In June 1983 there was much publicity about the sacking of a nuclear scientist, Dr. Ross Hesketh, for disclosing that British plutonium was being used in the manufacture of American nuclear weapons.  He was castigated for being a whistleblower.  From the details of his dismissal in the Press it seemed clear that diversion techniques had been used against the scientist and I therefore wrote to him enclosing Diversion Practices : Implications for Individual Freedom, a short paper I had written in January 1983.


Monday 08 August 1983

I wrote to Ross Hesketh as follows:-



Dear Dr. Hesketh,

I made a note to myself some weeks ago to write to you about the circumstances of your departure from C.E.G.B. but alas it is only now that the tumult of term is well behind us (I am a Polytechnic lecturer in Management Studies) that I can give the matter some necessary thought.

In the reference to your departure in The Times, you were quoted as saying that you had been "harassed" at work and that you had found that you were "systematically being frozen out" of your job.  Your reported comments indicate that some manipulative processes were being used.  I have been studying such processes for some years and I enclose a recent Draft paper which may be relevant.  If there anything I can do to help you in any transactions you may be having with C.E.G.B. please do not hesitate to call on me.  Equally, if you have any comments on the paper in the light of your experience, I would much appreciate them.

As you can see from the enclosed letter, written under another hat, I share your concern about nuclear weapons.  My writing to you however is not an expression of approval or disapproval of your action which led to your break with C.E.G.B.  It is the processes used to bring about your departure which are of great concern to me I place them roughly on a par with nuclear weapons on a scale of 'deplorability' so far as the welfare of mankind is concerned.

Yours sincerely,

Harold Beck

The "enclosed letter" is not to hand and I cannot recall its contents.  The Draft paper was the one I had written in January 1983.  The current version is:-

Diversion Practices & Individual Freedom


Tuesday 23 August 1983

Letter from Ross Hesketh

The text of Ross Hesketh's  handwritten reply was as follows:-


Thank you for your letter of August 8. Whether one has an interest in the aspects of individual freedom is conspicuously shewn by the whole group of interests into which one is drawn. Thus UNA, Diversion practices & realisation of the folly of big nuclear bangs.

I read you paper on diversion with interest. I'm sure many people could give you concrete illustrations of each point you make. Doubtless you used these concrete points to arrive at the general statements. I suppose I'm influenced by having had to look at the Penguin Book of Law. It gives examples, though some it gives seem to occur in all the books. However I'm glad the whole thing is realised by others and not a figment of my imagination.

One way of offsetting the effect of such practice is for the victim to know its standard practice & for him to know what the standard practice is. Your paper has its greatest value I think if read by the employees to whom it can happen. I think I have had all the things you list on your last page.

There is no remedy. One can go to the Industrial Tribunal, but the compensation is trivial - unless one can achieve reinstatement, some 3% of cases I think.

If you have any advice on how reinstatement is best achieved I should welcome it. Letters of protest to the CEGB are perhaps useful, but I think they have a lot of those! With best wishes


The list of points on the last page, which Ross Hesketh thought had been applied to him, were virtually the same as those listed in the "Diversion In Extremis" section at the end of the current version of the paper.  The one additional point in the current version - about an in-depth study being made of the individual being diverted -  was implicit in the text of the Draft version.

Regrettably I was not able to follow up this exchange.