Ever since the Act of Union of 1707 and even before, England has sought to infiltrate various Scottish groups with the object to disrupt and maintain its rule over the Scots. We have highlighted the role of Daniel Defoe, who was in the pay of the English London spymaster Robert Harley. In 1797 the Friends of the People and the 1820 Radicals were also infiltrated. But it just didn’t end there we will now also highlight a few more instances which have happened since the end of World War 2. The role of “Agent Provocateur” is one who sets out to gain the confidence of the organisation, and then starts suggesting to others what should be done.
When the “The Stone of Destiny” was liberated from Westminster Abbey, by a small group of Patriotic Scots, the London Government started to take an interest in Nationalist groups within Scotland. The Stone was eventually returned, after a phone call to the police, its location was Arbroath Abbey where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320. The liberation of this ancient Scot’s relic was nothing more than an embarrassment to our colonial masters in Whitehall, London. After weeks, months and even years of police investigation the authorities were at a loss to who had taken it and why? This story gained worldwide attention and inspired a new generation of Scot’s to take action. Other events had also happened before this, most notably the wartime bombing of ICI in Glasgow in 1944 by Scottish Nationalists in protest about Scottish women being posted overseas.
In 1953 Queen Elizabeth was crowned, which started a chain of events which led to post office pillar boxes being blown up. The reason for this was the insignia E II R. For those who don’t know the background, Scotland never had a Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Elizabeth I was an English Queen who ruled England, we, the Scot’s had our own monarch at the time Mary Queen of Scot’s followed by her son James VI. When James VI decided to take the English crown in 1603, his title was James VI of Scotland and 1st of England. Any Scottish objection to this title was glossed over. English history is British history.
The Post Office was made a cat’s claw to brainwash objectors to the E II R crest, just as their employers at present are being told to insist on calling Scottish stamps with the Lion Rampant “Regional” while the others are termed “national” through never was a “British nation”.
The first provocative pillar-box with the E II R insignia was erected at The Inch, Edinburgh. It was successively tarred and feathered, smeared with paint, set on fire, nearly blown up twice, and in the end attacked with a 7lb. hammer by a man of “about 50 years of age, 5 feet 4 inches in height, thickset, with a sallow complexion and wearing a brown pin-stripe suit”. His identity must have been known to several people, but no-one gave him away to the police (Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, 9/2/1953).
There followed innumerable such incidents. Mercifully there was no injury whatever to life or limb. Here is a typical report from The Scotsman (2/3/1953)
Double guards were on duty over the weekend at Dreghorn Barracks. Edinburgh. A week ago an attempt was made to burn an Army signboard bearing the royal cipher ‘E II R’ and another notice-board nearby was daubed with paint by an unknown intruder on Friday. He cut his way through barbed wire and defaced the board without setting off any of the trip flares intended to give warning of anyone approaching.
In over one-hundred incidents known to the Scottish National Congress, no physical hurt was incurred by anybody. It became painfully obvious; however, that Congress’s headquarters in Glasgow was regularly attended by spies and provocateurs. These gentry usually made fanciful proposals, scorned menial tasks such as selling pamphlets, and if they undertook anything useful found an excuse for leaving it uncompleted. Most people were taken in by them. As Douglas Young wrote in Quislings in Scotland (page 28):
The Scots people as a whole are themselves too honest to suspect double-dealing in others; nor have most of us even yet seen through the swindle of British politics.
On 22nd July 1953, George Fleming was released after six months in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow. As an objector he first appeared before a tribunal on 20th March 1952, and had stated that his Nationalism was a follow-up of the practical application of his Pacifism. It was from non-violent principles that he believed in small nations. He had gone to the Appellate Tribunal in Edinburgh, but was rejected although a similar case (A Lamont) had been accepted in London during the War. After refusing to go to Dean Park House for medical examination, he was sentenced by Sheriff Garrett and spent twelve days in Saughton Prison and the rest of his sentence in Barlinnie. Liberated a few minutes before 7am a dozen Congress members entertained him to an early breakfast in Miss Buick’s restaurant, Renfield Street, and conveyed him to the Edinburgh bus. See National Weekly 1/8/1953.
