Obituary: Crispin Aubrey

IssueNovember 2012
Comment by Albert Beale

Peace News found itself involved – directly or indirectly – in several of the spate of political trials which were a feature of life in Britain during the 1970s. One of these was the ABC official secrets case; Crispin Aubrey, the 'A' of the trial's name, has died suddenly, aged 66.

Those of us editing PN at the time were hauled up before the lord chief justice for naming an anonymous witness due to give evidence in the ABC case, and both lots of defendants ended up supporting one another in the long-running, intertwined political farce which resulted.

If you have to be involved in a lengthy political defence campaign, you want to do so alongside colleagues who are committed, steadfast, warm, intelligent, and who can see the funny side of things. Crispin fitted all those criteria wonderfully.

Then a journalist on Time Out (in its early years it was a radical magazine), Crispin was arrested along with a colleague and a former soldier following a private discussion about the military's use of signals intelligence – Time Out's phones had been tapped. He had already been in the thick of a campaign in support of another (US) journalist who was being expelled from Britain after having written about the government spy centre (GCHQ) in Cheltenham.

When the Aubrey/Berry/Campbell (ABC) case reached the Old Bailey, the three were convicted only on lesser charges, and received non-custodial sentences.

Crispin went on to write a book on security issues and official secrets, and he and his wife Sue moved to Somerset where they've lived since. He became a leading figure in the decades-long campaign against his local Hinkley Point nuclear power station, as well as against nuclear power in general; and he wrote books on the nuclear industry and the politics behind it. He also worked as a press officer for the Glastonbury festival, edited a magazine on wind energy, and lived out his environmentalism on the family's smallholding.

The expansion of anti-nuclear activism prompted by recent proposals for new nuclear stations in Britain, with Hinkley slated to be the site of the first of them, has seen Crispin again taking a key role in resisting nuclear proposals. Indeed, the last time we met, a few months ago, was when he was representing the Stop Hinkley campaign in the high court during an eviction hearing against activists occupying a building on the site.

His untimely death came just a week before the latest weekend gathering in opposition to Hinkley, which culminated in a blockade and invasion of the base. There could be no better memorial to Crispin than the continuing growth of resistance to Britain's nuclear threat.


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