'LEADERSHIP ROW DELAYS TALKS ON CND’S NEW ROLE'

Daily Telegraph – 12 November 1990

By A J McIlroy and David Graves

Controversy over the leadership of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament dogged the organisation's conference at the weekend. The Conservative peer Lord Orr-Ewing delayed talks on the group's role in the 1990s by revealing he will table a question in the Lords about the new general secretary, Mr Gary Lefley. Lord Orr-Ewing said he wanted the Foreign Office

"to comment on the fact that a former national organiser of the British Peace Assembly has been appointed to the CND's top post".

He said the Assembly was the British arm of the Kremlin-backed World Peace Council during the early 1980s.

Mr Lefley, a 36-year-old teacher, takes up his position in January, joining the American-born Miss Marjorie Thompson, 33, elected chairman yesterday succeeding Mr Bruce Kent. Lord Orr-Ewing said:

"I am asking the Foreign Office to comment on Mr Lefley's new appointment with CND in view of the Foreign Office's numerous condemnations of the World Peace Council as a Stalinist wolf in sheep's clothing."

Lord Orr-Ewing was prominent in the early 1980s for his campaigns against organisations he said were being used by Russia to create dissent in the Free World.

Dr Julian Lewis, a former leading anti-CND activist now working for the Conservative Party, said Mr Lefley was a member of CND in London from the early 1980s and had, for the past two years, been on the CND's National Council. He said:

"It is his appointment now into the top job, the post occupied by Bruce Kent at the height of the Cruise and Trident controversies, that raises questions about CND and the involvement of the hard Left. I wonder how those Labour MPs, including Neil Kinnock, in the CND will feel about the movement being led by a man with this background?"

Mr Lefley's CV, which was handed out in a press release on the eve of the CND conference even gives his golf handicap – 18. But it makes no mention that he was national organiser of the British Peace Assembly at a time when the CND was involved in the height of controversy over the UK's nuclear defence.

Writing in Straight Left, a Left-wing publication under the heading "Reagan Go Home! And Take NATO With You", Mr Lefley said in 1982:

"It is not the Warsaw Pact which is threatening to bring down the final curtain in Europe. In fact, the USSR has guaranteed that it will never under any circumstances use nuclear weapons against a nuclear weapon-free country and has offered to enter into treaties to that effect."

He said yesterday:

"Most people have reshaped their politics since the early 1980s. I certainly have. But Lord Orr-Ewing is asking the same questions of eight years ago as if there was still a cold war."

Since 1984 the membership of CND has fallen from 100,000 to 70,000, but Miss Thompson said she believed CND would have to move away from single nuclear issues and become a more general anti-war movement.

[NOTE: For Marjorie Thompson’s 25 September 1999 denunciation of Gary Lefley’s pro-Communist activities in CND, click here.]