29 November 2006

Stella Rimington MI5 report 034 on Viktor Oshchenko

I will now comment on another of the reports, No. 034, which Stella Rimington created from meetings with the defector Viktor Oshchenko, after he left the KGB in July 1992 and escaped from Paris to London. The reports relevant to my case are published on the Cryptome website.

The true nature of this “debriefing” becomes clear in the very first paragraph:

‘Oshchenko was given copies of the “Williams” letter (appendix 1a and b to the brief); Parellic’s scribbled notes, possibly referring to contacting arrangements (appendices 2 to 5); and Parellic’s prepared notes/reports found in the boot of his car (appendix 6a to e); Parellic’s maps of downtown Chicago (1976) and Oporto (1977); and a map of the locations mentioned in the notes above. He studied them on his own for about an hour without comment or interruption from the debriefer, who then asked him for his interpretation and opinion of the papers. Oshchenko was told by the debriefer that his unprompted comments were required and to this end the debriefer would, so far as possible, refrain from any comment or questioning of his own.’

We do not know exactly what was said at this meeting, but this report indicates that Oshchenko was induced to arrive at his opinions, and that this meeting is certainly not being conducted under unbiased conditions. The hand of Stella Rimington is clearly at work in the background to engineer the conclusions that would later be presented to the British Prime Minister, Mr. John Major; conclusions which would convince him to order one of those rare investigations - a Security Commission review.

Oshchenko was only shown exhibits intended to link me to KGB activity, and he was not shown an assortment of material, e.g. other maps and notes from my home that would have demonstrated his impartiality. The police search of my home produced a vast amount of material available to be assessed, including a drawer full of old maps and memorabilia from past holidays, as well as many other documents showing technical notes that had been produced by me over many years. If Oshchenko had been shown a variety of items - some of which were suspected of having a link to espionage, and others which were considered innocent - then we could have seen whether Oshchenko would still arrive at the same conclusions. The situation presented here has Oshchenko only being shown the very material that would later turn up as evidence at my trial.

In paragraph 2 Oshchenko comments on the “Williams” letter, and he notes that ‘… the handwriting was not that of a Britisher’. It is impossible to know on what points Oshchenko could make such an assertion, because the defence handwriting expert, Mrs Fiona Marsh, gave evidence that the handwriting in this letter was no different from many other examples she had seen from British and American individuals. In discussing the meaning of the letter, Oshchenko said it could be to ‘…call him to a meeting after interruption of contact.’ And ‘… that Parellic must have been given in advance some fixed contact arrangements so that he would know exactly what to do on receipt of such a letter’. Oshchenko could only speculate about the meaning of the letter, because he could not know what its details actually meant.

In commenting on whether it was a risky method to send a letter to an agent’s home, Oshchenko said ‘… it did, indeed, incur some degree of risk but it was a very practical way of re-establishing contact and it is a normal and accepted SVR Line X method of doing this. Other methods would include telephoning the agent or attempting to intercept him e.g. on his way to work’. No evidence was produced in my case that proved the Williams letter was typical of the way in which the SVR Line X would make contact with an agent. Also, it is interesting that nobody had previously contacted me in the way that occurred on the morning of my arrest. The evidence of Mr E was used to show a similarity here, because he claimed that his contact “George” had telephoned him at home.

Notes made by myself, from the case exhibits, were shown to Oshchenko and he was encouraged to explain them in a way that would connect them to KGB activities. One such note included details about tennis in connection with Parliament Hill, and Oshchenko tried to put this into an espionage scenario in paragraph 4 (a) (i). ‘Source did not, himself use tennis locations for intelligence meetings with Parellic. … He could see the possibility of such places now being used as they would offer a form of natural cover. He could not remember whether he had used Parliament Hill for a meeting - it is a possibility; but most of his meetings with Parellic took place in the Wembley and Kensington areas’. This mention of tennis was a complete red herring. The note was purely a personal one about an ex-friend of mine called Louis Anthony Rooney, who was a tennis coach, a guitar player, and a keen flamenco fan. Lou was a friend of my wife and I up until June 1991, when we fell out. I had been planning to meet him and watch him play at the place where he coached at the Parliament Hill Fields tennis courts. On the other issues raised here: in the 1970s I hardly ever went to the Wembley or Kensington areas, which were miles from my home and outside my normal area of work and leisure interests. This also does not agree with what Oshchenko said in report 013 para 24.

This speculation about some sinister tennis theme continues in the next paragraph 4 (a) (ii). ‘The “Danger” and “Come Next Day” signals might well be used in conjunction with e.g. a card on a display or message board in a club or in a changing room. Such a signal could be put in a place regularly visited by Parellic and which could be visited by his case officer from the Residency. Such a site could be used for placing a signal to call or cancel a meeting or as a warning of danger’. The signals referred to here were repeatedly stressed to me by Harry Williams, but in practice they were never used. In hindsight it now appears suspicious that I was being asked to keep notes of warning signals that were never required during my meetings with Williams, and this raises doubts about who he was actually working for. However there is nothing in these notes to link them with the guesses being made here by Oshchenko.

There is more indication that Oshchenko was being led in this debriefing in paragraph 4 (a) (iii): ‘It was suggested to Oshchenko that the Horsenden Hill entry could represent a meeting and fall back arrangements if contact was broken. He agreed with this interpretation’. There was no need for this speculation, because I accepted in court that I had met Harry Williams at Horsenden Hill.

There is a lot of guessing going on in this debriefing, and it is all aimed at putting a KGB interpretation onto notes I had made. For example, in paragraph 4 (b) (iii) ‘[Oshchenko] thought that the word “Standard”, could represent a lamp standard or pillar at which, perhaps, Parellic should pause on an Anti-Surveillance route’. This was in fact a reference to something I was checking at work “standard data base of HRC/GEC” when I was looking into standards documentation accessible through databases that were available in the HRC Technical Library. This confusion is also apparent in the next paragraph 4 (b) (iv) where: ‘The IQA Journal meant nothing to source’. I had merely written the words “IQA Journal” - the journal of the Institute of Quality Assurance of which I was a member - as a reminder to check some article in the magazine. What these comments show is that my notes included items that could have nothing to do with the KGB or espionage, but MI5 were desperate to show that every word on these notes was incriminating in some way, and they were trying to get Oshchenko to accept their opinion as his own.

I explained these notes when I was in the witness box: some of the notes were personal, some work related and some to do with Harry Williams. However, this did not satisfy the prosecution at the trial, who were intent on interpreting innocent notes as sinister. The reference to the “Guardian” newspaper was given particular prominence, because an old copy of the Guardian newspaper was found during the search of my home, but the jury were never told that I had kept this issue because it contained the famous San Serriffe April Fool article - I have published details about this in earlier blog posts.

Yet more speculation occurs in paragraph 4 (c) (ii): Sudbury Town Triangle At this point source noticed that Sudbury Town is in a triangle of roads. If this triangle contains parkland and telephone boxes (referred to in his discussion with [...]), it could be a contact area he had used with Parellic’. There is no mention in my notes of a triangle of roads, parkland or telephone boxes. This is clearly another attempt to put an interpretation on my notes that would make them more favourable to MI5’s view that they represented Russian, KGB or SVR, tradecraft. Again, the mention of telephone boxes demonstrates that Stella Rimington wanted to be able to justify why she had set up an entrapment of me using telephone boxes. I explained that I met Harry Williams near South Harrow in Roxeth Park, and so this had no connection with the guesses recorded in this MI5 report.

In paragraph 4 (c) (iii) Oshchenko is again encouraged to speculate that: ‘“When finished” etc could be a note for the next meeting more in the form of a question for Parellic to ask his case officer rather than a case officer’s instruction’. The “when finished state of contract what is happening on them” note was a reference to something I had discussed with my boss Dennis Barlow about the quality auditing of contracts at Hirst Research Centre.

To show another aspect of KGB methods - so-called talent-spotting - in paragraph 4 (d) (i) Oshchenko states: ‘“Get Karl’s address” and “get old project notes” could refer to tasks set by the case officer’. Karl Gehring worked at HRC, but I never saw him after September 1991 due to his long illness and then redundancy. Harry Williams apparently knew something about this scientist and had shown some interest in him. I believe this note was written down when Williams asked me to get his address and telephone number, but I made no attempt to do so. It could have been that Williams wanted to make some sort of proposal the Karl Gehring, but it would be wrong to assume that I had come up with his name, because for the reasons mentioned above he no longer worked at HRC.

