Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Could you please send me all reports, contacts and correspondence regarding 'Welsh extremism', the Free Wales Army and the Movement for the Defence of Wales between 1967 and 1972?

Please include contacts between:

- the Met, PM Harold Wilson and then Home Secretary James Callaghan;

- the Metropolitian Police and the Home Office (HO)

- the Met and the Welsh police;

- the Met and the Security Service (MI5);

- The Met, its Special Branch and the Home Office (incl the PM and the Home Secretary) , MI5, the Welsh police re the teams set up in Wales to gather intelligence on 'extremists' and

-- and regarding sending senior Special Branch officers to support the Welsh police in gathering intelligence and disseminating information; (Conrad Dixon is quoted on having been given this task in his Obituary in the Times, 28 April 1999)

- the working group set up to deal with 'Welsh Extremism'.

Please also include these reports and the correspondence concerning them:

- Reports produced by the Working Group on Countermeasures on Subversion in the United Kingdom.

Kind regards,

eveline lubbers

Cyclops on behalf of Julia Cox, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

1 Attachment

 

Official Sensitive

     

 

 

 

 

 

Information Rights Unit
PO Box 313
  Sidcup
DA15 0HH
  United Kingdom

  Our Ref: 01/FOI/19/012384

  Date: 18/11/2019

   

 

 

 

Dear Ms Lubbers

 

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 01/FOI/19/012384

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 15/11/2019.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

 

Could you please send me all reports, contacts and correspondence
regarding 'Welsh extremism', the Free Wales Army and the Movement for the
Defence of Wales between 1967 and 1972?

Please include contacts between:

- the Met, PM Harold Wilson  and then Home Secretary James Callaghan;

-  the Metropolitian Police and the Home Office (HO)

- the Met and the Welsh police;

- the Met and the Security Service (MI5);

- The Met, its Special Branch and the Home Office (incl the PM and the
Home Secretary) , MI5, the Welsh police re the teams set up in Wales to
gather intelligence on 'extremists' and

-- and regarding sending senior Special Branch officers to support the
Welsh police in gathering intelligence and disseminating information;
(Conrad Dixon is quoted on having been given this task in his Obituary in
the Times, 28 April 1999)

- the working group set up to deal with 'Welsh Extremism'.

Please also include these reports and the correspondence concerning them:

- Reports produced by the Working Group on Countermeasures on Subversion
in the United Kingdom.

 

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).  You will receive a response within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act.  

 

If you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please contact
us at [email address], quoting the reference number above. Should your
enquiry relate to the logging or allocations process we will be able to
assist you directly and where your enquiry relates to other matters (such
as the status of the request) we will be able to pass on a message and/or
advise you of the relevant contact details. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 Julia Cox

 

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

 

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

 

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

 

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

 

Complaint

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

 

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

 

FOI Complaint

Information Rights Unit

PO Box 57192

London

SW6 1SF

[email address]

 

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

 

The Information Commissioner

 

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

 

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, write to or
phone:

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Phone: 0303 123 1113

 

NOTICE - This email and any attachments are solely for the intended
recipient and may be confidential.  If you have received this email in
error, please notify the sender and delete it from your system.  Do not
use, copy or disclose the information contained in this email or in any
attachment without the permission of the sender.  Metropolitan Police
Service (MPS) communication systems are monitored to the extent permitted
by law and any email and/or attachments may be read by monitoring staff. 
Only specified personnel are authorised to conclude binding agreements on
behalf of the MPS by email and no responsibility is accepted for
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precautions have been taken to ensure no viruses are present in this
email, its security and that of any attachments cannot be guaranteed.

 

Cyclops on behalf of Charmine Gayle-Petrou, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

1 Attachment

    Official Sensitive

 

 

 

Our Ref: 01/FOI/19/012384
 
Date: 12/12/2019
 
 
 
 

 

 

Dear Ms Lubbers

 

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 01/FOI/19/012384

 

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 15/11/2019.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

 

Could you please send me all reports, contacts and correspondence
regarding 'Welsh extremism', the Free Wales Army and the Movement for the
Defence of Wales between 1967 and 1972?

