Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

The Day the Traitors Burgess and Maclean Left Town

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Donald Duart Maclean and Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess

Guy Burgess woke at around 9.30 on the morning of Friday, 25 May 1951 in his untidy, musty-smelling bedroom. Next to his bed was an overflowing ashtray and lying on the floor was a half-read Jane Austen novel. Since his return from Washington DC three weeks previously, where he had been second secretary at the British embassy, he had been rising relatively late.

Burgess had left in disgrace, and at the British Ambassador’s behest, after several embarrassing incidents. These included being caught speeding at 80 mph three times in just one hour, pouring a plate of prawns into his jacket pocket and leaving them there for a week and perhaps more importantly, as far as his job was concerned, he was rather too casual with important and confidential papers. This wasn’t all, while in America he had been drunk nearly continuously and he was thoroughly disliked by most of the people with whom he came in contact.

Now back in London Burgess was living in a small three-roomed flat in Mayfair situated at Clifford Chambers, 10 New Bond Street and opposite Asprey the famous jewellers. The location was (and is of course) a very salubrious part of London.

In 1951, if for some reason you had been looking for an area in the world that was visually and politically diametrically opposed to anywhere in the Soviet Union, Bond Street would have been pretty high up on your list. Burgess, the infamous Eton and Cambridge-educated Soviet spy, coped with the irony with surprising ease at least until this Friday morning when his world suddenly turned upside down.

Clifford Chambers, 10 New Bond Street in Mayfair today.

Jack ‘Jacky’ Hewit

Not long after he had woken Burgess had been brought a cup of tea by his flatmate, and erstwhile lover, Jack Hewit. Known to to his friends as ‘Jacky’, Hewit was now a slightly over-weight office clerk but had once been a ballet and chorus dancer in the West End. They were now very close friends and had been sharing various flats in and around Mayfair for fourteen years. Hewit later wrote of that morning:

Guy lay back, reading a book and smoking, and he seemed normal and unworried. When I left the flat to go to my office, Guy said ‘See you later, Mop’ – that was his pet name for me. We intended to have a drink together that evening.

Burgess and Hewit’s flat on New Bond Street.

Not the most salubrious flat in Mayfair.

Burgess’s books he eventually left behind he took with him a volume of Jane Austen’s collected novels.

At the same time as Burgess was waking up, Donald Duart Maclean had already caught his usual train from Sevenoaks some two hours previously and was sitting at his desk in Whitehall. He was head of the American department at the Foreign Office in King Charles Street.

The job sounds important but care was already being made that it was of no operational significance. For several weeks now, along with three other suspects, Maclean had been under suspicion for leaking atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. In the last few days, however, the four had become just one.

Donald Maclean in 1935 aged 22

Two years younger than Burgess, Maclean was exactly 38 years old for it was his birthday and he had asked if he could take the next morning as leave (Saturday mornings were still worked by many civil-servants in the 1950s) so he could celebrate with family friends at home in Surrey.

Maclean was the son of one of the most illustrious Liberal families in the country. His father, Sir Donald Maclean, had first entered Parliament as the Liberal member for Bath in 1906 and was President of the Board of Education in the cabinet when he died in 1932.

At around 10-10.30 that morning a senior MI5 officer and the head of Foreign Office security were received by Mr Herbert Morrison, who had recently become Foreign Secretary, in his large office in Whitehall. After reading a few papers Morrison signed one of them. This gave MI5 permission to question Donald Maclean about links with the Soviet Union.

Herbert Morrison in 1951, his daughter gave birth to Peter Mandelson two years later

Both Maclean and Burgess knew something was wrong. A few days previously they had met for lunch. Originally intending to eat at the Reform club they found the dining room full and they walked to the nearby Royal Automobile Club along Pall Mall. Ostensibly they were meeting about a memorandum that Burgess had previously prepared about American policy in the Far East and the threat of McCarthyism, but on the way Maclean said:

I’m in frightful trouble. I’m being followed by the dicks.