Emergency meeting arrangements are referred to by Oshchenko in paragraph 4 (d) (iii) when he states: ‘In answer to a comment about the proximity of the junction of Abbotsbury and Melbury Roads to the Soviet Embassy, source replied that such a site would be chosen typically as an emergency signal site. One way of using it would be for the agent to place the signal … Another would be for the case officer to use it to invite an important agent to the nearest possible secure point to the Embassy for a meeting …’. This is pure speculation on the part of Oshchenko, and it demonstrates that he is trying to please Stella Rimington and MI5 by again telling them what they want to hear. This is quite clear because Oshchenko is now contradicting the comments he made in his earlier report concerning emergency meetings. Compare these comments with those in report 013 paragraphs 19 and 25.

The dangers of MI5 and Oshchenko using guesswork to pass for real intelligence are only to obvious, as this is why major blunders have occurred in the not too distant past. You only have to consider the intelligence failures from the War in Iraq, the anti-terror raids in Forest Gate (London), or the tragic killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, to see what damage can be done when the intelligence services make mistakes. Oshchenko is demonstrating how easy it is for MI5 to pick up the wrong information and to use it in my prosecution. Take, for example, another guess by Oshchenko in paragraph 4 (d) (iv): ‘Source thought that “Long Break” could conceivably refer to an extended lunch hour meeting’. It may appear to be a minor error, but the accumulation of these incorrect pieces of information lead to the jigsaw producing the wrong picture. The term “long Break” was mentioned to me by Harry Williams and related to a long break in contact, nothing to do with lunch breaks at all.

In discussing the notes I had made about projects at the Hirst Research Centre, Oshchenko had no difficulty in claiming that these were material that would interest the KGB, and he says in paragraph 5 (b): ‘… they would certainly be of interest to the Directorate and would be classified as “Initiative” reports i.e. reports on subjects thought to by the agent and/or case officer as of possible interest and submitted to Directorate T in precis form for comment’. I made these handwritten notes during several lectures and audit meetings and they were intended for the person taking over my auditing job. I was led to believe, by Dennis Barlow, that a colleague named Alan Nott would take over my job, but on my final day I was told that no-one had been appointed to do my work. I felt the hand-over was botched and I just took these notes, as I thought there was no point in helping people who couldn’t help themselves. Many of the expert witnesses said these notes contained sensitive material - a ridiculous claim - and the jury found me not guilty of count 3. I have explained more details about these notes in my blog at this post.

In paragraph 5 (c) Oshchenko claims he has experience of my method of writing notes in the past: ‘Source noted that all these papers were prepared in capital letters in the same manner as when he was the case officer. The normal procedure would be for Parellic to photograph or photocopy them for his case officer and then destroy his original notes. From this he surmised that these papers had been prepared for Parellic’s case officer but not yet handed over’. Everyone knew it was my habit to write some reports for others in capital letters, to make them easier to read; my colleagues William Tatham and Trevor Elson confirmed this point. It had nothing to do with photographing and destroying the notes, otherwise they would have been destroyed and they would not have been found at my home.

In paragraph 6 (a) Oshchenko again refers to a sum of £1,000, that he claims he gave me as an “initial payment”. As previously stated by me, no evidence has ever been produced to show that I had been given any money by Oshchenko. Without evidence these allegations cannot be given any credibility whatsoever.

Oshchenko then tries to agree with the MI5 position that the £2,000 (in £50 new banknotes) found at my home were from a KGB (SVR) source. However, no evidence was produced that the £2,000 came from any KGB, or any other Russian source. It was stated by defence expert Mr P, the ex-CIA officer, that he could not believe the KGB would pay over sums of money in batches of new, serialised, large denomination notes. Again, no evidence has ever been produced to show that this money had been withdrawn from banks by Russians or the KGB.

Oshchenko is then asked to comment on tourist maps that came from two of my summer holidays. As I stated in my previous post about these MI5 reports, Special Branch (on the directions of MI5) were very selective about the items they chose to use as evidence in my case, and this was clearly done as part of a hidden agenda in the way they wanted to present my case to the public. My holiday to the USA and Canada in 1976 is referred to in paragraph 7, where it is stated:. ‘Source was shown the marked map of Downtown Chicago and asked for his comments. …. Parellic was sent on the trip, paid for by the KGB, to establish contacts and friends and to reconnoitre the possibilities of obtaining a job out there. …. Source thought that the ringed buildings and numbers might, therefore, represent universities, research establishments or contact addresses’. The map of Downtown Chicago was given to me by my friend Diane. She gave it to me to help me get around the town for sight-seeing while she was at work. She had marked on the map the place where she worked, the Sears Tower, and the Chicago Architects Centre (I went on a guided tour of buildings by famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright). I met a number of people in Chicago (through my friend Diane), and in Quebec and Boston (through my friend Sol), but I never kept in contact with any of them. I never had any intention of trying to find a job in the USA or Canada.

The other holiday that was targeted by MI5 was my trip to France, Spain and Portugal in 1977. Oshchenko now goes into detail about my holiday having been connected with the KGB, and this was clearly connected with the Prosecution’s later claims that I had acted in a similar way to Mr E, who has admitted being sent to Portugal on a training mission by the KGB. According to Oshchenko: ‘The Local Residency was informed in advance of the trip and asked, via Centre, to make impersonal contact with Parellic, (via DLB [Dead Letter Box] if Source could remember correctly, but it could have been by telephone) to give him detailed instructions to follow a certain route, and fill or empty a DLB. Source did not think that he gave Parellic the map. He thought it probably had been provided locally. The Local Residency was to provide officers to keep Parellic under surveillance throughout this route. Source thought that the “crosses” might represent telephone kiosks or potential DLB sites. Whilst Source had given general instructions to Parellic in London, Source had not been privy to the actual details of the test route. When told that the crosses were telephone kiosks, Source thought this entirely consistent with the aims of the exercise’. I never did anything for the KGB during my visit to Oporto with John Watson. This was simply a holiday. I never used a telephone, nor was I involved with any DLBs. The map was given to me by the attendant in the camp site office where we stayed outside Oporto. Three of the crosses indicate bus stops we used for going to and from the camp site, and the fourth cross indicates a restaurant where we booked a tourist excursion. John Watson was with me the whole time, and there was no way I could have done anything suspicious without him knowing. Oshchenko then says he was not “privy to the actual details of the test route”, so he accepts that he could not say what had taken place. However, this explanation also contradicts Oshchenko's previous statement that the area was 'prohibited to Russians', which he says in paragraph 33 of report No. 013.

The original reports are published on Cryptome.

Other reports from this series are published on my blog:
Report No. 013

25 November 2006

Stella Rimington MI5 report 013 on Viktor Oshchenko

The Stella Rimington reports, so-called debriefings with Viktor Oshchenko after he defected from the KGB in July 1992, have just been published on the Cryptome website. These reports refer to an “Operation Billiards”, although it is not clear what scope this operation covered - was it perhaps an operation including all the issues raised by Oshchenko’s defection, or possibly it was only concerning issues related to the UK. However, it is clear that the American KGB agent referred to as Mr E was included within the scope of Operation Billiards.

Oshchenko is referred to as ‘a former SVR Line X officer who served in London between 1972 and 1979 and in Paris from 1985 to 1992 who defected to the UK in 1992’. However, it is not clear exactly what it was that Oshchenko said, as all the reports are written in the third person. He may have said something quite different in the transcript of the taped interviews. There is a strong indication that Oshchenko is being led by the interviewer into saying what MI5 want to hear, and we have to consider what agenda Stella Rimington had in mind, because she was the person behind this debriefing, as she was the Head of the MI5 department involved.

In relation to myself, the debrief reports numbered 013, 034, 046, 049, 063, 102, 122, 136, 137, and 147 are all dated after my interviews with the police had ended, which occurred between 8th and 11th August 1992. This leads to the conclusion that these reports had been tailored to agree with what I said during my interviews, rather than an unbiased reporting of what Oshchenko knew.

Another observation is that all Oshchenko’s assertions are presented as factual material, with very little comment or corroboration. However, when the details are analysed more carefully, the de-briefings break down on many points. Oshchenko’s allegations fall into three main categories: (a) facts that are true but which could be gleaned from records and other sources; (b) assertions that are impossible to prove or disprove due to lack of any corroboration; (c) assertions that are demonstrably untrue.

