Ted Atkinson [right], a giant amongst contemporary British Catholics, died on Saturday 22nd February aged 88 years. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen
Ted was a long-time friend and supporter of The Saint George Educational Trust (SGET). Imprisoned seventeen times (twelve times in HMP Norwich, four in HMP Pentonville and once in HMP Brixton), issued with curfew restrictions under an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), and refused a hip operation by his local hospital because of pro-life work, Ted’s life and combat for the Moral Order puts the rest of us to shame. As a small tribute to Ted Atkinson SGET is pleased to be able to present some pro-life memoirs that Ted put to paper for the Trust a few years ago.
Written for The Saint George Educational Trust
by Ted Atkinson
Palm Sunday, 20th March 2016
I lost my job as a hospital porter whilst employed at Bishops Stortford. After lunch one day I happened to glance at the Ops list. One of them was a D&C (termination). I have no medical or nursing qualifications, but that is womb scrape to evacuate the results of conception. It just happened that I was instructed to fetch the ‘patient’ to the theatre. I refused point blank, and told them this is wilful murder. I went to a tribunal and was asked if I was a conscientious objector. I wondered why they asked that question, and said I had no objection to military service. They never explained and turned down my appeal on the grounds that I was not. I was brought up during the war and equated that with a refusal to military service.
In 1999 I blitzed two shops in Cambridge and ten shops around the West End of London where I rendered nearly £300 worth of sodomite literature unreadable. I had thirteen separate incidents, having blitzed one shop twice. In eight of them they would not call the police, but merely told me to clear off and not come back. Never argued the toss because I was testing my toes in the water to find out how far I could push without getting arrested. I was only prosecuted and fined in three of them. In another incident I was merely escorted off the premises by a police officer…… In another incident I was arrested and later released without charge. During my detainment one of the police officers said to a third party within my hearing, “It’s good to know that somebody is making a stand!”
Told a judge in Manchester Crown Court, “By protecting these murderers you will have to answer before Almighty God.” I can tell you that from long experience they just sit there like a block of stone, but I must have touched him on a raw nerve. He replied, “That will be before a much higher Court!”
Picketing alone at Marie Stopes in Buckhurst Hill I was arrested for refusing to remove photos of murdered babies from sight. I was arrested and taken to Ilford Police Station, which I knew had no jurisdiction. They should have taken me to Epping. In fact it turned out to be the right station. I was kept there for the weekend during which time I got chatting to a teenage police cadet. He let slip that he had been playing with an Ouija Board. I read the riot act and made him realise that he was placing his soul in grave moral danger. I have his name on my prayer list to St. Therese of Lisieux.
It was after returning to Britain in August 1968, after four years in Australia, that I was shocked into some form of Catholic Action. I was stunned at the depth of moral depravity to which our country had descended. This was particularly noticeable in regard to the spread of pornography. My first piece of action in this regard was at W.H. Smiths bookstall at Liverpool Street Station. A paperback, ‘The Other Victorians’, a pornographic work thinly disguised as a part-history of the Victorian era. I rendered unsaleable several copies before I was arrested. I was fined £8.50. A friend, thinking they were doing me a good turn, unknown to me paid the fine, pulling the rug from under my feet. I was furious, but had to accept it. My next action was at the local cinema in Bishops Stortford during the screening of ‘Last Tango in Paris’. The leading actor, whose name escapes me at present, later told the director, “You have utterly violated me, I shall never make another film like that.” Maria Schneider, who played opposite him, ended up in a psychiatric hospital.
