MEMBERS of the SNP in the Scottish Borders are being invited to attend a talk to be given by one of the party’s newest members, renowned whistleblower Clive Ponting.

Now a resident in Scotland, Ponting became famous in the 1980s when he gave government papers to Tam Dalyell MP that proved the Argentine ship General Belgrano was heading away from the Falklands War task force when it was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine HMS Conqueror with the loss of 323 lives.

Dalyell’s subsequent revelations hugely embarrassed prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her government, which had always stated that the Belgrano was threatening the task force.

Ponting was put on trial for breaching the Official Secrets Act but despite – or perhaps because of – the judge effectively telling the jury to find Ponting guilty, he was acquitted and walked free before resigning from the civil service and becoming a history lecturer and author, noted for his revisionist histories that have challenged orthodox views.

It was subsequently revealed that the phones of Ponting and his lawyers had been tapped by the security services in the run up to the trial which proved another embarrassment to the government.

Ponting, now 72, is expected to reveal his reasons for joining the SNP at the event in Kelso later this month.

Kelso and Jedburgh SNP have issued the following invitation: “Who remembers the Clive Ponting official secrets prosecution pursued by the Thatcher government in the 1980s? He revealed MOD secrets relating to the Falklands War.

“After famously being acquitted by the jury he left the civil service and went on to become a successful author. And much more recently he is now living locally and has joined the SNP! Come and hear him tell his story at our Celebrity Evening on Wednesday October 24 at 7pm at Abbey Row Kelso. Open to members and friends of all Borders SNP branches.”

Andrew Armstrong, convener of Kelso and Jedburgh branch of the SNP, feels Ponting’s story will resonate both with people who remember the Thatcher era and younger people who don’t know his story.

He said: “We are having an evening with Clive who will be talking about his life and his career and why he has chosen to join the SNP.

“He’s been in England for most of his life, but there are plenty English people living in the Borders and elsewhere in Scotland who are in favour of independence and indeed our local organiser Les Roberts is English, too.

“I was intrigued when I discovered that Clive and his wife were living locally and I really do think people will be interested in the story he has to tell.”