One interesting point is that references are made in the debriefing to three of my holidays, which have been embellished to bolster the Crown’s case: USA/Canada (1976), France/Spain/Portugal (1977), Vienna (1979). Reference has also been made to one planned but aborted holiday to France (1991).

Under paragraph 1 (‘Recruitment’), it is stated that ‘Oshchenko was invited to a trade union meeting in Kingston sponsored by Andy Wilson a few years after he arrived in UK.’ As far as I am aware Andy Wilson was never interviewed about this matter, and no evidence was produced that he had ever met or known Viktor Oshchenko.

It is then claimed that I met Oshchenko ‘regularly once a month in restaurants. Oshchenko treated these as covert meetings’. No evidence was produced that I had regular meetings with Oshchenko, or that I had ever met him or known him. The so-called “evidence” used in court amounted to claims of a circumstantial kind, e.g. I left the Communist Party at the time Oshchenko was in London. I was shown Oshchenko’s photograph during the interviews and I said that I had never seen him before.

There is then the rather bizarre claim that Oshchenko ‘encouraged [me] to join a tennis club and gave [me] a racquet’. Tennis connections were stressed by the police during my police interviews. My wife and I had 4 tennis racquets in our flat: (1) my wife had owned since her school days, (2) I bought in 1977, (3) came free at a garage with a gallon of oil, (4) was given to us by my wife’s father, who found it somewhere. I was interested in tennis at school in the mid 1960s. I bought a tennis racquet in 1977 from a sports-shop in Eden Street Kingston-upon-Thames, because I joined the EMI’s Staff Social Club tennis club (they advertised on a notice board in EMI). I joined the club partly to get fit and partly because a friend in my laboratory, John Evans, also wanted to join the club. I also played tennis with my wife.

The report indicates that Oshchenko was interested in me because of my work: ‘For the first year Oshchenko never broached the matter of his main interest; Parellic’s work in industrial technology’. This seems unlikely, because at the time I am supposed to have been recruited by Oshchenko (early 1970s ?) I worked at Rediffusion (Chessington, Surrey), on the design and manufacture of domestic television receivers - hardly a sensitive “industrial technology”.

In paragraph 2 it is stated that ‘Oshchenko suggested that [I] should get a better job and cut [myself] off from [my] CPGB activities. This took time as [I] was at first unwilling to break with [my] friends’. I told the police that I left the CPGB shortly after a holiday to the then USSR in 1975, which increased my disillusionment with socialist methods. This holiday was not regarded as significant by the Prosecution during my trial. The police apparently never checked with any of my friends or associates in the CPGB, whether they thought it was suspicious that I left the CPGB. Effectively this was just circumstantial evidence that was given great importance by the Prosecution as an indication I had been directed to leave the CPGB.

Another claim made in these reports is that I was directed to change my job: ‘Together they drew up a short list of companies, one of which was EMI. Parellic applied and EMI showed interest’. I joined EMI as the result of an advert in an electronics magazine. The advert was for electronic engineers at EMI (Woking) but I was eventually offered a job as a Test Engineer in the Quality Assurance Department at EMI Systems and Weapons Division at Victoria Road, Feltham, Middlesex. Nobody drew up any list of companies with me. It was a colleague at Rediffusion who showed me the advert (Tony Collis I believe) and several of my colleagues were interested in applying due to a downturn at Rediffusion in 1975/6. Several of my other colleagues had already left Rediffusion (including Brian Smith) and at that time I was in a mood to move on.

In their anxiety to show some connection between my change of jobs and a non-existent influence from Oshchenko, it is claimed that ‘The salary was lower than his current job, but Oshchenko agreed to compensate him for this. Oshchenko paid Parellic a significant sum (£1,000?) for joining EMI’. The issue of salary was raised during my police interviews, and I strenuously denied taking a pay-cut and challenged the police to check my pay-slips, which I had kept for more than 20 years. I had gained a small pay increase of about £200 p.a. by going to EMI. Nobody paid me £1,000, nor any other sum, as compensation and no evidence was produced to prove it. Because it was false, the prosecution dropped this issue at my trial.

In paragraph 3 it is said: ‘Oshchenko also encouraged Parellic to get professional qualifications and improve his prospects’. I believe this is an issue that was emphasised to try to add more weight to the Prosecution’s desire to show similarities between my background and that of the American KGB agent known as Mr E. I attended a part-time (day release) MSc course in Communications Systems (1977-1979) at The Polytechnic of Central London. This course was paid for by EMI and was attended by 4 other people from EMI, including 2 from within 20 feet of my desk at EMI. My friend from Rediffusion, John Raynard, also attended this course.

I have no idea where this comment came from: ‘Parellic’s landlord told him that the police had visited the house asking questions about his contacts’. The only landlord this comment could apply to was Christopher Bird of 65 Saint Albans Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. I rented the ground floor flat, which I shared with John Watson, between November 1975 and September 1979. I can remember no occasion when Mr Bird said such a thing, and John Watson and Mr Bird would be able to confirm this. A policeman visited me in early 1977 asking questions about a robbery of antique clocks in Kent, which I mentioned to John because he had friends in Kent, but I did not - I now believe this visit was connected with MI5 surveillance, although I could not have known that at the time - I never discussed this with my landlord.

In paragraph 4 is stated that ‘Oshchenko asked Parellic for information on the [nuclear bomb] fuse’. This never happened. It is also not true that ‘At this time Parellic was having difficult relations with a girlfriend who was financially demanding’. I only had three girlfriends during this period: Marguerite Bennett (January 1977- February 1978), Marilyn Badman (March/April 1978), my wife (May 1978-1999). None of these women was financially demanding. My ex-flat-mate John Watson can confirm this.

In paragraph 5, the report goes on: ‘At first Parellic gave Oshchenko a brief description of the fuse. Oshchenko paid Parellic a small amount of money for this and asked him to find out about the security arrangements at EMI’. Nobody asked me for information about the project or security arrangements at EMI, and nobody paid me money for information from EMI. These allegations were raised during my police interviews but no evidence was produced to support them.

In paragraph 6: ‘Oshchenko asked Parellic to memorise passages and diagrams from documents and reproduce them at home. He was then to photograph his notes’. It would be impossible to memorize the information in the way suggested. There were many very large circuit diagrams and many pages of detailed documentation, and I only had access to what I needed to do my job, which was to test the circuits. I never photographed any notes and no evidence of a film was produced to back-up these claims. ‘The information was sent to Moscow Centre who replied to Oshchenko that the fuse was old fashioned and of little interest’. The fuse was of the latest design when the project started about 1972/3, but it was still under development in 1980 and was becoming dated as the project dragged out due to technical problems. The WE 177 bomb was still in service until 1997/8.

What appears to be a reference to an actual event is presented in paragraph 7: ‘Oshchenko and Parellic were walking together in the grounds of Hampton Court when they came across Andy Wilson’. This is a completely unbelievable account. I have rarely been to Hampton Court Palace, and I have never met Andy Wilson there; this event is pure fiction. The police never checked this point with Andy Wilson - why would Andy Wilson be wandering around Hampton Court grounds - he hated going more than a few yards without his car.

At paragraph 8 Stella Rimington records a story that seems more like a piece of John le Carre fiction than the debriefing of a real spy. I refer to the “Vienna Oral Lie Detector Test”. But sticking to the parts of the account that can be verified: ‘Oshchenko suggested to Parellic that he travel to Austria in August with his girlfriend on the pretext of taking a holiday’. I went on a long weekend break holiday to Vienna early in August 1979. This was booked through a travel company (Enterprise, Sovereign or Horizon Holidays - I cannot recall which one it was), who offered trips to Madrid, Rome, Athens, Paris and Vienna. Vienna was the only place I had not visited, and so that is why I chose that destination. My visit was only a few days before I set my marriage date; I was in serious doubts about getting married, and since I was seeing my fiancée every day I needed some time on my own, and that was why I decided to go away for a few days. I told my future wife that it was a business trip, otherwise she would have been unhappy why I didn’t want her with me.

