In 1987, Special Branch Raided BBC Glasgow & STOLE 6 Episodes Of SECRET SOCIETY



Secret Society (1987)

The Secret Society series caused a political furore, known as the Zircon affair, in 1987. The production team behind the series was threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. Campbell’s front door was kicked down and his home searched. In 1987, Strathclyde Police raided the corporation’s Scottish headquarters in Glasgow and seized the tapes from the offices of BBC Scotland where the series had been made. The tapes were later returned and the series broadcast on the BBC except for episode one. The BBC decided that the first episode, about secret cabinet committees, was too sensitive to show before the 1987 general election. The Thatcher government leaned on the BBC to prevent its damaging allegations being made public.

(I’ve tried to find as many of the vids as I can & have blogged all that I found)

1. The Secret Constitution:
Secret Cabinet Committees – about small, secret and influential Cabinet committees.

2. In Time Of Crisis: Government Emergency Powers – Since 1982, governments in every other NATO country have been preparing for the eventuality of war. In Britain, these preparations are kept secret. So what will happen when the balloon goes up?

3. A Gap In Our Defences – Bungling defence manufacturers and incompetent military planners have botched every new radar system that Britain has installed since World War Two. Why? And can we stop it happening again?
A Gap in our Defences”

4. We’re All Data Now: Secret Data Banks – The Data Protection Act is supposed to protect us from abuse, but it’s already out of date and full of loopholes. So what kind of abuses should we worry about?
Watch “Secret Society

5. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) – ACPO Making up their own law and policy. About the Association of Chief Police Officers and how Government policy and actions are determined in the fields of law and order.
“Secret Society – ACPO”

6. Communications Zircon – About GCHQ with particular reference to a secret £500 million satellite. Reference to Zircon spy satelliteswhich the public accounts committee were not told about.
“Secret Society – Zircon”

Zircon affair

The Zircon affair was an incident in 1986 and 1987 caused by the planned broadcast of a television programme about the ultimately cancelled Zircon signals intelligence satellite. It raised many important issues in the British constitution particularly around parliamentary privilege and “gagging orders”.

The Zircon affair

In November 1985 the Scottish investigative journalist Duncan Campbell was commissioned by BBC Scotland to present and research a six part, half-hour documentary series called Secret Society, produced by Brian Barr.[1] Campbell had planned to use an episode of Secret Society to reveal the existence of Zircon, but found while researching the programme in the summer of 1986 that the head of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Robert Sheldon, knew nothing of the project.

The Public Accounts Committee is a select committee of the House of Commons, responsible for overseeing government expenditures. It had been agreed between Parliament and the British government that expensive military projects should be subject to scrutiny by the committee, and Campbell felt that Sheldon’s ignorance of the Zircon project was evidence of the violation of this agreement. The concealment of Zircon from the committee mirrored the parliamentary secrecy over a previous defence project, the Chevaline programme to enhance the Polaris nuclear missile. The previous head of the PAC, Lord Barnett, had been recently appointed the BBC Vice-Chairman. Barnett had withdrawn from a planned interview with Campbell for the programme after his BBC appointment, upset at the nature of the questioning that Sheldon had faced, who had accused Campbell of setting him up.

The Director-General of the BBC, Alasdair Milne, later wrote that the Secretary of the D-Notice Committee made “remonstration noises” after the Secret Society series was announced at the launch of BBC 2’s autumn schedule.

The Zircon affair was publicly revealed by The Observer on 18 January 1987, with the headline “BBC Gag on £500m Defence secret”. An injunction was obtained by the Attorney General on January 21 restraining Campbell from talking or writing about the contents of the episode.

On 22 January Campbell published an article in the New Statesman against which the government issued an injunction. Campbell’s article was sourced to a former employee of GCHQ and four unnamed defence officials, and the Attorney General instructed police from Special Branch to find their identities to establish whether the Official Secrets Act had been breached.Special Branch raided Campbell’s London home, those of his researchers Jolyon Jenkins and Patrick Forbes, and the New Statesman’s offices, and in early February Strathclyde Police raided the offices of BBC Scotland in Glasgow. The Controller of BBC Scotland, Pat Chalmers was questioned by Special Branch police, and Protheroe was arrested and questioned by the Strathclyde police.