DRILL HALL RAID
In August a Glasgow man William Hogg Brown (26) took arms from a Territorial Army drill hall. When sentenced to six months imprisonment he went on hunger strike (An Amzer Celtiek, January 1954). About this time a police agent called Shaw played upon the simplicity of a youth named Burgess. But only an unclear case emerged.
At a Glasgow tribunal Arthur Anderson said he would not fight in the British Army. He was neither in the S.N.P. or Congress, and declared he had no religious scruples; they could call him an “atheist”. He objected to the way the Black Watch was at the beck and call of the government for every unpleasant assignment (Scotsman 29/7/1953). He seemed sincere enough, but was removed from the Register of Conscientious Objectors.
These frequent removals as well as the work of provocateurs broke down the non-violent morale of some Congress members. Another spark was provided by the final acceptance by Lords Cooper and Russell of the Royal Titles Act, and the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth as Elizabeth the second in the Edinburgh Gazette. For a complete account of the failure of the MacCormick-Hamilton action for declaratory, readers may go to The Scotsman (31/1/1953).
Several dangerous incidents ensued. Henry H Bridges (18) involved the Congress van and its driver acquiring 80lb. of gelignite and 84 detonators from Craigengaun Quarry, Milngavie. When these were recovered, a law agent claimed that he did not mean to use the explosives (Scotsman 11/9/1953). He was shewing what Scots nationalists could do. That was all very well, but there might have been a tragedy.
THE “CONSPIRACY” TRIAL
Direct action, but not violence likely to endanger life, was being urged on young members of different Scottish bodies. It was probably difficult for R.G. Forbes to make nice distinctions about what was permissible when he was approached at The Mound, Edinburgh, on 31st May 1953, by an “enthusiast”, John Cullen (48) from Wallyford, an excavator driver, who remarked, “It might be better if you did something instead of standing up shouting”. Forbes was stung by this criticism of arm-flapping to ventilate his lungs, and he naturally asked what Cullen did and what he wanted to do.
Forbes the involved R.D. Watt (22), M.J. MacAlister (24) and Owen Gillan (27). He himself was 23 years old. Mr Cullen brought along a friend Callum Watson whom Gillan at once distrusted. The original proposition was to do a stunt against Edinburgh Corporation wasting £80,000 on decorations for a royal visit after the Coronation. But Cullen took Forbes to the cocktail bar at the Thistle Inn, Leith Street, to impart Dutch courage. Soon the most fantastic attacks on banks and communications and St Andrews House were being discussed. Cars manned by policemen and a so-called “Tommy Higgins” were on call. On the fateful night of 16th June, George D Mieras (47), laundry director and sergeant in Edinburgh Special Constabulary, drove the accused to St Andrews House, armed apparently with a few pounds of gelignite and cans of oil. They also had a length of dummy fuse.
(The above press report can be viewed here)
The Jury did not convict the youths except on a charge about possessing a small quantity of gelignite and a fuse. They were not guilty of possessing three automatic pistols, and they were not guilty of the principal charge of “conspiracy”. In spite of this reduced verdict, Lord Thomson sentenced each of the accused to one year in gaol.
The crowd of three-hundred in Parliament Square booed Cullen, whose first name was now given as Joseph (Edinburgh Evening News 25/11/1953). They shouted “Traitor”, “Stooge”, “Gestapo” etc., and tried to seize him. Twenty policemen surrounded him and the group ran for it to the Sheriff Courthouse across High Street. The crowd then blocked George IV Bridge and continued to shout slogans.
COMPARISON WITH 1820
At a Scottish Nationalist meeting in the evening, a speaker drew a comparison with what happened in events leading up to the Radical Rising of 1820, when Sheriff Aiton bribed men to forge pikes so that they would be liable to indictment. Miss Wendy Wood, Mrs Mary Dott, and Dr M.P. Ramsay also addressed the meeting; and a collection was taken for legal expenses.
The near-acquittal reflected much credit on Lionel Daiches and Norman Wylie for the defence against what could have been dangerous accusations. To have reduced the armoury originally alleged to an effective 2 ½ ib. of gelignite and 120 feet of fuse was no mean feat. They had also to contend with possible prejudice due to an explosion in an attempt to blow up a pylon at Skewbridge, on the morning of Sunday 22nd November 1953. All nationalist bodies denied connection with this sabotage, but harm was done to the movement. Newsagents in Glasgow who had been stocking the National Weekly became chary about it and other publications and it only made sporadic appearances. Mary Ramsay and United Scotland gave up the tenancy of rooms at 85 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, which had been handy for meetings and for storing the platform used by nationalist speakers at the Mound.
