|Alice Wheeldon and the attorney-general|
What are the proper boundaries between law and politics in a democratic society, especially in time of war or national emergency? Who champions the rule of law? And where does law enforcement fit in? These questions are frequently posed in modern Britain amid fears about the power and accountability of the state, and against the background of war in Iraq and the "war on terror". But they are not new. John Jackson excavates a little-known case from 1917 - a tragedy of political might dominating justice – to illustrate a dilemma that exposes the very foundations of democracy.
18 - 04 - 2007
In March 1917 the British attorney-general, FE Smith, led the prosecution of Alice Wheeldon (a seller of second-hand clothes), two of her daughters (both schoolteachers) and her son-in-law (a lecturer in chemistry) for conspiracy to murder the prime minister, David Lloyd George. Allegedly a dart tipped with curare was to be fired at him from an airgun whilst he played golf.
Smith, determined to secure a conviction, described the defendants to the magistrates in the town of Derby, in England's east midlands, as "a gang of desperate persons poisoned by revolutionary doctrines and possessed of complete and unreasonable contempt for their country". After a show trial in London presided over by an openly hostile judge reflecting patriotic fervour the jury retired for a half hour and found Alice, one daughter and the son-in-law guilty. They were all sentenced to long terms of penal servitude.
John Jackson chairs the legal firm Mishcon de Reya, and is a director of openDemocracy and History Today.
There was silent scepticism in many quarters at the time and it emerged from the release of MI5 records eighty years later that the main evidence against the accused had resulted from entrapment and false statements by an agent with a record of both crime and diagnosed criminal insanity employed by the secret service. Alice and her family were not guilty of conspiracy to hurt, let alone kill, anyone.
Why was Smith so ruthless in his conduct of the prosecution - to the point of deliberately ignoring, even concealing (with the connivance of the director of public prosecutions) the suspect nature of the evidence? Alice and her daughters were politically active. They were militant suffragettes, outspoken feminist socialists, pacifists (angry about British rejection of peace overtures by Germany), friendly with Sinn Féiners and syndicalist shop-stewards and actively involved in networks helping conscientious objectors escape to Ireland and the United States. The son-in-law was similarly inclined. To a government worried by growing opposition to the war against Germany and the implications of revolutionary developments in Russia, they were "the enemy within" - unpatriotic, subversive dissidents with dangerous connections.
Their fate was a shocking example of what can happen when a government, determined to pursue "proper" policies in the national interest, gives its intelligence agencies free rein and tramples on the rights of individuals, particularly the rights to dissent, to freedom of expression and association and to fair trial. To Smith and his ministerial colleagues (and, sadly, the judiciary) what happened to Alice and her family was the consequence of dissent at a time of national emergency. They "deserved" what happened to them. There was no champion for the rule of law: its defeat was "collateral damage".
The black hole of justice
Writing of the case nine years later Smith, in a shamelessly partial (and in places untruthful) account, said that "it served to emphasise the unanimity of the nation to prosecute the war with the utmost vigour to its successful conclusion". Some of Smith's standpoint was echoed in recent remarks by another attorney-general, Philip Ruddock of Australia. With the horrors of the Bali bombing clearly in his mind he said "This is not war as conventionally understood. It's something worse. If people are waging war by using unconventional weapons to target civilian populations, you tie your hands behind your back by saying you must treat this as a normal breach of the law. We have an obligation to protect the safety and security of our populations. Law enforcement in its traditional sense does not protect our community."
Both attorneys-general were talking of law-enforcement as if it could, and should, be used as an instrument of government policy. They were on the same tack as a former British home secretary who suggested that the government and the judiciary should discuss how the law should be applied in the fight against terror.
The government of any country threatened by an attack, particularly covert attack, from within or without, on its integrity and security is faced with an appalling dilemma. To what do they give priority-collective security or individual rights? Where does the rule of law come in? It is a classic example of incompatibility between the interests of the collective "we" and the individual "I". An accommodation has to be reached. That requires judgment of where to "draw the line" and it is in the nature of every accommodation that something "gives" on both sides.