Campbell could not be found to be served with the injunction, whereupon the magazine published details of the contents of the film. The Special Branch then raided the offices of the magazine. Then, under the authority of a warrant under section 9 of the Official Secrets Act 1911, they conducted a raid of the BBC’s premises in Glasgow which lasted for 28 hours on 24 January 1987.

The matter now becoming public knowledge, opposition MP Robin Cook managed to obtain a video of the Zircon documentary and arranged a showing of it to MPs in the House of Commons. The Attorney General, SirMichael Havers, sought an injunction in theHigh Court to prevent the video’s showing, but the application was dismissed on the basis ofparliamentary privilege.

Frustrated, the Attorney General organised a briefing on the matter for the Speaker of the House of Commons, Bernard Weatherill, based on confidentiality stemming from their common membership of the Privy Council. That day, the Speaker ruled that no part of thePalace of Westminster was to be used for the showing of the video, pending a report by theCommittee of Privileges. There was much political consternation at the ruling.

With the help of sympathetic MPs Campbell tried to privately screen the programme in theHouse of Commons, though all BBC staff had been ordered to return copies of the programme. The Zircon project fell under the remit of the Defence Select Committee, who wished to see the episode, but were opposed by a civil servant from the Ministry of Defence. The dispute was ruled upon by the Speaker, who ruled that the episode could not be shown on the parliamentary site, it was instead screened nearby.

The governors remained in a state of disquiet, with Hussey complaining to Milne that the episode should never have been made. Hussey and the Board of Governors demanded Milne’s resignation on 29 January.

However, by this time, copies of the video had been obtained by various civil libertiesorganisations, which arranged public showings around the UK. The government was now placed in a difficult situation. The showings would be in clear violation of the Official Secrets Act[vague] but prosecution under the acts is possible only with the permission of the Attorney General and there was a danger of an escalating political crisis. The Attorney General stayed his hand and the matter soon faded in the public interest.

The Committee of Privileges subsequently recommended that showing the video would fall outside proceedings in parliament and was, therefore, not protected by privilege. They further recommended that the Speaker’s actions had been wholly proper.

The Cabinet episode

The sixth episode of the Secret Society series, was titled Cabinet, and focused on secretCabinet committees. It was also held back from broadcast, and has never subsequently been shown. The broadcast of the Cabinetepisode was cancelled due to the imminent1987 general election. The BBC subsequently rejected Campbell’s attempt to buy the episode for broadcast on Channel 4 in 1991, in a season of programming about censorship. Instead the episode was remade using Campbell’s scripts. In a parliamentary debate on Civil Liberties and Bill of Rights on 15 June 1989, the Labour Member of Parliament Alistair Darling, then in opposition, claimed that the true reason for the Zircon affair was to distract from the Cabinetepisode of Secret Society. Darling said that “… The Government’s actions are oppressive, as has been shown by their treatment of broadcasting. We saw the spectacle of police being sent to raid the BBC headquarters in Glasgow in the middle of the night…. We saw the Zircon tapes seized as an elaborate blind.” Darling said that the cabinet episode concerned “… the election campaign of 1983, and the fact that the Government sought to undermine and spy on the citizens of this country. Their object was to prevent the programme from being shown, and the Zircon affair was a blind.” Found Here

Duncan Campbell
A lot of info I have, plus SO MUCH MORE. DEFINITELY WORTH A READ…..

Extra info….

Operation Ore

Child pornography (2005 & 2007)

In 2005 and 2007, Campbell investigated and wrote criticisms of the Operation Ore child pornography prosecutions in the UK, which exposed police errors. Additionally he “revealed how computer evidence used against 7,272 people in the UK accused of being paedophiles had been founded on falsehoods.” These articles were “Operation Ore Exposed” and “Sex, Lies and the Missing Videotape”, both published in PC Promagazine.

The Who’s Pete Townshend and Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja were both cleared of charges they accessed child pornography through the Landslide site by the investigation detailed by Campbell in PC Pro magazine. When their credit card charges and IP addresses were traced, both were found to have accessed sites which had nothing to do with child pornography.  Found here

Better Still.. The Horses Mouth! OPERATION ORE; Duncan Campbell