Blake escape pair free

Wednesday, July 3, 1991

Blake escape pair free

A British jury has acquitted veteran peace activists Michael Randall and Patrick Pottle on charges arising from their role in the escape of double agent George Blake from jail. Randall and Pottle told the court they acted on humanitarian grounds in springing Blake from Wormwood Scrubs prison and smuggling him out of the country in 1966. They thought his 42-year sentence for spying was excessive and cruel.

Czech MP Jan Kavan, a former dissident, testified that Randall had also assisted the Czechoslovak opposition (which later became the government), smuggling books across the border in a van similar to the one used to take Blake out of Britain. Randall built secret compartments into several vans, another of which was used to smuggle military resisters' literature into West Germany.

Testifying by means of a video made at his home in Moscow, Blake himself said neither Randall nor Pottle had worked for the KGB.

The prosecution was launched in 1989 after the two published a book describing the escape. Police had known about the escape since at least 1970, when the two had been assured they wouldn't be charged because they were "little fish".

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