My introduction to Fr. Morrow was at a Methodist chapel in North London where a plan to blockade an abortion mill was to be staged the next day, so I got plunged in at the deep end and was arrested with him and a number of other people. As I recall we spent several hours in police cells and were bound over to keep the peace. We had been doing that from the very start, for the unborn! With regard to the ‘Tango in Paris’, I was fined £250 and spent sixty days in Pentonville in lieu of the fine. My first three weeks I shared a cell with a Protestant from Co. Mayo. Until then I didn’t know there were any such in Co. Mayo. When he was discharged I spent the rest of my sentence alone. Maybe they thought I might have a demoralising effect on the other prisoners. They are all innocent except me! One fellow I met specialised in burgling West End flats. Another one, if you could believe him, must have been a guest at every prison in the country. Whatever I mentioned, he had been there. “Now Norwich was a good nick that was!” I was never able to clarify exactly what is “a good nick!”
I must say that although I have only resided in three prisons, Brixton, Pentonville, and Norwich, I can’t say that I had any real complaints with regard to the accommodation or food. The rations were adequate, though not plentiful. I would keep two slices of ‘Mother’s Pride’ for a late-night snack, with a sprinkling of salt. It was delicious! Hunger is the best sauce!
Doing a short spell in Norwich one fellow asked me to pray for an aquittal as he was going for trial the following day. I said, “Harry, I shall pray that justice shall be done.” He bounced back at me in alarm, “don’t do that, I could get six years!” Looking back on that incident it sounded to me almost like a guilty plea.
One fellow I met in Pentonville was astounded when I said, “Don’t you think it is wrong to help yourself to other people’s property?” He was in nick for shoplifting. His reaction was, “You are too honest, you shouldn’t be here!”
Whilst hitching to Bournemouth a middle-aged lady driving alone gave me a lift and took me as far as Ringwood. That is unusual. She said to me, “I don’t know why I stopped.” Then I said, ”I know why you stopped.” I don’t know why I said that, but the reason was made plain to me a little later. She was a widow and had been attending seances, and claimed that she had been in verbal communication with her late husband. I read the riot act and warned her that she was placing her soul in grave danger as this communication could only be the result of a trick of the Devil. I pointed out to her that if she was humbly prayerful to Almighty God in her widowhood, and He in his great mercy and wisdom wished to send her husband with a message, then that was the divine prerogative, but under no circumstances must she attempt to contact her dead husband. I offered her a spare set of rosary beads which she accepted and immediately placed around her neck. My first lift on that journey was from a man who had assisted my mobility about two years previously. He said, “You are the man who is fighting abortion!” But I couldn’t remember him.
There were twenty-seven of us before Liverpool Magistrates Court. I and seven others were convicted and fined. The ‘stipe’ asked me first, “Have you anything to say before sentence?” “Yes. Today you have disgraced your office. You have aligned yourself with a gang of child murderers and will have to answer before Almighty God. I stand here as a witness for the two-million unborn babies murdered by abortion in this country. In defence of our Christian heritage. When I came into this court twelve-days ago, I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Now there is no doubt. You have seen the evidence. You know that they murder unborn babies in that place, and you will have to answer before Almighty God. Hear me for the good of your soul.” His only reply to that was, “You are stepping very close to the laws of contempt, Mr. Atkinson.”
During that case we had a long weekend off as the magistrate had some other business to attend to. Fr. Morrow and a group of us went to Brighton in several cars and blockaded an abortion mill there. We all got arrested and, as I recall, were released on bail. Wherewith we returned to Liverpool and resumed the hearing there. I have wondered since whether that created some kind of legal precedent.
Attending Hertford Court on another occasion I was arrested by two police officers, who had come up from London, for failing to attend Marlborough Street Magistrates Court for sentencing. One was a lapsed Catholic and the other was a practising Anglican. He had lost a child in infancy, and I assured him that his child was safe in God’s keeping. On this occasion I was lodged in a West London police station overnight, and the Anglican came to visit me there whilst attending. He said he was anxious for my welfare.
At Marlborough St. the magistrate asked me why I had not turned up for sentencing on the previous occasion. I replied, “I am not the court’s paid servant to be at your beck and call.” I can’t remember what she said to that. The case was about some sodomitic literature that I had defaced and rendered unsaleable. I discovered later that she had ordered the books to be destroyed.
