27 AUGUST 1983, Page 5


T he Aldeburgh Festival took place in June this year, as usual, at the delightful Snape Maltings. Concerts, and music classes, have been held there throughout the summer; but next month the hall gets back to the less agreeable business of the Sizewell B inquiry, which began there last January. The Central Elec- tricity Generating Board and the planning authorities have completed their evidence, but the inquiry is unlikely to finish before the middle of next year — and the inspec- tor, Sir Frank Layfield QC, may not make his report until 1985. During the autumn, he will be hearing various objections to the building of the nuclear power station: that the Pressurised water reactor(PWR) pro- Posed for Sizewell B — the first in this country — is inherently dangerous, remembering what happened at Three Mile Island: that we have no need of more nuclear power; that the expected volume of traffic on the access roads to Sizewell dur- ing the six years of construction will make life intolerable in the villages around Leiston. And there are dark rumours denied of course — that it is planned to bury the nuclear waste in the bird sanctuary at Minsmere, and that there has already been an unusually high incidence of (,leukaemia among those working at The opposition to Sizewell is gr"ving, and not just from the Left — the ants-nuclear lobby and the Friends of the Earth.' But most people are afraid it will be in vain, and that this beautiful stretch of the east coast will be defiled by the irresistible onward march of nuclear power.

It will be all the worse if plans proceed for the building of up to six power stations (In conjunction with France) a few miles down the coast at Orford, in effect destroy- ing the bird sanctuary on Havergate Island. These stations would be based on the fast breeder reactor which, among other things, Produces energy from plutonium and con- verts uranium into plutonium. Since the Sizewell inquiry was last in session at Snape the delicate question of plutonium has been raised again, by the curious and disturbing case of Dr Ross Hesketh. In June Dr Hesketh, a nuclear scientist who had work- ed for the CEGB for more than 20 years, was sacked. Although his former employers maintain that he was dismissed for refusing move to another job within the CEGB, it Is clear that the real reason was that he had made known his views about the use to which the plutonium produced in nuclear reactors is put. Dr Hesketh's contention is that this plutonium has been exported to the US for the purpose of making nuclear weapons. In evidence to the Sizewell in-

quiry the CEGB stated: 'No plutonium pro- duced in CEGB reactors has been applied to weapons use either in the UK or elsewhere,' and this was confirmed last February by a junior minister, Mr John Moore. However, as Dr Hesketh has pointed out, last year the CEGB, in its official history, wrote that 'the Americans also agreed to take some [plutonium from the civil nuclear programme] for military purposes,' and about five tons of weapons-grade plutonium were in fact exported to the US under the terms of the Mutual Defence Agreement. So why has the CEGB ap- parently changed its position? And why has the Department of Energy contradicted the CEGB's previous statement, without any reference to it? Why was Dr Hesketh sack- ed, and why, for the past 18 months, has he been subjected by his employers to — in his own words — 'a sustained harassment of steadily increasing intensity and scope'? After all, he did no more than draw atten- tion to what was already known from published documents, and had even been acknowledged by the CEGB. The clear in- ference is that the CEGB is seriously embar- rassed, and determined to persuade the Sizewell inquiry that it has nothing to do with assisting the production of nuclear weapons. This is an issue which Sir Frank Lay field must not gloss over.

So, farewell Bourne & Hollingsworth, the London shop which has finally closed its doors in Oxford Street. The name was changed a few years ago to Bournes seemingly without much success. I never went there, but the shop was always familiar to me from J.B. Morton (Beachcomber), who wrote of 'the un- discover'd country from whose Bourne no Hollingsworth returns'. A bit further along Oxford Street, those ra.fast-fingered practitioners of the three- card trick still seem to be doing good business. Presumably no one ever gets caught more than once (I made my mistake years ago at Folkestone races), but there were plenty of suckers about this week when I stopped to spend a few enjoyable minutes watching several people part with £10 notes. Of course it is dishonest, disgraceful, illegal, etc, but it is also fascinating not only to observe the skill of the three-card trickster but to listen to the patter of the stooges who help to lure the unsuspecting passers-by by pretending that they know where the Queen has been plac- ed. And I was especially amused to note the speed with which four men dispersed in dif- ferent directions when a looker-out near Bond Street signalled the approach of a policeman.

C ir James Goldsmith is becoming rather 10endearing. His periodic outbursts on the subject of the press are the more enjoyable for being so predictable. He is rather like the anti-monarchist Labour MP, Willie Hamilton: one may initially feel incensed at the views which he expresses; later one becomes inured to them and tolerant of their repetition; then rather disappointed if he does not pop up from time to time and say his piece. Last month Sir James referred once again to Private Eye as a `cancer' in our society (on the occasion of the settle- ment of his latest libel action). And this week he has been abusing the Press Council again, accusing it of `the usual nauseous blend of perfidy, sanctimony and humbug'. It should surprise no one to learn that the council's ruling, to which Sir James referred in fact found in his favour, upholding his complaint against the Observer. `Parlia- ment must rid us of this shameful and far- cical organisation,' Sir James was quoted as saying. `If not, it will be the freedom of the press, and therefore freedom itself, which will suffer.' What apparently annoyed Sir James was that the council condemned him for exercising what he saw as his freedom to canvass members of the council while they were considering his case. Some might be impertinent enough to suggest that such ac- tion constituted interference by one of the parties to a complaint with the freedom of the quasi-judicial body called upon to judge that complaint. Sir James also kept his fans happy by throwing in the usual `left-wing conspiracy' allegation — that one of the council members was a Communist activist. Which reminds me: Sir James's of- fer in 1981, recalled by Alexander Chancellor on this page last month, of an annual prize to journalists for investigating subversion in the media, still stands. He has given his assurance that it will be 'even big- ger, better and more effective than original- ly planned'. And it will be launched as soon as Der Spiegees libel action against Sir James has been heard in the High Court.

Simon Courtauld