The Glasgow Anarchist Federation calls on all Workers to Defend the Right of Free Expression [Leaflet, March 1945]

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We call upon you to rally to the defence of our London comrades who are being charged with sedition. After the lessons of John McLean’s case in the last war, when this great champion of the workers’ cause who gave his all to educating the workers, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on much the same charge, we call upon you, in your own interest, to take up the cause of the four comrades whose records in the class struggle we lay before you. 


Marie Louise Berneri was born in Italy, but was forced to leave when her parents were hounded out of Italy by Mussolini because of their activity as Anarchists in the working-class struggle against Fascism. Her father, Professor Berneri carried on the struggle in France, and served several terms of imprisonment for his defence of the workers. In 1936, the Spanish workers sent out their call of revolt, and Berneri was not found wanting. He joined his Anarchist comrades in Spain and played a prominent part in the organisation of militias and fought himself on the front. He paid with his life for his militancy, being shot in 1937.

During the present war, Marie Louise Berneri’s mother was arrested in France in 1940 and handed over to the Italian government. She was imprisoned in Germany and Italy, but is now free, and is carrying on the workers’ struggle in Southern Italy. 

After her father’s death. Marie Louise Berneri came to England and acquired British nationality by marriage. She continued her activity with the Anarchists in producing the anti-fascist paper Spain and the World, helping Spanish refugees from the Civil War, and carrying on through the medium of Freedom Press her opposition to Capitalism, Fascism and Nazism. As is well known, the Anarchists have opposed the war from a working class standpoint as an imperialist war, warning the workers against Fascism at home. 


Her husband, Vernon Richards, is well known in the work of Freedom Press. At the age of 18 he joined Camillo Berneri in the production of an Anarchist paper in Italian. When the Spanish Revolution broke out in 1936, when he was 20, he founded Spain and the World and edited it throughout the war, explaining to the workers in this country the significance of the Spanish Anarchists’ struggle. At the same time he helped support orphaned Spanish children, and later Spanish refugees who came to this country. Throughout his life he has fought against Franco, Hitler and Mussolini from the working class angle. 

At the beginning of the war he registered as a conscientious objector but was put on the military register and offered a commission in the Royal Engineers which he refused, and continued in his job as a civil engineer. 
He has never sought the limelight, but has been an untiring comrade in the cause of the oppressed. 


John Hewetson is a young doctor, who before the war was active in the anti-War movement. In the struggle for peace he came to realize that War is the logic of Class Society, and unlike many, did not shrink from the recognition of this fact, but brought his activities into line with his knowledge. Joining the Anarchist movement in the first year of the war he continued to expose war and capitalism, being more convinced by what he saw in the casualty departments of hospitals of poverty – and war stricken London. Unlike many who shouted for war, Comrade Hewetson stayed in London throughout the blitz of 1940-41 and 1944. He was imprisoned in 1940 for selling a working class paper outside Hyde Park and refusing to pay the fine. Again in 1942 he served two months for refusing to accept a commission in the R.A.M.C., contending that the civilian working class were entitled to more medical attention than they were getting, and oppossing the wholesale drafting of doctors into the Army. Comrade Hewetson is the author of a new pamphlet on “Italy after Mussolini”, which would already have been in circulation but for the police raids on Freedom Press. 


Like Comrade Hewetson, Philip Sansom also worked in the anti-war movement, but when the war came it became crystal clear to him that to try and abolish war was hopeless as long as there were oppressed and oppressors in society. Although a talented young artist who could quite easily have attained comfort on the side of the oppressors by selling his talents in the commercial field, he entered instead into the class struggle, gladly taking sides with the oppressed.. He has bent his whole energies unsparingly, and without thought of monetary gain, in the movement of his class – the workers of the world. 

None of these comrades has ever been a member of a political party or received any payment for the work they do in the class struggle. All of them earn their own living, like other workers. We lay their records before you, the workers, to give judgment and help us to create a tremendous, defence. Remember that P. G. Wodehouse who broadcast from Berlin many times during the war had no charge brought against him; Badoglio, the murderer of Abyssinia, has been feted and whitewashed; Mosley has been released from gaol. Workers, awake and watch! Be on your guard, lest in the “fight for democracy” all you will have won will be Fascism! Don’t let men and women who champion the cause of the workers go down before the onslaught of reaction! They need you, you need them. These comrades have fought for years on your side. Give them all you’ve got! 

Comrades: Give Your Support to the Freedom Press Defence Committee. 

Printed and Published by ANARCHIST FEDERATION