Up before Swaffham Court before Judge Browning, Mrs. Ruth May entered the witness box and produced a few tears. I said, “Madam, your distress is either sheer pretence or, if genuine, is the product of a troubled conscience and is a gift from God. Look after it and make your peace with God.” I could never analyse the look on her face. It almost seemed like a child asking for pity. I recall that a reporter from a local paper had to argue for his right to be in the court after the court officials had tried to have him excluded. When it came to my turn to give evidence there was no Catholic Bible available. I was not prepared to swear on a Protestant book so was asked, “Affirm.” I declined and pointed out that I am not an atheist. Judge Browning said we may have to hang over for another day, when a court official would be able to borrow a copy of a Douay Rheims New Testament from the local convent school. They also had a copy of the Koran! England had been a Catholic country for more than one-thousand years. It has never been a Moslem country.
During my trial for damaging a cinema projector during the screening of ‘Last Tango,’ Judge Waddilove asked me if I had anything to say before sentence. “Yes. I should have used a bigger hammer!” He didn’t say a word, but had given me a tip during the trial. “Whether or not I agree with you is beside the point. I am here to administer the law.” Judge David Moylan, in a later case at Kings Lynn court, used almost identical words when I was prosecuted for damaging a porn magazine. “I am not going to tell you whether or not I agree with you, that is not my function. I am here to administer the laws.”
On an occasion in London’s West End I damaged several sodomite books. Prior to this I had a summons to attend Bow St. Magistrates Court, now closed. I wondered what would happen if I blitzed a shop on the way to the court. Having never done that on a previous occasion I decided to try it as an experiment. They took me off to Brixton prison, and then took me up to Bow St. two-days later. I was already in breach of my bail at Marlborough St. The Crown Prosecution Service opposed bail as I might do the same thing again. The magistrate, who was a stipe (stipendiary magistrate) said, “I suppose you would like bail, Mr. Atkinson!” I replied, “That’s entirely a matter for you, sir.” He gave me unconditional bail, despite the fact that I was already in breach of bail at Marlborough St. I walked out into bright September sunlight when I was expecting to go back to Brixton prison. My usual procedure has been to walk into a shop, render copies of sodomite literature unreadable, walk to the counter with them, ask to speak to the proprietor and ask him if he wishes to call the police. My regret after all this, with hindsight, was that I was in general so mealy-mouthed and timid, and missed several golden opportunities. I now realise that with every appearance in court I should have made a standard statement saying that procured abortion is wilful, premeditated, murder, and that Almighty God alone has the right to take innocent human life.
A group of us were arrested and taken to the Leeds Bridewell where we shared a communal cell with several strangers. This was over Sunday night. About 1.00am, or so, a uniformed officer came in and his manner was very strange. He said, “I have a longer sentence than you. I run this place!” I felt so sorry for the man I got down on my knees and prayed a rosary for him and his family. It made me realise that coppers are only ordinary men like us, trying to do their duty as best they can, and have the same cares and worries as most other people.
One outstanding member of Fr. Morrow’s group was Maurice Lewis. He would go into an abortion mill and talk to those women who were waiting to have their babies murdered, and saved many from that terrible fate. I was with him one Good Friday at the Birmingham murder mill, but lacked the courage to go in with him, to my shame. It has been on my conscience ever since. He was a convert, and became involved in rescue work as a result of financially assisting a friend of his who needed money to pay for an abortion. It was only after he was made to realise what he had done that he repented and became one of the bravest and most determined rescue workers. He was only a little chap weighing less than ten stone. A lorry driver, he migrated between Britain and Canada twice yearly. He took on the British Columbia government who were proposing a bubble-zone, making it an offence to pray within fifty metres of an abortion mill. Before the case came to court in British Columbia he was found dead in the cab of his lorry. He was under forty years of age. One post mortem found he had died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and another that he had choked on some food. It is my opinion, and that of many others, that he was murdered. Two police cyclists found him on one of the Canadian highways. He had previously stated to some of his friends, “I have to be careful, I have upset a lot of people!”
