After Richard Tomlinson had kindly assisted my solicitor in identifying that MI5 had double standards - a public and private view about my case - I was anxious to see if he had any more information that might help me. Unfortunately Mr Tomlinson could not help me further, and I expect my case would have been quite insignificant in the other work he was doing at the time of my arrest and trial. Nevertheless, Mr Tomlinson did try to raise the profile of my case and put his points to Britain’s MPs and Euro MEPs:
From: Richard Tomlinson
(a secret location)
Monday, August 09, 1999
To: Michael John Smith
H.M.P Full Sutton, York
Dear Mr Smith,
I received a copy of the letter that you sent to my solicitor. I am sorry to bring the disappointing news that I really do not know anything more than I have previously said in my letters to your solicitor. Whilst I suspect that you are correct in many of the points that you make in your letter, I really do not have any specific knowledge or evidence that could support your case.
I really feel desperately sorry for you as you clearly have been made a victim of the intelligence services desperate desire to protect their own interests and the mythology that is attached to their work. The sentence that you have received is ludicrously disproportionate, and reflects very poorly on British democracy.
I have sent the attached email to every British and Euro MP, but I fear that there are not many who have the courage to take on the intelligence services.
The content of Richard Tomlinson’s email to MPs and MEPs is printed below:
I would like to draw your attention to the unfortunate case of Michael John Smith.
Mr Smith is a former Marconi engineer who in 1993 was convicted of breaking the 1911 Official Secrets Act, and was sentenced to twenty five years in prison [the sentence passed at the trial, but reduced to 20 years on appeal].
In my opinion this sentence was ridiculously and disproportionately large. Mr Smith supplied minor defence “secrets” to a Russian intelligence officer in an entrapment operation set up by MI5 and MI6. If such an entrapment operation had been set up by the police, the case would have been thrown out of court. But because it was set up by the intelligence services and was deemed important to “national security”, the evidence was deemed admissible. Moreover, the information that Mr Smith passed to the Russian officer was by no means important. While serving in MI6 at the time of Mr Smith’s arrest, I saw a classified internal MI5 document which concluded that Mr Smith’s acts had not caused any harm to Britain’s defence interests, as the information was all low level and out of date. Of course, Mr Smith’s defence lawyers were never appraised of this document and at his trial prosecution witnesses (all MI5 officers or Russian traitor Mr Oleg Gordievsky) grossly exaggerated the importance of the information passed over by Mr Smith.
Mr Smith has not committed a crime that merits twenty five years imprisonment. Such a disproportionate sentence reflects very poorly on Britain’s intelligence services. By way of illustration, today ten Briton’s in Yemen - a country we perceive as having a poor human rights record - received a more moderate ten year sentence for the far more serious crime of plotting to overthrow the state. Mr Smith is an unfortunate victim of our intelligence service’s strategy of mythologising intelligence work in order to protect their budget, lack of accountability, and power.
I think that there is an urgent need to reform the Official Secrets Acts to reflect modern times. The 1911 Act, under which Mr Smith was convicted, is for “collaborating with the enemy”. Surely nobody today could claim that Russia is an “enemy”, and that the world we live in today is still relevant to the geopolitical climate of 1911.