Posted by: helenrobertsbradford | July 26, 2010

The defence of necessity

This is the second part of the story of Michael Randle’s personal papers, previously told in ‘Spring in winter’.

During his imprisonment in Wormwood Scrubs in 1962-63, Michael Randle became friends with the British MI6 agent George Blake, recently sentenced to 42 years in prison.  The prosecution of Michael Randle and Pat Pottle for their part in Blake’s escape from prison and over the Iron Curtain to a new life in the Soviet Union is by far the most heavily documented episode in Michael’s long history of political activism.  During the cataloguing process, I discovered a mass of court records and papers created by the defence team, with multiple copies of almost every document.  Sorting out the access conditions for these archives was complex, with some files covered by exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act for court records and legal professional privilege, as well as by the Data Protection Act.

Blake escaped in 1966.  Randle and Pottle were charged in 1989, after revelations in the press and publication of their book, The Blake Escape.  Their identities had been known to the authorities since 1970.  Their defence of necessity – that in some circumstances it can be right to break the law to prevent a greater evil – was rejected by the judge.  The jury on the other hand unanimously acquitted Randle and Pottle.

postcard from Freedom Press

Postcard from the Freedom Press, sent after Randle and Pottle's acquittal

Reverse of Freedom Press postcard

Reverse of postcard

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