from 17 february 2002
blue vol II, #21 edition
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by Steve Booth and Robert Allen

THE GREEN ANARCHIST newspaper has been an essential element in animal liberation, eco-defence and anti-globalisation direct action news reporting and analyses in Britain (and Ireland) since the mid-1980s.

Colorized version of 1993 Green anarchist cover.
Designed by Graham Burnett.
Click to visit his website.

In November 1997 three of its editors, Steve Booth, Noel Molland and Saxon Wood were sent to do three year sentences in Winchester gaol after being convicted of "conspiracy to incite criminal damage" by a jury following a three month trial costing £2 million. Simon Russell, editor of the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group newsletter, was found not guilty.

The gaoling of the three editors and the harassment of people associated with Green Anarchist and the Animal Liberation Front movement was the culmination, we are told, of a five year investigation by the British state. Called Operation Washington it ran from 1991 and saw 55 raids across Britain during 1995 and 1996.

On January 16, 1996 six people - Robin Webb (ALF Support Group Press Officer), Paul Rogers (Green Anarchist), Saxon (GA), Booth (GA), Molland (GA and editor of RAT magazine) and Russell, (ALF SG newsletter editor - were arrested by 30 police in dawn raids.

Responding to the charge that they had conspired to incite criminal damage by reporting direct action news or knowing others that had, Robin Webb said: "So, what I'm charged with in plain English is that, somewhere in the world over a five year period (they're not sure when) I conspired with people (most of whom I don't know) to incite other people (they don't know who) to commit criminal damage (they don't know what) and that the conspiracy continued into the day after we were charged."

The trial began at Portsmouth Crown Court - which, at the time, had the second highest conviction rate in Britain - on August 26, 1997 against five of the six. Webb had been discharged at the December 1996 committal hearing in Portsmouth. However the Hampshire police appealed this aquittal, allowing his name to remain on the indictment at the August trial. The police appeal was successful, and a second GANDALF (from GA aND ALF) trial was set for November 1998. Paul Rogers was 'severed' from the first trial after his barrister, Ken McDonald QC refused to call Tim Hepple. At first Judge David Selwood demanded Rogers continue to defend himself, but when he realised that this would not stop Hepple being called, Rogers was sacked from the trial, and was later called back for the second trial, along with Webb.

Described as 'terrorists' by Judge Selwood, an ex major general in the British Army, the GANDALF trial was the first clear indication that the British state saw eco-social activists as a serious threat to the elites and globalisation in Britain. Selwood described Green Anarchist as "the most contemptuous document I have ever seen in my entire career" (see below).

In a similar case in 1988 two editors of the ALF support group were jailed for 18 months for reporting acts against animal abuse.

Jo Makepeace of SchNEWS, the Brighton-based eco-social weekly newsletter, said of the gaolings: "This ludicrous sentence is just trying to scare us into silence, but the last thing the defendants would want is for people to stop taking part or writing about direct action. As far as we're concerned, it's business as usual." And so it has been.

The trial also featured the use of Public Interest Immunity orders, which Steve Booth dubbed 'Police Interest Impunity', to suppress evidence of secret state action against Green Anarchist magazine.

In a separate trial, animal rights campaigner Barry Horne, was gaoled for 18 years after being found guilty of "arson and recklessness which could endanger life".

The police case against Horne was based on a six week surveillance which, claim the lawyers representing the British state, saw him purchase bomb making equipment and plant two devices in shops in Bristol in 1995. After the trial, which included a two day course in making firebombs, the jury returned unanimous verdicts. Yet the prosecution were unable to provide a single witness or evidence that directly linked him to the bombings. The judge had told the jury that Horne was the only person suspected for these bombings.

Horne's sentencing was the heaviest an animal rights activist has ever received in Britain but the arduous task that faced his Support Group and animal rights groups was the blatant censorship that accompanied this case. A notice was slapped on the British media, preventing them from reporting the Horne case.

Barry Horne died in November 2001. He had gone on three hunger strikes. After the third, which lasted 68 days to December 1998, the damage to his internal organs and brain was too great for his body to bear.