Ninety years on from the Wheeldon case those judgments are still being made by ministers, particularly the law officers, the home secretary and to some extent the lord chancellor, whose constitutional positions are much as they were. The Human Rights Act (1998) and the Constitutional Reform Act (2005) have given the judges greater independence from both government and parliament, and judicial bias resulting from government pressure is now less likely. But nothing structural is in place defining the constitutional position of ministers (no separation of powers, no check and balance), which makes a similar horror story less likely. In plain terms, what is to prevent the attorney-general (as a member of the government) in collusion with the prosecuting authorities and with the tacit support of the home secretary from deciding to suppress evidence in order to give the best chance of securing conviction of members of the "awkward squad"?
The public questions
The British constitution relied in 1917 on the decency of those in public office - ministers and officials, a free press and a watchful parliament. It still does. Then, as now, there are huge pressures to give absolute priority to national security. Failure to do so may result in electoral defeat. Objection to the Iraq war did not stem solely from protest against a policy which appeared inherently wrong: it stemmed also from a perception of a fear of the risk of terrorism.
Is it wise, or even fair, to leave ministers in that position? The argument that thought should be given to change so that additional judgement may be exercised by a body that respects inherently the culture of human rights and, therefore, admits of openness and accountability, and the needs of the rule of law is, to my mind, unanswerable.
How to achieve that in the light of recent events in the United Kingdom (which include publication of the present attorney-general's own views) invites consideration of many questions. These include:
* should the attorney-general and the solicitor-general be members of the government? Should their duty to give legal advice to government be transferred to the lord chancellor and his staff? Would it be better if, although nominated by government, their appointments were approved by parliament to which they would report, give legal advice and be accountable directly as "officers" of parliament?
* if the law officers continue to be members of the government, should the Crown Prosecution Service report to them?
* does the role of the judiciary in relation to constitutional matters need clarifying? Should that clarification include the creation of a separate constitutional court, which could include lay members, to deal with all constitutional disputes including alleged breaches by the state of rights secured by the Human Rights Act (or a separate bill of rights if we ever have one)?
* who should control the intelligence agencies and the special branch? Who should judge the limits of their methods and the sensitivity of their sources and the information they acquire? Should these matters be considered also by some body outside government?
* can respect for the rule of law be left simply as a matter of accepted culture or is something more necessary? Who is the ultimate custodian of the rule of law?
* could the answer to some of these questions involve a statutory body similar to the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights?
Pleas to limit change to small adjustments to a longstanding status quo understood by the political and academic establishments will be made. But, unless we are certain that our present arrangements do not admit the possibility of something going disastrously and irretrievably wrong, we should address these questions. And, contrary to present practice, we should address them in a way which exposes them to wide, informed, public opinion and comment. That is something Alice Wheeldon, her family and friends would have approved of.
|QUOTE ("John Simpkin on The Education Forum")|
|Major William Lauriston Melville Lee was the man responsible for setting-up members of the Socialist Labour Party during the First World War.|
On the outbreak of the war in 1914 the Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 5 (MI5) was established. In 1916 MI5 set up PMS2 to spy on the British socialist movement. Major Melville Lee was appointed as head of PMS2. One of his senior agents was Herbert Booth.
Alex Gordon was a journalist working for the Leicester Mail. In late 1916 he was recruited by Herbert Booth to work as an undercover agent working for PMS2. Booth told him that his boss, Major Lee, "is a crank on Socialism" and wanted him to "get in touch with people who might be likely to commit sabotage" against the state during the First World War. Gordon was paid £2 10s with bonuses. Herbert Booth added "the more exciting the copy (information), the better the governor (Major Lee) would be pleased." Booth then went on to say: "There is nothing particularly wrong about it (spying) and no names will be published and no harm done that way. You will be setting forth a list of facts. You will (need to) be able to state the case as to the militancy and the attitude of any people who may be there towards the war."
Gordon's first task was to visit the International Workers of the World (IWW) organisation in London. As well as obtaining some leaflets he was asked to draw a plan of the building. Soon afterwards the IWW headquarters was raided by the police. This was followed by a visit to the Communist Party office in Charlotte Street. Once again he was asked to draw a map that enabled a successful police raid. Gordon was then sent to Derby to infiltrate the peace movement in the town.