The story told here is a complete fiction and parts of it are simply implausible, such as: ‘Moscow Centre instructed Oshchenko to tell Parellic to take copies of classified documents to Vienna. Oshchenko objected to this unnecessary risk but was overruled. Oshchenko believed that Parellic had copied the documents in EMI but could not be sure’. Nothing odd happened in Vienna, and I was only sightseeing and relaxing. No evidence was produced to support the claims made by Oshchenko. I took no documents to Vienna, classified or unclassified. I left EMI Systems and Weapons Division early in May 1978, about 15 months before this trip, so I had no access to this information that is being referred to. It was impossible to photocopy classified documents due to restrictions at EMI; every copy was numbered in red, so it was impossible to remove originals without them being missed.

In paragraph 9 Oshchenko reveals that he ‘did not have time to undertake the bureaucratic process of formalising Parellic as an agent. Parellic therefore remained a confidential contact while he was run by Oshchenko’. This therefore indicates that the claims I had been an agent of Oshchenko was never a proven fact, as was claimed by the police during my police interviews, or was alleged by Oleg Gordievsky during my trial. In fact, no evidence was produced that I had ever been a KGB agent or confidential contact.

Paragraph 10 also reveals more false claims with ‘Oshchenko gave Parellic the money to buy a camera. This was a normal SLR model, either a Konica or a Canon’. I bought a Fujica ST801 SLR camera using my Access credit card in October 1977 (the police found the camera and receipt). My ex flat-mate John Watson had bought a Zenith SLR camera earlier that year, and when we were on holiday in 1977 (the Oporto holiday) I took some poor pictures due to my cheap camera (at that time an Ilford “Sportsman”). I determined to capture better pictures in future and so that was the reason I bought a new camera.

Another fictitious event is claimed by Oshchenko in paragraph 11: ‘Oshchenko noticed surveillance just before a meeting that he was unable to abort. Oshchenko grabbed Parellic and took him to a nearby station where they took a train’. No such incident occurred. If this had happened, then MI5 would have a surveillance log and would have used it during my trial.

Paragraph 12 again repeats the claims of paragraphs 6 and 8, that I had copied classified documents onto film and that I was asked to take documents to Vienna. There is no truth in these allegations.

Paragraph 13 refers to my work at EMI Medical, and the claim that I had ‘obtained twelve volumes of documents on a medical scanner’. This is again fiction. Why would the KGB be interested in the Brain and Body Scanners manufactured by EMI Medical? There was a scanner in Moscow and several others scattered about the USSR and Eastern Europe, and so it would be easy to gain access to the machines and find out how they worked. In any case detailed manuals were with the scanners, because, due to their unreliability, they required almost daily attention by a full-time engineer.

A second KGB officer is mentioned in paragraph 14: ‘Oshchenko introduced Parellic to Lazin at a meeting’. I was shown Lazin’s photograph during my police interviews. I said I had never met him and no evidence was produced that I had.

An un-provable event is mentioned in paragraph 15: ‘While Lazin ran the case a DLB in a telephone box was lost. … It was concluded that children had found the DLB and destroyed the map’. I did not know that DLB meant “dead letter box” when the police put this to me in the interviews. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. As described, it appears so amateurish it is unlikely to have occurred.

Another contradictory statement from Oshchenko comes in paragraph 16, where he says: ‘Oshchenko heard some details of the case while he was in Moscow where he initially worked on the British desk but he could not be sure that he had heard all the significant details’. If Oshchenko had worked on the British desk in Moscow, and had been a KGB officer in London from August 1972 and September 1979, then this would have given him a tremendous opportunity to reveal everything he knew about KGB operations in the UK. So why was I the only person arrested I the UK after he defected?

We know that MI5 kept identified KGB officers under close surveillance. Well, according the Stella Rimington, they had identified Viktor Oshchenko as a KGB officer within 18 months of him arriving in the UK, but he was allowed to stay in the UK to continue spying for a further 5 years. In all that time MI5 had never seen me with Oshchenko or obtained any evidence that I had met him or had any contact with him whatsoever. Now in pargraph 17 we can see another anomaly in MI5’s case: ‘After Lazin was expelled contact was lost with Parellic’. So clearly Viktor Lazin had been expelled because he had been under surveillance by MI5, they had evidence that he was acting as a KGB spy in the UK, but again MI5 had no evidence that I had any contact with Lazin.

This apparent incompetence by MI5 starts to get tedious when we now see that two other KGB officers are claimed to have been making attempts to contact me: ‘A A Chernyayev (Line X, en poste 1979-83) made a reconnaissance to re-establish contact. He may have made a telephone call to Parellic. O P Krasakov Line X, en poste 1984-85 re-established contact by which time Parellic was working for GEC’. Chernyayev’s and Krasakov’s photographs were shown to me during my police interview. I denied meeting them and no evidence was produced that I had. As I had started work at GEC on 2 December 1985, it should be possible to check if Krasakov was in the UK at that time. Clearly Oshchenko has no worries that he has put himself at risk by naming KGB officers in this way.

Another claim by Oshchenko also has the appearance of being fabricated to make him appear more credible to MI5: ‘In September 1991 Oshchenko received a letter in Paris from Moscow asking him if he could organise a meeting with Parellic in France. Oshchenko did not reply to the letter’. It seems unlikely that Viktor Oshchenko would be consulted in 1991 about a case he claimed he handled in the 1970s. It also seems unlikely, in his version of events, that he would have ignored two KGB requests to take action about a case. I planned a driving holiday around Brittany with my wife for the second week in September 1991. The police found evidence that the trip was aborted - the refund document for the unused tickets - because my wife was taken ill with a kidney stone the night before our planned departure. The police at first claimed that I went to France alone; however, I visited my wife in hospital and was in regular phone conversation with her and her parents, so this was impossible. Evidence shows that I organised this trip in August 1991, so VO’s claim to have received a letter in September 1991 could not be linked to my planned holiday.

In paragraph 19 Oshchenko makes a comment that he had used some spy tradecraft in my case: ‘the signal for danger would typically be a piece of paper (with no message) of a particular colour under the windscreen wiper of Parellic’s car’. This method, using coloured paper, is quite different from any other tradecraft referred to in my case, and it is also different to the trap used by the police on the morning of my arrest. It seems to be inconsistent of the entrapment operation that it did not adopt this method mentioned by Oshchenko to see if it would work. But this is yet another example of incompetent planning by these inept Special Branch and MI5 officers.

More contradictory evidence is produced when Oshchenko discusses how an agent might contact a KGB officer. Oshchenko states quite clearly: ‘There would be no procedure for Parellic to contact his case officer’. In saying this Oshchenko has disagreed with the police version, which is that I was told to leave a sign for a KGB officer near to the Russian Embassy.

Regarding Oshchenko’s name: ‘Andy Wilson could also have told Parellic Oshchenko’s full name’. As I stated above, I am not aware that Andy Wilson was interviewed by the police about this matter, and so it appears to be a convenient oversight of the police operation that they failed to interview anyone who might be able to confirm the story being told by Oshchenko.

More fairy stories emerge when Oshchenko is asked about my loss of security clearance: ‘Parellic’s actions to find out why he had lost his security clearance were agreed with Oshchenko’. I only learned that I had lost my security clearance about 5 November 1979, and it was from that point onwards that I can be seen to be seeking to find out why I had lost it and whether I could have my security clearance restored. It was not physically possible for me to discuss losing my security clearance with Oshchenko, because he had already left the UK on 22 September 1979.

In paragraph 22 Oshchenko claims to know what my motivation was. It would seem these assumptions could apply to many people, and could equally have come from a spy novel. I deny these accusations, and in the end they can be dismissed as hypothetical guesswork on the part of Oshchenko.

‘Oshchenko asked him to talent spot other staff but he seemed reluctant or unable to do this’. I deny this allegation. Nobody asked me to talent spot or recruit anyone.

Again, in paragraph 24 Oshchenko makes claims to have met me: ‘Oshchenko used to meet Parellic in parks and restaurants in the Kingston area. Initially Oshchenko met Parellic near his home’. These meetings never took place, and Stella Rimington’s testimony at my trial was that MI5 had no evidence that I had ever met Viktor Oshchenko.

Oshchenko then goes on to make a very important point that is relevant to my entrapment: ‘Later Oshchenko used the telephone box technique to provide counter surveillance on Parellic before the meeting’. As anyone will know who has studied my case, this telephone box technique was the trap used on the morning of my arrest. Mr E said he was taught this technique by Viktor Oshchenko in the 1970s. This enabled the Crown to neatly link me to both Mr E and Oshchenko in the jury’s mind. Although there was no evidence whatsoever that I had learned this technique from Oshchenko, it played a key role in making it appear I had used this method of contact previously. In actual fact I had just followed the instructions of Mr B, the MI5 officer, in his telephone call on the morning of my arrest.