Please include contacts between:

- the Met, PM Harold Wilson  and then Home Secretary James Callaghan;

-  the Metropolitian Police and the Home Office (HO)

- the Met and the Welsh police;

- the Met and the Security Service (MI5);

- The Met, its Special Branch and the Home Office (incl the PM and the
Home Secretary) , MI5, the Welsh police re the teams set up in Wales to
gather intelligence on 'extremists' and

-- and regarding sending senior Special Branch officers to support the
Welsh police in gathering intelligence and disseminating information;
(Conrad Dixon is quoted on having been given this task in his Obituary in
the Times, 28 April 1999)

- the working group set up to deal with 'Welsh Extremism'.

Please also include these reports and the correspondence concerning them:

- Reports produced by the Working Group on Countermeasures on Subversion
in the United Kingdom.

 

I am sorry to inform you that we have not been able to complete our
response to your request by the date originally stated. 

 

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act), we have 20 working
days to respond to a request for information unless we are considering
whether the information requested is covered by one of the 'qualified
exemptions' (exemptions which must be tested against the public interest
before deciding whether they apply to the information in question). 

 

Where we are considering the public interest test against the application
of relevant qualified exemptions, Section 17(2)(b) provides that we can
extend the 20 day deadline.  Please see the legal annex for further
information on this section of the Act.

 

For your information we are considering the following exemption:

Section 31 - Law Enforcement 

 

I can now advise you that the amended date for a response is 15/01/2020.

 

Please note that this notice neither confirms nor denies that information
is held in respect of your request for information. 

May I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

 

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me via email at [email address], quoting the
reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

C. Gayle-Petrou

Information Manager

 

LEGAL ANNEX

 

Section 17(2) provides:

 

(2) Where- 

 

a) in relation to any request for information, a public authority is, as
respects any information, relying on a claim- 

i) that any provision of Part II which relates to the duty to confirm or
deny and is not specified in section 2(3) is relevant to the request, or 

ii) that the information is exempt information only by virtue of a
provision not specified in section 2(3), and 

b) at the time when the notice under subsection (1) is given to the
applicant, the public authority (or, in a case falling within section
66(3) or (4), the responsible authority) has not yet reached a decision as
to the application of subsection (1)(b) or (2)(b) of section 2, 

the notice under subsection (1) must indicate that no decision as to the
application of that provision has yet been reached and must contain an
estimate of the date by which the authority expects that such a decision
will have been reached.

 

 
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

 

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

 

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

 

Prior to lodging a formal complaint we invite you to email any queries to
the case officer who dealt with your request. 

 

Complaint

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

 

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

 

FOI Complaint

Information Rights Unit

PO Box 57192

London

SW6 1SF

[email address]

 

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

 

The Information Commissioner

 

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

 

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, write to or
phone:

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Phone:  0303 123 1113

Cyclops on behalf of Charmine Gayle-Petrou, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

2 Attachments

 

Official Sensitive

     

 

 

 

Dear Ms Lubbers

 

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 01/FOI/19/012384

 

Firstly, I would like to apologise for the delay in responding and thank
you for your patience.

Please see the attached in respect of your Freedom of Information request
referenced above.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

C. Gayle-Petrou

Information Manager

 

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

 

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

 

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

 

Prior to lodging a formal complaint we invite you to email any queries to
the case officer who dealt with your request. 

 

Complaint

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

 

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

 

FOI Complaint

Information Rights Unit

PO Box 57192

London

SW6 1SF

[email address]

 

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

 

The Information Commissioner

 

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

 

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, write to or
phone:

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Phone: 0303 123 1113

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)'s handling of my FOI request 'Special Branch and Welsh extremism 1967 – 1972'.

In the response to my request, the Metropolitan Police issued a blanket Neither Confirm Nor Deny response, which I ask you to reconsider, for several reasons. Firstly, the information that Special Branch (and MI5) were involved with Welsh National Extremism is already in the public domain. Secondly, the majority of the information requested is 50 years old – while some will be 49 or 48 years old. Their age should be taken into account when deciding to release these documents.

1. I kindly refer to the decision dated 4 July 2019 by the First-tier Tribunal – Information rights, Martin Rosenbaum v The information Commissioner and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, published 6 February 2020 (see https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/GR...)

2. The Tribunal decided that the Police were ‘not entitled to refuse to confirm or deny whether it held the information’ (Interim decision, par. 1), because – in summary – the requested information was already in the public domain.

