To the Editors:
The Appeal to save the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation from closure has now realized the sum of £10,000. Donations have poured in to the Foundation’s Nottingham offices from many dozens of different countries, and from people in all walks of life. In Australia, Nobel prize-winner Patrick White has written to numerous newspapers calling for support for the Foundation; in the United States, Noam Chomsky has given his public support, and numerous members of universities have responded; in France, the Appeal has had the support of the eminent mathematician Laurent Schwartz; a number of distinguished German academics have given their support, as has the Albert Schweitzer Peace Centre; after Tony Benn and Michael Foot joined forces with Jack Jones, Lawrence Daly, Clive Jenkins and Hugh Scanlon to issue an Appeal to save the Russell Press, hundreds of trade union branches throughout the country made contributions, and both the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers and the Transport & General Workers Union made official donations; a large number of Members of Parliament have contributed; a special academic Appeal has been prepared, and will be launched in the autumn term.
The Foundation is suffering from a double assault by officialdom. On the one side, a complex tax claim has been pressed as a test case, in an attempt to reverse a previous High Court judgment which is inconvenient to the Inland Revenue. The claim concerns gifts which were made to the Foundation as long ago as 1967, and which have been expended on the Foundation’s campaign against the war in Vietnam, and also in the construction of its headquarters and printing press. The tax claims, which have already been ruled against by the Inland Revenue’s own Special Commissioners, would compel the Foundation to sell off its material assets, and would prevent it from continuing its extensive publishing work. Widespread protests from members of the Parliamentary Labour Party and other public figures persuaded the Inland Revenue to drop their original demand, that the Foundation pay all the legal costs for all the hearings involved in this case. Even so, it is estimated that the Foundation needs to raise a total of some £30,000 in order to ensure its survival.
At the same time, the Nottingham Corporation have ignored international protests, and decided to go ahead with their claim to demolish the Foundation’s headquarters, in order to complete a road-widening scheme which would facilitate the passage of juggernaut lorries to a new industrial estate. Distinguished architects have considered the Corporation’s scheme, and pronounced it to be totally undesirable. An Appeal has been lodged with the Department of the Environment, whose answer has not yet been forthcoming.
Although we are deeply grateful for all the help we have received, we are still in urgent need of all the support which our friends can give us.
The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
Bertrand Russell House
Nottingham NG7 4ET