He pointed out two men standing by the corner of the Carlton Club and said, “those are the people who are following me.” Burgess later described the two men:

There they were, jingling their coins in a policeman-like manner and looking embarrassed at having to follow a member of the upper classes.

London Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall in the fifties

Dining room at the Royal Automobile Club

At around the same time as the Herbert Morrison meeting in Whitehall, Burgess left his flat in New Bond Street. He had just received a telephone call from Western Union relaying a telegraph from Kim Philby in Washington about a car he had left behind in Washington. In reality it was a coded message that Maclean would be interrogated after the weekend.

Burgess hurried to the Green Park Hotel on Half Moon Street (a former town house in a terrace built in 1730 – the hotel is still there and is now known as the Hilton Green Park Hotel) just off Piccadilly and about ten minutes walk from his flat. At the hotel he met a young American student called Bernard Miller whom he had befriended on his journey back from the US on the Queen Mary. Burgess later described him as  - “an intelligent progressive sort of chap” .

They had a coffee in the hotel’s comfortable lounge and then went for a walk in nearby Green Park. They had previously planned a short trip to France and Burgess had already booked two tickets for a boat that sailed that night. They hadn’t been walking long before Burgess suddenly stopped, turned to his surprised American friend who had been animatedly chatting away about their trip, and said:

Sorry Bernard, I haven’t been listening, really. You see, a young friend at the Foreign Office is in serious trouble, and I have to help him out of it, somehow.

Burgess assured the shocked Miller that he would do everything he could to make their midnight channel-ferry but he couldn’t be definite until a few hours later.

By now it was just before midday and the American went back to his hotel and Burgess went to the Reform Club for a large whisky and a think about what was lying a head. After half an hour he asked the Porter to call Welbeck 3991 and ordered a hire-car for ten days.

While Burgess was slumped in a large corner armchair at his club Maclean left his office and walked up Whitehall and across Trafalgar Square to meet a couple of friends for lunch in Old Compton Street. They walked through a door which was part of a green facade with the heading ‘Oysters/WHEELER’s & Co./Merchants’ written along the top.

Cyril Connolly and Caroline Blackwood (soon to become Mrs Lucian Freud) outside Wheelers in 1951. Connolly, the writer and critic, was a friend of Burgess. Two days after Burgess returned to London he described Washington to Connolly: “Absolutely frightful because of Senator McCarthy. Terrible atmosphere. All these purges.”

In the early fifties Wheeler’s restaurant was a Soho institution. The owner was Bernard Walsh who started Wheeler’s in Soho in 1929 as a small retail oyster shop. Noticing how popular his oysters were in London’s top restaurants he bought a few tables and chairs and started serving them himself. By 1951, when Maclean and his friends visited for lunch, the restaurant featured a long counter on the left-hand side where a waiter or Walsh himself opened oysters at frightening speed.

There was a large menu which had thirty-two ways of serving sole and lobster but no vegetables save a few boiled potatoes. During post-war austerity when English food was at its dreariest and some of it still rationed, Wheeler’s seemed a luxury.

Francis Bacon with friends, including Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach at Wheeler’s in 1951/2

When Donald Maclean came out of Wheeler’s and turned left this would have been his view in 1951

The restaurant was very crowded on that particular Friday lunchtime and after sharing a dozen oysters and some chablis at the bar Maclean and his friends decided to eat the rest of their lunch elsewhere. Maclean seemed unconcerned and almost nonchalant as he and his friends walked up Greek Street, through Soho Square on to Charlotte Street where they had two further courses at a German restaurant called Schmidt’s situated at numbers 35-37.

This area of London was still known to most people then as North Soho. The name Fitzrovia would generally not be used for a decade or two and was named after the Fitzroy Tavern. Coincidentally ‘Fitzrovia’ was recorded in print for the first time by Tom Driberg, the independent and later Labour MP – and a close friend of Guy Burgess.