3. The issue in that case was the question whether or not Special Branch held information on the National Front, and whether answering that question would reveal anything more than was already in the public domain.

4. The Tribunal’s decision is built on the fact that Special Branch had worked with the BBC on their True Spies series in 2002, which discussed Special Branch and MI5 involvement with the National Front, based on interviews with Special Branch officers. In short, the Tribunal reasoned, any potential adverse consequences flow from the broadcasting of the program, not from any later confirmation or denial. In the Tribunal’s words: ‘In this case the cat is already out of the bag’ (par. 117).

5. In their reasons detailing their decision, the Tribunal makes some observations that apply to my case as well.

6. The Commissioner takes the position that s 23 is engaged in relation to any information relating to the work of Special Branch (par 103.1) The Tribunal does not agree and points out that ‘Parliament did not intend such information to be covered by the absolute s 23 exemptions’.

7. The Tribunal writes that ‘knowing about the nature of Special Branch activities and its close relationships with the Security Services (par 103.2). Parliament did not include Special Branch in the list of s 23(3) bodies. (par 103.3) ‘It cannot therefore have intended that all its activities would fall within s 23.’ (103.4). In other words, in plain English, ‘If Parliament had intended all Special Branch activities to be covered by s 23 it would have included them in the list’ (par 105)

8. When discussing whether s 24(2) applies, the Tribunal specifies, in par. 113, that ‘Special Branch should take account of whether or not the requested information is already in the public domain when deciding whether or not exemption from the duty to confirm or ‘deny is required for the purposes of national security.

9. When discussing whether s 30(3) and S 31(3) applies, the Tribunal comes to the same conclusion: it does not, and refers back to the reasoning set out under s 24 (2) (par 123-125).

10. In the underlying case of my Freedom of Information request, the situation is similar. The fact that Special Branch was involved in dealing with Welsh extremism is already in the public domain.

10.1. Most recently, at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Investiture of Charles as the Prince of Wales last year, popular papers covered how Special Branch hunted for members of the Free Wales Army and MAC suspected of placing bombs and planning to disturb the ceremony.[Branwen Jones, Tryweryn bomber was 'hounded out of Wales' by secret police ahead of Prince Charles' investiture, Daily Post, 6 November 2019. See: https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-w... Thomas Deacon, Prince Charles, the investiture and the bombs: How Welsh nationalists tried to stop it Wales Online, 26 February 2019. See: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales...

10.2. Since the anniversary coincided with season three of the popular Netflix series The Crown, the tabloids wrote about how Special Branch vetted the professor who would tutored Prince Charles in the Welsh language for he was known for his nationalist sympathies.[Rod McPhee, ‘We became close’ Anti-monarchist Welsh tutor depicted in The Crown reveals what it was really like teaching Prince Charles, The Sun, 26 Dec 2019. See: https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/10...

10.3. Welsh nationalists have spoken written about their lives on the run for Special Branch and MI5 in the 1960s and 70s. See for instance the autobiography by Owain Williams Tryweryn: A Nation Awakes, 2016; Alwyn Gruffydd, Mae Rhywun Yn Gwybod, 2013 and the authorised biography John Jenkins, the reluctant revolutionary? by Wyn Thomas, 2019.

10.4. The Special Branch top unit sent to Wales is mentioned in obituaries of people involved, such as this one, Conrad Dixon, David Burns (Dafydd y Dug), Welsh language teacher and activist who died in 2014.[Chris Corrigan, Dafydd Burns: Member of the Free Wales Army who walked free from court in 1969 after being kept in solitary confinement, The Independent, 21 September 2014. See
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/peopl... ]

10.5. The release of files by the Home Office in 2015 to the Mail on Sunday resulted in an article headed ‘Metropolitan police were sent to Wales to join the fight against extremist’, detailing the approval by the Wilson government of ‘plans to send officers from the Met to Wales to run a secret unit that would spy on the extremists’.[Chris Hastings, Secret police squad protected Prince of Wales... from Welsh: Prime Minister Harold Wilson convinced nationalists would attack him at his 1969, The Mail on Sunday, 19 April 2015. See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article...

10.6. Various books have been written, analysing the history of Welsh nationalism and the way the authorities tried to deal with campaigns involving sabotage and bombing. I mention here, Freedom fighters. Wales's Forgotten 'War' by John Humphries (2009) and Hands off Wales, Nationhood and Militancy by Wyn Thomas (2013). Both books will be discuss in more detail below.

