[Page 13] To summarise the key features of 1970's Searchlight activities sketched so far: a close working relationship with the state, passing information on Leftists to Fascists, and Fascists to Leftists (often simultaneously), running stories deliberately designed to conform to secret state agendas and spying on Leftists for the state. There is a definite pattern: one that was to be repeated in the 1990's. Only this time, unfortunately for Searchlight, sections of the Left were to be rather more clued-up about such things than we were the last time round.

Ray Hill, Column 88 and the Notting Hill Bomb Plot

The major Searchlight story of the 1980's was their thwarting of the supposed 1981 plot to bomb the Notting Hill Street Carnival in London. The official version states that operative Ray Hill uncovered a daring plan by fascists to foment race war in the UK by planting a bomb at this Black-run street festival, the largest in Europe. A key figure in the thwarted outrage was said to be the Nazi paramilitary fantasist Tony Malski. After Hill's hearing of the plot, the subsequent publicisation of it in the media is said to have frightened Malski and company, causing mayhem plans to be abandoned. I have already disposed of this fictional episode elsewhere and refer readers to that treatment, to which a promised reply by Searchlight has predictably not materialised. [1] A couple of points are worthy of mention here. The Searchlight operative who allegedly foiled this devilish plan was Ray Hill. His autobiography states he and his controllers decided to "give the story to a national newspaper and just hope against hope that I would not be uncovered as the source of the information. A few days before the carnival, the Daily Mirror carried 'Carnival Bomb Plot' all over its front page." [2]

Turning to the newspaper article in question, a direct creation of Searchlight, two recurrent themes of this study so far reappear: Special Branch and Column 88. According to the piece, "Special branch officers have discovered that the neo-Nazis plotted to set off a suitcase bomb.... The Special Branch spies say... Detectives believe... Last night Special Branch officers said they were still investigating the men behind the plot." [3] While we now know the Bomb Plot was a fiction, there is no way a journalist working for a major circulation national newspaper like the Mirror would have dared to make such copius reference to the Special Branch in a controversial front page story without their approval. Which raises the further question: is it likely that Ray Hill was s state asset/agent provocateur? There is more to go on than just this story and the admission of its sourcing in his won autobiography to provide an [Page 14] answer. Hill reached a position of some power in the British Movement, British Democratic Party and British National Party. An NF splinter group, the BDP was formed in 1979, led by Leicester solicitor Anthony Reed-Herbert; and on Hill's account engaged in gun-running. Unquestionably, one Luger pistol was obtained by an associate of Reed-Herbert's for sale to a US Nazi in 1981; key moments in the transaction were shown on a 'World In Action' TV programme. [4] Beyond this one event (and the July 1981 conviction of another BDP member for possessing an unauthorised firearm) there is no proof of the BDP doing anything more: hardly 'Iran-Contra'!

Two aspects of this affair are disturbing. First, it was Ray Hill himself who claims to have introduced the idea of mixing overt (legal) and covert (illegal) political activity to Reed-Herbert. In his own words, "would it not be better, I asked if the Nazi movement could evolve a form of 'pincer strategy', appealing on the one hand as a respectable 'clean' political party, but still, on the other hand, retaining the capacity for 'underground activities' on Left-wingers and immigrants." [5] According to a news item on the BDP, Hill actively recruited to the BDP on the basis of this 'pincer strategy'. [6] That Reed-Herbert, a political lightweight, apparently agreed to it doesn't negate the fact that the strategy was proposed by a so-called anti-fascist infiltrator, who recruited new thugs on that basis. Secondly, the US weapon buyer featured in the TV programme was a phoney as Hill, put up to it jointly by Searchlight/World in Action. [7] Given the role of what can only be described as agent provocateurs at both ends of this deal, it is ridiculous for Hill to bemoan the fact that "to this day, despite all the evidence, there has been not one single prosecution arising from the entire affair." [8] Hill and his controllers might well retort that gun running was a habitual sideline of Reed Herbert's: what a pity then, that no evidence other than this contrived example has ever been produced. Furthermore, the idea that US citizens were genuinely interested in obtaining guns from British sources when you could buy them over the counter in much of the USA would have struck any genuine arms dealer as preposterous. The BDP folded shortly after the incident, providing a telling indicator of how manufactured the whole thing was.