Searching further back in my memory was when I was doing two-years National Service in the R.A.F. There were about twenty of us in a large Nissan Hut. There was one Presbyterian from Northern Ireland, by name Patrick Bloomer. Paddy would always kneel beside his bed before retiring for the night, in silent prayer. And there is me, a professing Catholic, and I was too embarrassed to give him moral support by kneeling by my bed. And, as I recall, there was no sniggering or snidey remarks. But some years later I went on a course to become a lighthouse keeper. I didn’t pass the test, but in the interim I was accommodated in a small dormitory of four, including myself. Thinking of Paddy I decided that I would kneel in silent prayer, which I did from then on.
Can one think of a more satanic injustice than a convicted murderer is maintained in idleness and relative luxury however horrendous his crime, and yet the death sentence has been reserved for the totally innocent. Marie Stopes and all the rest of these infanticides are all granted charity status as well as direct government subsidies, whilst we who fight them must struggle on with no such financial incentives, and are routinely branded as criminals into the bargain.
I was amongst several who were arrested at the Birmingham abortuary. The first in Britain to become fully operational within a week of the so called Act coming into force. We adopted passive resistance by lying on the ground, and had to be carried or dragged to the police van. One police constable said to me, “You walk, no pain. You want pain, you get it.” He bent my wrist over and I nearly passed out with the pain. I am amazed that he didn’t break my wrist. The West Midlands constabulary have a reputation for that sort of thing. That was my first experience of police brutality. I think he was a Catholic who knew that he shouldn’t be there.
I went to the cinema in Kings Lynn where the film ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ was being screened for a two-week run. Fortunately the attendance was so poor that it only ran for a week. This was during October. Having hitch-hiked from Hilgay I knew that I would be coming home in the dark. With the last bus having gone I was faced with a sixteen mile walk. I was disgusted to find that not a single Catholic, or any brand of Christian, had turned up to protest and spent about one-and-a-half hours on a lone vigil. But it was better than nothing. I had to walk the first mile to get on the main road for Downham Market. When I got to the roundabout my heart sank a bit for having to face another fifteen miles on foot. I know from experience that once darkness falls one’s chance of hitching a lift plummets. But I decided to give it a try. A few cars passed by then one pulled up. After having left the cinema just after 9.00pm I was home before ten, being dropped off right outside my front door! The Good Samaritan in this case was a Moslem student heading for Cambridge. He told me that he was opposed to abortion. Incidentally, the woman who played the part of the Blessed Mother had been killed in a road accident on her way to view the public premier of the film. I wonder where she is now? Did she have the opportunity to repent before she died? It’s a warning to all of us. I was quite prepared to walk the whole distance. It was cool and dry with no wind. Ideal for walking. It makes me realise that God does not always exact the penance, but merely requires our willingness. [Emphasis added]
Coming up to eighty-five, and with rapidly deteriorating legs making independent movement impossible, and with the diabetic itchy body I wonder how long I have before I pop my clogs, diabetes being a creeping disease for which there is no known cure and can affect any part of the body. I understand that it can be controlled, but I don’t know to what extent so I want to commit some of my experiences to paper before it is too late.
20th March (Palm Sunday) 2016 A.D.
Ted was a true Soldier of Christ, and he put the rest of us well and truly to shame. He has been on our mailing list for years, always a generous supporter of our work, and, some years ago, he booked to attend one of our Conferences. Not having met him, only knowing of his pro-life work, I couldn’t believe it when he appeared in the hall on the day of our Conference, barely able to walk, even with the use of two sticks. He had travelled up from his home in England despite his serious mobility and health problems while, as I drily pointed out at the time, the majority of our local readers hadn’t bothered to cross the city to attend. He really was a first-class example of what it means to be a fighter for the Faith and Morals – and notably for the unborn child.
So, please pray for the repose of Ted’s soul. May he rest in peace…