Excerpts from BBC ‘Panorama’ programme, ‘A Political Scalpel’, August 1989
Trooper I:...so, anyway, we had three teams going in, Sword, Dagger and Shield. I was with Sword. Our job was to go in, create a lot of noise and find the hostages; whilst Shield held the exfil location and Dagger went for the primary Tangos. Anyway, in we go, it’s all going nicely, then Tony, the new bod, calls in that he’s made contact and tries to chuck a frag grenade into a room ahead of us, except he muffs it, the grenade bounces off a door frame and goes off in the bloody room we’re in! Luckily, no one was hurt, but it all kicked off from there. By now, we’d confirmed that there were two hostages in the room and about four Tangos.
Sword Team: Tony initiates the action
The Brixton Popular Front guards
After we exchanged fire with some of the BPF foot soldiers, Clive stepped forward, told Tony what he thought of him in no uncertain terms, and lobbed a flash bang into the same room. Off it went, managing to take out all the Tangos and wounding the Para hostage, whats-is-name, Smiffy. Needless to say, we went in hard, double taps all round for the downed fellers, and got the lads out, job done…
Hostages rescued by Sword Team
Trooper K: The lads in Sword were making a hell of a row, exactly as planned. Meanwhile, we were moving through the dark, deserted corridors and rooms of the community centre, heading for where we thought the Politburo Tangos would be located. We soon found ourselves at the exit from the caretaker’s room, and then back out into the warm night air. The raucous sounds of the Popular Front meeting in the local boozer meant that you couldn’t really hear anything else, so Shield were able to stick by the skips they were using as cover.
Dagger Team head for main foyer
BFP in main foyer
As we approached the main doors, Mike spotted one of the primaries inside the well-lit centre, old ‘Afro Bob’ himself. It as around this time that a tango in the window opened up on us with his AK74 and Colly got hit as he headed that way. With no real cover to speak of, we just opened fire and waded our way through the tide of lead, using grenades, 9mm and 12-gauge rounds and sheer guts to take us to the main door. Although the Skipper went down, we made it to within sight of the primaries and expended every grenade we had left, backed up by concentrated MP5 and shotgun rounds, into the foyer. Needless to say, the carnage was complete, with all tangoes neutralized, both primaries and secondaries. By this time, the curtains and furnishings in the foyer were ablaze and the whole thing was spreading quite rapidly, with the whole centre itself becoming engulfed. As the people in the Dog and Duck came running over, we faded into the background, job done, heading out to the pick-up point. And no one was any the wiser…
Home for Jaffa Cakes and Tea
This interview took place during the Parliamentary Investigation into the ‘Loughborough Estate Massacre’, as the event became known. The events that night led to the fragmentation of the Brixton Popular Front. Stripped of a single, coherent leadership, each faction blamed the other for the massacre and began infighting. As a consequence, members of the Parachute Regiment working in concert with the Metropolitan Police easily subdued the area. The crackdown continued for many weeks. At no time did anyone make the link to the use of Special Forces, until the discovery of the ‘Thatcher Tapes’ in 1987.
Apologies for delay in publishing. I sliced top off forefinger removing some plastic Perry Mahdists from sprue.....