20 January 2006

Richard Tomlinson's viewpoint

In 1998, my solicitor made contact with Richard Tomlinson's lawyers, in order to discover what he might know about my case. After some correspondence Richard finally sent a letter to the Guardian newspaper (see it on line here). There are errors in his letter, particularly the references to myself and Oshchenko are not correct. However, I print the letter below, because it has an important significance to my case:

Tuesday September 14, 1999
The Guardian

I spy more hypocrisy

During this furore over the non-prosecution of our Soviet spies, we should spare a thought for other so-called traitors who are serving very long sentences in our jails.

In 1992, the same year MI5 learnt about Mrs Norwood's activities, a GEC-Marconi defence engineer, Michael Smith, was arrested by Special Branch in an entrapment operation set up by MI5. They had learnt from Victor Oshchenko, another Soviet defector, that Smith had passed secrets to him while he was a KGB officer stationed in London. Oshchenko was urged to renew contact with Smith and offer him a bribe for some low-level technical information. Mr Smith was arrested at the meeting. The information that Mr Smith had passed to the Soviets was almost certainly of far less importance than that passed by Mrs Norwood. Shortly before his trial, while I was working in MI6, I saw an internal MI5 report that concluded that Mr Smith had not done much damage to Britain's defence interests. Yet he received a 25-year sentence, later reduced to 20 years on appeal. He is in Full Sutton maximum security jail and even if he gets parole is unlikely to be freed before 2009.

I hope Mr Straw decides not to prosecute Mrs Norwood. But if he does not take further action, then he should apply his reasoning consistently and give amnesty to all who are serving sentences under the Official Secrets Act. He should then remove from MI5 and MI6 the powerful influence they have to decide who should not be prosecuted under our secrecy laws. The current furore demonstrates clearly that MI5 and MI6 cannot be trusted to use their powers fairly. (Nothing in this letter is information not otherwise in the public domain.)

Richard Tomlinson

It is interesting what Richard Tomlinson had to say, because he was confirming MI5 had come to the same conclusion as that arrived at in the original MoD damage assessment report, which the MoD prepared for the Security Commission's investigation into my case (see HMSO, Cm 2930, July 1995).

The level of damage, caused by the technical material involved in my case, was assessed by a senior MoD manager (a Deputy Director of MoD Security) as "not serious damage" in March 1994. It was surprising therefore that, at my appeal in May 1995 (some 14 months later), the MoD suddenly changed their assessment to one that "serious damage" had been caused, and it was claimed a document marked “restricted” should have been classified as “secret”.

This drastic change of opinion had arisen because the MoD realised their original damage assessment report did not agree with the evidence given by their own witness at my trial. Rather than give the true evaluation of the material, accurately set out in their original report, the MoD decided to go along with the evidence of the witness - a man who admitted in court he was not an expert in the particular fields on which he gave his evidence about the ALARM missile.

Richard Tomlinson has quite definitely asserted he saw an MI5 report, which concluded that my case had little effect on national interests - no serious damage! However, such is the perverse nature of those holding the key to truth, MI5 cannot now locate this report, and they have accused Richard Tomlinson of making it up. Give me a few hours to search through MI5’s filing cabinets, and I am sure I will be able to find the report.

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