Lord Ahmed and Yvonne Ridley Tour Sudan with David Hoile

The new Private Eye (1209 p. 7) reports on a peace initiative in Sudan led by Lord Ahmed and Yvonne Ridley, and supposedly launched on behalf of British Muslims. Alas, the signs are not good:

Bizarrely, Ahmed and Ridley were stewarded around Khartoum and Darfur by David Hoile, whom older readers may recall from the 1980s as a noisy Conservative student famous for wearing “Hang Nelson Mandela” stickers. Having allied himself with an exotic assortment of rebels and terrorists over the years – the Nicaraguan Contras, Unita in Angola, Renamo in Mozambique – he now works as an adviser and apologist for the Sudanese government, mainly through his European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council in London.

And readers not old enough to recall his 1980s exploits might at least remember his 2001 spat with the Guardian, after the paper printed the claim that he had worn a “Hang Mandela” t-shirt; Hoile insisted it was untrue, and the Guardian issued a correction:

…There is no evidence that Dr Hoile ever wore a ‘Hang Mandela’ T-shirt…Furthermore, Dr Hoile wishes to say equally categorically that at no time did he propose a motion at Warwick University that ‘Nelson Mandela is a terrorist and should be hanged’ nor would he have done so.

A few days later an old photograph emerged showing Hoile sporting a “Hang Mandela” sticker. The Guardian’s readers’ editor Ian Mayes gives further details:

I rang up Dr Hoile on the day of publication and suggested that he owed the Guardian an apology. Dr Hoile apologised profusely to me for any “embarrassment” he had caused me personally. He insisted, however, that word for word, the correction remained correct. He had absolutely no recollection of wearing anything of the kind shown in the photograph, but he had known beyond any doubt that he had not worn a Hang Mandela T-shirt.

Hoile’s adventures are also recounted in Conservative Radicalism, a book on the libertarian right in the UK written by one of the movement’s exponents, Timothy Evans (pp. 40–41):

In May 1985 David Hoile outraged many outside the FCS [Federation of Conservative Students] by going on a secret fact-finding mission to Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua…As well as spending eight days on patrol with Nicaraguan Contras, Hoile told of how he had carried a Kalashnikov, adding: ‘it was a very enjoyable experience’…The Guardian story carried a photograph of Hoile at a Contra camp surrounded by armed soldiers…

The Rhodesian-born Hoile was an FCS vice-president, and he was also involved with the Libertarian Alliance, whose current leader, Sean Gabb, shares his enthusiasm for Sudan. A 1987 Guardian Diary piece also makes a link with the South African Embassy in London:

…Between 6pm and 8pm tomorrow some 150 selected members of the Young Conservatives will be guests at the South African Embassy for a drinks party. According to the invitation, the host is the Counsellor at the Embassy, a Mr. C. Raubenheimer, and the shindig is to mark the departure of a Mr. P. Goossen…The invitation list was drawn up with the help of David Hoyle [sic], chairman of the Conservative Student Foreign Affairs Group, who devotes a lot of his time arranging support for the Nicaraguan contras. (1)

Among those invited were Andrew Rosindell (misspelt as “Rosendale”), now an MP but then chairman of the Greater London Young Conservatives (the GLYCs had sent a delegation to meet independent student groups in South Africa in 1985) and a certain Paul Staines.

I discussed some of this in February.

(1) Edward Vulliamy, “People Diary”, in The Guardian, 24 September 1987.

2 Responses

  1. I can send you a picture of me with an AK-47 on the frontline alongside the freedom fighters if it helps? Maybe another with me in action firing an M16.
    Perhaps a picture of me swinging a pick-axe at the Berlin Wall in November 1989?

    My only regret is that I did not do enough to help in the armed struggle against the communists.

  2. I’m sure UNITA found your support invaluable. Any pics of you and other UK “libertarians” fighting the good fight would be gratefully received, particularly vis-a-vis Inkhata and South Africa.

    Were you at the Jamba Conference, by the way?

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