31 March 2006

Professor Meirion F Lewis April fool hoax San Serriffe Guardian

It was some time ago, on 1st April 1977, that the Guardian newspaper printed their famous April fool hoax about a fictional island called San Serriffe. It was all quite innocent fun, and at the time I saw no harm in keeping that copy of the Guardian as a memento of a well produced joke, which must have tricked a few readers at the time.

You can imagine my surprise when that very copy of the Guardian was removed from my home and it turned up as one of the exhibits at my trial. The prosecution barrister waved the newspaper at the jury, and he made the astonishing claim that copies of the Guardian newspaper had been used by the KGB to identify their agents in the street. According to the prosecution case a KGB agent would be asked to carry a copy of the Guardian, so that the Russian officer would be able to recognise them when arriving for a planned meeting.

There was no chance for me to protest that they were talking about the San Serriffe issue, which was only kept for nostalgic reasons. No, as far as the jury would be concerned this was yet another piece of damning evidence, that I had been keeping a copy of the Guardian as part of the spy tradecraft being described by the prosecution.

It was equally unbelievable to me that Professor Meirion Francis Lewis claimed to be able to identify the project on which the one “restricted” document in my case was used. Despite Professor Lewis’s lack of expertise in the field of missile technology and jamming, he was able to pinpoint that the document was used on the ALARM missile.

Well, I believe the claims of Professor Lewis were as big a hoax as the April fool joke in the Guardian. As 1st April is again upon us, it would be a good idea to say “April Fool!” to Professor Lewis. He lives here ….

Why not pay him a visit, and you might find him sitting amongst the gnomes in his garden. Ask him who told him that the “restricted” document was linked to the ALARM missile. Or, if you live too far away, then why not write Professor Lewis a letter or give him a phone call. I am sure he would welcome a chat. He can be found here:

5 Churchdown Road
WR14 3JX

Tel: 01684 562325

I am not sure if Professor Lewis is the April fool himself, but somebody must be very embarrassed about the mess they made of the prosecution case at my trial.

Readers can see just how damaging the copy of the Guardian newspaper was from the picture below:

The Guardian's San Serriffe April Fool Spoof

The opening page of the Guardian Hoax on San Serriffe

Now read the full article about San Serriffe here on my blog.

05 March 2006

Money laundering - turning clean cash into dirty dosh

It did not strike me as odd at the time, but I should have been suspicious why the man who handed me £20,000 in cash was doing so in brand new £50 notes. As you can see from the picture below, this money was paid in crisp notes, straight from the bank, and the hard shiny paper almost crackled as it was handled.

Money found at my home

I suppose I should have asked some questions about this money, but then I expect I just thought - well, ‘money is simply money’ - right? I guess not, as this stuff was just too clean, and it might cause a few problems … it could look like the ink wasn’t quite dry on the paper, and the notes were so new they almost looked like forgeries.

This is where a bit of money laundering would have come in useful. With a washing machine, and a suitable detergent, it should have been possible to age the money to make it look a little more used. A good fabric conditioner would have made the notes softer to handle, and added a fresh herbal smell to disguise that unmistakable new paper odour.

I didn’t think, at the time I was given this money: ‘where did it had come from?’ If this was “dirty” money, then it certainly looked pretty clean to me. At the time of my arrest I was found in possession of £2,150 in £50 notes: the two batches of £1,000 were in two separate manila envelopes, shown at the top of the photograph, and I also had three £50 notes in the pocket of the jeans I was wearing when I was arrested.

During my police interviews, Detective Chief Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod said the money was found to be in one continuous set of serial numbers, but that was not true and a ploy he had used to try to unsettle me. It was actually in several batches and single serial numbers.

The serial numbers on the 43 £50 notes were as follows:

B19 402054
B60 047506
C03 879560
C26 000800
D03 699453 + 6
D25 231111
D27 315283 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8
D27 849166 + 7 + 8
D27 849173 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9
D27 849182 + 3 + 4
D28 908537 + 8 + 9
D28 908541 + 2
D40 578780
D42 595622 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 30
D57 805931
D57 805937 + 8

Detective Constable Jonathan Peter Say looked into the source of this money, and he came to the conclusion that none of the notes were issued from the Bank of England prior to 6 June 1990. Apparently not all of the notes were investigated, but the following information was obtained from the Bank of England and the relevant banks that were issued with the notes.