The three GA editors were released in spring 1998, four and a half months into their three year sentences. After his release Steve Booth said: "I'm completely shocked and stunned by the whole thing. We've heard a rumour that the reason we've been let out was Amnesty in the US was about to list us as political prisoners. I went into prison with bar of soap, biro and toothpaste. I came out with four huge binbags of letters and books - I couldn't carry them! It shows that the campaign must have been having some success. I was disappointed at lack of coverage of the case in the mainstream. Absolutely pathetic. The grassroots came through with the goods - and thank goodness for the internet."

The second GANDALF trial (November 2-25, 1998 at Portsmouth) collapsed after the original committal hearing was ruled null and void because it took place under the original, flawed indictment.

Readers familiar with GA will be aware that there are now two GAs - one published by Paul Rogers and a 'new editorial committee', the other by Steve Booth. The Rogers edition of GA has not been published since number 64/65 in the summer of 2001. A recent promotion suggests publication is imminent. The Booth edition of GA is now quarterly. The most recent edition, number 64, has just been published (details below).

1993 Green anarchist cover.
Designed by Graham Burnett.
Click to visit his website. STEVE BOOTH explains the beginnings of GA, and what its present role is.

Q: How and why was Green Anarchist started?

A: As I understand it, GA began in a pub after the Easter 1984 'Stop the City' demonstration. The first editor was Alan Albon. The Poison Girls did a benefit gig to finance the launch of the magazine, and in July 1984, issue 1 was published.

Also involved were Marcus Christo and Richard Hunt.

The early GA sought a political synthesis between the 1980s punks and hippies. In part it was an outgrowth of the Peace movement, Green CND having an early input, but it also responded to the more militant aspects of the 1980s protest culture. At the start, it resembled Greenline magazine, or Peace News. I think that with the recent split, we now have a good opportunity to re-examine the roots of Green Anarchist. After Richard Hunt took control of the magazine, I believe GA took a wrong turning. I want to get back towards something of that original promise found in the very earliest magazine. Although clearly, times have changed, the movement is much further on than it was then, and GA must reflect that fact.

Q: What were the aims of GA? Who did you expect to reach?

A: I personally became involved with GA around the end of 1990. As I understood the magazine then, it was the most militant expression of the UK protest movement. At that time, with the Poll Tax, things really seemed to be moving. In November 1990, Thatcher was thrown out. A real mass movement appeared only just out of reach. I wanted to generalise the non-payment thing to undermine all taxes and thereby weaken the state. There was a similar move in Class War 'Fuck all taxes!' and in Scotland, with action against Sheriff's officers distraint proceedings. The anti-tax stuff in GA was one of the things that initially drew me to it.

At the end of 1989, the Communist system collapsed, and I thought that we now had a real chance of moving revolutionary anarchism in a strong, ecological direction. I wanted it to be real. I wanted it to be moving forwards, I wanted it to be in yer face, militant and strong. Around 1992, we tried to build GA into an active political network, but this came to nothing.

Going back to the early 1990s, I suppose we were still thinking in a sort of 1980s mindset, with the Peace Movement, Molesworth, the trashing of the convoy in the Beanfield as formative events; the 1984 Miners Strike and Wapping as the models for militant action and co-ordinated state repression. Perhaps this was one of our failings; we sort of had this idea that there were thousands of angry green militants out there, like ourselves.

In December 1991, Earth First! started up in Britain, and we wanted EF! to be more militant than the US thing. I remember going to a planning session in Manchester, for the June 22, 1992 Timbmet blockade in Rochdale, and how superficial, false and media-orientated it all was. It was naive. I didn't bother going on the protest itself. I think it got 16 seconds of completely hostile air time on the 'Granada Distorts' TV news show. At the time, I thought this media stunt thing a wrong direction, and I still do. I suppose ultimately, the movement takes the shape it does because this is what the bulk of people are prepared to do. Yet looking back on the 1990s from here - Twyford, the 1994 Criminal Justice Act (CJA) protests, Reclaim The Streets, Newbury, J-18 etc, as a consequence of the wrong choices made then, the Earth First! part of this has been a lot smaller than it could have been. It's true there's quite a lot of peaks as well as troughs in that list, but we all need to work much harder at it. Along the way, I hope we have all got more realistic about the media but sometimes I doubt this.