Delving into Hill's past, he comes across as a mercenary thug: as early as 1962 sentenced to two years jail for attempted theft and ripping off a policeman's ear. [9] Also in the 1960's after he became a Nazi, Hill engaged in racial attacks, later stating that "it all started as a bit of a game – the odd night out attacking a few Pakis. I even desecrated [Page 15] a synagogue." [10] In September 1969, Hill assaulted a Jewish cafe owner for political motives, shortly after which he fled to South Africa. [11] In early 1979, Hill returned to England in rather a hurry, jumping bail on a fraud prosecution in Johannesburg arising from credit card fraud and alleged embezzlement of funds from a Masonic organisation unfortunate enough to have put him in a position of trust. [12] Thus, even without knowing Hill worked for Searchlight, he matches the profile for a certain type of state asset: amoral, criminal, and racist. Hill supposedly 'saw the light' in South Africa and became an anti-racist overnight – this seems unlikely. Consider what was revealed as a result of a court case arising from an indecency charge in which the alleged victims included Ray Hill's sons. This was reported in the Lincolnshire Echo, 26/3/88, thus relating to events well after Hill had supposedly surfaced as a redoubtable opponent of anti-semitism/racism generally. Jewish businessman George Lewis was acquitted after he claimed that the "allegations were made by a former friend who had found out about his past" (indecency charges in the former Rhodesia). This "former friend" was Ray Hill, and the jury evidently believed Lewis' claim that he had become "the victim of an attempted blackmail plot" cooked up by Hill, in collusion with his offspring. Of interest is the further contention that their friendship had been strained by Hills realisation Lewis' "brother was a Jew. 'He doesn't particularly like Jews' alleged Lewis." Even in the Searchlight column under his own name (currently in abeyance) Hill sometimes finds it difficult to contain what I see as racist sentiments: describing Black Separatists on one occasion as a "Gucci-outfitted bunch of middle class wankers... Black fascism." [13] In March 1988, just after Hill's autobiography was published, Searchlight spoke about his 'security arrangements'. Because a trio of presumed nazi thugs had visited his home looking for him while he was out "one carrying a cricket holdall containing a long thin object." [14] and the next day an "anonymous caller" promised the "Italian boys" wouldn't miss him next time. All hell was let loose. According to Searchlight, "when the hit team's visit was reported to the local police they immediately installed panic button alarms in every room of the house, fitted new security locks and arranged for the property to be guarded by a patrol passing several times each hour." [15] This is not the sort of protection afforded to mere mortals: Hill was not even a witness in a forthcoming case, save that concerning the Jewish businessman just referred to. Victims of racist attack, or for that matter domestic violence from former partners, do not get this sort of protection: it is provided though, to people of 'political significance' and to those of use to the state, as we saw with Gable earlier. It is no doubt this state back up which makes Searchlight so free and easy with publishing the photographs and addresses of people they target – for their victims will not get the state protection certain key Searchlight operatives evidently enjoy as a matter of course.

[Page 16] Returning to the 'Notting Hill Bomb Plot' the Searchlight-sourced Daily Mirror tale described (without naming) Malski. He was said to be "now working for the ultra-right extremists who call themselves Column 88." In which case, C88 were operating even later than Searchlight have admitted: yet more questions arise from this pronouncement. It is feasible of course, that C88 was a near-fictional organisation, as has been suggested by one plagiariser of my research. Even if that were so, it doesn't let Searchlight or their sponsors off the hook, for by seeking to convince the media, the Left, and the Right of the reality of C88 when they did, attention was being diverted from fundamental developments on the interstices of the state and the far right. And C88 was thus enabled to function as a 'honey trap' partly due to the activities of the Searchlight team, including Hill; who admits joining in 1981 but never taking an active part. [16] Either the Notting Hill Bomb Plot was a fiction from start to finish – or Hill was privy to the plans of, and thus by definition active in, the very organisation C88 who were seeking to carry it out. An anonymous 1982 fascist bulletin entitled 'Ray Hill Is A Police Informer' referred to his membership of C88: a breach of security or reference to something that was common knowledge due to Hill's activism?