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The Inking of Edward Heath

A few weeks ago, Lieven Smits reminded me of the incident on 22 January 1972, when Edward Heath, the British Prime Minister, was spattered with ink on arriving at the Egmont palace in Brussels to sign the treaty admitting the UK to the European Communities. It's a striking moment and the press photographers were well placed:
heath Heath Ink
I have attended at least a dozen events in the Egmont Palace since moving to Brussels in 1999, so I know the scene of the event very well; and I will smirk next time I wander up to the foot of the grand staircase in the entrance lobby.

But, I wondered, what this all about?The ink-thrower had registered as a photographer from a non-existent newspaper, the England-Sweden Times, which is how she managed to be in the press scrum, conveniently placed for both ink-throwing and photography. She gave the name Karen Cooper, but it turned out that her name was really Marie Louise Kwiatkowski, born in Murnau, Germany (presumably the Murnau near Oberammergau, just north of the Austrian border) on 8 January 1941, a registered resident of Sweden but living in London.

And her protest was not, in fact, an anti-European one. There were anti-European protesters outside the palace, led by Christopher Frere-Smith, who was arrested, but she was not one of them. Instead, and this is where it gets a bit weird - well, here's the Glasgow Herald's version:

So, she was protesting that the gummint had personally stolen her plans for the redevelopment of Covent Market into a conference centre - in other words, not actually a protest against government policy, but a gripe that the government had agreed with her preferred outcome without giving her credit. Here is the transcript of ITN's News at Ten coverage of her eventual conviction and sentence:




"Andrew" here is presumably Andrew Gardner; "Seymour" is the future author of Harry's Game; "Man" is identified by Seymour as George Martin, who had issued Kwiatkowski's press credentials in the name of the Sweden-England Society. NB the description of 31-year-old Kwiatkowski as a "girl". NB also George Martin's apparent drastic change of attitude to Mr Heath, compared to what the Glasgow Herald reported the previous month.

Now. As far as I can tell, there is almost no evidence that Heath - or indeed anyone in the 1970-74 Tory government - stole any plans for the Covernt Garden redevelopment. The history is difficult to reconstruct at this distance, but as far as I can see from here (note future MEP Lord Dartmouth, Princess Diana's step-brother, hiding behind his mother in one of the photographs) and also here, the massive redevelopment plans for Covent Garden had been agreed in 1968, before the government came to office; but by early 1972, all concerned were preparing the ground for dignified retreat, paving the way for the creation of the streetscape that we know today. It would have made more sense (admittedly, only a little more) if Kwiatkowski had protested Heath's likely dumping of the plans rather than his supposed "theft" of them.

And what of her employer, George Martin, who appears to have escaped any punishment for helping her to forge her press pass? I think we can be fairly certain that it wasn't this chap. But could it have been Basil Brush's scriptwriter? Or the Beatles' manager? Neither appears to have had a particularly strong Swedish connection, so it was probably someone else entirely.

There are various other bits of mythology. Was Heath's replacement suit supplied by Michael Palliser, or by Sir John Beith? Walter Scheel, the German foreign minster, quipped that all future German ambassadors should be chosen for their physical similarity to the foreign minister of the day, in case this should happen to him or his successors. (Scheel also suggested that they try and pass off the incident as honoring an ancient Norwegian custom of throwing ink at people to whom you wish the best of luck.)

See also the legal analysis (in French) here, pp, 321-323, which asserts that Kwiatkowski was not prosecuted under the 1852 law against attacking foreign heads of government because Heath himself did not wish to press charges, and not (as another bit of Belgian mythology has it) because the law applied only to Heads of State and Heath was not the Queen (it seems clear that the law would have applied to him as well).

