How a BNP demo almost led to the assassination of Ken Livingstone
Just over 24 years ago a unity demonstration backed by the British National Party and an alliance of other patriots and opponents of terrorism almost led to the assassination of IRA sympathiser Ken Livingstone, who was then a Labour MP and later became Mayor of London.
The story is revealed in a new book Left-Right-Loyalist by Frank Portinari, former London commander for the Ulster Defence Association.
Today the Daily Star on Sunday broke the news under an “exclusive” headline: Second Northern Irish assassination plot on Ken Livingstone uncovered. Later the same story was picked up by the Mail on Sunday.
Many H&D readers will remember the anti-IRA demonstration on 30th January 1993. Hundreds of patriots blocked the path of IRA supporters from the Troops Out Movement, who intended to march from Hyde Park to Kilburn (London’s Irish republican heartland).
Frank Portinari reveals in his new book that the intention was for the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) to use ensuing chaos to assassinate Livingstone:
“Livingstone’s provocative support for Irish republican terrorists and their apologists made him public enemy number one. A UFF unit decided to assassinate Livingstone on the day of the march. A volunteer on a motorbike would be parked nearby to transport the gunman to a safe house.”
However huge numbers of police intervened to protect the IRA marchers and their friend Livingstone. At least 296 BNP and Loyalist demonstrators were arrested – in fact the true figure was over 400, since many were released once transported some distance from Hyde Park, and hundreds more were ordered to disperse under threat of arrest.
One leading BNP activist well known to H&D rallied a group to break through the police lines: they almost succeeded, but police just about kept control and were then reinforced. Livingstone survived and was elected Mayor of London from 2000 to 2008.
Several of our demonstrators were advised by sympathetic police officers to dispose of weapons before arriving at police stations.
Due to train delays our assistant editor was late arriving at Hyde Park. In those days before mobile phones he was surprised to see none of our comrades around, so followed the route of the IRA march into Kilburn, expecting to catch up with the counter-demonstration – not realising that all our people had been arrested or dispersed. Unfortunately he then found himself right in the heart of the IRA supporters at their rally outside the Sacred Heart church in Quex Road, Kilburn – but was then able to file a report for the BNP newspaper British Nationalist exposing the true nature of the speakers at this event, who gloated over the IRA’s murder of two British corporals.