Nicola Rippon has argued in her book, The Plot to Kill Lloyd George (2009): "Having been sent to a particular town, agents acted mostly of their own volition, following leads as they chose and coming into contact with their superiors only when they had something significant to report. But the most troubling aspect of this method of information-gathering was that many of the so-called 'agents' were nothing of the sort. They were in fact little more than paid informants, with no espionage training; worse, they were often paid only on results. The better the information supplied, the more the informer was rewarded. Far from being motivated by serving their country, the informants' interests were purely financial and they knew that the more salacious the information gathered, the better their earnings. Consequently they were often tempted to exaggerate or even invent information to ensure a healthy wage. It was a risky and entirely unsatisfactory way of acquiring intelligence."
On 27th December 1916, Alex Gordon arrived at the home of Alice Wheeldon, who along with John S. Clarke, Hettie Wheeldon, Winnie Mason and Arthur McManus, had established a network in Derby to help those conscientious objectors who refused to serve in the armed forces.
Gordon claimed to be a conscientious objector on the run from the police. Alice arranged for him to spend the night at the home of Lydia Robinson. a couple of days later Gordon returned to Alice's home with Herbert Booth, another man who he said was a member of the anti-war movement. According to Alice, Gordon and Booth both told her that dogs now guarded the camps in which conscientious objectors were held; and that they had suggested to her that poison would be necessary to eliminate the animals, in order that the men could escape.
Alice Wheeldon agreed to ask her son-in-law, Alfred Mason, who was a chemist in Southampton, to obtain the poison, as long as Gordon helped her with her plan to get her son to the United States: "Being a businesswoman I made a bargain with him (Gordon) that if I could assist him in getting his friends from a concentration camp by getting rid of the dogs, he would, in his turn, see to the three boys, my son, Mason and a young man named MacDonald, whom I have kept, get away."
On 31st January 1917, Alice Wheeldon, Hettie Wheeldon, Winnie Mason and Alfred Mason were arrested and charged with plotting to murder the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson, the leader of the Labour Party.
The trial began on 6th March 1917. Alice Wheeldon selected Saiyid Haidan Riza as her defence counsel. He had only recently qualified as a lawyer and it would seem that he was chosen because of his involvement in the socialist movement.
In his opening statement Sir Frederick Smith argued that the "Wheeldon women were in the habit of employing, habitually, language which would be disgusting and obscene in the mouth of the lowest class of criminal." He went on to claim that the main evidence against the defendants was from the testimony of the two undercover agents. However, it was disclosed that Alex Gordon would not be appearing in court to give his evidence.
Basil Thomson, the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, argued in his book, The Story of Scotland Yard (1935) that Gordon was an agent who "was a person with a criminal history, or he had invented the whole story to get money and credit from his employer."
Herbert Booth said in court that Alice Wheeldon had confessed to him that she and her daughters had taken part in the arson campaign when they were members of the Women's Social and Political Union. According to Booth, Alice claimed that she used petrol to set fire to the 900-year-old church of All Saints at Breadsall on 5th June 1914. She added: "You know the Breadsall job? We were nearly copped but we bloody well beat them!"
Booth also claimed on another occasion, when speaking about David Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson she remarked: "I hope the buggers will soon be dead." Alice added that Lloyd George had been "the cause of millions of innocent lives being sacrificed, the bugger shall be killed to stop it... and as for that other bugger Henderson, he is a traitor to his people." Booth also claimed that Alice made a death-threat to Herbert Asquith who she described as "the bloody brains of the business."
Herbert Booth testified that he asked Alice what the best method was to kill David Lloyd George. She replied: "We (the WSPU) had a plan before when we spent £300 in trying to poison him... to get a position in a hotel where he stayed and to drive a nail through his boot that had been dipped in the poison, but he went to France, the bugger."