Q: The GA line was one of no-compromise. How did you decide on what kind of material you would publish?

A: I think it was totally haphazard and just kind of grew spontaneously. Looking through the back issues, there was a definite move towards militant direct action in the mid-late 1980s, as an outgrowth of the political circumstances of the Thatcher years. I think important here were Spring 1988 (issue 18) where GA published maps and details of the US spy bases at Croughton and Barford St John in Oxfordshire. The 'War on Developers' (issue 25, Autumn 1990) issue 'Sabotage - The Ultimate Veto', was also important. Some of this was influenced by the American Earth First! movement, and some people associated with GA - in 1988, part of the GA editorial group attempted to set up Earth First! in the UK, one of the co-editors, Chris Laughton identified himself with the Foreman EF! faction.

Q: Do you think the kind of material published in GA has made an impact?

A: It is difficult to answer this. In my opinion it is really important to report factual material that isn't reported elsewhere, or is only reported in a biased way. (e.g. lists of actions) This kind of thing happens so quickly now, there is so much of it that it is impossible to keep up. The internet is the place for reporting this today, but back then, we did not have this, and it hardly seemed as though anybody apart from ourselves and the animal rights groups would report it.

Most of the protest movement press was dominated by the fluffies. (Though we didn't have the word 'fluffies' then) Similarly, I think one of the most important areas has been the parapolitical stuff - this comment about GA being 'fearless and took the secret state seriously' GA still does as far as I am concerned. The Tim Hepple case and 'A Lie Too Far' published in 1993 was the most important episode for GA here [see below]. I think that many other areas of the protest movement are head-in-the-sand over this, which of course makes them more open to infiltration and manipulation.

I mentioned the factual reportage, the 'diaries of actions' and such. Then there is the opinion stuff, and here there were some things that only GA was saying. At the time, I thought this was important too. Being a kind of political pariah, the most extreme magazine, gives you the capacity to say or publish things others wouldn't touch. But after a time, the law of diminishing returns begins to bite, and people switch off. "Oh, it's just GA - ignore it..." This is what has happened to GA between around 1995 and 2000. So to answer your question, perhaps at first people identified with GA, but if you lose your readership, you then have no capacity to influence people.

One of the greatest problems with all radical magazines is getting feedback from readers. If you are cut off from your readers, you are lost. We tried everything we could think of to engage the readers, but with little success. Starting around 1992 with Twyford Down, and moving on from then, a new generation of protesters have come along, and progressively GA has been left behind and isolated - it has failed to properly engage with these protesters. In retrospect, I think one of the worst mistakes we made was to publish the 'Earth First is Dead' series of articles. [GA 39, Autumn 1995, p15] which pushed militancy, and called on Earth First! to disband. That sort of negative politics has no capacity to convince people, to change their thinking. Partly this gulf was the result of an inevitable age gap thing. Partly it was fear in potential readers - if GA is being called 'terrorist' by Jason Bennetto in the Independent, if readers and bookshops were being raided all up and down the country, and the editors thrown into jail, it is understandable that people would avoid getting involved.

More generally, I think there is a lack of willingness to comprehend the basic viciousness of the state. If the state can kill Hilda Murrell, an elderly Shropshire Rose Grower, it is capable of anything. During the poll tax, protesters were attacked by baseball wielding thugs hired by poll tax bailiffs in the Beaumont estate, Lancaster. One of the people hit was Joseph, a 14 year old lad on crutches. From Trafalgar Square to Mayday, when you get large protests, police invariably attack demonstrators. The state murder of Carlo Giuliani in Genoa is a recent example. We need a much more realistic appreciation of the totalitarianism of the state. Perhaps there is a little more of this awareness in the animal rights movement - Mike Hill, Tom Whorby, Jill Phipps, Barry Horne - and the violence of the hunt supporters. Few of us have a complete grasp of this. (I can think of the Left's denial of the Tim Hepple case, the naive attempts to court favourable media coverage, or the ufologist ostriches disregarding 'At War With The Universe') Intellectually people know it, but the information has not filtered through into practice.

