Are You A Subversive
MI5: On The Look Out For 'Subversives'.
Are you a subversive?
According to MI5, Madeline Haigh from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands is.
Her act of subversion?
Writing a letter to her local newspaper, expressing her fears as to the siting of American Cruise missiles in the UK.
In 1981, Madeline Haigh wrote the aforementioned letter, which was duly published. The letter was noted by Special Branch and MI5.
Two months after the letter appeared, someone turned up at her front door, claiming to be a representative from Grattons mail order catalogue. He claimed to be investigating a £20 fraud that had taken place at her address.
When the man started asking personal questions about her political views, she became suspicious. So suspicious in fact, that she decided to contact her local Police station, who assured her that her mysterious visitor had nothing to do with them.
Unhappy with their response, she contacted her local MP, the then Cabinet Minister Norman Fowler.
Fowler contacted the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Sir Phillip Knights who claimed that neither the Police, nor Special Branch had been involved. Fowler, like Mrs Haigh, wasn't convinced.
After two years, and five more enquiries, Knights finally admitted to Fowler, that Special Branch had been involved all along. He justified his two years of lies with the excuse that some of their files had been destroyed.
The Special Branch officer concerned wasn't disciplined, nor was the file on Mrs Haigh destroyed.
Knights justified his actions by claiming that:-
"...Mrs Haigh had written to a newspaper in terms which were inrterpreted as indicating that she might be a person prepared to support or get involved in public protests, and the reponsibility of Special Branch is analysing and assessing information of that kind."
Special Branch, and MI5 compile dossiers on the following:-
- Those who belong to any form of protest group (Greenpeace and the like).
- Homosexuals and lesbians.
- Owners of cars parked near selected political meetings and demonstrations.
- Owners of vehicles seen parked near houses owned by suspected or controversial people.
- Victims of crime.
- Alleged associates of criminals, subversives, and controversial people.
- Parents and other members of such families.
- Anyone who makes a complaint about the police.
- Anyone who writes controversial letters in the newspapers criticizing Government policy of sensitive issues like nuclear weapons.
- Anyone who writes letters to newspapers criticizing the Security Services.
- Anyone who makes enquiries about matters like civil defence.
If you fit one or more of the above criteria, MI5 have got a file on you.
P.S. This list was originally compiled 'pre-Net' days. As such, it's reasonable to assume that 'writing letters to newspapers' would include any form of publication of any form of writing fitting into the appropriate category, i.e. me (or you) publishing articles like this on the internet!
© Sean Copland 1995-2014