Sir Frederick Smith argued that the plan was to use this method to kill the prime minister. He then produced letters in court that showed that Alice had contacted Alfred Mason and obtained four glass phials of poison that she gave to Booth. They were marked A, B, C and D. Later scientific evidence revealed the contents of two phials to be forms of strychnine, the others types of curare. However, the leading expert in poisons, Dr. Bernard Spilsbury, under cross-examination, admitted that he did not know of a single example "in scientific literature" of curate being administered by a dart.
William Melville Lee gave evidence in court. He was asked by Saiyid Haidan Riza if Alex Gordon had a criminal record. He refused to answer this question and instead replied: "I have already already explained to you that I do not know the man. I cannot answer questions on matters beyond my own knowledge." He admitted he had instructed Herbert Booth to "get in touch with people who might be likely to commit sabotage".
In court Alice Wheeldon admitted that she had asked Alfred Mason to obtain poison to use on dogs guarding the camps in which conscientious objectors were held. This was supported by the letter sent by Mason that had been intercepted by the police. It included the following: "All four (glass phials) will probably leave a trace but if the bloke who owns it does suspect it will be a job to prove it. As long as you have a chance to get at the dog I pity it. Dead in 20 sec. Powder A on meat or bread is ok."
She insisted that Gordon's plan involved the killing of the guard dogs. He had told her that he knew of at least thirty COs who had escaped to America and that he was particularly interested in "five Yiddish still in the concentration camp." Gordon also claimed he had helped two other Jewish COs escape from imprisonment.
Alice Wheeldon admitted that she had told Alex Gordon that she hoped David Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson would soon be dead as she regarded them as "a traitor to the labouring classes?" However, she was certain that she had not said this when she handed over the poison to Gordon.
When Hettie Wheeldon gave evidence she claimed that It was Gordon and Booth who suggested that they assassinate the prime minister. She replied: "I said I thought assassination was ridiculous. The only thing to be done was to organise the men in the work-shops against compulsory military service. I said assassination was ridiculous because if you killed one you would have to kill another and so it would go on."
Hettie said that she was immediately suspicious of her mother's new friends: "I thought Gordon and Booth were police spies. I told my mother of my suspicions on 28 December. By the following Monday I was satisfied they were spies. I said to my mother: "You can do what you like, but I am having nothing to do with it."
In court Winnie Mason admitted having helped her mother to obtain poison, but insisted that it was for "some dogs" and was "part of the scheme for liberating prisoners for internment". Her husband, Alfred Mason, explained why he would not have supplied strychnine to kill a man as it was "too bitter and easily detected by any intended victim". He added that curare would not kill anything bigger than a dog.
Saiyid Haidan Riza argued that this was the first trial in English legal history to rely on the evidence of a secret agent. As Nicola Rippon pointed out in her book, The Plot to Kill Lloyd George (2009): "Riza declared that much of the weight of evidence against his clients was based on the words and actions of a man who had not even stood before the court to face examination." Riza argued: "I challenge the prosecution to produce Gordon. I demand that the prosecution shall produce him, so that he may be subjected to cross-examination. It is only in those parts of the world where secret agents are introduced that the most atrocious crimes are committed. I say that Gordon ought to be produced in the interest of public safety. If this method of the prosecution goes unchallenged, it augurs ill for England."
The judge disagreed with the objection to the use of secret agents. "Without them it would be impossible to detect crimes of this kind." However, he admitted that if the jury did not believe the evidence of Herbert Booth, then the case "to a large extent fails". Apparently, the jury did believe the testimony of Booth and after less than half-an-hour of deliberation, they found Alice Wheeldon, Winnie Mason and Alfred Mason guilty of conspiracy to murder. Alice was sentenced to ten years in prison. Alfred got seven years whereas Winnie received "five years' penal servitude."
On 13th March, three days after the conviction, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, published an open letter to the Home Secretary that included the following: "We demand that the Police Spies, on whose evidence the Wheeldon family is being tried, be put in the Witness Box, believing that in the event of this being done fresh evidence will be forthcoming which will put a different complexion on the case."
Basil Thomson, the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, was also unconvinced by the guilt of Alice Wheeldon and her family. Thomson later said that he had "an uneasy feeling that he himself might have acted as what the French call an agent provocateur - an inciting agent - by putting the idea into the woman's head, or, if the idea was already there, by offering to act as the dart-thrower."
