piecing together bits of truth about gov't and corporate influence

Saturday, October 16, 2010

'And now the truth begins to surface like a spectre from dark water'

On 2nd May 1982 the Argentine ship Belgrano was sunk, killing over 300 men, around a third of the total killed in the war. The ship was outside the 200 mile exclusion zone around the Falklands and was sailing away at the time. In July 1984 a senior civil servant leaked documents proving the government knew this, and the ship had been spotted a day earlier than claimed.

The civil servant, Clive Ponting, was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. His defence was that it was in the public interest to know the truth. The judged begged to differ, telling the jury 'the public interest is what the government of the day says it is'. Despite this the jury - being the public rather than the establishment - acquitted him. It was in this atmosphere that Faith Brothers frontman Billy Franks wrote Easter Parade.

Sadly, it was not the start of a flood of leaks on government lies, and Thatcher responded with a new Official Secrets Act that doesn't have a 'public interest' defence.

Truths still come out occasionally, though. In 2003 the government finally admitted that nuclear weapons had been on warships in the Falklands.

Clive Ponting resigned from the civil service and became an academic and a history author, writing a number of books including a critical biography of Winston Churchill and the classic Green History of The World, recently revised and expanded as A New Green History of the World. Check out this excerpt, The Lessons of Easter Island.
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Judge in the trial of Clive Ponting

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