11. In your response, you said, and I quote:

‘The Metropolitan Police Service can neither confirm nor deny whether it holds the information that you requested as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) does not apply by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 23(5) - Information supplied by, or concerning, certain security bodies
Section 24(2) - National Security
Section 30(3) - Criminal Investigations
Section 31(3) - Law Enforcement
Section 40(5) - Personal Information’

12. Following the Tribunal decision referenced above, not all Special Branch activities are covered by s 23, and the Tribunal says that the Metropolitan Police cannot issue a blanket NCND response based on that.
The Tribunal decided that qualified exemptions need to be given, and that for each sections of the law, the fact that information is already in the public domain should be taken into account. The question is what harm would be done if the Metropolitan police would confirm Special Branch has been involved.

13. To make my case that an overwhelming amount of information is already in the public domain, I hereby provide you with summaries of the two books mentioned above, Humphries (2009) and Thomas (2013). Both authors have gone through hundreds of documents in the National Archive to analyse how the authorities have dealt with Welsh nationalism and extremism.

14. For this procedure, I have focused on what was mentioned about the involvement of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch and the Security Service, MI5. The authors have had access to documents from the Home Office (HO), the Cabinet Office (CAB) and the Prime Minister office (PREM).

15. From these files, most of which I have seen myself, it is completely clear that the MPSB was deeply involved in Welsh Nationalism.

15.1 The files have the names of officers, and of their supervisors up to the Commissioner discussing the remits and goals of the secret unit, set up just outside Wales in Shrewsbury.

15.2 The authors detail the issues that complicated the cooperation with the Welsh police, and how a complete lack of trust undermined the hunt for those responsible for the bombings.

15.3 Likewise, the problems between the PM, the Home Office, the police and the security service over remit and authority are laid out.

15.4 As the summaries of both books show, information relating to security bodies, s 23(5), and national security, s 24(2), is already in the public domain, and thus the exemption to the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Act does not apply.

15.5 Furthermore, both authors quote at length from DPP and ASSI files, from witness statements given by both police officers and members of the public including those on trial. People have been convicted and spent their time in jail; some of them have had judicial papers returned to them in accordance with thirty-year public access ruling.

Here too, the exemption does not apply, as the summaries of both books show, information relating to Criminal Investigations s 30(3) and Law Enforcement 31(3) and Personal Information s 40(5) is already in the public domain.

Summary 1

John Humphries, Freedom Fighters: Wales's Forgotten 'War', 1963-1993, University of Wales Press, 2008

When the preparations for the Investiture started in 1968, with Prince Charles coming to Wales for a semester to study the culture and the language in 1969, Prime Minister Wilson and Secretary of State Callaghan got increasingly worried about the safety of the royals. In late June 1968, Whitehall sent over Frank Williamson, HM Inspector of Constabulary (Crime), on a special assignment to liaise with the regional crime squads, constabularies and security services. He, however, immediately understood it would be next to impossible to get the support of the autocratic Chief Constable of Gwynedd, Colonel William Williams. Within days at his new post, he decided the only way to crack the conspiracy was to form a unit, led by an officer from the Metropolitan Police experienced in counter-terrorism.

‘This he proposed a fortnight later to a summit of chief constables, Scotland Yard Special Branch, MI5 and Ministry of Defence, held at Hayes House, Cardiff, on 16 July. All the big guns concerned with counter-subversion were present - Ferguson Smith (Commander, Metropolitan Police Special Branch), Tom Roberts (MI5), Charles Simkins (Ministry of Defence, Security Division) and E. Brampton (F2, Home Office Police Division)'. Humphries explains that everybody agreed a fresh approach was needed. Williamson proposed the setting up of a Special Unit, accountable directly to himself, located just across the border in England, and headed by a DCS seconded from the Met. (p.88-89) quoting from Home Office correspondence archived in HO 325/119

The first team to run down the Welsh bombers was brought in in August 1968 and led by John 'Jock' Wilson, a 46-year-old Special Branch veteran from the Metropolitan Police, seasoned in Cold War intelligence matters. (Wilson would go on to be head of Special Branch, and then the criminal department of Scotland Yard). His number two was Chief Inspector John Bryan who arrived directly from MI5. The other seven members were all Welsh and hand-picked for their experience of extremist activity, which was not great, according to John Humphries (p.90-103).