THE MODERATOR’S BUTTON
Timid nationalists were frightened off, but a varied discussion followed. John Rankin in Parliament pointed out that this was not the first case of “agent’s provocateurs” being used against Scottish Nationalists. There had been a previous case in 1951. Rankin suspected the Cabinet knew about these on-goings. The Secretary of State for Scotland should institute an enquiry (Scotsman 16/12/1953). Mr Stuart, Tory Secretary of State, denied that “agent provocateurs” had been employed, but, after the findings of the Jury, nobody really believed this answer to be true.
Douglas Young wrote a letter about the mystery of the Skewbridge pylon and other matters (Scotsman 4/12/1953). Dr Bruce Watson rather earlier wrote to The Scotsman (5/12/1953) to say that stagnation in the S.N.P. and pusillanimity in the Church of Scotland might prompt to violence. He complained about the Church of Scotland doing nothing to prevent the Stone of Destiny being re-possessed by the Anglican Church in 1951, and also about the acceptance of the Queen’s E II R title. The Church should have made a stand at the international level against obliteration of small units in the over-centralised Central African Federation, an area where Scots missionaries were the pioneers. Dr Watson concluded with an observation that the Moderator of the Church of Scotland “wears on his robes the buttons of a minor government official” (Scotsman 5/11/1953)
“ATTACK” on MARYHILL LABOUR EXCHANGE
No sooner was the Edinburgh “conspiracy” disposed of than similar trouble blew up in Glasgow. After Harry Bridges was given a suspended sentence for his part in the explosives raid at a Milngavie quarry, suspicion fell on a tubby, little, short-winded, middle-aged friend he had with him who made a sensational escape by jumping from a moving van. How he got away when the much more agile Bridges was apprehended was a bit of a puzzle. This rotund small taxi-driver, aged 44 years, had joined the Scottish National Congress on 20th July. He took part in bill-posting and lifting collections. He made friends with Ronald Barr (21) and James Aloysius McShane (31) who was an experienced electronics engineer, a non-violent non-co-operator who planned unofficial broadcasts.
The tubby “Billy Bunter” whose name was J MacDonald was not entirely trusted by McShane when a party was organised to go to demonstrate at a barracks which MacDonald said was in Butterbiggings Road. Following discussion, there was a change of objective and the group headed for Maryhill Labour Exchange. At this point MacDonald withdrew to make a phone call. This did not alleviate McShane’s justified doubts. They then proceeded to Maryhill and even mounted on to the roof of the Exchange, but decided to call it a day.
(The press pictures can be viewed here)
Barr and McShane were intercepted by police officers when leaving the building. At the trial before Sheriff Thomson, a law-agent for the defence William Dunlop put this pointed question to MacDonald: “Did you urge a break-in at Maryhill Exchange, and did you provide accused with two jemmies and transport?” MacDonald, who evidently knew the ropes, replied by saying that that seemed to incriminate him, so did he need to answer? The Sheriff ruled that witness need not answer (Scotsman 16/12/1953).
At the beginning of the hearing on 10th December, MacDonald had not even been in court, and McShane gamely denounced him as a “police tout” (Daily Record 11/12/1953). As no actual offence had been committed, and since the police had known about it all beforehand, Sheriff Thomson pronounced the case Not Proven.
EX-LEGIONNAIRE AS OBJECTOR
It transpired in evidence that the “informer” had incited John Oliver of Largs to carry out an arms raid on the local Territorial Army drill hall. Oliver, through a trained soldier from the French Foreign Legion, had become an objector to service in the English Army, and refused to countenance the scheme. He said that on hearing this, MacDonald pretended to know the higher command of the I.R.A. and alleged he would now be in disrepute with them (Scotsman 16/12/1953).
