Confidential Home Office papers have been released for the first time, revealing the UK Government’s response to the Meibion Glyndŵr firebombing campaign on holiday homes in Wales.
Around 228 attacks on English-owned homes – mostly in North Wales – were carried out between 1979 and 1994. Estate agents in England and Conservative politicians were also targeted.
The documents, obtained by BBC Radio Cymru’s Manylu programme, reveal police found it difficult to obtain intelligence, ”partly because there was some sympathy at present within the native Welsh community for those who sought to preserve the Welsh culture and language”.
Another highlighted anonymous birthday cards sent to the then-Chief Constable of North Wales Police, alleging some individuals – including several performing artists – were involved in the campaign. The arrest of three actors in 1990 – including Bryn Fon – also led to worries in the force that others would plant devices in retaliation. They were later released without charge.
In one passage, North Wales Police were described as being ”very guarded about the questioning” of suspects and did not want to ”raise too many hopes” about bringing charges.
The papers also note the existence of the Fighters for Wales Movement, who wanted to improve Welsh railways. The group, which claimed it had IRA support, threatened to damage British Rail equipment.
Only one man was convicted in connection with the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign. Sion Aubrey Roberts from Llangefni was jailed for twelve years for sending letter bombs to four Conservative politicians and two police officers, although his involvement has been doubted by some because of his young age at the time.
BBC Radio Cymru said the papers were released under the Freedom of Information Act following two appeals against a Home Office decision to refuse publication for security reasons. The UK Information Commissioner upheld the challenge.
Reacting to the papers, Bryn Fon told Manylu he believed the security services were involved in the arson campaign: ”I was not a member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) or Plaid Cymru as they would have expected – and the explanation was that they had had a tip-off from a reliable source and that is why they came to my house. I think the secret service was involved as they had less work to do in Ireland and they needed to save their jobs.”
But the claims were dismissed by the former Welsh Office private secretary and Conservative MP for Anglesey, Keith Best, who said: ”The idea that this would have been manufactured with consequent potential loss of life, as well as the enormous loss of property – that this was somehow done by agent provocateurs from the secret service, I think is too fanciful to be of any belief whatsoever.”
North Wales Police reopened its investigation into the firebombings in 2004, eleven years after the conviction of Sion Aubrey Roberts and at the tail end of the movement’s activity.
Source: BBC Cymru Fyw