The team was based in Shrewsbury, just over the border and well away from the Welsh police headquarters and was known as the Shrewsbury squad.

Despite the efforts of the Shrewsbury Squad, the bombings did not stop. An explosion outside Cardiff Police headquarters on 15 April 1969, though causing hardly any damage, triggered a series of urgent meetings at Whitehall. 'On hearing about it, Sir James Waddell, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Home Office, asked for an urgent meeting that same evening with Callaghan and his Private Secretary Brian Cubban. There it was agreed that 'the hunt for the saboteurs was getting nowhere, even after sending in Williamson and Jock Wilson to run the investigation.' [Humphries (p.118) does not reference this, but probably quotes from PREM 13/2903, minute, Prime Minister Harold Wilson to Home Secretary James Callaghan, 16 April 1969, reply, Callaghan to Wilson, 16 April 1969.]

Another top-level summit was called for 20 May at the Home Office.

Meanwhile, Williamson reported to Callaghan that the situation was more alarming than he had thought.

Welsh extremism was not confined to the imminent Investiture: it would be an ongoing problem, needing constant policing. His recommendation that Wales should have a 'central intelligence agency' was accepted by the seven Welsh chief constables when they met at the Home Office [on 20th May] with their opposite numbers from Gloucestershire, Cheshire and West Mercia, as well as the heads of the security services. For the time being this function was to be performed by Jock Wilson's Shrewsbury Unit. In the longer term, the plan was for an organisation in which English forces would share responsibility for policing nationalist activity. (p.118) [HO 325/122, correspondence between Sir James Waddell, Deputy Under Secretary of State to Sir Philip Allen, Permanent Under Secretary of State, 20 May 1969, and Dennis Trevelyan, Home Office Division F2 (counter terrorism), 26 June 1969. ]

A fortnight after the Investiture on 1th July, Williamson sent a long report to the Home Office again, summarising things that had gone wrong, including the botched investigation into an explosive that went off a day late after the Investiture, but also the failure by the Welsh police to establish an efficient Special Branch unit and to implement agreements made by the Chief Constable at various meetings. Williamson recommend continuing vigilance and constant surveillance:

On the explicit directions of Home Secretary James Callaghan, nothing should be done to 'weaken the police security forces now available to counter Welsh extremism'. The team at Shrewsbury would remain for as long as was needed; warrant authorising the bugging of telephone lines would be issued when required; and Gwynedd Constabulary reconstructed [...] its chief constable retired gracefully.' The latter had been core to the resistance in cooperation with the Shrewsbury squad. (p. 136) [HO 325/124, note Williamson to Waddell, Home Office, 16 July 1969 and note by Sir Brian Cubbon, Private Secretary to Home Secretary James Callaghan, of meeting between Commissioner Metropolitan Police and Home Secretary, 29 July 1969.]

In July 1969, after the Investiture of Charles to Prince of Wales, Conrad Dixon was asked to head up the new team with DS Kendall, also with the Met's Special Branch. By the time Dixon arrived, the idea was to set up a 'central intelligence agency' to deal with the dangers of Welsh extremism. DS Kendall had more than twenty years' experience of counter subversion in the Met's Special Branch (he would eventually become head of Interpol). Still a tightly knit team of only seven, the other officers were recruited from Dyfed-Powys (two), South Wales, Gwent and Gwynedd, with two administration staff from West Mercia.

Humphries says that 'one of the main reason for the proposal to establish a ‘Welsh intelligence agency’ was Plaid’s decision to contest every constituency in Wales in the 1970 General Election. The Home Office feared 'there may be repercussions' in which event the Shrewsbury Unit would be useful as intelligence gathering centre. Ferguson Smith, Commander Special Branch, agreed, as did Dennis Trevelyan, a former Private Secretary to the leader of the House of Commons. In Trevelyan's view, the Welsh police forces had ‘completely failed to establish an intelligence organisation of their own’, were uncooperative and did not know enough about Special Branch work.' (p.137). [HO 325/124, William Fairley, Chairman/secretary, Committee of Chief Constables, to Sire Philip Allen, Permanent Under-Secretary of State (HO), 10 Jan 1970 and Dennis Trevelyan, HO F2 Division, to Sir James Waddell, Dep Under-Secretary, HO, 30 Jan 1970)]

Summary 2

Wyn Thomas, Hands Off Wales, Nationhood and Militancy, Gomer Press, 2013

Wyn Thomas describes the involvement of the Metropolitan Police, Special Branch and MI5 in even more detail. Citing extensively from relevant files kept at the National Archives from the Prime Minister’s office (PREM) and the Cabinet office (CAB), he reconstructs the start of the involvement of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch and the security services in ‘closely’ monitoring the events in Wales.

