Secret files show threat to Highgate
THE home-made bomb that vandals hoped would blow up the tomb
of Karl Marx wasnt sophisticated it was made of a bolt
ends, crudely adapted fireworks and a fizzing cocktail of weed-killer
But confidential police files seen only by the New Journal
reveal how Special Branch experts ruled the kit was as potent
as dynamite and powerful enough to maim and kill.
The dossier shows how vandals planned to saw through the face of
Marxs bronze bust in Highgate cemetery (pictured) before filling
the hollow statue with explosives.
The explosion could have caused irreparable damage but the statue
was saved by its nose the vandals failed to cut through the
nostrils and missed the chance to fit the bomb inside the bust.
Instead, the explosion on January, 18, 1970 hardly reported
at the time was set off close to the grave, shattering paving
slabs and scarring the marble decoration.
But although Marxs bust was left battered and bruised, the
£600 worth of damage was reversed with a full restoration
and police files suggest the blast was a lucky escape for a monument
still part of the areas well-worn tourist trail.
Mystery still surrounds who was behind the attack. Nobody has ever
been charged with the criminal damage and detectives are no longer
Newly-released documents, however, show how behind-the-scenes the
case raised fears that officers would be unable to protect the tomb
from vandalism and reveal how at one stage desperate investigators
believed the only way to stop repeat attacks would be to patrol
the cemetery at night.
The documents were unlocked by a Freedom of Information inquiry
by the New Journal and will be made available to the public at the
Public Records Office in Kew, west London.
They include a sketch of how the bomb was made and an abusive hand-written
letter to one of the cemeterys guardian which simply read:
And when youve repaired the statue of that commie bastard,
well blow it up again.
Bomb squad experts, who trawled through the shavings of Marxs
moustache found at the foot of the statue, described the blast as
powerful, adding that the explosives had lethal
properties within a range of at least 200 yards. Fortunately,
the explosion came at night and no visitors to cemetery were harmed.
A Special Branch report compiled a month after the blast said: The
nose had been sawn through with a fine hacksaw blade from within
approximately a quarter of an inch of the nostrils.
Files also reveal a bout of vandalism in 1981. A police report said:
Clearly this tomb will always be subject to unwelcome attention
no matter what happens.
It is not necessary for me to stress the difficulties encountered
when endeavouring to combat this type of offence, indeed the only
sure solution would be a permanent guard in the tomb which is obviously
impractical from a police point of view, particularly as the cemetery
is private property.
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