This controversial case resulted in the PMS2 being closed down in 1917. Major Lee retired to his home, Stoke House in Headington. Later that year he established and edited a journal called Industrial Peace, which circulated information on left-wing political organizations and individuals.
|QUOTE (Sinclair @ Jun 13 2009, 02:52 PM)|
|In a very interesting cover article published in the February 2002 issue of High Times magazine, the authors disclose that in 1976, Carl Colby, son of ex-CIA Director William Colby, visited the Hope Road home of Marley and gave the Reggae Star a gift in the form of a pair of boots.|
|LEE: People came by his house. There were always people going in and out. Someone gave Bob a pair of boots. He put his foot in and said "Ow!" A friend got in there - you know how Jamaicans are. He said,"let's get in here" - in the boot, and he pulled a piece of copper wire out. It was embedded in the boot.|
A.C.: Do you believe it was radioactive?
LEE: I didn't think so at the time, but I've always had my suspicions because Marley later broke his toe playing soccer, and when the bone wouldn't mend, the doctors found that the toe had cancer. The cancer metastasized throughout his body...
|Mr. Carl Colby now serves as Vice President of External Affairs and Communications at Meridian International Center. Prior to this position, Mr. Carl Colby was an Emmy Award winning producer/director with over forty documentary films to his credit.|
He produced a TV version of “One Mo’ Time!,” the Obie Award winning New Orleans musical, and he served as co-director of a film on Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Smile Jamaica Concert in Kingston, Jamaica, for Chris Blackwell and Island Records.
He directed Ground Zero on new design for the World Trade Center site. The film was exhibited at the 2002 Venice Biennale in Italy. The project follows the design process and profiles many of the world’s most celebrated architects.
|Nicole Simpson lived next door to Carl Colby (former CIA director Bill Colbys son). Colby's wife and kids have been subjected to mind-control. Colby's wife testified in O.J. Simpson's trial, but was addressed as "Miss Boe" rather than by her name.|
|MI-5 and the British far right|
Someone asked me naively/defensively/almost accusative to prove the links between MI-5 and far-right groups and agitators. In normal social interactions and conversations “proving” all your assertions is not necessary….its is merely a perspective, an opinion on an issue……whether believed or otherwise. Conversation would be very stale if we had to reference all our points of view.
It is taken as given for those who belong to activist progressive class, and who are sufficiently informed that there are clear linkages between MI-5 and the far right in the UK.
Identifying this linkage is very important in understanding the dynamics of British politics…….and the underlying motivations around such extremist events.
MI-5 and the far-right:
“As a result of information acquired by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act MI5 were using undercover agents to spy on the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1980s. This information only adds to the evidence that the MI5 has always been under the control of the far right.
This has been true since 1907 when Major Vernon Kell become Director of the Home Section of the Secret Service Bureau with responsibility for investigating espionage, sabotage and subversion within and outside Britain. Later the organisation became known as Military Intelligence (MI5). Kell and his men exclusively targeted left-wing activists.
By 1918 MI5 had files on 137,500 individuals. This included trade unionists, members of the Independent Labour Party and those who had campaigned for peace negotiations during the First World War.
In October 1924 the MI5 intercepted a letter written by Grigory Zinoviev, chairman of the Comintern in the Soviet Union. This investigation eventually became known as the Zinoviev Letter Scandal. Zinoviev’s letter urged British communists to promote revolution through acts of sedition. After consulting Basil Thomson at Special Branch, Kell showed the letter to Ramsay MacDonald, the Labour Prime Minister. Kell told MacDonald that MI5 and the Special Branch were convinced the letter was genuine.
It was agreed that the letter should be kept secret but someone leaked news of the letter to The Times and the Daily Mail. The letter was published in these newspapers four days before the 1924 General Election and contributed to the defeat of Ramsay MacDonald and the Labour Party. After the election it was claimed that two of MI5’s agents, Sidney Reilly and Arthur Maundy Gregory, had forged the letter and had been involved in leaking it to the press.
