In the process of gathering evidence against the prosecution’s claims before my trial it became necessary for my defence team to investigate many of the issues with experts in various fields. Colin Wallace was one of these experts consulted.
From: Colin Wallace
4 June 1993
To: Mr Richard J Jefferies LLB
3 Shouldham Street
LONDON W1H 5FG
Dear Mr Jefferies,
Re: Crown v. Michael John Smith
Central Criminal Court - 8 June 1993 for trial
I have read the material which you sent to me on 18 May regarding your client and the forthcoming trial which opens on 8 June and I would comment as follows.
I was employed by Army Intelligence in Northern Ireland during the 1970s as a Psychological Warfare Officer. During this period I also worked for MI5 and MI6, so my ‘expertise’ is limited to operations against terrorist organisations. Since leaving the Service in 1975 I have, from time to time, written articles and broadcast on matters relating to intelligence, but I could not be regarded as an expert on the tradecraft of the Soviet Intelligence Services.
From the information available, it would appear to me that, if the prosecution case against your client is to be successful, the Crown will have to show that not only did he provide, without authority, classified information to a Soviet or other hostile intelligence service but that he was aware that the information which he communicated was being given to members of a hostile intelligence service. This appears to be the only reason for bringing charges under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act rather than under Section 2.
If this assumption is correct, then the tradecraft issue would appear to be less significant. From the documents submitted to me I can find no compelling evidence that the alleged tradecraft practices could have originated only from SVR or KGB sources and it seems quite possible that similar practices could have been used by any intelligence service, security company or criminal fraternity. Also, even if it could be shown that the tradecraft practices referred to were definitely the work of the SVR or KGB, what evidence is there that your client recognised them as such?
Both Oleg Gordievsky and Mrs ‘C’ from the Security Service stress that only the SVR or the KGB would have used such practices and quote previous espionage cases and defectors’ evidence to support that assertion. On the other hand, it could be argued that it is unlikely that SVR and KGB officers would still be using warning signs and other tradecraft signals which have been compromised repeatedly over the past twenty years and are well known to Western agencies.
I would submit that the Crown cannot claim that tradecraft per se can be attributed to the work of any one intelligence service, or any one country. In effect it is nothing more than a series of preventative measures designed to thwart an opponent’s counter intelligence services. Of course, similar measures are employed equally effectively and frequently by those engaged m criminal activity or other clandestine work.
In this context; the claim that the defendant believed he was simply involved in industrial espionage could be argued on the grounds that many of the private security companies and detective agencies engaged in such activity employ former members of the intelligence services who have extensive experience of such tradecraft practices.
There are a number of issues which could be put forward to support the industrial espionage theory. First, I am surprised by the absence of normal espionage paraphernalia in this case. There is no reference to concealed containers, miniature cameras, one-time pads etc.; similarly, we are asked to believe that in this case SVR and KGB officers abandoned previously well-adopted practices and requested the defendant to provide original documents at handover points within the jurisdiction of the British intelligence services. Such practices would place an agent (and, indeed, the whole operation) at unnecessary risk.
I am also surprised at the size of the sums of money allegedly paid to the defendant for the information, as these seem to be greatly in excess of payments previously made by the KGB and GRU for information of equal or greater importance.
Given that I have not seen all the evidence in this case, I am nevertheless surprised by the absence of surveillance reports from the security Service and the Special Branch. This indicates that either important information is being withheld for some unidentified reason or that there is a total absence of any corroborative evidence which links the defendant with identified members of Soviet Intelligence. There are a number of key questions which still need to answered: Had the defendant ever been Positively Vetted? If so, when was the last occasion? When was the defendant’s reliability first called into question by the security authorities? Has his case officer been identified? Was he under surveillance by the Security Service during the period when he was allegedly in contact with the defendant? Were the defendant’s home and work telephones tapped by the Security Service or Special Branch.
I find it difficult to accept that any professional intelligence case officer would allow an important agent to write down and retain incriminating notes about a particular operation, Oleg Gordievsky attempts to explain this away by claiming that the case officer’s interest in obtaining results and that the agent complies with instructions overrides consideration of the agent’s security is simply not credible. The protection of the agent should always come at the top of the case officer’s list of priorities. It is clear from Gordievsky’s statement that the Special Branch regard this as a weakness in the Crown’s case and I think it therefore merits further attention.
I have attempted to find suitable published material on intelligence tradecraft but as you have not doubt discovered, it is in short supply. Two publications might be helpful as background reading. They are:-
‘The Real Spy World’ by Miles Copeland (former CIA officer) published by Sphere, London 1978 and
‘The Surveillance and Covert Operations Training Manual’ published by M J Tombs, Bodyguard Training Services, Norwich.
I hope the above comments will be of some use to you in the absence of any other evidence from intelligence sources. Please telephone me if you have any queries on above or if you would like me to expand on any of the particular issues.