A sunny Sunday, September 12, 1965. Once again, the neo-fascist Union Movement (UM) was planning to hold a provocative rally in an old Jewish quarter of London’s East End.
This, however, would prove to be an historic occasion: the last time party founder and leader Sir Oswald Mosley — who had spoken of the ‘stink of the Jew’— would make a major open-air speech.
His movement had fizzled out in the face of widespread public apathy and violent opposition from Jewish anti-fascist groups.
A number of photographs of Sir Oswald’s swansong can be found in the archive of his personal papers at Birmingham University.
Bringing up the rear of the group in this photo is a smartly-dressed young man with distinctive blond hair. He was identified yesterday, by Sir Oswald’s former chauffeur, as Max Mosley
One of them is particularly intriguing, given statements made by his youngest son, the ex-Formula 1 tycoon Max Mosley, in recent days.
When Mosley Junior was confronted last week with evidence of his own shameful racist past, uncovered by the Mail in an investigative series entitled The Man With A Genius For Forgetting, he was quick to cast it as an historical irrelevance.
Asked in a live Channel 4 News interview when he had stopped ‘endorsing racist views’, Max Mosley snapped back: ‘Nineteen sixty-three.’
The tycoon rigidly stuck to the 1963 claim as the Mail forensically exposed his thuggish and racially bigoted conduct as an important figure in the UM.
As an election agent, Max had published a repulsive pamphlet accusing ‘coloured immigrants’ of spreading ‘terrible’ diseases such as TB, VD and leprosy — the existence of which he denied under oath at a 2008 privacy trial.
Today, the Mail publishes a new photograph, taken on that red letter day in 1965. It raises troubling questions about whether Mr Mosley’s memory might be playing tricks on him again.
The black-and-white picture captures Sir Oswald Mosley swaggering through the East End of London with a group of sharp-suited men. Neo-fascist supporters marched with him under heavy-duty cotton banners bearing his fascist emblem which, we have learned, were stitched in Nazi Germany before the war.
A sunny Sunday, September 12, 1965. Once again, the neo-fascist Union Movement (UM) was planning to hold a provocative rally in an old Jewish quarter of London’s East End. This, however, would prove to be an historic occasion: the last time party founder and leader Sir Oswald Mosley — who had spoken of the ‘stink of the Jew’— would make a major open-air speech
(The flash-and-circle symbol has now been adopted by the banned British neo-Nazi group National Action, which took its inspiration from Mosley’s movement. A senior police officer, Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, last week warned of the threat posed by the ‘home-grown’ far-Right as it built international networks.)
Bringing up the rear of the group in this photo is a smartly-dressed young man with distinctive blond hair. He was identified yesterday, by Sir Oswald’s former chauffeur, as Max Mosley. At the time, Oxford graduate Max, 25, was a qualified barrister at Gray’s Inn. This was two years, remember, after he insists that ‘my work for my father’s party ended’.
This week, Walter Merricks, chairman of the controversial State-approved Press regulator Impress — an organisation to which no national newspaper will sign up but which has received £3.8 million of Mr Mosley’s money via a Mosley family trust and another charity family trust — tried to downplay the extent of Mosley’s fascist past by suggesting that it happened ‘when he was 19 years old’.
By Mosley’s own admission he was an active supporter both of his father’s UM party and South African apartheid through university and well into early adulthood.
The 1965 rally in Cheshire Street — now a part of the multi-cultural Brick Lane market — is still remembered today.
It was held to upstage a meeting of Jewish anti-fascists, and is recalled wistfully by Mosley loyalists as his ‘last great speech’.
The tycoon rigidly stuck to the 1963 claim as the Mail forensically exposed his thuggish and racially bigoted conduct as an important figure in the UM. As an election agent, Max had published a repulsive pamphlet (pictured) accusing ‘coloured immigrants’ of spreading ‘terrible’ diseases such as TB, VD and leprosy — the existence of which he denied under oath at a 2008 privacy trial
The neo-fascist leader had planned to use a Tannoy system, set up on the back of a van, to address the faithful.
Technical problems meant he soon resorted to a handheld loudhailer to preach his well- worn tirade against ‘coloured immigrants’ to the people of Bethnal Green — who were ‘becoming very Asian in appearance’, according to one Mosleyite.
Pictures from that day still provoke a jolt of shock at those sinister banners — with lightning bolt emblems and threatening points like something from a Nuremberg rally — being paraded through London’s streets.
The warm-up act that day was delivered courtesy of convicted Holocaust-denier Keith Gibson, a Mosley disciple jailed in 1952 for a public order offence for telling a meeting: ‘Hitler had the right idea about Jews. The Jewish Chronicle newspaper stated that six million Jews were exterminated. That is all lies but even this figure would not have been enough.’
