24 January 2006

Early correspondence with Security Commission

As stated in my last post, the Security Commission found it impossible to answer questions arising from their investigation of my case. Moreover, in my earlier correspondence with them, they gave very little away that might help me discover the truth. I print below 3 relevant letters:

From: The Cabinet Office
Security Division
70 Whitehall
London SW1A 2AS

17 July 1995

To: M J Smith
Full Sutton Prison, York

Dear Mr Smith,

As you may know, the Prime Minister asked the Security Commission in January 1994:

"To investigate the circumstances in which breaches of security have or may have occurred arising out of the case of Michael John Smith, who was convicted on 18 November 1993 of offences under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911; and to advise in the light of that investigation whether any change in security arrangements is necessary or desirable."

The Security Commission is an independent body. The members who took part in the investigation were:

The Rt Hon the Lord Lloyd of Berwick (Chairman)
Sir John Blelloch KCB
Lt Gen Sir Derek Boorman KCB
Lord Tombs of Brailes

This is the fourteenth case which the Security Commission has considered since it was set up by the then Prime Minister, Sir Alex Douglas-Home, in January 1964.

The purpose of the Security Commission's investigation was to consider the wider lessons which could be learned from your case and to make recommendations to the Government about changes it should make to improve security. The investigation ranged wider than those matters which were the subject of your trial, and covered your employment at both EMI and GEC. I would emphasise, though, that the aim of the investigation was not to re-try you, but to focus on those changes that the Government should make to improve security. The Security Commission has made nine recommendations to the Government, most of which concern the way in which the MOD and the Security Service operate. Following your appeal, the Security Commission made some minor changes to its report and submitted it to the Prime Minister.

You may wish to know that the Prime Minister will publish the report on Wednesday 19 July by way of a written Parliamentary Question. This is likely to lead to some publicity.

Yours sincerely,
J.K. Barron
Secretary to the Security Commission

Security Commission letter 17 July 1995 page 1

Security Commission letter 17 July 1995 page 2

Following a long period of study, both of the Security Commission’s report, and of the details it referred to in my trial, I decided it was necessary for me to pursue matters further, and I wrote a letter to the Commission:

From: Michael John Smith
HMP Full Sutton, York

21st October 1996
Your Ref: Ke.0456

To: Mr J K Barron
Secretary to the Security Commission
Security Division
Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall
London SW1A 2AS

Dear Mr Barron,

I have read several times the findings of the Security Commission report upon my case, published in July 1995, and I am puzzled by the assertion made at Annex A, paragraph 5:

'at the time the document was created it was not specifically linked to a particular weapons system.’

Such information is very relevant as during my trial it was confirmed that this document, the only RESTRICTED document involved in my case, was created in January 1982, that is almost 4 years before I worked for GEC or had any link whatsoever with that company. The fact is that I had no access to the document in question prior to December 1985, when I joined GEC, as it was contained in the desk I inherited from my predecessor. Consequently, I could not have been aware of the document's history, nor its original or final application, and even less likely was it that I would have stolen it with spying intentions.

In your letter to me of 17 July 1995 you affirmed that, following my appeal, 'the Security Commission made some minor changes to its report’. These changes have led me to realise that, while in the original report the so-called RESTRICTED document, found in my possession in August 1992, was considered irrelevant (of no prime significance) for the case brought against me, in the latter it is explained that such irrelevance was only at the beginning, when the document was created, by affirming indirectly that it would have been used afterwards in connection with 'a particular weapons system’.

If the use of the document had changed at some point, sometime during more than a 10 year period, I fail to see how I could possibly have known that fact, especially as I have never been connected with any work involving this RESTRICTED document. Therefore, I would be very grateful if you can give me some more explanation in that respect, as I am actually serving a heavy sentence for something which seems to me to be an extreme case of over-reaction.

I thank you in anticipation for your prompt attention and kind reply to this letter.

Yours sincerely,
Michael John Smith

When the Security Commission’s reply came it did really help me at all:

From: The Cabinet Office
Security Division
70 Whitehall
London SW1A 2AS

20 December 1996

To: M J Smith
HMP Full SuttonYork

Dear Mr Smith,

I am writing further to my letter to you of 30 October. You will appreciate that I can only comment in respect of the way in which this matter was dealt with in the Security Commission report and that it would not be appropriate for me to make any comment in relation to the sentence passed on you, which was subsequently reduced on appeal.

It may be helpful if I set out the background to the work of the Security Commission and its remit. The Commission was established in 1964 with the following terms of reference as announced on 23 January 1964 by the Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home):

"If so requested by the Prime Minister to investigate and report upon the circumstances in which a breach of security is known to have occurred in the public service, and upon any related failure of departmental security arrangements or neglect of duty; and, in the light of any such investigation, to advise whether any change in security arrangements is necessary or desirable." (Hansard cols 1271-3).

As you are aware, the Prime Minister invited the Security Commission to consider the factors surrounding your conviction in November 1993 for offences under the Official Secrets Act. In line with the Commission's terms of reference, the purpose of the inquiry was solely to examine any breaches of security that came to light following your conviction and to advise whether any change in security arrangements was required. The inquiry was completely separate to any criminal proceedings.

With regard to the particular paper you mention, you will recall that prior to the appeal hearing in May 1995, the Solicitor General saw a copy of the damage assessment which had been prepared by the Ministry of Defence for the purpose of the Security Commission inquiry (referring to the document cited in your letter). He found this to be at variance with the evidence previously given at the original trial by the witnesses for the Crown. Once this error had been realised, the MoD then prepared a revised damage assessment which was provided to the Defence Counsel and to the Security Commission. I understand that these events were covered fully at the appeal hearing.

The report by the Security Commission was not published until after the appeal hearing had been concluded: as a report to the Prime Minister it needed to reflect accurately all the events surrounding your case, including the fact that the original damage assessment provided to the Commission by the MoD was subsequently revised.

The Chairman of the Security Commission has seen and approved this reply.
J K Barron

Security Commission letter 20 December 1996 page 1

Security Commission letter 20 December 1996 page 2

This was clearly not the end of the affair, but my next step seemed to baffle the Security Commission, and stop it dead in its tracks.

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