The Info List - Nicolas Walter

--- Advertisement ---

NICOLAS HARDY WALTER (22 November 1934 – 7 March 2000) was a British anarchist and atheist writer, speaker and activist. He was a member of the Committee of 100 and Spies for Peace , and wrote on topics of anarchism and humanism .


* 1 Walter in the peace movement * 2 Walter the anarchist * 3 Walter the rationalist, humanist and secularist * 4 Publications * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links


Walter was heavily involved in the peace movement, being a founder member of the Committee of 100 .

Walter was a member of Spies for Peace , the only member to be publicly identified, only after his death. In March 1963, it broke into Regional Seat of Government No. 6 (RSG-6), copied documents relating to the Government's plans in the event of nuclear war and distributed 3,000 leaflets revealing their contents.

In 1966 Walter was imprisoned for two months under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act 1860, after a protest against British support for the Vietnam War . As Prime Minister Harold Wilson read the lesson (on the subject of beating swords into ploughshares) at a Labour Party service at the Methodist
Church in Brighton
, Walter and friends interrupted by shouting "Hypocrite!"

In 1987,Walter played a controversial role in the identification of Michael Randle and Pat Pottle as the people who helped George Blake to escape from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966, five years into a 42-year sentence. Walter had told the story of how the escape was organised by Committee of 100 activists to the former MI6 officer H. Montgomery Hyde , an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association, who was writing a biography of Blake. Walter asked Hyde not to reveal the identities of those involved, but The Sunday Times worked it out from clues in Hyde's book and revealed the names. Randle and Pottle eventually wrote their own book, The Blake Escape: How We Freed George Blake and Why (1989). They were subsequently arrested and tried in 1991, after 110 MPs signed a motion calling for their prosecution and the right-wing The Freedom Association threatened to bring a private prosecution. Although Randle and Pottle's guilt was not in doubt, the jury acquitted them. Even though Walter himself had not revealed their names, critics regarded his actions as unacceptable. Albert Meltzer later commented: "on the whole it was safer to be Walter's enemy than his friend."


Walter's book About Anarchism was first published in 1969. It went through many editions and has been translated into many languages. A revised edition was published in 2002, with a foreword by his daughter, the journalist and feminist writer Natasha Walter .

Walter had a long association with Freedom Press and was a regular contributor to Freedom among other publications. The last writing he did appeared in Freedom.

A collection of his writings from Freedom and elsewhere was published in 2007 as The Anarchist Past and other essays, edited by David Goodway .


Walter was appointed Managing Editor of the Rationalist Press Association in 1975, but his progressive disability and the fact he was not, as Bill Cooke puts it, "a born administrator" led to difficulties.

He was a prominent member of the South Place Ethical Society
South Place Ethical Society
and became one of its Appointed Lecturers in 1978. He resigned from this position in 1979 following a special meeting of the Society to consider a paper by Albert Lovecy and vote on the motion "that the Society has no theistic creed and does not practise worship". Peter Cadogan managed to have the motion amended to "does not practise worship of a deity" and it was passed. Walter remarked "many people ... have joined the society as part of their rejection of religion".

Walter was editor of the Rationalist Press Association's magazine New Humanist from February 1975 until July 1984, when Jim Herrick took over.

In 1989, in the aftermath of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and his book The Satanic Verses , Walter (along with William McIlroy ) re-formed The Committee Against Blasphemy Law . It issued a Statement Against Blasphemy Law, signed by more than 200 public figures. Walter and Barbara Smoker
Barbara Smoker
were attacked while counter-demonstrating during a Muslim protest against the book in May 1989. Walter's book "Blasphemy Ancient and Modern" put the Rushdie controversy into historical context.

Walter also served as company secretary of G. W. Foote -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

* ^ A B C Natasha Walter (13 April 2013). "Protest in an age of optimism: the 60s anarchists who spilled nuclear secrets". The Guardian. * ^ O. Chinnappa Reddy, Humpty Dumpty with Alice In the Wonderland of Law, Xlibris Corporation, 2011, p. 182. * ^ Meltzer, Albert, I Couldn\'t Paint Golden Angels, AK Press, 1996. * ^ "ABOUT ANARCHISM by Nicolas Walter (with and intro by Natasha Walter)". ChristieBooks. * ^ Cooke, Bill (2003), Blasphemy Depot: A Hundred Years of the Rationalist Press Association. London: Rationalist Press Association. ISBN 0-301-00302-5 . Published in the United States as The Gathering of Infidels: A Hundred Years of the Rationalist Press Association. New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-59102-196-0 * ^ A B MacKillop, I. D. (1986), The British Ethical Societies, Cambridge University Press, . Accessed 13 May 2014.


* Rooum, Donald (March 13, 2000). "Nicolas Walter". The Guardian
The Guardian
. ISSN 0261-3077 .