On this day in history : 30th May 1972 – The Angry Brigade goes on trial for a series of 25 bombings throughout the United Kingdom…. It is to be one of the longest criminal trials in English history….
The Angry Brigade, a far left, militant anarchist group, often referred to as urban guerrillas, were discontent with Tory cuts, high unemployment, the general state of the economy and just about every other political issue going-on at the time…. Their wish was to bring about an uprising and they decided to launch a campaign using small bombs…. The aim was to get as much media coverage as possible to expose their demands….
The campaign began in August 1970 and was to continue for a year before any arrests were made…. Their targets were varied – from the homes of Conservative MPs, banks, property speculators….to the embassies of far right regimes – they even targeted a BBC mobile broadcasting unit being used to broadcast the 1970 Miss World contest…. Bombs mostly caused damage to property and throughout the campaign only one person received minor injuries…. Each bombing was followed by a printed statement explaining the reason for the attack….whether it was for the government’s policies, the situation in Northern Ireland, the Vietnam War, sexism – or whatever other grievance they had at the time….
The arrests began in 1971 with Jake Prescott…. Although he was cleared of direct involvement in the bombings he admitted having addressed three envelopes for letter bombs…. Prescott was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by Judge Milford Stevenson – this was later reduced to 10 years on appeal….
The 30th of May 1972 saw the trial begin at the Old Bailey of another eight members of the group….known as the ‘Stoke Newington Eight’ – after the area of London they came from…. The group were prosecuted for carrying out the bombings and the trial was to go on until the 6th of December 1972…. Four members, John Barker, Jim Greenfield, Hilary Creek and Anna Mendelssohn were sentenced to ten years each…. The other members were acquitted…. The explosions were to lead to the formation of the Bomb Squad – now the Antiterrorist Branch….