There are two items in the files of the Registrar, HH Burchnall, which suggest that he was receiving information about student tactics from a source very close to Socialist Society or the March 19 Committee (an umbrella group set up after the charges to coordinate the campaign against the disciplining of the ten).
The first is a typewritten note – possibly a draft of a planned position paper. It is unsigned. Note the sections in italics:
The seizure of Senate House
The Senate House was illegally occupied by students from Monday 9 March to Friday 20 March. It has been said that the decision to occupy was taken at a mass meeting following a talk by the Vice-Chancellor to some 200 students in the Union building at 12:30pm. This is false.
A decision to occupy the Senate House on the Monday, without regard to anything the Vice-Chancellor might say on that day, had been taken by a group of dissident students during the previous week.
The decision had been referred to by ring-leaders in Liverpool on the previous Thursday, and had been quoted in Cambridge before the weekend.
While the Vice-Chancellor was speaking, an advance guard was already lurking in the Senate House.
This has been admitted during the subsequent disciplinary proceedings.
One student has claimed –
Prominent among the occupying students were a former student and a number of outsiders.
The exclusion of staff
On the morning of Tuesday 10 March the Senate House staff were refused admission. The doors were barricaded and guards were posted. The Registrar and others were physically obstructed.
The intention to obstruct
Throughout the occupation a prominent notice on the main door of the Senate House included the statement: [blank space]
This was also circulated as a broadsheet throughout the University. [The author was probably referring here to the leaflet, We Occupy, We Stay]
Another document in the Burchnall file is the following unsigned typescript, dated 23 March 1970, which provides the University with pretty precise details of the defence tactics planned for the disciplinary hearings, and the campaign tactics for the Easter vacation period and after. It’s an enumerated list of observations by our ‘mole’:
- After his reported speech, Professor Farmer would be objected to as chairman.
- The Ten are meeting in the Union tonight to discuss tactics.
- Of the Ten it is probable that Peter Cresswell, Ian Williams, Daniel Fishman, Susan Rosinger and Andrew Black are the militants and, as such, do not seem to care unduly about the future. Consequently they may extend the “fight” against the “ruling classes” to the hearing if they can. Daniel Fishman the American – I understand his father lectures at Keele University.
- What they will try to achieve:
(a) Argue with the wording of the charge
(b) Obtain press support – see attached letter [not in file unfortunately]
(c) Have an open disciplinary hearing
(d) Call in some 200 witnesses – ie, fellow occupiers – and so disrupt the proceedings
(e)Put off until next term to allow the disruption under (c) and (d) to be more effective
(f) Use injunctions against the University to delay
(g) Agreement to a Joint Trial
(h) Object to the composition of the committee (anything to delay, etc)
(i) Get local colleges to support – not much chance during the vacation
- Other plans –
(a) Investigate possibility of an injunction against Dodgson for inciting them (the others) to riot
(b) 180 people approx have signed a note with Fr McGoldrick as a witness, accepting responsibility for the occupation (to try and divert attention from the Ten)
(c) Get Guild Council to approve the payment of their legal expenses
(d) They accept that they are in the wrong. They are considering employing a barrister for one case and the rest will abide by the result.
(e) All living in and around Liverpool to lobby the hearings and get into the building by hook or by crook and so make it a public hearing. A Black is the correspondent. They left their addresses with him and he is going to write to them.
(f) “They have a right to discipline us, but not just the ten”.
(g) They have elected a secret committee of 6 (not quite clear what they are going to do)
(h) “Get Macmillan to lead the deputation (re postponement) and hit him with a stick all the way over”.
- Next term – stand up before lectures start and tell everybody what is going on. An early mass meeting. Continue the fight.