Appendix A: A Copper For Your Thoughts
In 1985, the investigating officer in the synagogue arsons case published his autobiography. (113) Albert (Bert) Wickstead retired with the rank of Commander after a long and distinguished career. Wickstead’s book although not referenced is well written, and in spite of its title does not take liberties with the truth. One has the impression that it is as factually accurate as one could hope for from an autobiography. The chapter dealing with the arsons, and in particular Françoise Dior, is consistent with the story as related in the Jewish Chronicle and the rest of the press although there are a few minor inconsistencies, in particular Wickstead refers to a total of thirteen arsons but curiously does not mention the main one, Brondesbury. (114)
He refers to Françoise Dior/Jordan as the Queen of Britain’s Nazis, which was apparently a gutter press sobriquet. (115) He identifies her correctly as the driving force behind the outrages and says that she was the most fanatically dangerous woman he had ever met.
The account in Wickstead’s autobiography of how Paul Dukes came to the attention of the police is essentially the same as the version he gave at the time, and which is now found in Public Record Office files. Dukes, he says, picked up his conviction for possessing an offensive weapon at a fascist meeting in Dalston. This much is true. As well as being a member of the NSM, he had several Jewish friends, including a Jewish girlfriend “whom he was anxious to impress”. (116) There must surely be better ways to impress any Jewish woman than by torching synagogues under cover of darkness!
Wickstead says it was this which led Dukes to confess to his involvement in the arsons. The girl’s name is not given, but in his original report on the arsons campaign, Wickstead states that Dukes had met a young woman he wanted to marry but who did not agree with his politics. Whatever, there is no reason to doubt the claim that Dukes confessed his role in the arsons campaign to Bidney, although it may be that the mysterious Issy Rondell acted as an intermediary. Curiously, in the same report, Wickstead also claims that Dukes’ fellow arsonist Alex Gordon was of Russian-Jewish origin!
Although Wickstead’s book doesn’t mention the 62 Group by name, he does relate a not entirely convincing story about an unnamed group of Jewish heavies. They were said to have provided information about Dior/Jordan’s inciting the fires; they were also have said to have had an agent working inside the NSM. Whatever, the facts as related by contemporary accounts do not tally with the Nazi-hunting fantasies of Gerry Gable, but this is nothing new.
After seeing Wickstead on an unrelated television programme, I wrote to him c/o the Metropolitan Police pensions department. My letter was ignored; undeterred, I wrote again. On April 12, 1995 I received a handwritten reply. Dated 9TH April 1995 it reads as follows:
“Dear Mr. Baron,
I have received your letter asking for information concerning one Harry Bidney.
As far as I can remember I did not meet Bidney, if I did it must have been very brief, because I have no recollection of the man.
Gerry Gable I knew well, and he was extremely helpful throughout the whole Jordan & Synagogue enquiry. As for my officers and I being incompetent, what utter nonsense. We had to give evidence and present the case in Court. The fact that we were commended by both the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Trial Judge gives the lie to any scurrilous assertions.
I have nothing further to say on this matter and do not want further communication on the subject.
signed [apparently] B Wickstead.”
So according to the police, it was the investigating officers who were commended rather than Bidney and his gang. Who do you believe, Gable or Wickstead? It is strange that Wickstead did not remember meeting Bidney, but did remember meeting Gable. This though is probably due to the usual tricks of memory. Whatever, the official version of the synagogue arsons, in which Wickstead played a leading role, has the ring of truth. Gable’s does not. On the following page, I have reproduced Wickstead’s original letter, (click here).
To Appendix B
To Appendix C
To Appendix D
To Appendix E
To Appendix F
To Notes And References
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