G - I
At 6ft. 3in in an era of depression and hunger, Frank Gullet had been a circus prize fighter when he became a Communist in 1933, even though he was in the Royal Navy. He left that in 1937 after being identified as having left political leaflets on service property on lavatory seats.
MI5 bugged and watched from at least 1935, due to his supposed access to sensitive sources, until certainly the mid-1950s.
During the war he served on British merchant ships on the Murmansk run, taking Allied munitions to Russia. Three ships went down beneath him after torpedo and bomb attacks.
He was Communist candidate for Church Ward, in Woodford, East London in November 1945. This was in the constituency of war-time Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
Gullet's was born and raised in Church Ward and family connections in the area went back over one hundred and fifty years; the thirty-year old was described in the Daily Worker as "tough-jawed ex Merchant Navy Man". Gullett was also a trained building operative and the number one issue at the election was housing.
The other Communist candidate standing in Woodford in the 1945 Council elections was James Harris in Snaresbrook Ward.
In the post-war period, Gullett posed as an English fascist to go to Germany undercover, so as to be able to report on the revival of the ultra-right. This required him to attend fascist rallies as a supposed enthusiast and to himself give the Nazi salute. But he got the story!
He became news editor of the "Daily Worker" in 1951. In 1956, when the Farringdon Road building housing the Daily Worker was threatened by an angry mob protesting about the Hungarian events, it was Frank Gullett who seized an old wooden chair, broke off the leg and urged his comrades to follow him downstairs to defend the paper's printing machines.
The sudden resignation of Gullet in the run up to a Party congress in 1971, after 27 years on the Daily Worker and Morning Star, was directly linked by media comment to his disagreement with the Party's criticism of Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Supposedly, he was irked by the line that had been imposed on the Morning Star over such matters. He had also been one of those who fervently opposed to the renaming of the paper in 1966 and had been o strongly critical of the fact that in March 1970 the paper reported on its front page a Zionist demonstration against the Red Army Ensemble on the same day that it carried a special eight page supplement on the Soviet Union. No other British paper had covered the Zionist protest.
George Matthews (see separate entry) then then editor of the Morning Star claimed that Gullet had retired early due to ill health but his age of 57, lack of private income, and hostile leaking to the rest of the press, all seemed to suggest this was pure spin. Additionally, media speculation identified Barbara Champion, who had been one of the first women sub-editors in Fleet Street, as having recently left the paper for similar reasons.
Sources: Daily Worker 23 October 1945; Friday 31 December 2004; Morning Star 9 August 2006; Daily Mail 11thOctober 1971; The Times 11thOctober 1971