Notes serial D27 315*** were issued in parcel No. C34783 to National Westminster Bank PLC on 21 November 1990. Mr. Michael Keith Robinson (of National Westminster Bank) said these were new £50 notes, which were dispersed to various NatWest branches in the North Yorkshire area. No records were kept of which branches received the notes.

Notes serial D27 849*** were issued in parcel No. C27172 to Republic National Bank of New York on 9 July 1990. Notes serial D42 595*** were issued in parcel No. C43494, and were also sent to Republic National Bank of New York, on 12 December 1990. Mr. Stephen John Allen (of the Republic National Bank of New York) said these were brand new £50 notes, and they would have been dispatched to their banking clients in various European cities, and perhaps London, but no records were kept of where they were sent.

Notes serial D03 699*** were issued in parcel No. C20988 to Barclays Bank PLC on 6 June 1990. Notes serial D28 908*** were issued in parcel No. C27536 to Barclays Bank PLC on 19 July 1990. Mr. Peter H. Titchmarsh (of Barclays Bank) said these were new £50 notes, and each consignment included £2.5 million in new £50 notes. Again no records were kept of which destinations the parcels of money were sent to.

Notes serial D57 805*** were issued in parcel No. C51632 to TSB Bank PLC on 30 July 1991. Mr. John Anthony Jackson (of TSB Bank) said these were new £50 notes and the container remained sealed until 14 August 1991. The notes were distributed over much of South England until the container was exhausted on 18 September 1991. Again - you guessed it - no records were kept of which branches received which parcels of notes.

So, according to what was found, it would appear that the traceability of the £50 notes was fine up until the point at which it was distributed to individual branches or customers, but then it became untraceable. This was a very convenient outcome for the police and the prosecution at my trial, as they could simply say it was KGB money and there was no evidence to prove otherwise. In fact, hardly any evidence was produced about the money at all, and at my trial this issue was almost brushed aside as insignificant. Where the money had originated from, and who had withdrawn it from a particular bank, therefore was not something that particularly bothered the prosecution, but the jury were told it had come from the KGB. On reflection this now seems a little sinister.

Why, for example, were no witnesses called to testify about the money and the problems of tracing it? As the prosecution case was so clearly that this money had come directly from either a KGB source, or at least a Russian source, then it was surprising that the source of the money was given so little attention.

This matter is linked to my suspicion that the organisation behind my entrapment and arrest was not the KGB at all, but rather MI5 or Special Branch. If the money had been withdrawn from banks by members of these British organisations, then obviously they would not wish that fact to become known at my trial, otherwise that would severely weaken the Crown’s case that the KGB were involved at all.

This argument - whether the money was “clean” or “dirty” - has been lost amongst the mass of other evidence put at my trial, and documented in the many pages and volumes of dull statements, exhibits and transcripts. However, it is still an important issue to consider, and it makes one wonder about the truth behind that money’s origin.

From the reports of the police’s investigations, and the case put at court, the Crown argument was that I had used much of the money to purchase £10,000 worth of computer music equipment from The Synthesizer Company (TSC), as a large portion of the cost had been paid in cash.

It is strange, therefore, after much pressure from me, that the police finally returned all my computer equipment to me on 26 January 2005. See the receipt I signed below.

Police receipt for computer equipment

Although I never asked for the return of the money, it is even stranger that on the same day the police also returned the money (shown in the photograph) plus interest. If the police believed this money had come from the KGB in payment for criminal activity, then why did they return it to me? See the receipt for that below.

Police receipt and cheque for money

The only quibble I have is that they did not pay a market rate of interest on the money, and I would have been better off investing it in the stock market, or some other more lucrative venture.

