Tom Coburg

Tom Coburg

It was around the mid-1970s when Tom Coburg first became politically active. He got involved in the anarchist movement, helping to put out Black Flag. He soon began to write and then help edit it.

It was the time of the anarchist ‘Persons Unknown’ trial, and for almost 12 months Tom put up one of the defendants – who was out on bail – in his rented house. Later Tom discovered that during that period Special Branch had installed a listening post in next door's house. Tom was also a member of the ‘Persons Unknown’ support group, which organised publicity and fundraising, including gigs by UB40, Poison Girls and Crass. Of those who were prosecuted and pleaded their innocence, all were acquitted.

At the time, Tom broke a number of stories, including a) an unredacted page from the banned Spycatcher book by Peter Wright, which named Sir James Goldsmith as a member of the coup plot against Harold Wilson, b) how Lord Chalfont funded a far-right surveillance agency that spied on environmental protesters (included Hilda Murrell, who was murdered) and c) how Rupert Murdoch co-funded the MI6-managed 'British Briefing' bulletin that specialised in smears against Labour and the left.

As a writer and editor of Black Flag, Tom also had the opportunity to meet up with Black Cross activists across Europe, including Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Russia.

Tom was also a member of the anarcho-syndicalist Solidarity Federation and attended IWA congresses as a delegate. During the 1984/5 miners strike, Tom and other comrades provided weekly support to the miners, often travelling to Yorkshire to stand on picket lines or to deliver food supplies.

In the late 1980s Tom commenced an investigation into the work of the Economic League (EL), a 70-year old blacklisting agency. Tom and others formed a group called League Watch, with the aim of exposing the EL's subscribers, its activities, etc, so as to see it closed. They were in luck and were passed hundreds of EL files, including the bulk of their blacklist, which included tens of thousands of names. They infiltrated the EL's AGM, and it soon became obvious that the organisation was coming to an end.

Tom's journalistic interests range from class war, blacklisting and whistleblowing, to intelligence matters more generally.

Tom is also a painter, working mainly in oils and acrylics. And he is an author of novels, using another name.

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