Saturday, 31 December 2016

Thatcher Ordered 'Shoot To Kill' Over Faslane Protests

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher backed orders for Faslane intruders to be shot dead after a massive security breach at the Clyde nuclear base left her “utterly horrified”.

The PM ordered a crackdown on “slackness in sensitive matters” in 1989 after three anti-nuclear protesters boarded a Polaris submarine and gained access to the control room in October 1988.

Secret government files opened under the “30-year rule” throw new light on one of the biggest breaches of security in the history of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

They reveal how the peaceful protest resulted in 10 top brass at Faslane – including the base commander – being court-martialled.

In Downing Street, Thatcher’s top advisers warned of the repercussions of a similar breach by terrorists and 42 new security procedures were put in place at Faslane as a result

The MoD files tell how in October 1988, three anti-nuclear protesters boarded HMS Repulse while the sub was berthed at Falsane.

They breached the base’s razor-wire perimeter and evaded security personnel to make their way into the vessel’s control room.

The incident was a huge coup for the burgeoning anti-nuclear movement and led to a major security inquiry, with reports going all the way to Thatcher’s desk.

One secret MoD memo said: “The rules of engagement governing the armed guards on the Polaris jetties have been amended, with the agreement of the law officers, to make it clear that they may, as a last resort, open fire to prevent a perceived threat of sabotage.”

Charles Powell, the PM’s policy adviser, wrote in the margins of a report: “If this had been armed terrorists the consequences would have been incalculable.”

Thatcher added: “I am utterly horrified. Examples of slackness in sensitive matters keep coming to light. Must have an urgent report. We could all have been put in grave danger.”

The files say six Royal Navy officers and four ratings were found to have shown “varying degrees of negligence in the performance of their duties on the night in question” – but disciplinary action against them was hushed up after a report noted that it “would not only provide opportunities for the anti-nuclear movement, but could also be damaging to security”.

A massive programme of “remedial action” was undertaken at Faslane as a result of the intrusion – but activists were able to repeat the control room protest seven years later.

In 1996, Claire Davies and Mhairi Logan swam across Gairloch under cover of darkness wearing black wetsuits and climbed aboard the Swiftsure-class sub HMS Sceptre.

They were arrested by crew members and handed over to MoD police – but not before making a phone call from the control room compartment.



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