03 March 2006

The face of Viktor Oshchenko

Viktor Oshchenko was never properly identified at any time during the legal proceedings involving my arrest and conviction. Mr E (a USA citizen recruited as an agent by Oshchenko) and D.C.S. Malcolm MacLeod (the chief police investigator) identified Oshchenko, on the basis of one 15 year old black and white photograph. Mr E met Oshchenko on about 10 occasions in 1978/9 (i.e. 14 years before he made his identification) and he proved to have an atrocious memory, but he said he recognised Oshchenko from the photograph. MacLeod had never previously met Oshchenko, but on the basis of one meeting could identify him from the photograph by saying that “although he had aged in the intervening years, he still bore a reasonable resemblance to the photograph”. This photograph was never produced in court, but it should have been.

Viktor Oshchenko

The jury recognised the importance of Oshchenko in the trial. They were clearly disturbed that, after mentioning him on many occasions, the Crown presented no evidence to support claims made on his behalf. Nobody from the Prosecution or Defence teams interviewed Victor Oshchenko. There were no official statements from him in court, and no reason given for Oshchenko’s non appearance at my trial. This obviously puzzled the jury, because near the end of the trial they sent 2 notes to the judge:

(i) After the end of the Prosecution case and near the end of the Defence case, on 5 November 1993, they asked: “What evidence is there that Smith was recruited to KGB by Oshchenko?”

(ii) Two hours into their deliberations on 16 November 1993 they asked: “Why is there no explicit statement admissible in court, from Victor accusing Smith of spying for the Russians?”

The jury was obviously concerned that my connection with Oshchenko was not proved. The fact that I was arrested about 10 days after Oshchenko’s defection makes me very suspicious that the circumstances behind my arrest was directly linked to Oshchenko’s defection, but nobody else was arrested. It is odd that, after 7 years spying in the UK in the 1970s, a Russian KGB officer would name only me.

The Crown did not want Oshchenko to come to court. Perhaps it was true that he was working as an MI6 agent for some time before his defection, and possibly he had been recruited by MI5 as early as the 1970s. He was probably one of Britain’s most important spies/double agents and the Security Services did not want it revealed what he had done, or who he had recruited in Britain and elsewhere. The only reason he defected when he did was because the KGB had suspected him of being a double agent. When Oshchenko was recalled to Russia, he knew the game was up and he got out while he still had the chance. So the Crown could not risk bringing Oshchenko to court in case he destroyed their story by revealing too much about his background.

The suspicions about Oshchenko were circulating very soon after my arrest, such as in this newspaper article: “Russia orders big spy recall after defection” (Sunday Times 16 August 1992 Matthew Campbell, Moscow):

In a tactic reminiscent of the cold war, Moscow is to withdraw dozens of its spies from around the world and replace them with new agents following the defection to London of a Russian KGB officer thought to have worked as a double agent for Britain.

Russian intelligence sources said the spies would be called home from Europe and Asia because their cover was no longer secure after the flight of Viktor Oshchenko, a counsellor at the Russian embassy in Paris who holds the rank of colonel in the Russian security ministry.

“Lots of our people have now been taken out of the game,” said a source with the ministry, the successor to the KGB, which was dismantled after the collapse of communism last year.

The sources said Oshchenko, who specialised in science and technology and went missing from the Russian embassy in Paris three weeks ago, was bound to know the identity of a dozen other Russian spies whom he could expose to MI6, the British intelligence service. But more would be recalled as a precaution.

Some of the agents were said to be on holiday in Russia and were being ordered not to return to their posts. Others recalled to Moscow would not be replaced because their jobs were about to be axed as Russian intelligence adapted to post cold war realities. “The emphasis now is on industrial espionage,” said a Russian foreign intelligence source.

Though the emphasis on intelligence gathering may have changed, the traditional adversaries are as active as ever in the post communist era. Russian spies continue to use postings as diplomats and trade representatives as cover for their activities, just as Western agents do in Moscow.

Oshchenko, whose former postings were said to have included a stint at the Russian embassy in London in the mid 1970s, was due to end his tour in Paris, where he had been based since 1985. But the last colleagues saw of him was on July 24, when he told them he was taking his wife and daughter on a weekend trip to the Loire.