In an attempt to stress the use of spy tradecraft, in paragraph 25 Oshchenko again refers to what he said in paragraph 19 above: ‘The signal for an emergency meeting was a piece of paper of a particular colour under the windscreen wiper of Parellic’s car. On seeing this signal Parellic would go to a telephone box at a particular time when he would receive a call from Oshchenko’. Not only does this repeat a method that was not referred to anywhere else in my case, but now this use of coloured paper is linked to the use of telephone boxes to make contact. This was not what happened on the day of my arrest, so it is strange that, if the police were trying to connect me to Oshchenko, they did not use the method he alleges he used with me.

In paragraph 26, yet more spy tradecraft is mentioned: ‘Oshchenko only used DLBs [dead letter boxes] in telephone boxes to give Parellic a route to a meeting’. No evidence was produced that I had been involved with dead letter boxes. This is another reference to spy techniques, which was later brought into my trial to influence the jury that these spy techniques had been used by me.

The reference to a codeword appears in paragraph 27: ‘The codeword for Parellic was ‘BORG’. Oshchenko chose this because of his own interest in tennis’. No evidence was produced that anybody referred to me as “Borg”. Also, no evidence was produced about Oshchenko’s interest in tennis.

There is some repetition in this “debriefing” which shows that the points are being laboured to stress the issues that MI5 want to disseminate about my case. In paragraph 28 the issue of money is raised again: ‘The payment of £1,000(?) was in recognition of Parellic’s success in getting employment with EMI and as an inducement to co-operate’. As in paragraph 2 above, no evidence was produced that I had been paid £1,000 to gain employment with EMI. In paragraph 29 the use of the money is mentioned: ‘Oshchenko instructed Parellic not to put the money in his bank and to use it wisely for private purposes’. I did not receive the payments, and nobody instructed me how to use my money. No evidence was produced to support these points, or to show that there was anything unusual about my financial affairs in the 1970s.

Paragraph 30 stresses the issue of spy tradecraft again: ‘Oshchenko gave Parellic tradecraft training. … He gave him training in anti-surveillance’. I was not given the training mentioned. If I had been given training in anti-surveillance, I would not have fallen victim to the surveillance used against me on the morning of my arrest.

The camera issue is raised again in paragraph 31: ‘Apart from the money to buy a camera, Oshchenko gave Parellic no equipment’. I was not given money to buy a camera. I bought the camera with my Access card.

Oshchenko’s claims to have taught me spy tradecraft were then extended in paragraph 32 to discussing cryptic notes: ‘[Oshchenko] did show him how to make cryptic diary notes giving details of their next meeting’. Nobody showed me how to make cryptic diary notes. The police analysed all my diaries and found no cryptic notes, although these diaries covered the period of my meetings with Harry Williams.

In paragraph 33, in discussing my trips abroad, it is claimed that Oshchenko: ‘knew that Parellic went to the USA in 1976/77. This was before he entered EMI. Oshchenko asked him to write a letter to his American girlfriend and ask for an invitation to visit. Oshchenko paid for the trip, hoping that Parellic may make contacts for a future job there’. I visited the USA and Canada in August/September 1976, after I joined EMI. I visited a friend Diane in Chicago; I had been writing to her regularly since we met on a holiday (with my friend Brian Smith) to Crete in September 1973. I also visited an old friend from university, Sol, who was then living in Quebec city. Both friends had asked me to visit them on several occasions before, and I eventually visited them both on this one holiday. I paid for the airfare (from Gatwick to O’Hare) using my Access card. I paid for foreign currency, Greyhound bus ticket, etc, using money from my bank account. I made no arrangements to find a job in the USA.

Continuing with my trips abroad: ‘Oshchenko also remembered that Parellic had visited Portugal. He was tasked to clear a DLB from an area prohibited to Russians’. The Portugal trip referred to is the holiday I took with my then flat-mate John Watson in August 1977. We only decided to go into Portugal when we were on the northern coast of Spain. The holiday had been vaguely planned before we left the UK and we were not certain where we would go until we got there. No Russians or DLB’s were involved during this trip. In Report No. 034 paragraph 8, Oshchenko claims that ‘the Local Residency was to provide officers to keep Parellic under surveillance throughout this route’, yet here he claims that the area was ‘prohibited to Russians’. No evidence was produced that the KGB paid for this or the USA trip.

Finally, in paragraph 34, Oshchenko speculates about the relationship I had with my wife: ‘Parellic married soon after Oshchenko’s departure from UK. Oshchenko thinks that this was the same girl with whom Parellic had been having earlier problems. Oshchenko is not certain that Parellic’s wife was aware of Parellic’s relationship with the Soviets but he thinks it likely. He considers Parellic’s wife (Pam) as having the stronger character and Parellic is therefore subordinate to her’. I never had problems with my wife financially or otherwise. There was a difficulty while I lived at 65A Saint Albans Road, that my wife was jealous, due to my previous relationship with Marguerite Bennett. Pam was jealous because of John Watson’s and his girlfriend Janet’s friendship with Marguerite. My wife had never said that she thought I was involved with the KGB. I do not consider I was subordinate to Pam - the neighbours can testify to this, because they used to complain about the rows we had.

The original reports are published on Cryptome.
Other reports from this series are published on my blog:
Report No. 034

14 November 2006

San Serriffe secrets of Guardian spy trial exhibit (Part 2)

Bold expansion in tourism
Prepare for culture shock in the Acapulco of the eastern hemisphere. Adrienne Keith Cohen, Travel Editor, has been there

Lord Wrongfont, last occupant of the British Residency. His statue in Guttenberg Square, Bodoni, has been carefully maintained by succeeding administrations.

You must be up betimes to see San Serriffe’s truly unique attraction. This is the flotilla of lighters that travel overnight, seven nights a week, from the east coasts of these neglected equatorial islands arriving in their dozens at dawn to unload their cargo at the West coast tourist resorts of Cap Em, Garamondo, Villa Pica, and Gillcameo.

The wise visitor, however, will watch this spectacle from a safe distance - and preferably from behind glass. The expanded Century Hotel at Gillcameo is ideally situated for this purpose, every room facing the Atlantic shoreline, vast windows offering an uninterrupted view of this daily ritual - not to mention the necessary protection.

For the cargo that is unloaded with such ceremony each morning is the sand eroded the previous day from the west coast beaches by tidal currents and dumped without so much as by your leave along the less developed east coasts of this extraordinary archipelago.

No islands in the world can surely claim a greater population mix than San Serriffe. Just stroll through Bodoni, the capital, and one minute you will be confronted by a vast church, extravagantly decorated in the Portuguese Manuelline style, the next you may well find yourself in an Arab souk. With luck (or a good guide) you can manage to take the exit from the bazaar that is guarded by an ancient Spanish fort, its walls shored up in the nick of time by a team of visiting conservationists.

The outskirts of Bodoni

In the country where the population of 1,782,000 consists of Europeans and mixed races, Flongs, Creoles, Malaysians, Arabs, plus a leavening of Chinese, it seems only right and proper that it should have been an international expedition that managed to preserve so much evidence of the improbable history of these islands.

Spanish, Portuguese, and British by turn, they became independent in 1967. The usual upheavals followed until the current President, General Pica, restored peace and guaranteed prosperity almost overnight by declaring the islands a tax haven in which all and any foreign capital would be welcome.

The result constitutes a fair degree of culture shock, from a network of motorways that make North American turnpikes and freeways look like so many country lanes, to two international airports. San Serriffe Airways, who already operate scheduled services to the capital, Bodoni, Upper Caisse, northernmost of the two biggest islands, are also planning to operate to its southern neighbour, Lower Caisse, in the near future.

Until recently, the islands have mainly attracted business travellers - and the potential of Bodoni as an international convention and artistic centre has been seized to remarkable effect (the new trade centre, due for completion this year, and the splendid modern theatre are both British enterprises).

But it is Lower Caisse, separated from its northerly neighbour by the formidable Shoals of Adze, that offers the rosiest tourist prospects. Gillsands, stretching down for miles from the southernmost resort of Gillcameo, could well become a second Acapulco once a solution is found to the problem of sand erosion.

