4 Informing the Public

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 2, 2017

THE secrets were eroded piecemeal. Like thousands of mice nibbling away at an enormous chunk of cheese, papers, groups and individuals all played their part in breaking down the wall of secrecy and in getting the facts known to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.

Peace News courageously took the plunge. On April 19 its front page boldly proclaimed 'The Spies Were Right!' It published important passages of the pamphlet, and a cartoon revealing the site of RSG 6. It did this despite a personal visit and warnings from Detective Inspectors Wood and Lawrenson and despite warnings from 'a government spokesman' that 'this was very grave' and that 'the people behind it ran the risk of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act'. Hugh Brock said 'it was imperative that the public should know of the government's plans and that he was prepared to risk prosecution. Copies of Peace News would be sold in the streets if the major bookstalls would not handle the edition'.1 Sales of the issue proved excellent despite the refusal of one of the wholesalers, Messrs. Wyman and Marshall, Ltd., to distribute the issue.
Later Freedom, Direct Action and The Socialist Leader were all to refer to the demonstration at RSG 6, Warren Row.

The Daily Telegraph2 pulled off a scoop. Quoting a late evening broadcast on Prague Radio it was able to present its readers with a fairly complete version of the 'secret' document, including the exact location of RSG 6 and the precise names and functions of many of the selected survivors. The decision to publish the text of the Prague broadcast must have been taken by the night editors. The inside story would make interesting reading. The opportunity of a first-class scoop seems to have outweighed the paper's usual 'patriotic' considerations. The letter of the law was not infringed — there is nothing illegal in reproducing a foreign broadcast. The spirit of the Official Secrets Acts was flagrantly flouted. While Scotland Yard were frantically chasing after isolated, abridged versions of the 'Spies for Peace' document, newsvendors all over London were selling hundreds or thousands of copies of the full text, 'as broadcast by Prague Radio', for 3d. Such are the real contradictions of the bureaucratic society!

Other papers then joined in. The Guardian3 described exactly where the Edinburgh RSG was situated. As it circuitously put it: 'anyone who did not know the way to Corstorphine Hill had only to follow a trail of blue uniforms and when he got there ask the small boys'. The Times4 referred discreetly to a march 'in the Edinburgh area', and The Scotsman5 to 'an Edinburgh suburb'.
Peace News in its issue of May 3 described the exact locations of RSG 4 and of RSG 10. The breach is now wide open. The precedents have been set.

1. Daily Herald, April 18. 2. April 19. 3. April 22. 4. April 22.
5. April 22.