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The News Line: Feature PETER CHAPPELL (EtchellS) 1 Dec 1940–30 April 2018 A LIFELONG FIGHTER FOR SOCIALISM
A delighted Peter with George Davis outside the High Court when George Davis was finally cleared
Peter was a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party for nearly 40 years. He was out in front in every campaign and even in his latter years, with failing health, he never gave up.

In his early life he was a window cleaner. He married Shirley in 1963 who remained by his side until last year when she sadly passed away. He was very outspoken and was well known throughout the East End of London for speaking his mind.

He showed what a fighter he was when he organised the Free George Davis campaign, after George Davis was falsely convicted of robbery of the LEB in January 1975 and jailed. Peter knew he was innocent; he had breakfast at a cafe with him that morning of the robbery and so he knew George could not have been at the robbery.

Peter’s anger at the police who ignored his alibi, saw him begin a massively successful campaign to establish George Davis’ innocence, and gain his freedom. Nearly every railway bridge, spare wall and even rooftops in London were daubed in white paint stating ‘George Davis is innocent’. Many of these slogans are still there today – over 40 years later.

His campaign is famous for the protest at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds where there was due to be an England and Australia Test Match. Peter and two supporters dug up the pitch and the game had to be abandoned. It was declared a draw but robbed England of the chance to win back the Ashes.

Slogans were daubed on the walls around the pitch so that no one could doubt who was responsible and what the object was – to free George Davis. The cricketers themselves were sympathetic and signed a cricket bat to be raffled as a fund raiser for the campaign.

The huge protest that Peter organised for over a year brought the issue to the attention of the then Home Secretary Roy Jenkins and it was decided, with mass support building up, that the conviction was ‘unsafe’ and George Davis was released from jail in May 1976.

Peter continued to struggle and in 1978 he joined the WRP and stood as its parliamentary candidate in the General Election of 1979 for Stepney and Poplar. He then proceeded to help build up the Bow branch of the WRP.

He was very active during the miners’ strike in 1984-85 and when, after the miners’ strike, a right wing emerged in the WRP to try to split the party and sell off all of its gains, he defended the party and played a part in restoring the News Line as a daily paper. Peter believed in the international struggle for socialism and in 1990 he took part with a contingent of Young Socialists and with his son Danny in the International Revolutionary Youth Conference held in Athens that summer.

In February 2010 he played a major role as a driver during the Young Socialists march from Manchester to London demanding ‘Jobs for Youth’. He again took part in the YS march in March 2014 from London to Liverpool to the TUC Congress demanding ‘Jobs for Youth’.

In January 2012, he joined the daily picket of Chase Farm Hospital to stop its closure.
He was there all through the winter as well as the warm summer months. In November 2013 he took part in the occupation of Chase Farm Hospital to stop the closure. The police were called to evict the occupiers who, including Peter in a wheelchair, were forcibly evicted. However, in a court action brought by the police, at which Peter gave evidence, the magistrate ruled that the occupation was completely lawful and a just protest.

He suffered from severe illnesses in his latter years and was forced to use a mobility scooter.
This did not deter Peter who joined many demonstrations, particularly those to defend the NHS. He took part in the national NHS March in March 2017. Peter will always be remembered with admiration and respect for his determination never to give up and his conviction that the historical role of the working class was, and is, to overthrow capitalism and bring in socialism.

He passionately believed society had to be changed and was a revolutionary socialist till his last breath. He leaves his sons Peter, Danny and Michael and daughter Tylene and we send them our sincerest condolences. Goodbye Peter, you will always be remembered by your comrades for the role that you played in building our Party.
 
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