This did not stop the Labour Party being elected to power five years later. This time MI5 used a different strategy for dealing with the growth in socialism. It is the same strategy they have used ever since. You “turn” the leaders of the labour movement. Ramsay MacDonald was only the first leader turned in this way. Others, like Tony Blair, were recruited early in their political career.
In 1925 Vernon Kell appointed Maxwell Knight as Director of Intelligence of the British Fascists (BF). Knight played a significant role in helping to defeat the General Strike in 1926 and by the early 1930s was placed in charge of B5b, a unit that conducted the monitoring of political subversion.
The vast majority of Knight’s agents were part-time. Knight recruited a large number of his agents from right-wing political organizations such as the Nordic League, British Union of Fascists and the Right Club. This included William Allen and William Joyce who was later to become known as Lord Haw Haw in Nazi Germany.
The KGB used this against MI5 by getting their agents such as Kim Philby and Guy Burgess to join right-wing organizations that were working with Maxwell Knight. They were recruited as neo-fascists when in reality they were devout communists.”
You don’t have to trudge the history books of Brum Central Library (A most excellent library for research and study), to get an understanding of the subject.
You grow up in the UK, and you come across skin heads and their type. If you are reasonably perceptive you grasp who they are and what they are in the scheme of things, as a reasonably informed Asian growing up in Britain. Your awareness of the subject heightens when you inadvertently cross paths with British security. Of course it doesn’t automatically make you an expert on the subject, BUT YOU KNOW,…..then you talk with other people, lecturers, social activists, and fellow students…..you witness their activity at university…beating up Asian students etc(1994/5 UCE)…and you gain more first hand knowledge of the area.
Then you visit the CRE as it was known then in 1998 in Alpha Tower, and go out to dinner with them, and they fill you in on more inside information of what was going on, and paper cuttings of interesting events and so forth. No startling facts, all taken as matter of fact because you are desensitized to such things, and in the scheme of things you have bigger issues to worry about.
Never an area that I really focused on, but any certified activist leftie (of which I am not)should know of the linkages between MI-5 and the British Far right Movement, and if you do not know, then you know nothing about the leftie movement and its multiple challenges in the 21st century. Western politics has fundamentally shifted to the right, and lefties are struggle to “accommodate” this fundamental shift……..and that this fundamental shift is headed by the dynamics and perceived interests of Israeli politics, and the necessary awkwardness the significant number of Jewish lefties feel in realigning themselves with the perspectives of Israel….Does one follow the tribe? Or ones ideology? Difficult stuff for many I imagine.
German intelligence__________Neo-fascists, NDP.
SISMI__________Forza Nouva http://kirkunity.blogspot.com/2009/08/conv...erto-fiore.html
MIT_____________Grey Wolves http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Wolves
ISI_____________Do you really need references here!!!
VEVAK___________Basij (they carry chains and knives, and attack decent Iranian citizens who dare to protest about any government policies…..like the above they attack ordinary citizens who criticize the government,….except they have beards, some of them…..impressionable village boy youths with not much education, but a lot of ideology, and pent up anger….works closely with the Revolutionary Guard)
By posting these I do not say that this is the norm we live in and we must accept this linkage, as the norm. No why should we…..we must expect better…..but for those who are naive this is the reality of our present situation, and it allows us to look at the situation from a more realistic perspective….the mask at the ball is taken off.
So why the riots now………….the culmination of a natural process? What natural process? The economic meltdown maybe, and people feeling the effects of the recession, or just angry young men venting their feelings against the obvious targets?
As alluded such anti-social events rarely happen by themselves, spontaneously, but must be observed in the context of other forces within the state structure, and motivations of the power elite. This can be observed in the context of the 1970’s, and the activities of the far right then.
(i) Is all this to get the Tories reelected….1974-79 redux, or April 2001 Oldham just before the elections. The Tories are 18 points ahead, so do they really need further “assistance” in such an area, in this manner. Maybe somebody wants to make sure they win the next elections……based on a Sarkozy election strategy. It worked for him.