Among those who gave evidence at the trial was Mr Tom Spence who had “kept the books” at the Scottish Secretariat for many years, and who was responsible for lending out the Secretariat van to various bodies including the Scottish Patriots. Ex-Legionnaire John Oliver comes into the story again about a year later when he appeared in Glasgow Sheriff Court. He stated “…I AM NOT BRITISH, I AM SCOTTISH, and my duty is to my country. I will battle for Scotland but will never murder for England”. He was fined £2 or ten days imprisonment for refusing medical examination under the National Service Act (Scotsman 21/8/1954).
Glasgow High Court 1976
In 1975 three bombs were planted in and around the Glasgow area. The first was on 26 June 1975 in the doorway of the Bank of England, St Vincent Street, Glasgow. The second was in the Bowling area on the railway line between Bowling and Glasgow, after the first target was rejected Woolworths, High Street, Dumbarton on 15 September 1975. The third on 21 September 1975 was placed in the Clyde Tunnel, Glasgow on the pedestrian walkway. This bomb actually exploded. It was a “bottle bomb” with a timer, which was similar to the device that was planted on the railway.
Four youths aged between 15 and18, from the Dumbarton area were arrested and charged. They were Raymond Lester (18), Robert Maldar (18), Alistair Crawford (15) and James Stephen Clubb (18) who was known to his friends as “Tiny” due to the fact he was anything but. At the High Court in Glasgow, January 1976, James Stephen Clubb turned and gave Queens Evidence, which resulted in his three friends being convicted. The evidence that was submitted in Court also incriminated Clubb. Friends to this day are still suspicious that he was allowed to turn and give Queens Evidence. One reason which has come to light was the fact that the brother of Clubb was a serving police constable and his father was an ex-police Inspector.
(Press report from the Daily Record, January 9 1976, can be viewed here)
Local opinion in the Dumbarton area at the time strongly believed that James Stephen Clubb got off scot free while his friend Raymond Lester took the blame. At the Glasgow High Court, the judge Lord Thomson pronounced the ring-leader as Raymond Lester. He was sentenced to six years in a Young Offenders Institution. Robert Maldar was sentenced to four years, Alistair Crawford was found guilty by a majority verdict of causing an explosion and had his sentenced deferred for one year.
In his own evidence Stephen Clubb, of 4 Glenpath, Stirling Road, Dumbarton, admitted that he and another youth carried out experimental explosions at a disused quarry. He also admitted being part of the AFS- the Army for Freeing Scotland. Stephen Clubb admits to carrying out explosive tests, if he was being led, then why not report it? He had enough Police connections within his house. His place of residence just off the A82, which was opposite the Dumbarton Hotel, was in close proximately to the disused quarry that he used. This was a favourite spot for him to let off his homemade bombs, at the time was quite remote, but now appears to be more built up now.
On the evening of the Bowling railway line bomb, Stephen Clubb and Raymond Lester had been drinking together in the Dumbuck Hotel, and left shortly before the bomb went off (the Dumbuck is not very far from the rail track). Whilst they were in the hotel bar, they were heard boasting about planting a bomb. Locals in the pub just thought that the two of them were very drunk. About half an hour after leaving, locals heard an explosion. None of these people were asked to give evidence, these testimonies would have ensured that Stephen Clubb was very much involved in the whole affair. Clubb stated in his evidence that Raymond Lester and Alastair Crawford had come to his house, prior to the bomb going off, and was asked to phone British Rail and to inquire when the next train from Dumbarton to Glasgow Central was due and was informed there wasn’t any due to a bomb scare. Clubb further added that Lester seemed to be expecting this and soon afterwards a bang was heard in the direction of the railway line. Lester, he said, danced with joy and said: “That’s it, its magic”. Then Lester told him he had planted a bomb on the line. When questioned by Mr Donald MacAulay, QC, defending Crawford, Mr Clubb said Lester had told him there were “hit men” from Glasgow who might be called upon to help the organisation to free Scotland.
Friends of Raymond Lester stated although he did look older than his age, he was emotionally immature and easily led, thus making him a perfect fall guy. The trial judge described him as being the “clearly an adult” which went against the views of them who knew him.
