Farewell Peter McGregor 1947-2008, revolutionary friend

January 26, 2008

I was checking emails while on holidays in Bateau Bay on the NSW central coast. My brother and I had just come back from swimming at Shelley Beach with my niece and her friend. A message from Neville asking when I would be arriving in the Blue Mountains, then some sad news:
As you may have heard Peter McGregor has committed suicide. Don’t have details yet. Was very sudden because I had an email from him the day before about an anti-Guantanamo demonstration. There’s an excellent obit by Tony Stephens in yesterday’s SMH.

In a round-about way I’ve known Peter McGregor for some 20 years, perhaps a bit longer. I can’t remember the circumstances of our meeting; I have no doubt he would know. Most recently I’d worked alongside Peter in the School of Communications at the University of Western Sydney in the late 1990s.

We always managed to stay in touch, even though I had moved away from UWS and left Sydney, first to Brisbane and now Auckland.

I always admired Peter’s dedication and enthusiasm. He was an activist and a humanist. Perhaps more of an anarchist than me, but nevertheless I will always be proud to call him “comrade”.

I’m chuckling at that because it is a term of endearment among socialists of all stripes and at times can even transcend ideological and factional disputes. “Comrade” has a proud tradition and it rings with affection and strength when spoken out loud among good friends. It can be stirring in song, “Comrades come rally and the last fight let us face.”

I’m chuckling because for the hard right and even the Liberal right “comrade” is a term of derision and abuse. I’ve been lambasted on at least one blog for using the word in every day speech. It was incontrovertibe proof of my Stalinist and anti-democratic tendencies.

I’m smiling because for some anarchists it holds similar connotations. Peter never minded me regarding him as a comrade. He was principled and non-sectarian. Peter would work with anyone for a common cause and the public good.

I have been looking for other online tributes to Peter. The first one I found was Remote Control. This is from Lynda Hawryluk; writer, educator, artist, keen disco dance, who was also a colleague of Peter’s.

My last interaction with Peter was over his arrest, court case and subsequent total absolution in the whole Ruddock incident, which, in my view, brought shame on a whole bunch of individuals and instutions that I had previously thought better of. I documented his adventure here on Ethical Martini.

So long comrade, so long revolutionary friend, goodbye Pete.

Remote Control – Peter McGregor 1947-2008: 'Thanks for the dreams that I have had with many of you.'


Peter McGregor – free at last

December 2, 2007

this just in from Peter McGregor,
the charges have been dropped, about time.

Hi all,
Just letting you know what has happened with my court
case.
—-
Senior Constable Stuart Cosgrove wrote to me: Frid 23
Nov
> > Mr. McGREGOR, I wish to advise you that the charge
of
Enter Inclosed lands not prescribed premises without
lawful excuse brought against you in relation to an
incident that occurred at the University of NSW on 5th
July 2007 and is which is scheduled for hearing at
Waverley Local Court 6th Dec 2007, is to be withdrawn
as per request by the University of NSW.
Regards, Stuart Cosgrove, Senior Constable, Maroubra
Police Station
————
When I then spoke to Constable Cosgrove, he said that
UNSW had only contacted the police about dropping the
charges in the last week or two. (The ‘details on the
offence/s’ are:
Unlawful entry on inclosed land….
“did without lawful excuse enter into the inclosed
lands of UNSW situate at Anzac Parade Kingsford
without the consent of Matthew JOSS (UNSW Head of
Security) and Dr Andrew LYNCH (Event Co-Coordinator)
the person apparently in charge of the said inclosed
lands.”)

Many of you will remember the way George Williams and
UNSW previously refused to contact the police to
request the charges be withdrawn.(See below – (1))
Hear is what they are saying now:
”14 Nov 2007 Mr Stephen Langford,25 Comber
St,Paddington,2021
Dear Stephen,
Thanks you for your card about the charges against
Peter McGregor. I’m not sure where you have got your
information from, but we have not actually laid any
charges against Peter. Those charges were laid by the
police in regard to events that occurred outside of
our conference. In fact, we have contacted the police
now on a number of occasions indicating our own desire
that the charges not proceed. However, the police have
made it clear that it is their decision as to whether
to proceed because the charges have been laid by them
and not us.
I would not like to see the charges proceed, & if you
support that aim the approprite people to write to are
the authorities.
Yours sincerely, George Williams “
——–
Do any of you have any ideas above why the police have
belatedly dropped the charges, and/or what the
machinations have been at UNSW? For instance, Tharunka
interviewed me & George Williams, but the student
paper hasn’t even mentioned the court case…
It seems that we may have struck a blow for free
speech, and exposed George Williams & the Gilbert &
Sullivan Law School in the process.
So many thanks for your support, you don’t need to
come to Waverly Court on Thurs 6th Dec., and I will
keep you posted.

Love & rage, Peter
—–
(1) Victoria Finlay [mailto:V.Finlay@unsw.edu.au]
_Sent: Thursday, 23 August 2007 9:53 AM_To: Lo
Schiavo, Fabian_Subject: regarding Peter Macgregor

_Dear Mr LoSchiavo, __Further to my recent email
response to you on behallf of the Vice-Chancellor
regarding the arrest of Mr Peter McGregor, I would
like to add the following comments. __Mr McGregor made
a protest against the Attorney-General in the morning
session of the ‘Symposium on Law & Liberty in the War
on Terror’ on 5 July 2007. Mr McGregor was removed
from the venue by Police officers providing Mr
Ruddock’s security. They did not charge him in
relation to his protest and left the campus with the
Attorney-General. The police prosecution relates to
subsequent dealings with police and Mr McGregor
elsewhere on campus. _ _The Centre of Public Law made
the decision to deny Mr McGregor further access to the
event after he had been removed. This was after
attempting to negotiate terms on which Mr McGregor
could reasonably continue to attend the Symposium.
Essentially, Mr McGregor was not prepared to
guarantee that other speakers would not also be
disrupted. _ _The conception of the Symposium was……

Yours sincerely, __Victoria Finlay_Executive Officer
to the Vice-Chancellor_