After Dark - Out of Bounds

Published on Jun 6, 2013
Discussion of the unaccountability of the secret services, with former MI5 and MI6 officers. Live and open ended discussion programme. The official Secrets Act has received royal ascent and will become law shortly after the making of this programme. No one knows how this will work out. This programme might be the last time consequently that these participants are not bound to silence. The panel includes spys, a defence journalist, MI5 member, CIA founder, MPs and MI6 member. Michael Randle and Pat Pottle, who had recently confessed in a book to assisting a prison escape by the spy George Blake, were dropped from this programme ('Out of Bounds', tx. 13/5/1989) after Channel Four was threatened with contempt of court proceedings.

John Underwood, with;
James Rusbridger
Rt Hon Tony Benn MP
Anthony Cavendish
Miles Copeland
Eddie Chapman
Adela Gooch

From Wikipedia;
'The first programme of the third series was titled Out of Bounds: "1988 was the year of the tri-centenary of the Bill of Rights, yet in May 1989, in the shadowy studio of Channel 4's After Dark programme, a group of former British and US intelligence agents discussed the merits and evils of new legislation on official secrets. When this legislation completes its processes through Parliament such a gathering is likely to become illegal.

The Financial Times wrote: "Channel 4's After Dark triumphantly broke all the rules from the beginning.... The first of the new series on Saturday proved that the formula is still working extremely well. The subject was official secrecy, and during the course of the night remarks included: 'I was in Egypt at the time, plotting the assassination of Nasser' and 'Wilson and Heath were destroyed in part by the action of intelligence agents' and (spoken with incredulity) 'You mean we shouldn't have got rid of Allende?' The hostility between just two of the participants, which often brings most life to the programme, occurred this time between Tony Benn and ex-CIA man Miles Copeland, and it was the fundamental difference in political outlook between these two which informed the entire discussion. Anyone who regarded Benn as a dangerous 'loony leftie' but watched right through until 2.00 may have been astonished at his thoroughly conservative British attitudes.

Tony Benn wrote in his diary, later published as The End of an Era: "Saturday 13 May - In the evening I went to take part in this live television programme After Dark with John Underwood in the chair. It was an open-ended discussion which started at about midnight and went on till the early hours. The other participants were the historian Lord Dacre, Eddie Chapman, who had been a double agent during the war, Anthony Cavendish, who is a former MI6 and MI5 officer, Miles Copeland (an ex-CIA man), James Rusbridger, who has worked with MI5 at one stage, and Adela Gooch, a defence journalist from the Daily Telegraph. Every one of them made admissions or came out with most helpful information. I was terribly pleased with it.

The Listener magazine described the programme: "The new Official Secrets Act has just received the Queen's assent. This may be the last time for some years that any disclosures can be made on such matters.... After Dark exists for mysterious reasons, probably something to do with a necessary safety-valve in a climate of increasing pressure on the media.... Its strength is that it has rescued that endangered species, genuinely spontaneous conversation, and presented it absolutely without frills. It does not have to rely on a presenter or on the glamour of its guests, as other talk shows do. Its force is its unique lack of inhibition in dealing with very controversial issues without exhibitionism...an invaluable programme.

Richard Norton-Taylor reported on guests who did not appear because of concerns about contempt of court: "Michael Randle and Pat Pottle, who admitted helping the spy, George Blake, escape from prison in 1966... have been dropped from the... programme... Mr Randle and Mr Pottle were arrested and released on police bail last week after admitting in a book that they had helped Blake escape.'