The Info List - Michael Randle

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Michael Randle
Michael Randle
(born 1933) is an English peace campaigner and researcher known for his involvement in nonviolent direct action in Britain, and also for his role in helping the Soviet spy George Blake escape from a British prison.


1 Biography 2 Personal life 3 External links 4 References


Michael Randle
Michael Randle
(second from left) with Bertrand Russell (centre) leading an anti-nuclear march in London, Feb 1961

Born in England in 1933, Michael Randle
Michael Randle
spent the Second World War with relatives in Ireland. Active in the peace movement since registering as a conscientious objector to military service in 1951, he was a member of the Aldermaston March Committee which organised the first Aldermaston March against British nuclear weapons at Easter 1958. He was Chairman of the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War, 1958–61; Secretary of the Committee of 100, 1960–61; and a Council and Executive member of War Resisters' International, 1960–1988, chair from 1966–73. In 1959–60, he spent a year in Ghana, participating in the Sahara Protest Team against French atomic bomb tests in the Algerian Sahara and helping to organise a pan-African conference in Accra which took place in April 1960. In 1962, he was sentenced, along with five other members of the Committee of 100, to eighteen months' imprisonment for his part in organising nonviolent direct action at a USAF Wethersfield in Essex; it was while he was serving that sentence that his first son, Sean, was born. In October 1967, he was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment for participating in an occupation of the Greek Embassy in London following the Colonels' coup in April of that year. During his time in Wormwood Scrubs prison in 1962–3, Randle became friends with George Blake, the British MI6 agent sentenced in 1961 to forty-two years imprisonment for passing information to the Soviet Union. His outrage at the sentence imposed on Blake led him and two others, Pat Pottle and Séan Bourke, to assist Blake to escape from prison in October 1966.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Blake then stayed at 'safe' houses around London which were mostly friends of Randle's and Pottle's before he was hidden in a secret compartment in a camper van and Michael Randle
Michael Randle
drove him to Eastern Europe, with Randle's children sitting on top of the seat that Blake was hidden underneath to put off any customs officers who might look into the van.[9] In June 1991, he and Pat Pottle stood trial at the Old Bailey
Old Bailey
for their part in the escape. They defended themselves in court, arguing that, while they in no way condoned Blake's espionage activities for either side, they were right to help him because the forty-two year sentence he received was inhuman and hypocritical. Despite a virtual direction from the judge to convict, the jury found them not guilty on all counts. Michael Randle
Michael Randle
took a keen interest in developments in Eastern Europe. In 1956, he undertook a march from Vienna to Budapest with leaflets expressing support for Hungarian passive resistance to the Soviet occupation, though he was prevented from entering Hungary by Austrian border guards. In 1968, he jointly co-ordinated for War Resisters' International protests in Moscow, Budapest, Sofia and Warsaw against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. In the 1970s and 1980s, he collaborated with the Czech dissident, Jan Kavan, then living in London, smuggling literature and equipment to the democratic opposition in Czechoslovakia. He has a degree in English from the University of London
University of London
(1966), an M.Phil in Peace Studies ( University of Bradford
University of Bradford
1981) and a Ph.D in Peace Studies (Bradford 1994). From 1980 to 1987 he was coordinator of the Alternative Defence Commission, contributing to its publications, Defence Without the Bomb (Taylor and Francis, 1983) and The Politics of Alternative Defence (Paladin 1987). He has contributed articles and reviews to Peace News, New Society, The Guardian
The Guardian
and other newspapers and journals. He is also the author of several books including The Blake Escape: How we Freed George Blake - and Why and Alternatives in European Security.[10] From 1988 to 1990, he was coordinator of the Bradford-based Social Defence Project, and later coordinated the Nonviolent Action Research Project, also based in Bradford, the proceedings of which were edited into a book Challenge to Nonviolence.[11] He remains an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University. In 2005, he co-edited with April Carter and Howard Clark People Power and Protest since 1945: a bibliography on nonviolent action.[12] For most of the life of the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support (1992–2009, previously Coordinating Committee for Conflict Resolution Training in Europe), Michael Randle
Michael Randle
was minutes secretary and also editor of its bulletin, ultimately titled CCTS Review.[13] He is a long-serving trustee of the Commonweal Collection at the J.B. Priestley Library at Bradford University. In March 2003, Randle made an extended appearance on the television discussion programme After Dark, alongside Lord Hannay, Alice Nutter, Ruth Wedgwood, Ken O'Keefe and others.[14] Personal life[edit] He married his wife, Anne, in 1962; they have two grown sons, Sean and Gavin, and are now grandparents. External links[edit]

Anglia Television news film of the 1961 Wethersfield demonstration including an interview with Michael Randle.


^ Patrick Pottle, Daily Telegraph, 4 October 2000 ^ Richard Norton-Taylor, Pat Pottle, The Guardian, 3 October 2000 ^ Nick Cohen, A jailbreak out of an Ealing comedy, New Statesman, 9 October 2000 ^ Michael Randle
Michael Randle
and Pat Pottle, The Blake Escape: How We Freed George Blake - and Why, ISBN 0-245-54781-9, 1989 ^ Illtyd Harrington, Forget the train robbers, this was the great escape, Camden New Journal, 29 May 2003 ^ Kevin O’Connor, Blake and Bourke and The End of Empires, ISBN 0-9535697-3-X, 2003 ^ Extradition (Irish Republic), Hansard, 30 July 1982 ^ Sean Bourke, The Springing of George Blake, ISBN 0-304-93590-5, 1970 ^ http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no10/blake.htm ^ Civil Liberties Trust, 1995 ^ University of Bradford
University of Bradford
Department of Peace Studies 1992, now online at ^ (Housmans) now online with additional updates at ^ Online archive at ^ After Dark, BBC4 series, accessed 21 July 2014

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 23438519 LCCN: n80061