(ii) Possibly now that the economy is going pear shaped, the net result of that will be a lot of angry people asking questions as to who, how, why what, when…….etc, and the BANKERS in “The City” don’t want to be the obvious answer to all those questions, as to why Britain is in such a mess. The Circus of Brum provides an useful distraction to their failure and greed. The ordinary people of Britain will be less focused in asking why they are having to bail out the bankers.
(iii) The Blood sacrifice of Iraqis and the Afghan Heroin is profitable for “The City” ……….the Opium and Heroin trades association with “The City” goes back 250 years to the East India company, where Opium was harvested in India and exported to China if you remember your history. The British forces are in Afghanistan purely and simply to ensure that the Heroin is properly shipped to the British shores……………………….to import massive amounts of narcotics in a country you require the COOPERATION of port authorities, HM Customs & Excise, the police naturally and the intelligence services, part of whose job is to combat organized crime and narcotics……….once you grasp that the world does not always operate along the standards set by Pollyanna, then you can begin to get a better picture who are the true criminals in British and international society, and what motivates and who motivates actual state policy in such theaters such as Afghanistan, and how they add to their mass criminal deeds, in order to bolster earlier ones.
Article by former ambassador Craig Murray:
The war is unpopular. Normal people are peace loving……………..people thrive and naturally develop where there is peace, and society follows the rule of law. That is how civilisation progresses. But for a few criminal elements the inverse of this is true……the rule of law should be ignored, there must be war to act as cover for their illegal operations; People must apprehend fear and cower under their designated security; people must fight 50 year wars for their country, “We fight the “bad” guys over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here”……..but wait some of the “bad guys” are already here, and so we fight them in our shores………and presumably that is the underlying narrative of the recent riots, the “enemy within” must be fought.
Ordinary people and some soldiers are already questioning the real validity of the war, especially in Afghanistan running for 8 years now, propping up a corrupt and ineffective narco-state. So the unpopular war must be bolstered in its support….it requires more canon fodder of poor unquestioning white unemployed working class lads, correctly wound up, to join the ranks of the British army to fight for the Heroin business. Can there be a more noble cause?
BBC4 Women's Hour
Duration: 8 minutes
To discuss the life and impact of Alice Wheeldon, Jenni is joined by Dr Nicholas Hiley, Historian at Kent University, and by Angela Truby, who wrote the play Alice.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Martin Luther King)
We are the great-granddaughters of Alice Wheeldon; Winnie and Alf Mason were our grandparents.
We have created this website as part of our campaign to clear their names so that history can record that what happened to them was a miscarriage of justice. The website has been built for us by friends and supporters, so please leave your details in our visitors' book and visit us again soon.
Deirdre Mason & Chloë Mason.
For the latest news and developments on our "clear their names campaign" click newsroom
How sham trial for 'PM murder plot' left family languishing in prison
By Derby Telegraph | Posted: October 14, 2013
Chloe and Deirdre Mason, who live in Australia, have joined forces with Keith Venables, chair of Derby Peoples' History Group, to write the story of the terrible injustice meted out to their great-grandmother, Alice Wheeldon. Here, they conclude their account.
HOW did a fairly ordinary Derby family find themselves at the Old Bailey in 1917, in the glare of international publicity?
Alice Wheeldon, 50, her schoolteacher daughters Hettie and Winnie, and Winnie's husband, pharmacist Alfred Mason, had been charged with conspiracy to murder by poisoning the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George, another member of his war cabinet and unnamed others.
They were alleged to have hatched the plot at a time of growing popular resentment over the First World War and conscription. The attorney general, FE Smith, led the trial against the four and he vigorously presented the charges.
Despite supporters collecting sufficient financial resources to pay a barrister to defend the family, for a worrying time no one was prepared to take on the highly contentious case.
Then, Mr Riza, took on the brief. The attorney general and his team of senior prosecutors were formidable enough, yet they and the trial judge belittled Mr Riza in his valiant defence of the four people in the dock.
And, even at that time, doubts about the conduct of the trial were being raised.
It seems that the attorney general and the police realised that Alex Gordon (the alleged spy who had infiltrated Alice's house and set a trap for the family) was not a reliable witness; they packed him and his wife off to South Africa out of the way and only his MI5 superior, not Gordon himself, provided the "evidence" against Alice and her family.