One of the many beaches from which terrorism has been virtually eliminated

Meanwhile, comfortable, modern air-conditioned hotels all have the statutory swimming pool - not to mention poolside bars and “coffee shops,” the latter serving Creole delicacies as well as the inevitable steaks, hamburgers and fried chicken.

Food, indeed, must be accounted one of the major pleasures on the islands - particularly as the wines to accompany them are duty-free. Spanish and Portuguese wines still predominate, though Joe’s Diner, on the Garamondo side of Villa Pica, has a cellar-full of French vintages as improbable as the name of this highly sophisticated restaurant.

Although the hinterland is still largely swamp, malaria has been almost eradicated, and the Highway General Pica drives through from the coast to the treacherous Woj of Tipe. This effectively serves as a border between the rest of the island and the habitat of the Flongs.

Kwotes coming home to roost in the Woj of Tipe

Isolationist by nature, this ancient, aboriginal race is only slowly being allowed to receive tourists with the same courtesy and warmth as the rest of their countrymen. For the time being, however, permits to enter their territory must first be obtained from the District Commissioner’s Office. You’ll need a plausible story to get there - not to mention a strong constitution with which to confront the unmade tracks you hit with a bump when the motorway suddenly gives out.

A statue of the President, General M.-J. Pica, to be unveiled today in Cloister Gardens, Bodoni, as part of the celebrations of ten years’ independence.

Transposed by the tides

San Serriffe is on a collision course with Sri Lanka, but Britain and the EEC could benefit from its underwater research. Anthony Tucker, Science Correspondent, explains

Diagram showing how the seasonal reversal of the main oceanic current affects the erosion and deposition patterns at the extremes of the tidal cycle. (By courtesy of the Institute of Indian Ocean Marine Sciences.)

The extraordinary eastward movement of the San Serriffe island group was first observed, accidentally, by Sir Charles Clarendon, after whom the port is named, during an exploration of the Indian Ocean in 1796. Sailing north in his schooner Excelsior he became stranded on a sand Spit east of the islands on March 13 - a date which he underlined in his log.

Since only two years earlier Captain Meriwether Lewis, one of Cook’s original crew (who later became Governor of Louisiana and was one of the most able cartographers of his time), had recorded that the waters east of the islands offered a clear passage, Sir Charles decided to anchor and investigate as soon as Excelsior lifted off with the tide.

It happened that Sir Charles, although a botanist and mineralogist, was also the author of the empirical hypothesis which explains why large pebbles rise and successively finer particles fall in sedimentary systems. He had arrived at his explanation (which proved on further investigation to be false) through direct observation of erosion of the Channel coast near Rye.

He was therefore able to study the San Serriffe phenomenon in a comparative way and his diary for 1796, now at the Geographical Society at Kensington Gore, contains the first description of the extraordinary scouring and deposition pattern which continually shapes and reshapes the island group.

Sir Charles, however, saw only a part of the process when, during the spring tides, the spit of sand on which he had stranded and which was visible at its western extremity as a sand bank between the islands, was swept away. Sir Charles believed that this reformed further offshore creating an ever-extending underwater hazard, and it is clear from his notes that he realised that the material was somehow accreting from the western shores. “The land is being eaten bye the see,” he wrote, and “raising hazardes to the Island Easte. In these wateres keep the islands to starboard when heading northe.”

Almost a century passed before this simple explanation was challenged and corrected. An expedition from the Royal Society - one of the earliest in the series of which the present Aldabra Expedition is the most recent - landed in 1886 to study the habitat. The loss of one of the expedition’s two huts, set up on the western shore of the S. Island as a laboratory and store, drew sharp attention to the erosion problem. Systematic studies were made and the expedition brought back the first description of the complete repetitive cycle of erosion and deposition.

Linked intimately with the multiple tide system of the double island formation, with the biennial reversal of the main current flowing parallel to the East coast, and with an effect not understood by the Royal Society expedition but now known as a “double Coanda,” the scouring and deposition has two alternating major phases.

In one, during the neap tides, material is carried from the western shores of both islands and deposited in the form of a sandbank and spit which almost closes the strait between the islands, known as the Shoals of Adze, at low water and which reaches out eastward for about 1,000 metres. Deposition in this position depends on the existence of the remnants of an earlier spit, and on the fingers of material reaching out from both islands into the strait which result from the reverse flow patterns during neaps.

With the spring tides the reduced channel width between the islands leads to very high flow rates. Since the main water flow during these phases is southward the material now being scoured rapidly from the bank and spit is deposited in different ways on the north and south islands.

Deposition on the northern island falls uniformly on the eastward semicircular shore, while the stronger southerly movement draws out the deposition pattern on the southern island and accounts for the curious “tail” which has developed over the centuries.

But the phenomenon unique to San Serriffe, as far as is known, is that as the bank and spit erodes two or three “herring bone” fingers are left reaching out partially across the strait. These are undoubtedly due to the creation of standing waves during the fast erosion phase, but if they did not occur accretion on the eastern shore could not take place and the islands would have disappeared long ago.

As it is the islands are in a quasi-stable state, but moving steadily eastward. Because the scour and deposition rate changes as the cube of current velocity, the islands will accelerate at first gently and then more rapidly as they approach Sri Lanka. Simple calculations based on the present movement of 1,400 metres a year and an exponential acceleration rate suggest that the island group will hit the coast of Sri Lanka at a velocity of 940 km an hour on January 3, 2011.

In spite of the difficulty of the waters around the islands, and the shifting hazards, a British gravel dredging company last year put forward the proposition that, by normal dredging procedures, it should be possible to stabilise the land masses long enough for proper surveys to be carried out. This proposal is believed to be under serious study by both the Department of Industry and the so-called Rockall Group at the Foreign Office.

In the meantime, basing his calculations on the most recent observations at San Serriffe and on the Institute of Marine Sciences computer model of the Channel, Dr. John Funditor, of Imperial College, has put forward a daring scheme.

This is to create a double Coanda island group in the English Channel where, according to Dr Funditor, the current patterns would lead, not to an island movement but to the gradual building up of a Channel barrage. This would have immediate and obvious benefits.

There would be a direct road and rail link between Britain and the EEC mainland; the barrage would become the major Europort, accepting traffic from either east or west and would entirely eliminate the present Channel shipping traffic problems; the argument about the Chunell would be silenced, and there would be a permanent reduction in the sea level of the North Sea. This last effect would be most important because if would reduce the costs of North Sea coast protection, reduce the risk of flooding, eliminate the need for a Thames barrage and make the arduous task of oil production a little easier.

It may well turn out that advantages such as these, likely to be ignored in Britain, will be grasped by the Asian countries towards whom San Serriffe is moving. One fear, already being expressed in Karachi, is that as soon as the islands enter an economic zone as defined by the Law of the Sea, then its unique water flow pattern will be deliberately disrupted by an annexing state to prevent it moving out again. Since this could, however, destroy the islands completely, the view in both London and Washington is that this remarkable natural phenomenon should be allowed to run its full course.

Eric Dymock reveals a major triumph for motor sport in the islands

Garamondo pulls it off

Following meetings between the Formula 1 Constructors’ Association and the Real Automobileclub do San Serriffe, a world championship Grand Prix will take place on the new Autodromo Pedro Venezia at Garamondo next year. A rather hurriedly-organised non-championship event inaugurated the new 2¾-mile track in December, ’76, and the International Automobile Federation has sanctioned a championship date for next February, immediately before the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami.

“We are delighted to have the Grand Prix of San Serriffe on the calendar for next year,” Bernie Ecclestone of the Formula 1 Association said at the formal cheque-signing ceremony earlier this week. “The prize fund will have no more than a marginal effect on the San Serriffe balance of payments. In addition, we are putting up a special prize for the first local driver to finish.”

The most likely recipient of this will be young Manuel Transmizzio who did so well with his Guinness-Martini Ford in last year’s European Formula 2 Championship, and who has been tipped to join the John Player Lotus team before the end of the season.

The new track has been designed by a consortium headed by Jackie Stewart, whose commercial links have been put at the disposal of the RAC do San Serriffe for next year’s event, which he will cover for ABC television in the United States. His interest has resulted in Rolex putting up giant replicas of their Oyster Perpetual wrist watches so that the 100,000 spectators can follow lap times from their seats.

