The Angry Brigade: A History of Britains First Urban Guerilla Group

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It was signed by "Butch Cussedly and the Sundance Kid". The next communique stayed in the Hollywood West, coming from "the Wild Bunch". However, on 12 January , when the target was Robert Carr, the Tory secretary of state for employment and productivity, and chief advocate of the highly controversial anti-union Industrial Relations Bill, the signature, stamped with a children's John Bull printing kit, read "The Angry Brigade". The name remained thus for every explosion that followed.

If the earlier attacks had mystified police, and been underplayed in the media, the game changed when the target became a government minister. The establishment, urged on by the then prime minister, Edward Heath, mounted a frenzied, and often desperate, response: the Brigade was to be "smashed".

Episode 2: The Angry Brigade, part 1

There were six more bombings, each followed by ever more intensive police activity, before, thanks to tip-offs and investigative work, the police made their arrests. At the north London flat, they claimed to have found a quantity of guns and explosives, and reams of paper covered in lists that seemed to be plans for future attacks and notes for political pamphlets. In all, the jury was presented with pieces of forensic evidence, from a Beretta sub-machine gun to "an unidentified substance from foot of tree in garden rear of door"; they included letters, batteries, political literature, a vehicle-licensing application, a cache of gelignite, the detonators to ignite it, address books, letters, counterfeit US dollars, Angry Brigade communiques and much more.

Perhaps most damning was the discovery of the John Bull stamp, still bearing the incriminating words "Angry Brigade". Despite lengthy interrogations, all maintained their innocence and never abandoned that position during the following nine months of investigations.

On 30 May , they pleaded "not guilty" as they stood in the dock of the Old Bailey's number one court. What followed was the 20th century's longest political trial however fervently the authorities attempted to deny the adjective. A blanket "conspiracy" charge - active participation was irrelevant, explained the judge; mere knowledge, even "by a wink or a nod", was sufficient proof of guilt - in effect made any direct defence unsustainable.


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On 6 December that year, the trial ended with convictions for Barker who defended himself with great sophistication , Creek, Greenfield and Mendelson, and acquittals for the rest. The jury's appeal for clemency ensured that the four got ten-year sentences, rather than the possible 15 years. The women served less than five; the men were out in seven.

Angry Brigade: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Britain's First Urban Guerilla Group (1972)

Thus the bare bones. Yet, 30 years on, the Angry Brigade remains the lost event of "the Sixties".

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That the defendants have consistently refused to reminisce has not helped. Only John Barker, who has described himself as "a guilty man framed up", has ever commented, and then only in a book review.

The rest are silent, rarely contacted and, when uncovered, adamant in main-taining their tight-lipped anonymity. Nor has anyone from their support group - among whom, it was believed, might be further Brigade "members" - broken cover.

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