On 10 November 1967, Burke Trend, the Secretary to the Cabinet Office, wrote to Goronwy Daniel, the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Welsh Office, informing him that an assessment entitled The Subversive Threat in the United Kingdom had been prepared by Dick Thistlethwaite, Director of F Branch, the counter-subversion division of MI5 and his Working Group on Countermeasures to Communism. Paragraphs 29-31 of the report concerned Welsh extremism, considered ‘sufficiently important to rate a place’ in the summary. Daniel was asked to bring the extract to the attention of Secretary of State for Wales; the report was also sent to the PM, Harold Wilson.

Also in November 1967, the Welsh authorities showed concern about bombing campaign while they were in the dark as to who was responsible. A report to this effect by Goronwy Daniel, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Welsh Office, discussed a section in the subversion paper by MI5 concerning Welsh militant activity with Burk Trend, the Cabinet Secretary (p173). Daniel’s report found its way to Box 500 / MI5 and its chief of staff Sir Martin Furnival Jones who responded that the police and the security services were ‘fully alive’ to the risk posed by Welsh militants to the Investiture and ‘were taking all possible steps to anticipate it’. Thomas then describes the steps taken, including a meeting of ‘chief constables in Wales and the Security Services.’ (p.174-175)

Thomas continues to describe the involvement of the Metropolitan Police in collecting evidence, including interrogating journalists who reported on the Free Wales Army (Sergeant Tucker of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch). Based on these reports the Director of Public Prosecutions put together a memorandum on possible charges against the Free Wales Army, including internal correspondence all of this available in the National Archives. (p.176 – 179).

For what happened in January and February 1968, Thomas could rely on CAB and PREM documents again. He recounts the founding of a special unit assembled to collect and collate intelligence, to be coordinated by John Parkman, the head of Cardiff Regional Crime Squad and headed by a fulltime inspector, with an officer in each of the Welsh police forces as well. Others assigned to closely monitor events were the security services and the Metropolitan Police Special Branch. Assigned to act as a liaison officer was Eric St Johnston, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

Thomas also includes issues between the Home Office and Downing Street over who was leading and responsible for security for the Investiture. (p. 191-192)

He describes how Special Branch leaned on journalists, and convinced the Daily Mail not to publish an interview with Welsh extremists, but to have the journalist forward his full transcript to Special Branch. (p.206-207)

The files also report top level meetings involving Special Branch and MI5, concluding it was time to take the matter in hand, Waddell advising Callaghan to stamp his authority on the recalcitrant Welsh forces. HM Inspector of Constabulary (Crime) Frank Williamson was to go to Wales and report directly to the Home Secretary. (p.222)

Files from the Home Office (HO) from June/July 1968 shed further light on the problems Special Branch would encounter with their Shrewsbury Unit. (ibid.)

There was a widespread reluctance to share intelligence, partly caused by competition between Welsh forces, but there was also a suspicion that officers in the neighbouring forces might be sympathetic to the national agenda and might, as a result, pass on information to the bombers, Thomas wrote. (ibid.)

Equally, MI5 and Special Branch were reluctant to share their security concerns regarding the Investiture with the Welsh forces, fearing that their sources might be compromised, Sir James Waddell, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Home Office wrote to Callaghan in June 1968 (ibid.)

