19 January 2006

MI5's framing phone call

I mentioned, in a previous post, that the Rafael Bravo and Ian Parr cases involved entrapment by the MI5 Security Service. This is exactly what was done to me on the morning of my arrest. It just goes to show that when MI5 cannot catch real spies, they can always manufacture a few. At the time of my arrest the Soviet Union had just collapsed, and MI5 were badly in need of a big spy case to justify their over-inflated budget, a legacy from cold-war days.

At 9:02 in the morning, on the 8 August 1992, an MI5 officer telephoned me at home. His accent was strange, described later as East European or Russian, but my wife thought he sounded German (she was previously married to a German).The MI5 officer, referred to as Mr B, said "Hello, I am George speaking, I am a colleague of your old friend Victor, do you remember him". I answered "yes", not really understanding who I was talking to; in fact, I had known a Spaniard called Victor for 5 years.

At the time I had no idea who George was, and it was not revealed until months later, in June 1993, that he was a KGB controller of Mr E. This Mr E was a US citizen, a Prosecution witness who described his KGB activities with George and Viktor. George (Yuriy Gennadyevich Pokrovskiy) and Viktor (Viktor Alekseevich Oshchenko) were the two KGB handlers of Mr E during the period 1978-82. The introduction of these names, George and Viktor, was clearly a deliberate tactic to link me to Mr E, in the jury's mind, as there was no evidence to show I had ever met any of them.

On that 8 August morning, the phone call had lasted barely one minute, and I said practically nothing. I was given instructions to go to a telephone kiosk, of whose location I was uncertain. "George" encouraged me by saying it was very urgent that he speak to me. MI5 and Special Branch had hoped to link me to the methods used by Mr E, who said he was directed to telephone kiosks for contact with Oshchenko. This turned into a damning array of evidence to sway the jury, because the prosecution had a ready-made model in Mr E, who described to the court the very same situation Special Branch had tricked me into.

The prosecution wanted it to appear I had been trained to make contact at telephone kiosks, when I actually just followed the instructions given to me by the MI5 officer. Mr E had been trained to use phone boxes for receiving messages, and the prosecution story was that I had used this same technique in the past. However, the police seriously distorted the evidence from the surveillance operation, to conceal what really happened during the trip to and from the phone box - they lied, and hid photographs and log books - designed to disguise that I acted differently to what they expected. I made significant mistakes, indicating I did not know what I was doing. I will deal with this in a later post.

The damaging consequences of Mr E, and the George-Viktor connection, was that it allowed the prosecution to claim that in the 1970s I had been recruited to the KGB by Oshchenko, as Mr E had been. Even though no surnames had been mentioned in the phone call, the prosecution were allowed to tell the jury that "Viktor" could only refer to Oshchenko, although there are many Victors living in the UK who this might refer to. The prosecution argument, for the admissibility of the evidence from the telephone call, was that the jury would be justified in making a link between the name "Victor" in the telephone call and Victor Oshchenko. Using that very same logic, the jury must also make the link between "George" and the man who ran Mr E (Pokrovsky) - in fact, that is a stronger link than the one to "Victor", because Mr B was pretending to be "George".

It was this dubious link to Viktor Oshchenko, through the phone call, that gave the Crown the excuse to ask for a lot of other unrelated evidence to be brought into my trial from the 1970s, including details of my innocent holiday to Portugal in 1977. This conveniently connected me yet again with Mr E, because he had been sent on a training mission to Portugal by Oshchenko, to deliver a package to a Russian contact in July 1979. Journalist Frederico Duarte Carvalho has written an interesting
article about my Portuguese holiday saga.

The prosecution presented a case describing how, only days after Oshchenko defected, MI5 and Special Branch had been able to organise a plan to arrest me. Considering the circumstances, it appears unbelievable there was enough time to debrief Oshchenko and arrange my arrest - on MI5's evidence Oshchenko was new to them, there were lots of unknown factors that would need to be weighed carefully before rushing out and arresting anybody. No, this was a well-hatched plan, which had taken some time to think through and execute.

The names "George" and “Viktor”, and the techniques used in the telephone call episode of 8 August 1992, demonstrate clearly that a link to Mr E (and Portugal) had been decided before my arrest, even though it was not officially disclosed to the defence until June 1993. In fact, Oshchenko made an interesting point that he wouldn't necessarily know what names other KGB officers had used with their agents, and it would seem very unlikely he would have remembered in 1992 that a colleague had, 10 or 12 years earlier, used the name George with Mr E.

Although MI5’s evidence at my trial was that Oshchenko had NOT been a double agent before his defection, it seems unlikely so much planning and preparation could have occurred during the short period between Oshchenko's defection (in July 1992), and 7 August 1992 (the latest date for arranging the trick telephone call). Therefore, it is probable that some lies and perjury were spoken at my trial about Oshchenko - my arrest must have been planned some time before Oshchenko defected. See the link
here to read what the contemporary view was, and this has been repeated in several books. What a surprise it will be if MI5 lied about Oshchenko not being a double agent before he defected AND the MoD lied about the “restricted” document’s use on the ALARM missile - double perjury or double whammy??!!

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