The transcripts of the trial show Alice's honesty and naivete. She said: "Being a businesswoman, I made a bargain with him [Gordon] that, if I could assist in getting his friends from a concentration camp [for conscientious objectors] by getting rid of the dogs [with poison she had obtained from Alf, her son-in-law, the chemist], he would, in his turn, see that the three boys, my son, Mason and a young man named Macdonald, whom I have kept, get away."
Unsound in almost every way, the trial still led to Alice, Winnie and Alf being convicted; long sentences were handed down to each of them.
Alice's other daughter, Hettie, was found not guilty and returned to Derby to fight her family's cause.
The family was imprisoned despite their hopes for "a world where women have the vote and men don't have to fight", as folk singer Robb Johnson says in his wonderful new song "Alice Annie Wheeldon".
Alice was committed to universal suffrage and the trial also highlighted the divisions in the women's rights campaigns.
Some supported the war as well as the vote for women with property, whereas many supporting votes for all tended to oppose the war and conscription.
Emmeline Pankhurst, a conservative suffragette leader, who knew nothing about the case against Alice and her family, was allowed to speak in the court, condemning Alice on a political and personal level.
Other women's leaders threw their efforts in supporting conscientious objectors – such as Isabella Ford, Catherine Marshall and Sylvia Pankhurst!
Alice was a suffragist and a socialist, not a suffragette: for her, universal suffrage was more than just women's right to vote.
The family's appeal was denied in April 1917 and, in prison and sentenced to 10 years, Alice went on hunger strikes, which severely affected her health.
Historical records show that Prime Minister Lloyd George gave permission for Alice to be released on licence after she had served less than a year of her sentence. It seemed he did not want her to die in prison.
Once back in Derby, she contracted influenza during the epidemic that swept the country at the end of the First World War; she was cared for by local people and died in her new home in London Road in 1919.
The funeral was spectacular and reported internationally.
Poet, lion-tamer and parliamentarian John S Clarke said: "We are giving to the eternal keeping of Mother Earth, the mortal dust of a poor and innocent victim of a judicial murder."
Buried with her sister, Elizabeth Gossage, such was the intense feeling generated by the publicity surrounding Alice's trial and conviction that her grave was left unmarked for fear of attack, and remains so to this day.
Winnie was sentenced to five years but was released early nearly a year after her mother. Her husband, Alf Mason, was sentenced to seven years but he, too, was released early after an active campaign.
The controversy over the unsatisfactory nature of the arrests and trial has never gone away.
University of Canterbury researcher Dr Nick Hiley and Alice's Australian descendants, great-granddaughters, Chloe and Deirdre Mason, and many others have spent much time researching what really happened.
In August 2012, Derby library hosted an exploration of this extraordinary story, presented by the Derby Peoples' History Group.
Derby Civic Society and Derby City Council followed this with the dedication of a blue plaque to Alice in Pear Tree Road on May 1, this year.
The plaque reads: "Alice Wheeldon: anti-war activist, socialist and suffragist, lived here behind her shop." [pic here ]
The dedication of the plaque was described in the first part of our story in Bygones last week.
Last month, a Festival for Peace and Justice welcomed almost 250 people to Derby's Guildhall to look at what happened 100 years ago and consider the implications for today.
After all, history is not just a thing of the past, it's something we should try to learn from.
While the campaign to clear the names of the Wheeldons and the Masons is enthusiastically telling the people of Derby, and the world, the true story of Alice Wheeldon, it must also take a legal course.
Her great-granddaughter, Chloe Mason, said: "We are looking at the grounds on which to base a review of the case as a miscarriage of justice: these need to be developed to make a strong application.
"A review is part of our efforts to clear their names. We welcome all support in our campaign. Derby is a proud city and should be proud of this daughter of Derby.
"Most people want the true Alice Wheeldon story to be told and, with the support of the people of Derby and others, the Derby People's History Group is making its contribution to this, especially through ongoing events.
"If you want to contact us to find our more about our on-going campaign, then e-mail: email@example.com or log on to our website at www.alicewheeldon.org.