A sinister turn of events took place at the beginning of August 1985 affecting both radio ships anchored in the North Sea.
During the evening of 8th August 1985 a helicopter circled over the Communicator with its searchlight trained on the radio ship. Although no one knew at the time this was the start of what became known as "Eurosiege 85", a surveillance operation mounted by the British Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Also the ocean going launch Dioptric Surveyor, which had been chartered by the DTI to keep watch on comings and goings in the vicinity of the Ross Revenge and the Communicator dropped anchor near the two radio ships. The purpose of this exercise was to photograph and identify any supply vessels so that they could then be investigated by police when they returned to port. The Dioptric Surveyor was equipped with powerful searchlights which enabled its crew to keep watch at night and monitor supplies arriving under cover of darkness.
A DTI spokesman was quoted as saying "We will keep the Dioptric Surveyor on station in the Thames Estuary for the foreseeable future. We want Laser and Caroline off the air." The estimated cost of the operation was later was officially confirmed to be £25,000 a month. A spokesman for Laser 558 said: "They are trying to starve us out at enormous expense to the British taxpayer, but we will not give in. We will tender the ship from Spain, which is not against the law." (At that time Spain was not an EC member nor had it ratified the 1965 Strasbourg Convention to outlaw offshore broadcasting stations).
The surveillance operation was part of a campaign against the popularity of Caroline, Monique and Laser as much as against their so-
The DTI action in hiring the Dioptric Surveyor was generally accepted to have been taken as the result of pressure from the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and ILR commercial radio stations in Kent and Essex. These stations, particularly the ILR ones, felt that they had to compete on unequal terms with the offshore broadcasters who did not pay royalties and did not have to comply with the strict IBA rules and regulations which at that time included a requirement to schedule a specific number of hours of talk-
The DTI defended the cost of the operation by saying it had received complaints that the offshore stations had interfered with radio distress frequencies at sea and claimed this could put people's lives at risk. The stations were also alleged to have interfered with navigational aids used by helicopters serving the North Sea oil and gas rigs.
Spokesmen for both Radio Caroline and Laser 558 strongly denied that their respective transmissions were causing such interference and stated that they would continue to receive supplies, quite legally, from countries other than Britain. However, the Director of the DTI's Radio Investigation Service, Dilys Gane, said: " It is our intention that they know we really mean business this time, and we certainly would prefer that they didn't starve, we'd prefer that they came in and gave up."
In an exercise to test the effectiveness of the blockade and establish whether public money was being wasted the Daily Star sent a reporter to deliver supplies, T-
During their programmes DJs on Laser 558 reported on the movements of the Dioptric Surveyor, which earned the nickname "Moronic Surveyor". Laser 558 DJ Charlie Wolf made a particular point of reporting regularly on activities taking place on board the surveillance ship and it was he who gave the whole operation the title "Eurosiege 85".
On 18th August 1985 an article in the Sunday Times stated that the surveillance operation by the Dioptric Surveyor, then only ten days old, had already resulted in six vessels being reported for allegedly supplying the two radio ships. Four had been reported to British Police for possible offences under the Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Act, one from Holland had been reported to Dutch Police and the fifth, the Daily Star vessel, had been reported to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The authorities also started to pursue firms who advertised on both offshore stations to establish whether any offence had been committed under the Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Act. The Director of Public Prosecutions asked police to interview such companies, many of whom had offices in Britain, to establish how their advertising had been arranged and paid for.
The DTI surveillance ship, Dioptric Surveyor
(Photo: Bob le Roi)
BBC TV news report about ‘Euroseige’.
Click on picture to enlarge
14th August 1985
15th August 1985
13th August 1985
East Anglian Daily Times
16th August 1985
‘Euroseige’ reports extracts
Ship and Location