September 11 did not surprise me at all, but people who have read my 'Irrationalists' article would know that. I believe we are moving into a new phase, one of absolute, completely hardened totalitarianism. Here, system propaganda is all important, the technologies of control are more and more refined. How do we counter this? If it is to survive, to remain relevant, the protest movement has to become infinitely more flexible, networked but diffuse, polymorphous.

Q: Why did Judge Selwood describe GA is "the most contemptuous document I have ever seen in my career"?

A: I think this was more to do with the anonymous leaflet suggesting people attend a protest outside the court on November 5 1997, and burn an effigy of the judge there. The GANDALF case itself was full of documents, there were more than 1,000 exhibits, covering most anarchist, or animal rights things published between 1990-1995 or so, very few of which we had written or published. GA was chosen because it seriously tried to tap in to all areas of the protest milieu. The GANDALF case was an attempt to criminalise an entire ideology. Typical of the approach were items like the 'Into the 1990s' ALF bomb manual, or the extremist SARP newsletter, jostling alongside vegan grow your own food booklets, and lists of people who supported the October 1994 "Anarchy in the UK" festival. (Steve Booth as a co-conspirator with George Melly and Dr Alec Comfort!) I remember that Exhibit No 1,000 was a book by Tolstoy, I believe the Hampshire police are still looking for this Tolstoy guy. The cops and prosecutors did not understand the thing they were dealing with - mostly, they just did not care, as the judge persistently jumbling up the names of the defendants in his summing up showed.

Q: Has the effort, at both personal and political levels, been worth it?

A: Yes, definitely. I suppose you always look at what you bring out and think you can do better. Looking back at the early stuff you probably think it was naive, and cringe at it now. The thing is, you can't get to where you are now without having all the mistakes and triumphs of yesterday. I would say that even the trial and the imprisonment were valuable experiences. The real solidarity and support of people in Portsmouth was amazing - without that trial I would probably never have met them. The support of people when I was locked up was brilliant. The campaign and that international outcry was what got us out of there. I went into jail with my clothes and a biro pen. I could hardly stagger out of the gate of Lancaster Castle weighed down with those bin bags full of support letters. All sorts of things are possible for the protest movement, but we've hardly even started...

- Steve Booth / Robert Allen

9 Ash Avenue
LA2 0NP [UK]
Tel: + 01524 752212
Email: grandlaf

Subscriptions are stg£10 for five issues. Contact Steve Booth for details of subs to subscribers outside Britain. Make cheques payable to 'Green Anarchist'.

GREEN ANARCHIST is also available from:
BCM 1715

Subscriptions are stg£10/US$30 for ten issues.

Special Thanks

To Graham Burnett, for the use of his illustration.

Now available - 'Permaculture: A Beginner's Guide',
and also tee shirts - designs: 'Permaculture Mandala' & 'Land Is Liberty- Plant A Seed Today...'

From Land&Liberty

This interview with the editor of Green Anarchist originally appeared in the pages of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. The full version may be viewed at insurgentdesire.

Interview with John Connor
Of Green Anarchist
by John Filiss

Things are getting hotter for revolutionaries post-Cold War. Internally, the security forces are looking for new targets to keep themselves in work and externally, they're collaborating more with the ongoing formation of the European super-state, exchanging repressive techniques and levelling them up.

From 1990, GA and groups associated with us were targeted by MI5 provocateurs to manufacture an "eco-terrorist threat." One, Tim Hepple, wrote an ecotage manual recommending assassination, articles in GA encouraging political violence, and supplied lists of fascists hoping this would precipitate a street war.