This nasty piece of work had accompanied Max Mosley to the Dachau former Nazi concentration camp in 1962 — quipping grotesquely ‘good try, but not good enough’ — and who had named his bullmastiff guard-dog Maximilian Rufus, after Sir Oswald’s loyal son.
A report on the 1965 East End rally, to be found on a current Mosley ‘fan’ website, recalls: ‘Just after ten o’clock that morning, UM organising secretary Keith Gibson turned up in his Austin Mini van in order to set up the Tannoy address system and to begin the warm-up speeches.’
Over the past week, Mr Mosley has strenuously denied ever being a racist. He says he has no recollection of the ‘leprosy’ leaflet of 1961
The Mosley men faced opposition from members of the Yellow Star Movement — a predominantly Jewish group of anti-fascist protesters — but they were no match for Mosley, ‘a master manipulator of hecklers’, the admiring review says.
The fascists marched down Cheshire Street carrying aloft their cherished banners bearing the insignia that served both Sir Oswald’s Blackshirts — the pre-war British Union of Fascists (BUF) — and his post-war UM.
Barry Ayres, his former chauffeur, yesterday described unearthing the banners in late 1961 or early 1962, in an old coal cellar that was part of the basement office of Hector McKechnie, who was Sir Oswald’s personal secretary.
Mr Ayres recalled: ‘McKechnie said, would I have a look in there, and I found the banners wrapped up in paper in a brown box.
‘He said: “I’m amazed they are still there — you know they were made in Germany.” They were beautifully made, from heavy-duty cotton. We dragged them out, and got the banner bits dry-cleaned.
‘Sir Oswald loved it that we had found them. He had kept the flash-and-circle that was the symbol of the BUF and it became the symbol of the Union Movement. He said, “Well, we’ll use them”, and we did.’
The banners feature in many of the Cheshire Street photographs. The images are preserved in the Oswald Mosley archive, originally a family collection, now held at Birmingham University.
The Mail has sent the photographs from that day in 1965 to Max Mosley’s lawyers and asked him what he was doing at the rally, given his insistence he gave up supporting his father’s movement two years earlier. Mr Mosley had nothing to say in response.
In the past, Mr Mosley told MPs at a parliamentary select committee in 2009 that he had supported his father ‘until I was 21 or 22’, which was 1961 to 1962.
Last Thursday, he reiterated that ‘my work for my father’s party . . . ended in 1963’. But there is strong evidence Mr Mosley was involved with his father’s racist party throughout 1964.
In the Daily Express of September 4, 1964, it was reported that Max Mosley ‘said last night’ he was seeking to stand as a parliamentary candidate in Salford East, but first ‘he aimed to ask for the approval of his father’. The following week, The Times reported the candidacy had been withdrawn.
After the narrow Labour Party victory in October 1964, documents show that the following month Sir Oswald Mosley announced his son would be parliamentary candidate at a widely anticipated re-run election. (In fact, Prime Minister Harold Wilson increased his majority 17 months later in 1966.)
According to Action, the UM’s own virulently racist newspaper, Mosley Senior told a meeting at St Stephen’s Restaurant in Westminster, on November 21, that Max and three other candidates would ‘fight’ for ‘a complete stop to coloured immigration’, and ‘the return of present immigrants in a fair and decent way to their own country’.
In a follow-up press release, Sir Oswald said his son would stand in Birmingham, which is next-door to the present-day constituency of West Bromwich East, whose MP Tom Watson is under pressure to return the £540,000 of funding he has received from Max Mosley.
In January 1964, the Jewish Chronicle reported the ‘proposed visit of Max Mosley’ to ‘speak on the policy of the British Union Movement’ in a debate in Glasgow on February 12, which he eventually withdrew from.
When Max Mosley was called to the Bar, in June 1964, the London Evening Standard described him as ‘an active supporter of his father’s Union Movement’, and reported that other law students at the graduation event had barracked him with cries of ‘Heil Hitler’ and started singing Land Of Hope And Glory. It added: ‘Mosley took it calmly.’
Over the past week, Mr Mosley has strenuously denied ever being a racist. He says he has no recollection of the ‘leprosy’ leaflet of 1961.
Interviewed by Channel 4 News, he at first argued that the hideous pamphlet — warning that ‘coloured immigration threatens your children’s health’ — was merely offensive, before being driven to accept that it was racist.
He has repeatedly refused to issue an apology, despite West Indian immigrants in Moss Side, Manchester, where he published the vile leaflet, saying they were terrified by its repulsive and incendiary claims.
Additional reporting: Simon Trump