Michael Randle is Chair of the Commonweal Trustees. In this two-part post, we share some of the details of his extraordinary life and work.
Read Part 1 here
Can you comment on your involvement in helping the spy George Blake to escape? Why did you do that?
George Blake was born in the Netherlands – his mother was Dutch and his father Egyptian, though his father had British citizenship, as did George.
As a young man he joined the Dutch resistance to the German occupation, but he had to flee to Spain via Belgium and France to Spain in 1941. He first came to Britain that year and joined the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
In 1961 he was sentenced to an unprecedented 42 years’ imprisonment for passing classified information to the Russians, including the names of some British agents operating in Eastern Europe.
I and other members of the Committee of 100 met him in Wormwood Scrubs prison when we were serving an 18-month sentence for organising an occupation and sit-down obstruction at Wethersfield air base in Essex.
Although no one from our group agreed with what he had done, we felt that his sentence was disproportionate and wrong, especially given some of the outrageous special operations undertaken by British and US agents – as well as by Soviet agents.
For example, the CIA and MI6 jointly organised a coup in Iran in 1953 that overthrew the elected Mosaddegh government with the loss of around a hundred lives. Continue reading 7 decades of nonviolence activism: Introducing… Trustee Michael Randle – PART 2