My post on the reason why the Thatcher Government was reluctant to hold any public inquiries into the death of Blair Peach and the events at Southall in April 1979 was received well. I got some interesting feedback from various people, including journalist Solomon Hughes, who has written for the Monring Star and Private Eye (amongst many others). Hughes pointed me to some articles written by him in the Morning Star and the Socialist Worker on the files that he had FOI’d on the Blair Peach inquest and the bias of the coroner Dr John Burton against the SWP and the broader anti-fascist movement. What Hughes uncovered is some pretty damning stuff, which can be found here, here and here. I think Hughes’ FOI’d material is the reason that the files that I was able to look at Kew were open to the public before the 30 year rule (being opened in 2006-7) and contemporary historians should be grateful for investigative journalists pursuing these historical stories that we might not be able to uncover otherwise (from knowing how to use FOI properly for example).
Hughes also mentioned the Thatcher Government was also in disagreement over how to manage the aftermath of the St Paul’s riot in Bristol in April 1980 (which for many was a precursor to the riots of 1981) and has written another article here on the divisions within the Home Office on how to handle affairs after the riot.
So hats off to Solomon for this very helpful info!