MI5 spooks bugged 1980s reggae stars UB40, band’s drummer claims 


There’s a rat on the phone line: MI5 spooks bugged 1980s reggae stars UB40 fearing they were plotting a socialist revolution, band’s drummer claims

  • Jimmy Brown, UB40’s drummer, said spies were watching homes of bandmates
  • Jimmy, 63, yesterday said he had no idea why MI5 would care about the band
  • He added: ‘We weren’t planning the revolution, but if the revolution happened, we knew what side we were going to be on’ 

MI5 spies bugged the phones of pop stars UB40 – looking for evidence they were planning a socialist revolution in the UK.

Jimmy Brown, the band’s drummer, said that spooks were watching the homes of bandmates and tapping their home phones in the 80s.

Speaking yesterday, Jimmy, 63, said he had no idea why MI5 would care about the band, best known for 1983 No1 hit Red Red Wine, saying they ‘weren’t planning a revolution’.

He said: ‘MI5 were tapping our phones, watching our houses, all sorts.

‘We thought, ”Haven’t they got criminals to catch?” We were just a bunch of potheads, smoking weed and playing music, talking about solving the world’s problems.

‘We weren’t planning the revolution, but if the revolution happened, we knew what side we were going to be on.’

Singer Ali Campbell, 62, said that UB40 were the 'real deal' when it came to tackling social injustice and fighting against then PM Margaret Thatcher, of whom the anti-capitalist song Madam Medusa was written (pictured: UB40 in 1984)

Singer Ali Campbell, 62, said that UB40 were the ‘real deal’ when it came to tackling social injustice and fighting against then PM Margaret Thatcher, of whom the anti-capitalist song Madam Medusa was written (pictured: UB40 in 1984) 

Singer Ali Campbell, 62, said that UB40 were the ‘real deal’ when it came to tackling social injustice and fighting against then PM Margaret Thatcher, of whom the anti-capitalist song Madam Medusa was written.

The lyrics to the song include ‘From the land of shadows, Comes a dreadful sight, Lady with the marble smile*Her tree of evil knowledge, Sprouts a special branch, Madam Medusa’.

Speaking in the G2 supplement of The Guardian, frontman Ali said: ‘We were the real deal.

Jeremy Corbyn poses with members of UB40. Left to right: Norman Hassan, Robin Campbell, Duncan Campbell, Jimmy Brown and Brian Travers after a joint press conference in which the reggae band announced their support for the party leader, on September 6, 2016 in London

Jeremy Corbyn poses with members of UB40. Left to right: Norman Hassan, Robin Campbell, Duncan Campbell, Jimmy Brown and Brian Travers after a joint press conference in which the reggae band announced their support for the party leader, on September 6, 2016 in London

‘We’d been unemployed since school, trying to wade through Thatcher’s quagmire of s**t and sing about it. We were politicised, we were disenfranchised, and we had a lot to say.’ 

In 1997, MI5 whistleblower David Shayler claimed spies spent ‘years and years’ spying on UB40 band members believing they were Communists intent on overthrowing the government.

Speaking previously, Ali Campbell said the band had been planning on suing MI5 to get recordings of the phone tappings, but decided not to because he reckoned they’d all end up being killed with ‘poisoned umbrellas’.

Ali’s brother, Robin said previously: ‘We’re just a pop group – we (weren’t) planning to invade Poland or overthrow the Government.’



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