Correspondence reveals how Whitehall bureaucrats tried to avoid the hot potato of ‘political interference’ and sought to reassure Welsh chief constables that Williamson had not operational responsibilities, but that his appointment continued to be a source of resentment. (p.229-230)

‘At a meeting in Cardiff on 16 July 1968, attended by Ferguson Smith (Commander Metropolitan Special Branch), Tom Roberts (MI5), Charles Simkins (MoD, Security Division) and Edward Brampton (F2, Home Office Police Division), Frank Williamson submitted his findings. The only way to crack the conspiracy, he believed, was to establish a special unit with its operational headquarters just over the border in England. It would be led by officers from the Metropolitan Police experience in counter terrorism and be accountable to him. The decision to form the unit and locate it in England, in Shrewsbury, beyond the jurisdiction of Welsh chief constables, was a humiliating acknowledgement that the efforts of the police forces in Wales to apprehend the saboteurs had failed.’ (p.230)

January 1969. Despite the formation of the Shrewsbury Unit in July 1968, (detectives led by Jock Wilson) ‘the security position’ in Wales ‘still ‘gave cause for concern’, PM Harold Wilson informed the Home Secretary James Callaghan. The latter responded that the endeavours of the Shrewsbury Unit were ‘undoubtedly of value’. Its position as a centrally-based intelligence organisation had already paid dividends with the ‘flow of intelligence’ it had provided Welsh chief constables. Callaghan also explained that ‘a survey of vulnerable points’ had been ‘drawn up by the Security Services’ and distributed to all concerned agencies. (p. 263-264)

April 1969. An explosive device that went off on the 15th April caused ‘considerable damage’. ‘Directed by the Shrewsbury Unit’, the police inquiry that followed included ‘house-to-house’ searches and interviews with ‘persons known to hold extreme views’, Callaghan wrote to Wilson. (p.284)

However, the same memo, Callaghan declared, ‘The Security Services and the Shrewsbury Unit’ had each concluded that Prince Charles ran more risk of ‘personal embarrassment than physical harm’ by attending Aberystwyth University.’ (ibid.)

Wynn quotes from HO 325/122 in even more detail than Humphries to describe the need for a ‘central intelligence agency’ - which I won’t repeat here. The plan was accepted not just by the Welsh, it also received the endorsement of government security advisors who, in response to increased activity in the build-up to the investiture, proposed that an anti-terrorist organisation be permanently established to combat the menace of Welsh extremism. Moreover, when operational, English police forces should share full responsibility for policing Welsh nationalist agitation. In the meantime the Shrewsbury Unit would perform the function. (Dennis Trevelyan, HO Division F2 (counter terrorism) 26 June 1969.)

Thomas then devotes a section to the involvement of Special Branch and the Security Service in safeguarding the Investiture, quoting from HO and CAB documents (p 298 – 302).

Like Humphries, Thomas describes the problems between the British authorities and the Welsh ‘conflicting and speculative declarations merely intensified and inflamed the position’. Lt.-Col. Williams contempt for the Shrewsbury unit remained and with the Investiture over he believed the unit should be disbanded. Frank Williamson, sent by HMIC saw no evidence the activities of extremists would decline. In stark contrast to the assurances given by Williams earlier, no Special Branch officer within the Gwynedd Constabulary had been appointed to liaise with the Shrewsbury Unit. Carenarfon police HQ had also failed to carry out the Home Secretary’s directive to keep a log of incidents during the Investiture.

Williamson wrote a report and Callaghan endorsed its findings. The Shrewsbury Unit would remain and anyone suspected of being involved in militant activity, however tenuously, would now be the likely subject of surveillance. Williams decided to retire and Jock Wilson, citing personal reasons, requested a transfer back to the Metropolitan Police. Both were honoured by the OBE. (p.331-332; Wilson would be promoted to head of Special Branch as soon as he returned to London).

Thomas cites HO 325/124 again to explain that the Commander Special Branch agreed with the Shrewsbury Unit taking the role of the new intelligence gathering centre. Overlapping with Humphries again, so not repeated here.

In several chapters recounts various FWA and MAC operations, and also operations to hunt down and arrest key members and their trials, based on interviews and details from witness statements and court documents, held in DPP and ASSI files (available at the National Archives). The file numbers and corresponding pages used in this summary are listed in the table below.

Notably, Thomas has seen about two dozen DPP files and also Judicial Papers returned to individuals who have been on trial, in accordance with thirty-year public access ruling.