A former friend of Clubb states that Clubb had shown a very keen interest in making explosives from weed killer and sugar for a few years before the incidents. Clubb he said “made very simple devices which he blew up things like bushes” on another occasion he states “Clubb showed me a pipe bomb that he made similar to the one he had put into a bonfire” this was at the time of the IRA bombing campaign and added “but his devices seemed more childish imitations rather than anything of a serious nature”.
BENNY GOODWIN – The SRSP Mole
The use of “Agent Provocateurs” came to the surface again in the case against Thomas Kelly, a 28 year old plate metal worker at the Yarrows shipyard on the River Clyde. At Glasgow High Court on 24th January 1984 the Crown set out its case against the accused, and during the trial, it emerged in the evidence that Kelly’s former comrade Benny Goodwin (24) was a police informer.
(Picture shows SRSP Colour Party outside Saughton Prison for the morning release of Matt Lygate. Back row from left to right is Freddie Boland, Sandy Mathers, Benny Goodwin, Donald Anderson). The picture can be viewed in full here.
Goodwin, along with Kelly, were both members of the Scottish Republican Socialist Party (SRSP) and had also been involved with Siol nan Gaidheal (SNG), and at one time had also been members of the Scottish National Party (SNP). In 1983 Siol had a well organised Drumchapel branch (an area in north-west Glasgow) which also consisted of a drum corps called Drumchapel Bears and could be seen in attendance on most rallies. Goodwin soon became the chairman of this branch. Goodwin claimed he heard rumours of bombings and arson attempts and became so concerned that he walked into Drumchapel police station, to inform on his comrades. (This was Goodwin’s version). What was unknown at this point to his friends was the fact that Goodwin was a former police cadet who alleged that he was kicked out for petty theft and went on to become a psychiatric nurse. The police on hearing the stories that Goodwin was telling them included an arson attack on an Army Careers office in Maryhill, burning down the house of a well-known Scottish public figure, naval bases including Coulport and Ardentinny were to be attacked along with Britoil HQ, Strathclyde Regional Council, and even the Special Branch HQ which was situated at Glasgow’s Stewart Street.
According to Goodwin, Special Branch on hearing this information decided that Goodwin could be of some assistance to them and asked him if would be willing to be a Special Branch “mole” within the SRSP and Siol, Goodwin agreed to this request, also claiming that he received no payment, he was assured that he would be granted immunity from prosecution and would not have to stand in the witness box. This option was of benefit to his Special Branch handlers as he may be of some use to them at some point in the future. Goodwin was given the code-name “Trumpet” and was informed if he didn’t co-operate he would be “grassed up to his comrades”. In the pursuing months “Trumpet” reported back to his handlers all information that may be of some use to them. During this time Benny the “Trumpet” Goodwin struck up a close friendship with Thomas Kelly. Kelly was then given the code-name “Owl” by the Special Branch for all future intelligence gathering.
During evidence Goodwin testified against Kelly, suggesting that it was Kelly’s idea to make and send out letter bombs, when in fact it was Goodwin himself. If you put yourself in the position of the “Trumpet” you are going to say things to your handlers to keep them onside, knowing that at any time they could render you surplus to requirements and grass you up. With that in mind its one man’s word against another, there was no one else to corroborate the charges other than the agent provocateur himself. It could also be argued it was a case of police entrapment cause soon after Kelly was having problems with accommodation. Goodwin lived with his wife and children in Clydebank. He was given a Council house in Drumchapel to share with Tommy Kelly and to ensnare him and pretended to have left his family. On hearing that Kelly had taken Goodwin up on his offer, Special Branch then set about installing recording devices in the flat. The trap was set.
It was then alleged in Goodwin’s evidence that the Special Branch, who were listening into conversations in a van parked no so far away from the flat, told Kelly that they had on tape the following conversation. As Goodwin left the flat he shouted to Kelly, “Okay, Tommy, I’m away. I’ll leave you to your own devices!” When the tapes were played in court, they were virtually unintelligible.
The Branch wanted to charge Kelly with conspiracy but there was only two involved and the other one was nothing more than a tout. Kelly set about making his letter bomb which was to be addressed to Norman Tebbit, Employment Secretary but in order to keep the “Trumpet” cover hidden, he was not to involve himself in anyway with the construction of the device. The bomb which was a flash bulb connected to a battery-operated electrical circuit was arranged on a sheet of cardboard so that it would ignite an explosive substance. Police experts believed it would have caused serious injury if someone unwittingly opened it.
