02 April 2007

San Serriffe marks its 30th anniversary

It may have escaped your notice that yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the famous spoof April fool joke issue of the Guardian, which featured the fictitious islands of San Serriffe.

I have a special reason for remembering the Guardian newspaper of 1 April 1977, because the copy I had saved was found at my home In Kingston upon Thames in 1992, when I was arrested and accused of spying for the KGB. Instead of telling the jury that the reason I had kept this issue of the newspaper was because it was a souvenir, the the prosecution alleged that I would have used it as a recognition signal when meeting a KGB officer in the street.

Anybody with any sense would see how ridiculous the prosecution argument was. Nevertheless, when they need to scratch around for nonsense like that, it tells you how desperate they must have been to find any evidence to convince the jury I was guilty.

I have published the Guardian story elsewhere on my blog, so readers can see that the joke was not simply an April Fool, it was also a good example of what foolishness the Official Secrets Act can lead to. See the details here: