|Photograph from the Solidarity article as below.|
MEPO 2/11073 Affray and forced entry into the Greek Embassy on 28 April 1967 by 42 people demonstrating ag[a]inst military coup which led to downfall of Greek leader George PAPANDREOUS 1967-1974 30-yr.-2004/5 (The Met file, seen 24-3-05).
Summary (from notes) -
* It was Terry Chandler who wrote on 13-6-63 to ask permission for Trafalgar Square to be used for a demonstration against the Visit of Greek royals,, 9-12 July 1963. The application was refused. (File WORK 20/360 Application to use Square for a public meeting by "Save Greece Now" organisation 1962-1963 seen 24-7-07).
Letter handed to butler, not available as immediately dispatched to Greece by embassy staff who can't or won't disclose contents. The girl with flowers asking to see Ambassador, crowd pushed passed her, up stairs; had large quantity of food etc., prepared for prolonged stay. Au pair scared, also Ambassador's two young daughters who hid under a bed at one stage. Secretary and cleaning woman were also on premises, police have been unable to see them, but plenty of other evidence:
p.7 photos by NR, "also obviously a sympathiser", cine film, summonsed; had sold to ITN but they returned it; tape-recording of broadcast made by person living opposite.
p.8 par.15. general turmoil and broken doors, but it must be admitted that most of the damage was caused by Police trying to get at the crowd; several cameras iinside but most film destroyed during general melee. Had hoped to obtain plan of interior but Ambassador unlikely to agree [did later].
par.20 organisation obscure - most C100 or CND, on this occasion Save Greece Now. Some well known as Political agitators and would join anything likely to cause disorder. Principals listed.
Question of possible charges - affray; could argue Greeks were "put in fear" but not "Queen's subjects"; note disorders have occurred whenever these individuals have appeared in court.
p.12 Lilley: pushed some of them away from 5th floor; saw KW on 3rd floor, told him I was arresting him, he made no reply.
Peace News carried the story with a picture of "Ken Weller's pregnant wife" being shifted down the stairs.
FCO 9/225 Deals with diplomatic and international repercussions of Greek Embassy occupation 28-4-1967, one week after the Colonels' coup. (Foreign & Commonwealth Office file, seen 13-8-04)
- Greek Ambassador suggested quite unofficially, not telling Athens, that Sec of State issue statement deploring hooligan acts - told him in middle of the night that SoS greatly regretted.... message sent.
- formal statement in advance of protest note may seem over-egging.
- raised questions: what happened, how many got in, how they got in, what precautions to prevent similar in future; report being prepared. 42 including principal trouble-makers arrested so no further trouble likely.
- to Athens: 1 Greek girl, others all Brits; police say they're a mixed bag including anarchists, Trotskyists and C100, and many are "professonal agitators".
- Ambassador: said such things did not happen even in Cuba and Albania. Story that 15 escaped from unlocked police van invention, denied by police.
- police had been alerted to possible trouble but had no advance indication; 2 were on duty with a 3rd in reserve. Intruders got in by a ruse. Alleged threat to kidnap Ambassador and keep as hostage; events in Greece.
- relationship between credibility of political evolution in Greece and effectiveness of agitation.
- to Athens: you may wish to take precautions against possible counter-demos.
- only casualty was a policeman, not serious.
1-6-68 to Norwegian section Amnesty International re sentences imposed on Chandler and Randle. Home Sec has considered.. no grounds on which he can justify recommending any special remission. 8-5-68 from Norwegian section AI: do not approve what they did but penalty unnecessarily harsh.
21-4-68 Resolution of Greek Freedom Rally.
8-4-68 Aide-memoire from Greek embassy re GCAD giving their address, tel no, bank account no.; Prof J Spraos; alleged contacts with Br govt.
14-1-68 SGN letter, signed by E Rodker on behalf of himself, Andrew Papworth, Bob Overy.
20-12-67 Macrae, Central Dept, to Br Emb Washington: short account of what happened - 100-200 went to Gr Emb about 8 p.m. 28-4-67, got in and barricaded themselves on 1st floor, equipped with tools and loud-speaking equipment. 42 arrested after 10-15 mins., 38 remanded in custody, 4 [who gave fingerprints voluntarily, inc DF] bailed and bound over. Greece made formal protest, For Sec expressed regret, apologies. 41 committed for trial charged with riotous assembly, conspiracy to trespass (forcible entry charge dropped mainly because of the Ambassador's scruples about allowing the 3 prinicipal witnesses to testify); 26 conditional discharge [inc GW], 12 fined btwn £20 7 £100 [KW £40); 3 gaoled. Appeals not upheld though beliefs recognised to be sincere; recently HS had declined to advise Roy Prer. Correspondence columns of press esp Guardian and New Statesman have been full of protests but very few letters received at FO so no standard form of reply, might help to have a copy of the Lord Chancellor's.
15-11-67 House of Lords, Gardiner Chancellor? Now that matter no longer sub judice, can reply; action obviously carefully planned etc. £100 fine was a rich man, famer and industrialist. List appended of Chandler's previous. 14-12-67 Hansard cols 611-2, Oral answers> Rose, Winnick.
One of the "professional agitators" the authorities were out to get (and did), Michael Randle, gave his own account of what happened as he remembered it, in The Blake Escape (co-written with Pat Pottle - who was luckier on this occasion), 1989.
UPDATE: Maria Styllou has also told her story, April 2017, in Socialist Worker online.
|"Our reporter met with a discreet and judicious silence when probing for details |
concerning the prior organisation of the demonstration."
|The police were very violent... About 60 demonstrators entered the embassy...|
There was a huge response to the action.
|[Lessons include] that demonstrations can still have an impact,|
and that internationalism is not dead...
The big stick of the police must not be allowed to deter future action.