Most of the staff at Schmidt’s had been interned during the second world war which maybe explained why the waiters were infamously known as the rudest in the world. In the early 1950s the restaurant still served food using an old European restaurant custom where the waiters brought meals from the kitchen and only then sold them to the customers.

After his relatively long lunch Maclean said goodbye to his friends and gratefully accepted an offer that he could stay with them while his wife was in hospital having their baby.  She was only two weeks from having their third child and he said he’d call them in the following week to arrange the details.

The Welbeck Motors car hire form. Burgess writes his address as ‘Reform Club’.

While Maclean was having lunch Burgess called on Welbeck Motors at 7-9 Crawford Street half a mile or so north of Marble Arch to pick up his hire-car. It was an Austin A70 and was due to be returned on June 4th, ten days later. He paid £25 cash in advance – £15 for the hire of the car and £10 deposit.

Welbeck Motors became famous throughout the country ten years later when they created the first major fleet of mini-cabs. The fleet cost £560,000 and consisted of 800 Renault Dauphine cars that were being built in Acton at the time. Michael Gotla, the man behind the skillful publicity of Welbeck Motors, argued that the 1869 Carriage Act only applied to cabs that “plied for hire” on the street. He argued that his mini-cabs, could break the former black-cab monopoly because they only responded to calls phoned to their main office the number of which was WELBECK 0561.The fares, much to the chagrin of the traditional cabbies who charged far more, were only one shilling per mile .

The Renault Dauphine had the nickname “Widow-maker” due to its very unsafe cornering but the Welbeck Motors fleet of mini-cabs a huge success particularly to people who lived outside central London. The cars were also noticeable as the first to feature third-party advertisements on their bodywork,.

A Corgi model of a Welbeck Motors’ ‘widow-maker’ Renault complete with advertising

The Austin A70

Burgess drove the Austin down to Mayfair where he dropped into Gieve’s the tailors at number 27 Old Bond Street at around 3 pm. The two hundred year old company had only been at the premises for about ten years as the original flagship store a few doors down at number 21 had been destroyed by a German bomb in 1940.

Gieves and Hawkes, incidentally, now possibly the most famous bespoke tailoring name in the world, only merged in 1974 when Gieve’s Ltd bought out Hawkes enabling it to also acquire the valuable freehold of No. 1 Savile Row. The acquisition was good timing because Gieve’s flagship store in Old Bond Street was again destroyed by high-explosive not long after the merger, this time courtesy of the IRA. From 1975, number 1 Savile Row became Gieve’s and Hawkes which is where it is today.

Gieve’s after the IRA bomb in 1974

At Gieve’s, Burgess bought a ‘fibre’ suitcase and a white mackintosh and then went to meet Miller again. After a couple of drinks he dropped the young American back at his hotel telling him: “I’ll call for you at half-past seven.” Burgess didn’t, and Miller never saw him again.

After his relatively long lunch Maclean took a taxi down to the Traveller’s Club – the West End club that had long been associated with the Foreign Office. He had two drinks at the bar and cashed a cheque for five pounds which he did most weekends so it wouldn’t have seemed unusual. There wasn’t anyone at the club he knew and he returned to his office just after three.

Traveller’s Club at 106 Pall Mall

Burgess drove back to the flat where he met Hewit who had by now returned from his office. While they were talking the phone rang which Burgess quickly answered and made it clear that he was talking to Maclean. Visibly upset Burgess left the flat almost immediately and he was never to see Hewit again. He had time before leaving to grab £300 in cash and some saving certificates and packed some clothes and his treasured copy of Jane Austen’s collected novels in his new suitcase. He also asked to borrow Hewit’s overcoat.

Burgess was next seen at the Reform Club in Pall Mall where he asked for a road map of the North of England presumably to lay a false trail and from there he drove to Maclean’s home at Tatsfield in Surrey.