Files in National Archive
Wyn Thomas, Hands Off Wales, page numbers

ASSI 84/577: 203-208,212,223,263,283,286,292-293,336,340-345
DPP 2/4455: 176-178,264
DPP 2/4471: 182-184
DPP 2/5973 - 167,191,192,207,263-265,284,286,300
DPP 2/5977: 207,216
DPP 2/5993: 284

CAB 164/386: 286
CAB 164/389: 167,174-175,192,299
HO 325/119: 222,229,230
HO 325/122: 288,298
HO 325/124: 298,331-333
PREM 13/2359: 167
PREM 13/2505: 282
PREM 13/2903: 167,191,192,207,263-265,284,286,300

This overview is limited and possibly incomplete, as it is focused on the involvement of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch in Welsh extremism, and put together for the purpose of this request for an internal review only.

For a full overview of official documents available at the National Archive and other resources used by Wyn Thomas, I refer to the bibliography in his book, p 410-417.

For your convenience, I can provide you with a copy of this request in Word format, as much of the format in the orginal disappeard in the conversion to text-format here.

I am asking you to respond to my request for an internal review within the legal time limit.

Kind regards,

eveline lubbers

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Cyclops on behalf of Shilpitha Shetty, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

1 Attachment

    Official Sensitive

 

 

 

Information Rights Unit
PO Box 313

Sidcup
 
DA15 0HH
 Ms Eveline Lubbers
Our Ref: 01/FOI/20/013836
 
Date: 10/03/2020

 

 

 

 

Dear  Ms Lubbers,

Freedom of Information Review Reference No: 01/FOI/20/013836

 

I write in connection with your request for a review of the handling
and/or decision relating to 01/FOI/19/012384 which was received by the
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on .   

 

A review will now be conducted in accordance with the Code of Practice
issued under Section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).
 The reviewing officer will reconsider the original request before
responding to you with their findings.

 

There is no statutory time limit in relation to the completion of an
Internal Review.  However, the MPS aim to complete Internal Reviews within
20 working days or in exceptional cases, within 40 working days.  This is
based upon guidance published by the Information Commissioner.

 

If it is not possible to complete the Internal Review within this
timescale you will be informed at the earliest opportunity. 

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of an Internal Review you may wish to
refer the matter to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

 

For information on how to make an application to the Information
Commissioner please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively,
write to or phone: 

 

Information Commissioner's Office 

Wycliffe House 

Water Lane 

Wilmslow 

Cheshire 

SK9 5AF 

Phone:  0303 123 1113

 

Yours sincerely 

 

Shilpitha Shetty

Cyclops on behalf of Shilpitha Shetty, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

1 Attachment

Letterhead

 

 

Information Rights Unit
PO Box 313
Sidcup
DA15 0HH

 

Email: [email address]

 

www.met.police.uk

 

Your ref: 
Our ref: 01/FOI/20/013836

 

10/03/2020

 

 

 
 

Dear  Ms Lubbers,

 

Freedom of Information Review Reference No: 01/FOI/20/013836

 

I write in connection with your request for a review of the handling
and/or decision relating to 01/FOI/19/012384 which was received by the
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 15/11/2019.   

 

A review will now be conducted in accordance with the Code of Practice
issued under Section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).
 The reviewing officer will reconsider the original request before
responding to you with their findings.

 

There is no statutory time limit in relation to the completion of an
Internal Review.  However, the MPS aim to complete Internal Reviews within
20 working days or in exceptional cases, within 40 working days.  This is
based upon guidance published by the Information Commissioner.

 

If it is not possible to complete the Internal Review within this
timescale you will be informed at the earliest opportunity. 

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of an Internal Review you may wish to
refer the matter to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

 

For information on how to make an application to the Information
Commissioner please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively,
write to or phone: 

 

Information Commissioner's Office 

Wycliffe House 

Water Lane 

Wilmslow 

Cheshire 

SK9 5AF 

Phone:  0303 123 1113

 

Yours sincerely 

 

Shilpitha Shetty

 

Cyclops on behalf of Yvette Taylor, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

2 Attachments

 

      Official Sensitive

 

Information Rights Unit
PO Box 313
Sidcup
DA15 0HH

 

Email: [1][email address]

 

[2]www.met.police.uk

 

Your ref: 
Our ref: 01/FOI/20/013836

 

15/04/2020

 

 

 
 

 

Dear Ms Lubbers

 

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 01/FOI/20/013836

 

Please see the attached in respect of your Freedom of Information request
referenced above.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Yvette Taylor

 

 

      Official Sensitive

References

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