An activist for Belfast Animal Rights, then a GA contact group, was arrested by the Army at gunpoint on bomb charges thanks to one Stuart McCulloch (this trial collapsed when the prosecution refused to produce McCulloch in court as a witness). Both claimed involvement in the Earth Liberation Front, a militant splinter of EF!UK. Both were exposed by independent anti-fascist researcher Larry O'Hara in 1933/4, but the institutional wheels were turning by that stage, media conduits accusing GA and the ELF of everything from a plot to sabotage the Grand National using hang gliders to a massive chip burglary at the Department of Transport! After the propaganda came the Special Branch raids, a whole year of them, 55 in all. Some of the questions asked were nuts-GA editor and ex-RAF engineer Steve Booth was asked whether he'd sabotaged a live freight aircraft that crashed at Coventry airport in late-1994 with the loss of six lives, and the Branch also investigated GA's supposed links to the Oklahoma City bombing! They wanted to link GA's editors and spokespeople for the ALF to a letter bombing campaign by the Justice Department (no, over here they're animal lib militants), but by the time it reached the court, the State had decided it was easier to prove we'd just conspired to report such actions. The press continued to report this Gandalf (GA-aND-ALF) prosecution as against a "bomb plot" anyway. As far as the State were concerned, legally and politically, it didn't matter. In UK, inciting an act carries the same penalty as the act itself-a potential life sentence in this case-and MI5 were busy redefining all "subversion" as "terrorism." The idea was to criminalize the direct action movement through us, giving the security forces a monopoly when it came to representing it in the media.

Is there any direct evidence that Stewart Home and Fabian Tompsett are government agents?

Just because the Neoists have acted in a grossly sectarian way that-if anything-will benefit the State at the expense of the movement, it doesn't mean they're State assets. Without proving direct collaboration between them and the security forces, the worst we can assume is that they are just useful idiots.

Of course, there is indeed proof of such collaboration, in the form of knowing things they could only know from the Special Branch in Operation Washington or those closely associated with them. One of Home's 1995 leaflets, The Sordid Truth About Stewart Home, refers to "only six" people being involved in GA. At the time it was written, no one knew that six of GA's editors had been arrested up until then during Operation Washington as Jon Rogerson, ex-projects editor, didn't let the rest of us know of his arrest until a month after it. No one expect the cops involved in Operation Washington and Stewart Home, that is. Similarly, only two people have been mad enough to suggest connections between GA and the Angry Brigade-a group that ceased activity half a decade before GA was first published-and between GA and the Oklahoma bombing. The first is Des "Looney-Tunes" Thomas, heading Operation Washington, and the second is Fabian "Fuckwit" Tompsett, in his Militias pamphlet.

The latest copy of Home's zine, appropriately named Re-Action, produced just before the Gandalf-2 trial in an attempt to demoralize defendants, includes a lot of personal information about independent anti-fascist researcher Larry O'Hara that could have only come from intercepts by the security forces, most likely through their proxy, Searchlight. In a 1995 leaflet, Green Anarchism Exposed, the Neoists expressed their support for Searchlight and it reciprocated the following year, approvingly referring Home's Green Apocalypse and to Home as an "anarchist." Normally, Searchlight hates anarchists, and both Home and Fuckwit are one record as having described anarchism as "stupid," so we'll leave it to your more informed readers to dot the i's and cross the t's here-that is, after noting that whilst Searchlight have railed endlessly against fascist music in the form of Blood & Honour, it strangely has had nothing to say about that put out on Tony Wakeford's lucrative World Serpent label.

A couple of odds and ends that might help readers decide whether the Neoist's collaboration with the security forces is just an alliance of convenience or rather more: (1) Home has appeared repeatedly in the national media committing credit card fraud in his Decadent Action persona without being prosecuted, and (2) his latest hoax is to circulate anonymous leaflets presenting the current highly effective campaign against genetic engineering in UK as a product of religious mania. Similarly, a few years ago, he attempted to ridicule Open Eye's expose of the zapping of a retired Kentish couple, Antony and Margaret Verney, a horrific incident that could have caused vast embarassment to the security forces. His attempt to trash "Anarchy in the UK" in the run-up to the passing of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act has already been mentioned above.

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