As for Marie-Louise Kwiatkowski, here's a photograph from June 1972 found on eBay:

[eBay description] This is an original press photo. The Girl who threw ink over Mr.Heath is thrown out of Britain: German-born- Marie-Louise Kwiatkowski, 31, the girl who threw ink over Premier Edward Heath in Brussels five months ago, and was three times refused entry into Britain, sneaked back here at her fourth attempt wearing a dark wig to fool the immigration officials, Karen Cooper, the name she used, arrived back in this country aboard a passenger ship from Ansterdam and then hitched several lifts to London five days ago. Yesterday the Special Branch moved into the London hotel, where she was escorted to Heathrow Airport and put on a flight to Frankfurt. Photo shows Karen Cooper (real name Marie Louise Kwiatkowski) is pictured in these two photos at her London Hotel yesterday. On the left she is seen wearing the clothes and wig she wore to cover her long fair hair when she entered the country five days ago, and on right as she really is.

The taking of the photograph is the subject of a somewhat incomprehensible article in Der Spiegel, which may intermingle a different story entirely involving nude photography and the Norwegian artist Gerd Tinglum; I'd be grateful for a native German speaker to cast their eye over it and tell me what they think it's about. After that I can find no historical trace of her on the internet (which, granted, is probably not the best place to look.)

If Marie-Louise Kwiatkowski is still around, she turned 74 last Thursday. I wonder if she got anywhere with her political novel.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2015 08:50 pm (UTC)
I really enjoy your somewhat Fortean posts.

Truth is defo stranger than fiction and people are weird.

Happy new Year :)
Jan. 10th, 2015 09:11 pm (UTC)
Semi-speaker of German - I think you're right about them squashing two stories together. I suspect some sort of printer's error/massive typo.
Jan. 12th, 2015 03:33 am (UTC)
There's a pdf version of the page which makes it clearer. Both articles are spread over 2 columns, but on top of each other so that when it was OCR'd, it was done by column, thus mixing the two articles.
Jan. 11th, 2015 12:35 am (UTC)
Very odd.
Jan. 12th, 2015 07:33 am (UTC)
I like that the punishment for throwing ink is to go to Downing Street and apologise. It seems an odd thing to make someone do - surely the PM is too busy to have people traipse in and apologise?
Jan. 12th, 2015 07:43 pm (UTC)
[BLOG] Some Monday links
User rfmcdpei referenced to your post from [BLOG] Some Monday links saying: [...] attempt seems to have cost less than a quarter-million dollars. Livejournaler Nicholas Whyte looks [...]
Apr. 12th, 2016 10:26 pm (UTC)

Committed suicide in a Swedish prison in 1976.
Apr. 14th, 2016 08:40 pm (UTC)
Der Spiegel text
Rough translation ( my German is not great) Seems to suggest that subsequent to the incident she was treated as an unwelcome person at Dover and Harwich, but that she entered the country on a steamer via the Humber, and passed through customs with a false name and wearing a wig. She held a press conference in the Carlton hotel in London before flying out to Frankfuhrt saying "now she was happy".
D.T. Baker
Jul. 18th, 2016 04:43 am (UTC)
This was part of a Monty Python Sketch, "Grandstand" - "The British Showbiz Awards"

Nov. 13th, 2016 09:08 pm (UTC)
re Karen Cooper
I knew the lady when she and George Martin ran a British-themed pub in the University City of Lund in 1971. She seemed a strange person then and my understanding is that she committed suicide in a Swedish prison some years later tho' I can't find a google reference as of today - though haven't looked very hard.
Nov. 16th, 2016 09:45 am (UTC)
Re: re Karen Cooper
Thanks - sad, but informative.
Nov. 16th, 2016 09:54 am (UTC)
Re: re Karen Cooper
Just to add that a Daily Mail article from earlier this year says that she committed suicide in a Swedish jail in 1976, while awaiting trial for separate offences of arson and fraud.
Feb. 21st, 2017 05:08 pm (UTC)
Re: re Karen Cooper
The link is now 404 - http://jiscmediahub.ac.uk/mediaContent/open/scripts/1972/19720229_LE_01_ITV.pdf
Are you able to upload the pdf ?
Very much appreciated if you can.
Feb. 21st, 2017 05:12 pm (UTC)
Re: re Karen Cooper
The link to the pdf is now 404. Are you able to upload the pdf ?
Very much appreciated if you can.
Feb. 22nd, 2017 08:02 am (UTC)
Re: re Karen Cooper
Nope, sorry; I've posted screenshots of the relevant pages, and that's all I have.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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