Goodwin stated that the device was placed into a jiffy bag envelope to be posted into a post box. Under observation by the Special Branch, they unwittingly lost them when they deviated across some waste ground. Seeing as Drumchapel was about seven miles from the city centre, there was only a couple of options to them as they had no car. With this action, it meant that Goodwin’s cover was blown and would be of no further use to them.
On the Friday night, the following chain of events occurred. Goodwin phoned Donald Anderson asking where Anderson was going that night. On being told it was a teacher's night out insisted that he had to meet him urgently. Smelling a rat, Anderson told him that he could meet him in the Horse Shoe Bar, just off Union St for half an hour before, but he would have to leave when the teachers arrived. Goodwin was dressed in a combat jacket, with "Free David Dinsmore" on the back, he then started asking a lot of crazy questions. Anderson recognised Special Branch men sitting around the bar, confirming his suspicions about Goodwin. Goodwin said in a loud stage voice, "I have made the letter bombs you told me to make. Where shall I post them?" "Post them to him, him, him and him", Anderson said, pointing to the Special Branch men dotted around the place. "Who else?" said Goodwin. "The Chief Constable", said Anderson. "Who else", he added, hoping to get the right answer. "Try Norman Rabbitt", said Anderson, noticing the Special Branch men were embarrassed and not pleased with the way this was going. Anderson knew Goodwin was trying to set him up. When he was questioned later he just denied everything, as they knew it was his word against an agent provocateur and the Special Branch. With no independent or corroborative witnesses this would be useless in court. Goodwin pushed his way into the company as they arrived. Thinking the teacher's night out was a paramilitary coven he made a complete fool of himself asking more crazy questions. They finally got rid of him by ordering two taxis, knowing there was not enough room for him. The Branch followed the taxis and tried to grab Anderson later on, who slipped away from them.
(Next day, a Saturday) Kelly and Goodwin decided to go to the “Press Bar”, which was just a short walk away. This was something that Goodwin had been instructed to do by his handlers in the hope of incriminating more Republicans into the bombing conspiracy, especially Donald Anderson, who at the time was National Organiser of the Scottish Republican Socialist Party. On arriving and ordering a couple of drinks up no-one else was there, Goodwin suggested that they head to another pub in the “Barras” area called “The Old Burnt Barns” this was a watering hole for many Scottish and Irish Republicans. Special Branch had this place under surveillance. At this point, one of the regulars came into the pub and stated that he saw a Special Branch man in a car outside the pub. Kelly rose out of his seat in an attempt to escape but the pub was soon raided with the police. Anderson, Kelly, Goodwin along with others were all arrested. When all were in custody, Goodwin was taken out and led the police to the pillar box at the junction of Ingram Street with Albion Street. The army had to blow the pillar box up. There is no pillar box at this location to this day.
Anderson and others were held in Stewart St, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). They (Special Branch) pretended Goodwin and Matt Lygate were in the cells next door. When Anderson was brought down each morning for questioning Goodwin was on the landing cuffed to an officer, pretending that he was under arrest and being held too. Apart from being wholly suspicious of the line of questioning, Anderson was receiving daily newspapers, brought by friends. Inside a Glasgow Herald newspaper was a cryptic note, saying Goodwin and Lygate were free. Tommy Kelly was given a duty lawyer. The late Dunn of Beltrami and Dunn, who was a well-known police tout. Dunn managed to get Tommy to sign a statement saying all that the police wanted to hear. Kelly was charged under the Explosives Substances Act and the Post Office Act and was sentenced to ten years. Anderson was eventually released from the PTA with no charges and no corroborating evidence, or a self-confession to enhance the fit up.
The trial got underway on January 24 1984 at Glasgow High Court, but in order to secure a conviction Benny “Trumpet” Goodwin’s evidence was crucial to the crown. There would be no case if he didn’t testify. Furthermore Goodwin’s evidence would implicate other individuals including David Dinsmore and Adam Busby who he claimed to be the “two most successful letter bombers in Scottish history”. He also added that he had uncovered direct links between the SNLA and the INLA and knew of an “escape route” which was funded by the Irish with safe houses in Dublin. In fact the “Trumpets” evidence was very detailed and unshakeable by the defences cross questioning. On the third day of the trial Kelly changed his plea to guilty to the bombing charges but denied the other charges and the main conspiracy charge. The trial was then ended.
