifted over to the second-raters of SOCA, and then onto the anti-kiddie porn unit CEOP.

After retirement his attempts at becoming a self-employed security consultant didn’t go so well. How he landed the cushy job of security chief at the Shard isn’t exactly clear, but it wouldn’t be any stranger than career mediocrity Sid Nicholson bagging the post of Head of Security for McDonald’s UK back in the 80s after an unillustrious time spent in the boroughs.

André Baker: a man without dignity?

It helps that despite being turned over by Sun and NOTW hacks during the Dowler investigation *coff* *phonehacking* Baker later demonstrated his absolute lack of dignity by praising the Currant Bun, despite him being at (and, indeed, requesting) that awkward meeting between Morgan inquiry detective Dave Cook and Murdoch’s representative on Earth, Rebekah Wade, brokered by Slippery Dick Fedorcio, when Wade tried to deny that News Corp had Cook and his wife Jacqui Hames under surveillance by Southern Investigations-aligned journalists. Zing!

As for the private security company he commissioned the risk assessment of Bone from, VSG, that was a penny-ante little firm of shopping centre woodentops before it teamed up with – wait for it – a catering company. Always more geared towards static guarding than sophisticated investigative work, in 2016 it was boasting how it had secured a contract to operate the national business-facing counter terrorism information campaign Project Griffin… Which is convenient, seeing as how VSG’s head of counter terrorism Ian Mansfield was, err, in charge of Project Griffin whilst at the City of London Police right up until he left for a cushy private sector job!

So what sort of high grade intel did the failed detective-hired mall cop company serve up on Bone?

The VSG report described Class War as “a small but passionate group of leftwing, pro-anarchy activists with a long and proven history of campaigning against ‘the elite’ and other entities associated with wealth or perceived social injustice”.

The report advised the Shard’s owners that if Bone’s protest was allowed to take place it could endure for months and “attract widespread media coverage”. It also warned that activists could use “pyrotechnics and large, offensive banners of a derogatory nature”…

“Class War is a far-left, pro-anarchy, UK-based pseudo-political party, originally borne out of a newspaper established in 1982. The group opposes the ‘ruling elite’ for their exploitation of the poor and the disadvantaged and have recently been involved in campaigns against the demolition of social housing in London to make way for the construction of luxury housing, as well as campaigns against inequality and austerity. Class War vocally supports, and engages in, civil disobedience, violence and anarchy as acceptable methods of pursuing their objectives.”

Wow. Mind blowing – truly exceptional levels of wiki fu going on there.

Still, at least the obscenely rich Shard barons are being cost money. But perhaps VSG should bring on some fresh new talent to reenergise the company.

I hear Phil Gormley is available.

 

Shellshock & Awe – kiddie edition

How did I miss this at the time? A mind-blowing piece of agitprop/art put together by Darren Cullen with director Price James and others for Veterans For Peace UK back in 2015.

As a childhood fan of Action Man, a would-be boy soldier (but for OfC cutbacks and downsizing), and yet also of a certain political persuasion, I find it utterly chilling. I hope that it helped VfP get its message across.

Plenty of other great stuff on Cullen’s website too, and he has a short exhibition of new sculptures up in That There Lunnon at the beginning of October.

H/T: John Freeman at Down The Tubes