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  • A French Bombing Operation in London, 1984! January 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    french flag

    This is the time of year that UK government records are released, slipping out of the thirty years for which state papers are routinely kept away from the public gaze: freedom of information has changed this situation, but not dramatically. The result is that every year on New Year’s Day British researchers and conspiracy theorists go wild running through the archives shouting ‘I found it! I found it!’ Well, of course, they rarely do that because anything that juicy would be ‘secret’ and so kept for fifty years or longer, or simply shredded: ‘that flood in 1966 was very useful, Minister, we got rids of reams of documents…’. But every so often there is the odd revelation and not a year goes by without at least a modest crop of bizarre British blackberries on the brambles of history.  Take the extraordinary news that the French secret services apparently tried to blow up their own president in 1984 in London. WtH!!!

    The year is 1984 and we are entering high Thatcherism: the miners have been done down, the Argentinians are still burying their dead and the IRA have just failed to kill the Iron Lady. What first looked like a maverick British refusal to accept the modern age, the election of a charismatic reactionary who had very definite but impractical ideas, is now looking like an idea whose time has come or might be about to. Yet, just across the channel in Blefuscudia (France to friends), there is nothing but disdain. Francois Mitterand, the socialist president is ploughing a very different furrow and the age old rivalry between London and Paris is now personified by the two leaders. Surprisingly Mitterand and Thatcher got on well in private: there is a lurking respect in that Mitterand comment that Thatcher had ‘the body of Marilyn Monroe and the eyes of Caligula’ (isn’t that fabulous?). But when they met ‘things’ always happened (think a negative and positive ion bouncing off each other) and Mitterand’s 1984 visit to the UK was no exception.

    The Directorate General is responsible for external French security, the equivalent of MI6 in the UK or the CIA in the States. What followed in London presumably had something to do with the DG, the problem is understanding why they bothered, particulary as by 1984 the DG was  under the control of the all-too-staid French Ministry of Defence, while many of its most outrageous activities had taken place in the 1960s and the 1970s. In any case, on to the plot. A French security officer arrived at customs in Britain in October and travelling openly as an agent of an ally did not have his bags searched. This was too bad as the bags included explosives. He then planted the explosives in the grounds of the French embassy and these were turned up in a British security search: a sniffer dog found the ‘bomb’. The man was then searched and it transpired he had other explosives in his possession. Beach doesn’t do conspiracy theories, but the temptation to start raving about false flag operations here is strong. What was going on? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    The act of the French officer, and whoever had given him instructions, was particularly insensitive as the entire British executive had almost been wiped out a month before in what was a very well planned IRA bomb attack in Brighton! Perhaps the French act stemmed from Brighton: a fear that the British police were not up to the job of guaranteeing security, having missed an IRA bomb, and needing to be absolutely sure the DG decided to give the British a test. This was certainly the explanation they gave and it sounds just about credible. The matter was serious enough to be discussed in the UK cabinet (hence the official documents) where the consensus was that the matter need not be publicized (what a surprise) and need not be taken further (how Margaret Thatcher must have gritted her teeth). Part of the pleasure of reading this story, at a comfortable distance, of course, is thinking of what Mitterand and the French executive would have done if an MI6 officer had planted explosives in Paris. Cruise missiles for Dorking anyone? A publicly televised duel between the British and French defence minister? French farmers being sent over to block British roads? The possibilities are endless. Vive la France!