Defend the 14+ Campaign

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Small collection of printed material produced by the Defend the 14+ Campaign relating to a group of individuals charged with conspiring to contravene the Incitement to Disaffection Act of 1934

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign advocated a political solution by the Irish and not a military one imposed by the British. The group issued a statement in June 1973 and published a leaflet "Some information for British Soldiers". Pat Arrowsmith the peace campaigner was arrested and charged with incitement to disaffect and in May 1974 was sentenced to 18 months. The leaflet was re-worded and re-issued as "Some information for Discontented Soldiers" and activity increased - with leafletters from different parts of the country subsequently arrested.

Fourteen people were charged with conspiring to contravene the Incitement of Disaffection Act of 1934, including possession of a leaflet entitled "Some Information for Discontented Soldiers" which was targeted at those who had already decided to leave the army. The wording of the Act made the attempt to 'seduce' a member of HM Forces from their duties an offence. The case did serve to highlight issues surrounding the use of conspiracy charges and the fact that many of the conspirators had not met or communicated with each other until the trial. The maximum punishment for incitement was two years, but conspiracy to incite carried a life sentence.

The 14 were, in alphabetical order: Albert Beale (journalist, London); Wendy Butlin (secretary, London); Phil Cadbury (student, London); Bill Hetherington (social worker, Walsall); Juliette Hornsby (secretary, Chelsea); John Hyatt (journalist, Nottingham); Frank Keeley (unemployed, Liverpool); Ronnie Lee (soliticor's clerk, Luton); Chris Roper (aeronautical engineer, Essex); Paul Steed (student, London); Bob Thomas (factory worker, Cardiff); Rick Walker (unemployed, Liverpool); Mike Wescott (make-up artist, Birmingham); Gwyn Williams (social worker, London);

Two of the 14 were also charged under the 1955 Army Act with helping soldiers who were absent without leave. Other individuals were then charged with related offences including distribution of leaflets and supporting the 14 which is why it became the "Defend the 14+ Campaign".

On 10th December after a 51 day trial and an estimated cost of £250,000, the jury took just 30 minutes to return a unanimous not guilty verdict on all 31 charges (this was conspiracy against all 14 and other charges under the Incitement of Disaffection Act). The two individuals who had pleaded guilty to assisting a soldier who was absent without leave were both fined.

Conditions Governing Access

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Donated by Mr Jim Cowley, Sheffield, January 2012

Related Material

Filing case. 'Incitement to Disaffection Act 1935' relating to campaign of 1974 [U DCL/355] ]

Material relating to 'The Incitement to Disaffection Bill' (1934) [U DBN/16/1 and U DCL/86/1]

Other repositories:

Archives of Peace News (1936 to date), University of Bradford Special Collections and Archives [Ref Cwl PN]