These Special Branch files about the CND in the mid-80s come from two separate releases from the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office, both to the journalist Solomon Hughes under the FOI Act in 2006. They include Special Branch threat assessments, reports, memos, notes, telephone messages and wider correspondence with the Home Office and Downing Street.
The documents relate to a few CND events in 1983 and 1984. The first was a ‘Human Chain’ demonstration linking together the US and Soviet embassies in London on 16 July 1983.
The second major event covered in these documents was the CND’s National Demonstration on 22 October 1983, now hailed as the largest demonstration in the CND’s history, with over 200,000 attending.
Other documents cover a small ‘Books Not Bombs’ demo by London School of Economics’ CND in March 1984, a CND demo coinciding with the Economic Summit in June 1984 and a Haringey Youth CND meeting with just nine people present in December 1984.
There was some duplication of documents amidst the Home Office and Metropolitan Police releases. We uploaded the Met’s disclosed files first and then added any from the Home Office disclosure that we didn’t already have. Sometimes they were complimentary, adding additional information and context.
Also see: CND 1980s – story
Timeline. To help to locate documents in their historical context…
1980 – Labour Party commits to policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament
1981 – CND supporter Madeleine Haigh visited by undercover West Midlands Special Branch officers.
January 1983 – Heseltine becomes Defence Secretary. Massiter says this placed a new pressure on MI5 in relation to CND.
March 1983 – Heseltine establishes Defence Secretariat 19 to counter the growing influence of CND. Worked closely with F branch of MI5.
23 April 1983 – Heseltine speech says CND led by left-wing activists ranging through the Labour Party to the Communist Party.
June 1983 – General Election. Conservative Party re-elected.
16 July 1983 – CND’s Human Chain demonstration linking US and USSR embassies.
September 1983 – DS19 officially disbanded.
22 October 1983 – CND held the largest demonstration in its history.
December 1983 – Massiter left MI5.
4 March 1984 – ‘Books Not Bombs’ demo by LSE CND.
9 June 1984 – CND demo coinciding with Economic Summit and President Reagan visit.
March 1985 – Channel 4 20/20 Vision programme ‘MI5’s Official Secrets’ broadcast.
Remember, these are only the files that the authorities chose to disclose and may only represent a small fraction of the total files held. Also, what police officers report to their superiors is not necessarily true.