Maclean left the Foreign Office at exactly 4.45 and walked up Whitehall to Charing Cross Station joining the hurrying commuter crowd. The two Mi5 ‘dicks’ were of course still following him but it was only as far as the station where they made sure he got on his usual 5.19 train to Sevenoaks

The two friends arrived within half an hour of each other at Maclean’s house. Burgess was introduced to Melinda, Maclean’s wife, as Mr Roger Stiles – a business colleague. They all sat down for the birthday dinner at seven for which Melinda had cooked a special ham for the occasion. After the meal Maclean put a few things into a briefcase including a silk dressing gown and casually told his wife that he and ‘Stiles’ would have to go on a business trip but would not be away for more than a day.

Melinda Maclean leaving hospital in June after the birth of her baby. She once wrote to her sister saying: “Donald is still pretty confused and vague about himself, and his desires, but I think when he gets settled he will find a new security and peace. I hope so…He is still going to R. (the psychiatrist), however, and is definitely better. She is still baffled about the homosexual side which comes out when he’s drunk, and I think slight hostility in general, to women.”

With Burgess at the wheel of the cream-coloured Austin A70 hire-car they set off for Southampton at around 9 pm. Their destination was Southampton 100 miles away. The cross-channel ferry ‘Falaise’, for which Burgess had his previously bought tickets, was due to leave for St Malo at midnight. They made it with just minutes to spare and after abandoning the Austin on the quayside they ran up the gangway almost as it was being raised. A dock worker called at them: “What about your car?” Burgess shouted: “I’m back on Monday.”

The ship that Burgess and Maclean took to St Malo

He wasn’t of course and Burgess and Maclean never set foot in Britain again. It wasn’t until five years later that Krushchev admitted that the two traitors were now living in the Soviet Union. Burgess, who perhaps unsurprisingly didn’t really enjoy the Soviet lifestyle, continued to order his suits from Savile Row. In 1963 he died of chronic liver failure due to alcoholism.

Maclean found it far easier than his spying partner to assimilate into the Soviet system and became a respected citizen. He died of a heart attack in 1983.

Burgess sunbathing in Russia and making the best of a place he hated.

Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel was written in 1952, the year after Burgess and Maclean’s defection. In it, James Bond has a rare crisis of confidence:

This country-right-or-wrong business is getting a little out-of-date,” he says, “Today we are fighting Communism. Okay. If I’d been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conservatism we have today would have been damn near called Communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and heroes and villains keep on changing parts.

The ‘Third Man’ Kim Philby at a press conference in 1955 after he had been accused in Parliament of being an associate of Burgess and Maclean. He shows the confidence and extraordinary charm that enabled him to keep undercover for so long. He defected to Russia from Beirut in 1963 and died in 1988 of heart failure. While in the Soviet Union he had an affair with Melinda Maclean.

The ‘Fourth Man’ Anthony Blunt being interviewed by Richard Dimbleby as the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures. Blunt was one of the first people to search Burgess’s flat after he had absconded enabling him to remove any incriminatory material.

Obviously not documents considered ‘incriminatory’ by Anthony Blunt but these drawings of Lenin and Stalin by Burgess were left behind in the flat at New Bond Street after he had fled to Russia


The Royal Albert Hall, Miss World and the Angry Brigade in 1970

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Eric Morley, the creator of Miss World, noting down some important vital statistics.

There were two separate protests at the Royal Albert Hall on 20 November 1970. One of them, the iconic flour-bomb demonstration directed at the Miss World contest by a group of young feminists, has become part of popular social history. The second, a potentially more serious event (something similar would certainly be taken as such today), has almost been completely forgotten.

At around 2.30am, on the morning of the Miss World contest, a group of about four or five young people had gathered around one of the BBC’s outside broadcast lorries that had been parked at the side of the Royal Albert Hall. They slid a home-made bomb under one lorry and ran off quickly down Kensington Gore in the direction of Notting Hill. A small amount of TNT, wrapped in a copy of The Times, exploded a few minutes later waking up residents in a nearby block of flats, one of whom saw the youths running away.