Suspicions were aroused in the embassy when an elder daughter called from St Petersburg on July 26 to ask what she should do about a new Volga car Oshchenko had ordered. “Her manner seemed to suggest she knew he would not be returning home,” said one source.

Oshchenko’s failure to turn up for work the following Monday was also considered strange in the disciplined embassy. “Diplomats do not behave like Oshchenko did,” said Yuri Ryzhov, the Russian ambassador to Paris, who suggested that Oshchenko did not want to go home because of Russia’s economic and political problems.

It was not until August 5, when French authorities found Oshchenko’s car at Orly airport, that his colleagues realised what had happened. “It became clear he had been playing a double game,” said Yuri Kobaladze, a foreign intelligence spokesman in Moscow.

Oshchenko’s flight to London was the first such incident in Britain since the defection of Oleg Gordievsky, who was forced to leave Moscow in secret in the back of a van. It followed warnings last week from Leonid Shebarshin, a former KGB chief, that Russian defectors were “traitors” motivated by money who would betray the West as well.

But the fact that Oshchenko has been allowed to remain in Britain indicates he has been of use to British intelligence. This weekend he was said to be in hiding in a “safe house” with his wife and daughter. He will be assisted by his new masters in changing identity.

Worldwide, more than a third of Russian agents are being recalled or relocated.

It is a far cry from the cloak and dagger work of the old days. One of the new tasks of the former KGB agents is to check out foreign companies that want to do business in Russia. In some areas, such as the war on drugs and terrorism, old suspicions have faded to such an extent that Russian and Western intelligence are co operating. But the defection of Oshchenko revives memories of the old era.

I am not happy about the method used to identify Victor Oshchenko in court on 14 October 1993, I think an independent and positive means of identification, such as fingerprints should have been used. The Victor Oshchenko that MI5 talked to could have been an imposter. It does not seem reasonable that a key man in my case, who was responsible for my arrest and conviction, can be identified by the use of one 15 year old black and white photograph, by (a) D.C.I. Malcolm MacLeod, who had never previously met him and (b) Mr E, who had not seen him for 14 years, and was known to have a terrible memory.

Detective Chief Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod said that “On Monday, 22 February 1993 at 2.30 pm I visited a building in Central London which is occupied by the Security Service where I was introduced to a man whom I now know to be Victor Oshchenko. He was the same man as the one in the photograph, which I showed to Michael John Smith at Paddington Green Police Station on Saturday, 8 August 1992.”

Apparently the original photograph was contained in a Security Service file, and had been submitted on 3 February 1978, by the Soviet Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a certificate of identity for Viktor Alekseevich Ochtchenko, who at that time was a Second Secretary at the USSR Embassy.

Viktor Oshchenko

There must be people out there who have a more recent photograph of Viktor Oshchenko - maybe people he met in Paris - and I would be grateful for a copy of any photos that show what he looked like in more recent times. I would expect that the Russian Embassy in London could provide a photograph of Oshchenko, and they would probably be interested in his present whereabouts as I am.

Michael John Smith’s police interview after arrest

After I was arrested on 8 August 1992 I was subjected to 4 days of intensive questioning by the police Special Branch. I denied knowing Oshchenko, and having worked for the KGB. I also denied severing my links with the Communist Party at the behest of anyone, and I denied that my trip to Portugal in 1977 was a KGB training mission.

Throughout the interviews I was not told exactly what I was suspected of having done; nor was I told of the likely charges. It was natural, therefore, that I would be cautious of what I was saying to the police. I knew that I had something to hide, but I was puzzled about what classified information the police were concerned about. However, this reluctance to commit myself whilst in ignorance of the accusations did not help me, as I was then accused of being evasive.

I told the police I had noticed my home had been under surveillance in 1980-82 and 1985. I said that in July 1992, just days before I was arrested, I had seen a man watching my house. The police said my home had not been under surveillance before 8 August 1992, but 2 photographs were produced showing me and my wife leaving our flat the week before the 8 August 1992.

While being interviewed, my home and car were searched. As a result of these searches I was questioned about what was found. The key findings of the search were £2,000 in £50 notes, the “Williams” letter, 4 pieces of paper (referred to as tradecraft notes), and a map of Oporto with crosses on it.

