Clive comes clean on Belgrano affair

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There was a big turnout for An Audience with Clive Ponting at the community theatre in Lamlash on Sunday afternoon.

Senior civil servant Clive was the man at the centre of the Belgrano affair, during the Falklands War, and was put on trial for breaching the Official Secrets Act in 1985.

The General Belgrano was an Argentine warship which was controversially sunk in 1982 which the loss of 323 lives by a British submarine, despite the fact it was sailing away from an exclusion zone, which had been set up around the Falkland Islands.

Clive, who now lives in Kelso, told how he became a central figure in the controversy after he leaked documents to the MP Tam Dalyell, who had been investeting the sinking, which saw him arrested and put on trial. However, despite the best efforts of the judge and the British establishment to find him guilty he was acquitted by the jury.

It was a fascinating story of spies, skullduggery and the secret workings of the Thatcher government of the time.

Clive later became a reader in politics and international relations at Swansea University. He has also published 15 books on world history, environmental history and 20th century politics.

Clive had been invited to Arran by the local branch of the SNP after meeting chairman Colin Milne, heard him speak in Kelso. After his talk he took part in a lively question and answer session covering a wide range of issues.

The afternoon finished with a showing of broadcaster Lesley Riddoch’s film ‘The Nation – Norway the win nation.’

Clive Ponting, centre, with meeting chairman Colin Milne and Arran SNP councillor Ellen McMaster. 01_B15belgrano01

Clive tells his remarkable story. 01_B15belgrano02

The large audience who attended the talk. 01_B15belgrano03