The small explosion was mentioned in the press the following day but it didn’t compare to the huge publicity the women’s liberation demonstration garnered, not least because of the unbelievable popularity of Miss World at the time. The 1970 contest, in the UK alone, had almost 24 million viewers – the highest rated television programme that year.

It was in the middle of the contest when about fifty women and a few men started throwing flour bombs, stink bombs, ink bombs and leaflets at the stage wile yelling “we are liberationists!”, “We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry” and “ban this disgraceful cattle market!”. The whole world took notice.

We're Angry, Very Angry

Protestors outside the Royal Albert Hall, 20th November 1970

The protest inside the Albert Hall

"Resignation is only abdication and flight, there is no other way out for women than to work for her liberation."

Bob Hope, who was to crown Miss World and was performing when the protest started, certainly noticed and he quickly tried to flee the stage as the missiles flew by. He was hampered by Julia Morley, the wife of the organiser Eric Morley, who grabbed hold of his ankle in a desperate attempt to stop him leaving. It only took a few minutes for the police to restore order but the women’s movement had in one fell swoop established itself as part of the seventies.

Meanwhile a clearly shocked Hope was persuaded by Morley to get back on stage where, for once, not reading from idiot boards, he said:

These things can’t go on much longer. They’re going to have to get paid off sooner or later. Someone upstairs will see to that. Anybody who wants to interrupt something as beautiful as this must be on some kind of dope.

The Sun, which the day before had stated ‘we’re in for a long, hard winter’ because the ‘lovely Miss World girls have abandoned the mini-skirt for the midi’, rejected the ‘cattle market’ comparisons wittily declaring ‘If you can’t stand the cheesecake, stay out of the market.’ The Daily Mirror, not wishing to be accused of comparing women with cattle, wrote ‘you couldn’t ask for a field of shapelier fillies than those coming under starter’s orders tonight for the grand Miss World stakes.’ The Mail described the demonstrators as ‘Yelling Harpies’ and asked what was ‘degrading about celebrating the beauty of the human body?’

The world’s most famous beauty contest had started just twenty years previously in 1951 when an ex-squadron leader called Phipps was in charge of publicity for the upcoming Festival of Britain. He rang a former RAF friend, who was now running a catering and dancehall company called Mecca, asking for ways to add some “razzamatazz” to the rather sedate festival plans. He was quickly told “My man Morley will come up with something”.

A few days later, over lunch at the Savoy, Eric Morley, who was already responsible for coming up with ‘Come Dancing’ for the BBC in 1949 and went on to popularise Bingo, suggested a ‘Miss World Festival Bikini Girl contest’. It went ahead and become a huge hit – a Swedish woman called Kiki Hakansson won the first prize of £1000.

When Miss Universe was launched in America the following year Morley successfully persuaded Mecca to make Miss World an annual event. The only change being that bikinis were to be banned, a strange decision by Morley, as a year previously he had said “Even a girl with big hips can be made to look good in a bikini.” He was later to describe the kind of girls he was looking for:

Girls between 17 and 25, ideally five foot seven, eight or nine stone, waist 22-24″, hips 35-36″, no more no less, a lovely face, good teeth, plenty of hair, and perfectly shaped legs from front and back – carefully checked for such defects as slightly knocked knees.

The first Miss World at the Empire Rooms on Tottenham Court Road, 1951

Eric Morley helping with a jammed zipper in 1955

Eric Morley checking no contestants had big hips in 1955

Twenty years later in 1970 the Miss World bomb, as far as the perpetrators were concerned, had been a success although it was overshadowed by the feminist ‘cattle market’ protests. However it was just the latest incident in an anti-establishment bombing and shooting campaign in the UK by an as yet-un-named loose group of anarchists. They had been in existence, in one form or another, since 3 March 1968 when two bombs exploded at the Spanish Embassy in Belgrave Square and the American Officers Club in Lancaster Gate. However the bombing campaign reached another level when a bomb that was left outside the house of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir John Waldron on 30 August 1970. He was sent a letter signed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

The letter sent to the Police Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir John Waldron

Just ten days later another bomb exploded at the London home of the Attorney General, Sir Peter Rawlinson in Chelsea. Another ‘communique’ was released obviously from the same source as the commissioner’s bomb but this time signed by The Wild Bunch. The young anarchists that were responsible for the bombings were utterly confused with the lack of publicity so far. They assumed, almost certainly correctly, that there was a conspiracy of silence on behalf of the establishment in case urban guerilla activity became fashionable.