Tradecraft and "Williams" letter found during searches

Also, in the boot of my car, was a holdall containing technical documents and components. A “restricted” document was found amongst the documents in the boot of the car. This was a 1982 document and one of a number left in my desk at work by a predecessor. If the “restricted” document was sensitive, why did Hirst Research Centre not ask for its return when the predecessor retired 6½ years earlier? Also, if I considered that this material was important, why did I leave it in the boot of my car for 7 days, when my car was left in the street outside my house and accessible to anyone? Surely a spy would have hidden the material in a more secure place?

I admitted that I lied on many points in order to protect myself from my relationship with Harry Williams. However, when it became impossible to hide my involvement, I admitted that I had been involved in an industrial espionage operation with Williams.

Half-way through the interviews my speech became noticeably slurred, which led to my lawyers suspecting that I had been slipped drugs in a cup of coffee.

New photos of a closely observed Telephone Kiosk

I have added 3 new pictures of the time when I first arrived at Telephone Kiosk 1 on the morning of 8 August 1992. You can find the relevant post here.

02 March 2006

Oleg Gordievsky’s KGB ID Card

As proof that Oleg Gordievsky was a KGB officer (before he defected) he produced his KGB identity card. He says he removed his photograph because he was afraid he might be recognised and assassinated.

Why not make a number of copies and put your friend’s and relative’s photos in the empty space. In a plastic wallet these would make unusual birthday and Christmas presents.

Event chronology in former Soviet Union

In preparation for my trial in 1993, Mrs C of MI5 (aka Stella Rimington) was asked to produce a chronology of the events that took place in the Soviet Union between 1985 and 1992, and their effect on the intelligence and security services.

11 March 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev elected as Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

1 October 1988 Gorbachev also assumes Presidency of Soviet Union.

May 1991 Russian KGB formed.

19 August 1991 Gorbachev ousted from power in coup. Committee for State of Emergency formed.

21 August 1991 Coup fails. Gorbachev returned to power. Head of KGB arrested as one of conspirators.

22 August 1991 Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation, issues decree placing all Soviet KGB elements operating on Russian territory under control of Russian KGB (which had been formed on May 1991).

24 August 1991 Gorbachev steps down as General Secretary of CPSU. CPSU activity within state bodies (including KGB) abolished.

28 August 1991 Central Soviet KGB Collegium dissolved. State Commission established to investigate former activities of KGB.

2 September 1991 Central Soviet government suspended.

5 September 1991 Council of state formed in which Gorbachev shares responsibility for central state organs (including KGB and army) with Republican leaders.

30 September 1991 Yevgeniy PRIMAKOV appointed head of new Soviet Foreign Intelligence Service (TsSR).

22 October 1991 Decree signed dissolving KGB. Three new organs created: The Inter-Republican Security Service (MSB), The TsSR, and the Committee for the Protection of the USSR State Border.

26 November 1991 Yeltsin signs decree turning Russian KGB into Agency of Federal Security (AFB).

19 December 1991 Soviet Foreign Ministry abolished. Russian Foreign Ministry takes over.

19 December 1991 Combined Russian Ministry of Security and Interior (MBVD) established. Former Union Interior Ministry abolished, as are inter-republican and Russian security services (MSB and AFB).

25 December 1991 Gorbachev resigns. Yeltsin assumes control of nuclear weapons. Soviet flag lowered from Kremlin. End of USSR.

26 December 1991 Yeltsin signs decree transforming TsSR into the Russian External Intelligence Service (SVR).

24 January 1992 Yeltsin issues decree forming Russian Federation Ministry of Security (MBR), after Constitutional Court rules decree of 19.12.91 invalid. Viktor Barannikov appointed as head.

21 February 1992 Russian Federation Supreme Soviet passes resolution on control over activity of state security and intelligence services.

16 March 1992 Yeltsin establishes Russian Federation Ministry of Defence.

8 July 1992 Laws on Russian Security and Foreign Intelligence Services signed by Yeltsin.