During the trial, the defence put it to Goodwin that he was a Special Branch officer since his days as a police cadet, and that he had also helped to blow an INLA “cell” in London. This was all denied by the “Trumpet” and he further added that he left the police in 1977 and other than £100 travel expenses he had received no other payments. He stated he became an undercover agent because he was against violence, so why join in the first place? Or why not leave these organisations? He was praised by the prosecution for showing great courage and the Scottish newspapers co-operated with the police request not to print his photograph. Goodwin was well known in Republican and Nationalists circles within Scotland and had been photographed at many events by friends and comrades, during his time with Siol nan Gaidheal and the Scottish Republican Socialist Party (SRSP). The galleries at Thomas Kelly’s trial were packed with his former associates who sat there in disbelieve with what Goodwin was saying. In local terminology he was “spewing his guts”.
Throughout the trial Goodwin was being kept in a safe house under police protection and also stated at his trial that he had received death threats. Goodwin was taken to a new safe house in Clydebank to meet his wife and daughter who were already there. They had two armed guards. During the three months Goodwin was an active tout, his family stayed in a guest house on the West Coast of Scotland, Goodwin was starting to suffer from alcoholism. The family then moved to England, a caravan in the borders and his marriage finally broke up. Thomas Kelly was sentenced by Lord Allanbridge to ten years for the bombing charges and one year for contravening the Post Office Act. Kelly had conspired with one other man- Benny Goodwin. Kelly served his full sentenced with no parole and was a Scottish Political Prisoner and was released late 1993.
Shortly after the trial Goodwin was actually seen busking at the bottom of Glasgow's Buchanan St. He was approached by an angry member of the SRSP who was immediately pounced on and warned by Special Branch Officers. It would be safe to deduce that Goodwin was being used as Jailbait for someone else. Later the same SRSP member was escorted out of his job, of four whole days In the Scottish Office in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh. The Special Branch cleared his desk and escorted him from the premises. One further twist in this story was the fact in circa 1997 the name Benny Goodwin was in the papers once again. Goodwin appeared in an article in the Sunday Mail justifying what he had done in the past and was living in the Stirling area and also allowed a current updated picture to be printed in the paper. He also admitted that he had been paid a sum of money by the Special Branch.
The above references are only a few in many numerous incidents that have occurred over the years and we may add more incidents as time allows. It is fair to say although the Goodwin case which is now the best part of thirty years ago, there have been several individuals who have appeared on the Nationalist scene in that time who would fall into the bracket of “Agent Provocateur”. Even at this moment in time there are characters that have appeared at rallies and events whereby suspicion has fallen upon. You know the ones who want to take over groups, want to be at the forefront, cause splits and then move onto other groups and just disappear. In the year 2014, Scotland will go to the polls in the referendum for Scottish Independence, which could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. Attempts will be made by the British Establishment to discredit Nationalists. Expect stories to be blown out of all proportions and maybe in some cases induced by “Agent Provocateurs”. At the end of the day it’s your liberty that is at stake, so be very careful that you do not fall into their trap.
Note: In the book Britain’s Secret War which was written by Andrew Murray Scott and Ian MacLeay and printed in 1990, the Thomas Kelly case is covered in pages 152-156. We have to point out that the story is wrong in the fact that several incidents are omitted; events are in the wrong order etc. This was agreed by Iain MacLeay Sutherland, who accepted this, an eight page errata from Donald Anderson, agreeing to correct it in the event of a reprint. To date, there has been no reprint and mistakes remain.
References – Post Office Brainwash, Drill Hall Raid, The “Conspiracy” Trial, Comparison with 1820, The Moderator’s Button, “Attack” on Maryhill Labour Exchange, Ex-Legionnaire as Objector are taken from the Scots Secretariat booklet titled How Scots Opposed The Peacetime Call-Up.
Glasgow High Court 1976 and Benny Goodwin – The SRSP Mole are taken from interviews from individuals who were friends with the accused at the time.