On 4 December 1970, just two weeks after the Miss World bomb, a car drove around Belgrave Square and machine-gunned the Spanish Embassy. The young student militants again found there was nothing in the papers after the attack and still suspecting an establishment conspiracy they decided to issue more Communiques to the underground press and for the first time they were signed ‘The Angry Brigade’.

The International Times December 1970, does anyone know what the 'Dramatic Half-Face' graphic means?

The name was thought up after a drunken Christmas party and may have came from the ‘We Are Angry’ placards at the Miss World protest. Although Stuart Christie, an anarchist and connected with The Angry Brigade, later wrote that they had toyed with the name ‘The Red Rankers’ in deference to the speech defect of the former Home Secretary ‘Woy’ Jenkins.

Members of the Angry Brigade 1970

So far the relatively unreported bombing campaign had utterly mystified the police. They were completely confused as to who the perpetrators were but they successfully managed to keep the bombs and the shootings relatively under-reported (the Miss World bomb was an exception). The situation immediately changed when on January 12 1971 a bomb exploded at the home of the Right Honourable Robert Carr, Secretary of State for Employment (and chief advocate of the hated (by many) anti-union Industrial Relations Bill). The Angry Brigade released another of their communiques stamped with the distinctive children’s John Bull printing set, and, with this particular incident too serious to be brushed under the establishment’s carpet, the Angry Brigade suddenly found that they had reached the nation’s consciousness.

The aftermath of the Angry Brigade's bomb that exploded at the home of Employment Minister Robert Carr on 12th January 1971

The Python-esque name chosen by the disparate group of anarchists was grabbed gleefully by the popular press, America had the Weather Men, Italy the Red Brigades, Japan the Red Army Fraction, Germany the Baader-Meinhof gang but in the UK they had the Angry Brigade. The newly monikered urban terrorists managed six more bombs including an explosion on May 1 1971 inside the fashionable swinging London boutique Biba in Kensington Street which the ‘Angries’ saw as exploiting sweatshop labour. They quickly released Communique 8:

`If you’re not busy being born you’re busy buying’.
All the sales girls in the flash boutiques are made to dress the same and have the same make-up, representing the 1940′s. In fashion as in everything else, capitalism can only go backwards — they’ve nowhere to go — they’re dead.
The future is ours.
Life is so boring there is nothing to do except spend all our wages on the latest skirt or shirt.
Brothers and Sisters, what are your real desires?
Sit in the drugstore, look distant, empty, bored, drinking some tasteless coffee? Or perhaps BLOW IT UP OR BURN IT DOWN. The only thing you can do with modern slave-houses — called boutiques — IS WRECK THEM. You can’t reform profit capitalism and inhumanity. Just kick it till it breaks.
Communique 8 The Angry Brigade

Miss Selfridge girls dressed and made up the same and no doubt contemplating that capitalism can only go backwards.

A few months after the Biba bombing the police raided a house at one end of Amhurst Road in Stoke Newington where they found various explosives, ammunition and guns but most damning of all a John Bull printing kit with the words ‘Angry Brigade’ , rather incriminatingly, still set out. The police soon arrested eight supposed members of the Brigade and they quickly became known, rather imaginatively by the press, as the ‘Stoke Newington Eight’.