Texaco has financed the construction of the track together with local aperitif manufacturer Pedro Venezia.

Texaco are to sponsor the Grand Prix. All the major teams are expected to enter, on a track planned with safety as its main consideration, unlike the old Circuito Garamondo. Here, as in the well-remembered STP Challenge Trophy races at Kindley Field in Bermuda, a no-passing section had to be included where the narrow track crossed a Bailey Bridge.

The burden of development: A San Serriffian carries his washing machine home from the factory gates - picture by David Housden.

Casting off into unknown wealth

The industrial revolution that has engulfed the tiny Republic within the past ten years may soon result in its challenging the economic power of the West. Victor Keegan, Business Editor, reports.

San Serriffe is creating world-wide interest as an example of a developing country trying to turn itself into an industrial society with the benefits of a large oil discovery.

When oil was first discovered in 1971 the Government set itself a 10-year target to attract new industry to replace its traditional dependence on agriculture and sporadic tourism. When General Pica took over he completely endorsed the 10 Year Plan, though the base year was changed to 1976. Thanks to the quintupling of oil prices in recent years - and sharp rises in the prices of the country’s other raw materials, phosphate and timber - the inhabitants now enjoy the highest per capita income in the world.

General Pica’s Industrial Development Strategy placed emphasis on truck manufacture, textiles, shipbuilding, microelectronics, tourism, a duty free port, conference centres, aluminium smelting, steel, and furniture polishing.

Some of these, like the duty free port and tourism, have been impressive successes. The string of hotels and “appartimentos” along the shifting West coast matches anything in Spain and provides an attractive alternative to Europeans seeking winter sun but bored with the Canaries. The international airport at Bodoni is claimed to be one of the biggest of its kind and was used for the proving flights of Concorde.

An impressive steel works has been built near the deep water terminal at Port Elrod in the North-east capable of producing 400,000 tonnes of crude steel a year. The complex, with an associated rolling mill, was built with the help of technical advice from the British Steel Corporation which is pleased with the end result. Although it produces more steel than is currently consumed on the islands, there are plans to start exporting when the current international recession is over.

About six miles south of Port Elrod the State-owned Industrial Initiative Board has built a medium-sized shipyard capable of building supertankers or bulk carriers. The yard is modelled on the widely praised yards at Bilbao in Northern Spain and was completed in October last year, almost three months ahead of schedule. No orders have yet been received because of the depth of the international recession, but the IIB is confident that a combination of low cost labour and modern facilities will ensure that it gets its fair share of work when orders eventually return to the industry.

By contrast the giant aluminium smelter, nearby, commissioned last summer, is working at 75 per cent capacity. By early 1978 it is expected to be working at 100 per cent of programmed capacity when an associated power station (utilising natural gas which would otherwise be “flared” at sea) is also completed. At present, if the smelter is run nearer full utilisation, it could overload the country’s other power station near Bodoni, and cause power cuts.

The IIB has also been involved in building a plant to assemble Land Rovers which are considered ideal vehicles for San Serriffe’s unpredictable countryside. The new company is able to sell every vehicle it produces, though output has been hampered by a shortage of “knocked down” kits from England.

The IIB, which is the lynchpin of the industrial strategy, has access to £900 millions of oil money over a period of six years. This is more than the gross national product of the islands as recently as four years ago and illustrates the size of the country’s ambitions.

In addition to creating prestigious new industries for the country, the IIB also provides risk capital for the burgeoning entrepreneurial classes of San Serriffe. As Mr Manuel Sinibaldi, President of the IIB puts it: “We are really an ordinary merchant bank which happens to be owned by the Government. We provide funds for soundly based commercial schemes in competition with all the other banks.”

The recently formed Confederation of Serriffe Industry, which is becoming an increasing force in the country’s politics, was loosely structured on the British CBI. Like the CBI its governing body consists of a council of 400 top businessmen. At present there are only 295 people on the council because of the comparatively small size of industry, but the remaining vacancies will be filled as new businessmen come along.

The industrial strategy is closely linked to the Government’s overall economic policy which envisages growth of 10 per cent a year between 1970 and 1980. In spite of the disappointing progress in the first half of the decade, the Economic Department is sticking to its 10-year forecast so the economy is now expected to grow by 20 per cent a year for the rest of the decade. It is pointed out that this could easily happen if all the recently completed projects were working at even 90 per cent of theoretical capacity.

This point, apparently, impressed a team from the British Treasury which went on a fact-finding mission to the islands towards the end of last year to discover if there were any lessons for Britain in San Serriffe’s attempts to change from a developing country with a declining industrial base to a modernised oil-based economy. Although the team did not think there was anything specific they could learn from the particular industries chosen by the San Serriffe Government, they were enormously impressed with the industrial strategy which had succeeded in curing one of the worst infrastructural problems of the economy - high unemployment among civil servants.

The team was also impressed by the Government’s policy towards the exchange rate. San Serriffe is believed to be the only country in the world to have made its currency unit (the Corona) fully convertible into oil. At the time of writing one Corona is worth 1.56 barrels of oil. Because of this policy the currency is regularly re-valued with the result that inflation has been almost eliminated. Although this policy of “crude floating” fascinated the Treasury team, it was not felt that it could be applied in Britain because oil was a much smaller proportion of the total economy.

However, the team was enormously impressed with the scope for British exporters. The country’s apparent lack of concern about such things as delivery dates and the efficiency of plant was felt to offer huge scope to British manufacturers: it was agreed that a trade mission ought to be sent out some time next year.

San Serriffe oil production was reapportioned from March 30 from 15m barrels/day to 28.8m. tons/fortnight. At the same time the posted price (Arabian light marker equivalent) was adjusted from $11 barrel to an offshore quotation of C10.92 ton, a marginal premium over Gulf crude giving £2.34 cwt., discounting offsets. “If the position holds,” a spokesman said, “weighage should more than compensate for a slackening of interest in Venezuela.”

What are the major growth points?
Berthold Cushing, Deputy Administrator of the San Serriffe Development Corporation, discusses the economic outlook.

Programme for action

It would not be possible in a short article to describe in full the relations between the public and private sectors. On the other hand to discuss at length the projects entered into by the public sector alone would necessarily exclude much important work that is being done elsewhere.

There is therefore something of a dilemma in writing an article of this kind to know how much to put in and how much to leave out. Nevertheless, in approaching this problem I have assumed that the general reader needs a brief account of the past achievements of the San Serriffe economy and if possible some guidance about the major areas of growth which may attract overseas capital in the future.

Unfortunately it is not easy to be specific on either of these points. That there has been a great deal of development in San Serriffe is beyond question. And if my private hunch is anything to go by there is scope for plenty more. What form it will take is a good deal more difficult to say.

It might therefore be more helpful if I were to confine myself to a few brief generalisations so that the businessman arriving in Bodoni should have some idea of the problems he is likely to encounter and of the opportunities which await him.

It is, I think, important to realise that San Serriffe’s problems are not necessarily those of a West European country. I wish to stress the word “necessarily” because there are many occasions when there can be a remarkable similarity. It is one of the hazards of discussing the San Serriffe economy that undue emphasis is liable to be given to this aspect or that at the expense of the general picture as a whole.

What are the major growth points in San Serriffe? It was in an attempt to answer this question that the San Serriffe Development Corporation, of which I am Deputy Administrator, recently convened a series of conferences with interested parties both within the islands and from overseas.

There was, as the Administrator himself said, much creative thinking and-cross-fertilisation of disciplines. It would be invidious to single out individuals but one speaker in particular had a great deal of value to contribute and I am certain, looking back on it, that the conferences would have been less rewarding without his presence.

Secondly, having identified the growth points, is it possible to set down any guidelines which would be helpful to foreign investors in deciding which projects could make most use of their expertise? Clearly there are some enterprises which are best left in local hands, whereas others would certainly profit from an injection of foreign capital. It is important, I think, that a rough distinction should be made between the two categories.

This necessarily inadequate account of the situation as seen from Bodoni would be incomplete without a few words of caution. There is often a temptation to jump to conclusions, sometimes based on a wrong reading of the position but sometimes not, which cannot afterwards be easily rectified.

It is in the interest of San Serriffe and of its foreign investors that the parts should be seen as constituting a whole, for it is only in that way that progress will ultimately be made. But of one thing I am absolutely certain: given the decisions, taken at the right time, the right results will follow.