The Bomb Squad, Commander Robert Huntley, Commander Ernest Bond, Detective Inspector George Mould and Detective Constable Ron Smith

The Angry Brigade’s campaign came to a definite end after the longest criminal trial in English history (it lasted from May 30 to December 6 1972) – they were accused of carrying out 25 attacks on government buildings, embassies, corporations and the homes of Ministers between 1967 and 1971. At the end of the trial a majority verdict of guilty for conspiracy ‘with persons unknown’ meant that four of the defendants, John Barker, Jim Greenfield, Hilary Creek and Anna Mendleson each received prison sentences of ten years despite the jury’s request for clemency. It was difficult for the jury to deliver anything but guilty verdicts after the judge Mr Justice James explained that active participation was irrelevant; mere knowledge, even “by a wink or a nod”, was sufficient proof of guilt. He went on to describe the Angry Brigade politics as ‘a warped understanding of sociology’.

Hilary Creek in 1971

Anna Mendolson

Other defendants, however, were found not guilty including Stuart Christie, who had formerly been imprisoned in Spain for carrying explosives with the intent to assassinate the dictator Franco, and Angela Mason, who went on to become the director of Stonewall and the Government’s Women and Equality Unit and who was awarded an OBE in 1999.

Time Out magazine in 1972. A lot of people were, well angry, after the guilty verdicts at the Angry Brigade trial

All the contestants of the 1970 Miss World pageant

Receiving a $1200 tiara and $6000 in cash for her troubles, it was the 22 year old Miss Grenada, Jennifer Hosten, who eventually became Miss World and the first black winner of the contest in 1970. In fact it another black contestant – Miss Africa South, a Pearl Gladys Jensen – came second.

Miss Africa South isn’t a typo by the way, that year Eric Morley, hoping to placate the growing disquiet about apartheid South Africa, decided he would admit to the contest a black and a white contestant from the country. Jillian Elizabeth Jessup, the white South African, and who was allowed the sash with the real name of her country, came fifth.

Miss Africa South and Miss South Africa 1970

Jennifer Hosten

I was wrong when I said there was two separate protests at the Royal Albert Hall forty years ago. There was also a third, but this time it wasn’t about the exploitation of women but a collective disapproval of the result. After the Miss World contest had come to an end many of the audience gathered outside the Royal Albert Hall to protest and started chanting ‘Swe-den, Swe-den’. The BBC also received numerous protests with accusations that the contest had been rigged.

Four of the judges, it later came to light, had given first place to the Swedish entrant, a twenty year old model called Maj Christel Johansson, although, rather oddly, she came only fourth overall. However Miss Grenada, the eventual victor, only got two first place votes from the judges. Was it more than a coincidence that one of the judges, a Sir Eric Gairy, was the premier of Grenada? Had he influenced the other judges who incidentally included Joan Collins and Glen Campbell?

The judges of Miss World 1970 including Sir Eric Gairy.

I wonder if Maj ever got to meet Agatha Christie? I suspect not.

Miss Sweden, who was the favourite to win before the contest, probably didn’t help her cause when two days earlier she had denounced the Miss World event saying that she would have walked out if she wasn’t under contract to the organisers:

I don’t even want to win. I was warned the contest was like a cattle market and I’m inclined to agree. I feel just like a puppet.

Jennifer Hosten was far better at toeing the Miss World party line:

I do not really know enough about what they were demonstrating against, all I know is that it has been a wonderful experience competing for the Miss World title.

Julia Morley in the early seventies

Four days after the contest, Julia Morley, although insisting that no vote-rigging had occurred, resigned from her post as organising director of Miss World after intense pressure from the British press. Luckily her husband ran the Miss World organisation and, after the fuss had died down, she was reinstated a few days later.

If all this anarchist and feminist politics is a bit much. Here’s Lionel Blair and his dancers opening the Miss World show at the Royal Albert Hall 20th November 1970, without a protest in sight; although almost certainly there should have been.

Finally, in case you want to know, Jennifer Hosten’s vital statistics were 36-24-38, which meant that her hips were two inches larger than Eric Morley’s ideal Miss World shape. He probably wished she was wearing a bikini.

Because they have been largely forgotten this Angry Brigade chronology is absolutely extraordinary.