The sombre face of Enrico Pabst: the musical giant of San Serriffe. The only islander to achieve international renown, Pabst leapt to fame in the ’40s in Lisbon with his cello performance of Fugue for Cello and Crumhorn by Polenta. He subsequently quarrelled with his concert partner, Giacomo Incunabula, and some critics were taken aback when Pabst restored the crumhorn part for hillbilly mouth organ and played both melodic lines himself.

The charge of vulgarity which greeted this performance wounded him deeply and he retired in silence to San Serriffe only to re-emerge during his political exile under the Hispalis regime. He returned to the European concert halls but also developed a second musical career when he joined the rhythmic section of the Metro Ukulele All Stars. “I needed the coronas,” was his only comment.

A man scarred by his experiences, he is recorded as having made only one joke: that he played with Casals - and won. “It was tennis, Senhor. Now I shall challenge Pancho Gonzalez to play the cello.” T.R.

Spiking the cultural roots.
Tim Radford investigates a sonorous enigma.

Tourists fortunate enough to be permitted to visit the Flong settlements of San Serriffe during the summer solstice will be rewarded by the colourful spectacle of the Gallee sect stamping and shrieking in unison in the Dance of the Pied Slugs.

This traditional ritual (so unforgettably filmed by Hans Hasselblad in his seminal documentary of the ’30s) is the subject of bitter anthropological dispute. Crabtree (1967) argues that the genesis of the dance transparently lies in East African gastropod fetishism. Jonas Hoe, the ethnomusicologist, counters this thesis with the assertion that the accompanying instrument, the Grot (it looks rather like a slide bagpipe), is clearly of Pacific origin. The maverick Australian ethnographer, Mervyn Bluey, has publicly speculated that the Pied Slugs may well be a vague folk memory of witchetty grubs …

But this, according to Lino Flatbäd of the University of Uppsala in Sweden, who has made a lifelong study of the components of the distinctive San Serriffe culture, is to carry comparative ethnology too far. “I could, for instance, compare the Grot to the Tongan nose-flute, but what would that prove?” he asked as we sipped bitter-sweet swarfegas (a local liqueur scented with mangrove blossom) under the shade of the frangipanis on the western beach.

“But to speculate upon the origin of the Flongs is to miss the central fascination of San Serriffe culture. These people - all of them, colonists and indigenous, townsmen and peasants - have developed to a fine pitch the Cult of the Sonorous Enigma.

“Did you know that Mr Khrushchev (they don’t really know anything about him here, of course) has become a folk hero here? Solely on the basis of saying ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.’ These people have a grave passion for phrases in which euphony and banality are perfectly matched: how else do you explain the Festival of the Well Made Play?”

Flatbäd sipped another swarfegas sadly. “The festival probably existed in some other form in earlier times, but everybody seems to have forgotten what it was. I believe in the early ’60s a liner stopped here to take aboard water and a British Council rep company on their way to Bombay gave an impromptu performance of The Reluctant Peer. It was received in puzzlement until after the final curtain went down and one of the passengers in the audience suddenly said loudly, “That’s what I call a Well Made Play.”

A group of Flongs in the audience immediately burst into applause, and went about for days repeating the phrase, … The longer I stay here the less I understand these people. Do you know that if an islander wants to make it clear that he will never do something he says ‘I will do it when the sociologists go away.’”

The Festival of the Well Made Play is indeed a unique event. Every second Mayday, local committees of Flongs and islanders of European extraction combine enthusiastically to mount the complete cycle of plays by William Douglas-Home in English, Caslon, and Ki-flong.

The festival begins at dawn on mayday with a procession and a battle of flowers, the cycle begins a noon prompt and ends 36 hours later with dancing in the streets. But during that 36 hours the cycle is watched with a discerning intensity unmatched even by the Japanese connoisseurs of Kabuki.

It is not certain that the context of the plays is properly understood: the enthusiasm seems to be for ritual aspects of the cycle - the Flongs, for instance, applaud wildly whenever an actor appears wearing a Harris tweed hacking jacket with a centre vent and cavalry twill trousers and a paisley cravat.

“I sometimes think,” Flatbäd told me, “that if a play didn’t open with French windows and a maid dusting the sideboard it wouldn’t be regarded as a play at all. There are some odd mistakes - somebody once performed the first scene of Ibsen’s Ghosts during the cycle and we were all quite taken in.”

Nobody can offer a convincing explanation for the popularity of the festival. Hamish McMurtrie is not concerned to try. “These island communities, they always distort and misunderstand mainland cultures because they see them out of context,” he said cheerfully. McMurtrie is chairman of the islands’ Committee with Responsibilities for the Arts. He is the son-in-law of His Excellency General Pica, but was in fact born in Orkney. A youngish, energetic polymath he has during the past four years built up a series of fringe events to accompany the Festival.

He has developed the islander’s taste for the Sonorous Enigma (on the wall of his office is a superbly crafted plaque bearing the pokerwork motto “There’s nowt so queer as folk”) but there are evidences of his concern for his work. His office is decorated by posters for the island’s first and only locally made film: a dramatised documentary about the control of infectious disease, it is called Yaws.

McMurtrie is concerned to use the festival as a key to wider access to European culture. Thus the foyer of the Cap Em opera house has been host to an exhibition by the Peruvian minimalist artist Felix de Garcia, and my visit coincided with tours by the Bodoni Brass Ensemble and the Ampersand String Quartet. Neither visit was a commercial success: the two together consumed almost half the Ministry’s modest annual budget, plus a small grant from Unesco and a larger subvention from the CIA.

McMurtrie confessed himself disappointed but perhaps, he speculates, the Home cycle itself might provide the answer. “The English culture is in some respects the dominant one. If I can persuade the CIA to help further I may arrange for translations of Agatha Christie, Arthur Wing, Pinero, and Hugh and Margaret Williams. If those are a success we could try something really daring, the sort of bold experiment you use in your own National Theatre. What would you say about a performance of Look Back in Anger in modern dress?”

Outside, on a whitewashed wall opposite McMurtrie’s office, someone had neatly charcoaled “It never rains but it pours.” In the seductive climate of the San Serriffe June, it seemed answer enough.

Dawn of a culture: The earliest known inscription in Ki-flong, on a stone outside M’Flong, describes “a great journey towards the sunrise.” It almost certainly refers to the slow easterly movement of the islands across the oceans, and the script, variants of which have been found in Guatemala, suggests that the territory may originally have been located off the coast of Brazil. The subsequent movement must then have been round the Cape of Good Hope.

Since the date of this inscription the written form of the language has undergone a number of modifications. The Flongs are not derived from any known African stock, but both the prefixes “Ki” (for the language) and “M” (for something of importance) appear in several African languages. It is thought that the Flong language may have been modified in relatively recent times during the transit of the islands round the African coast.

Mitred rules
by the Rt. Rev. Martin Goudy, Anglican Bishop to the Flongs

I am often asked whether the Flongs are not one of the world’s most disregarded peoples, and although standards of comparison are difficult I am forced to reply that so far the Flongs have failed to benefit from the great riches newly acquired by San Serriffe.

Doubtless it is for this reason that the Government in Bodoni discourages foreign visitors from penetrating their territory, and that in spite of the highly advanced transport network elsewhere it is rare to see any conveyance in M’Flong larger than an Audi 100LS Automatic.

“Itn goro apapawaapa, ngoro awapa” is an old saying in the Ki-flong language which I have heard times without number as the people gather in the evening at their huts: “He that smiteth shall surely himself be smitten.”

The Church has thus taken the only honest course open to it in aligning itself with the Flong Front and in supporting those claims - whether to secession from Upper Caisse or to a say in of life of the Republic commensurate with their numbers - which the Flongs have advanced with increasing urgency.

When this has been said, however, the Church equally condemns the violence with which some of the claims have been accompanied. The series of raids on tourist hotels at Cap Em and Villa Pica certainly achieved a purpose in drawing attention to the plight of the Flongs.

The raids may well have had a moral justification, and certainly they were carried out with commendable discipline. But the Church would be wrong if it did not express concern at the whole-sale taking of life as well as denounce the geographical isolation of which the Flongs have for so long been the victims.

The Flong claims are modest. They are not demanding majority rule: for one thing they are not in a majority. The overriding priority is the drainage of the Woj of Tipe which cuts off the Flongs from the outside world - and from the hope of freedom.