17 February 2006

Police surveillance & the blind spot

I have a lot of respect for the police. They do a difficult and dangerous job, and often get involved in situations that many of us would prefer to avoid. It is disturbing, therefore, when actions taken by the police cause such public concern that it raises a demand for essential lessons to be learned. I believe some of the most damaging incidents to the reputation of the police are when they gun down innocent people, and it would appear this catastrophic miscalculation usually results from a surveillance operation that has gone seriously wrong.

The innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead with 8 bullets on 22 July 2005, after being mistaken for a terrorist suicide bomber. On 22 September 1999 Harry Stanley was shot dead by police who thought the table leg he was carrying was a sawn off shotgun - it took just 2 bullets to kill him. On 14 January 1983 Stephen Waldorf was shot 5 times by police marksmen, and nearly died because he was mistaken for David Martin, a man on the run after trying to murder a police officer. Similar cases could be cited of police mistakes, but the point I would make is that somebody responsible for surveillance was not looking carefully enough; they were suffering from a blind spot.

What’s all this got to do with my case? Well, as in many police operations, it is the surveillance which provides much of the evidence used to arrest and convict criminals, and the accuracy of the collected information gives a good idea of the strength of the police case. As previously stated, quality assurance is my speciality and I cannot avoid scrutinizing the exact point a particular piece of evidence might prove, and what it reveals about the thought processes of the police.

Some strange claims were made following the surveillance operation carried out by the police on the morning of my arrest on 8 August 1992. It was presented to the jury that I knew precisely what the phone call meant, and that I was trained in the practice of meeting with KGB officers and receiving such phone calls. However, I showed no prior knowledge of what I was expected to do, and it was Mr B who asked me to go to a telephone kiosk. At first I decided not to act on his instructions, and that was why I left my house later than I was asked. In the end, being an inquisitive person, I went out to investigate what it was all about.

Referring to the map of the area in Kingston upon Thames around my home, the police agreed that the route marked was the actual route I took, and I agree entirely that I did follow that route. I have marked the outward route away from my home in red and the return route in green, and for most of the journey the same path was taken.

The telephone call
9.02 The telephone call is made to my home from a house in Ham, Surrey. MI5 officer “Mr B” said in the telephone call that I should be at telephone kiosk 1 in 15 minutes, at the corner of Durlston Road and Cardinal Avenue.

The phone call made to kiosk 1
Mr B phoned telephone kiosk1 and a speaking clock recorded that he finished dialing at 19.19 and 10 seconds. The ringing tone continued for 34 seconds but nobody answered. Clearly I had not even left home when the call was made. [At 9.26 and 10 seconds and 9.37 and 40 seconds Mr B phoned my home, but as I was out and my wife was in the shower, the calls were picked up by our answering machine.]

Leaving home
9.20 Detective Constable Alexander Hordern saw me leaving my home.

Also at about 9.20 DC James Tubbs (driving in a car) saw me enter Staunton Road from Park Farm Road, moving away from my home. At 9.22 he noticed me walking north up Latchmere Lane.

Arriving the first time at kiosk 1

9.15 DC Colin Simpson saw me approach the kiosk 1. He said I was in the area of the kiosk for about one minute and he took photographs of me

9.23 DC Catherine Plummer saw me approaching telephone kiosk 1.

[As this refers to the same point in time, obviously both officers cannot be correct. The photographs show me arriving and leaving kiosk 1, and the times on the photos are 9.23 and 9.24, which agrees with the time given by DC Plummer.]

I look down the road near Telephone Kiosk 1

I look into Telephone Kiosk 1

Leaving kiosk 1
DC Catherine Plummer saw me walk away from the box (no time specified).

DC Colin Simpson saw me walk away from the kiosk and northwards up Hollybush Road (no time specified, but he said I had been there about one minute).

At the shops
9.25 DC Stephen Brown saw me emerge from Hollybush Road and walk towards the shops. He was located near telephone kiosk 2. He does not mention what I did there. He saw me return back down Hollybush Road.

9.25 DC Kevin Kindleysides also saw me emerge from Hollybush Road and walk towards the shops. He was also located near kiosk 2. He does not mention what I did there. He saw me return back down Hollybush Road.

Returning to kiosk 1
9.25 DC Catherine Plummer saw me return to telephone kiosk 1 and she said I sat on the wall by the kiosk.

9.25 DC Colin Simpson saw me return to the kiosk. He said I stood near the kiosk and sat on the wall for a “couple of minutes”. He took further photographs of me.

[The times on the photographs show me returning to kiosk 1 at 9.30.]

Leaving kiosk 1 the second time
At 9.32 DC Catherine Plummer saw me walk away again towards Latchmere Lane. Her timing has me sitting on the wall for approximately 7 minutes.

DC Colin Simpson saw me walk towards Latchmere Lane.

9.33 DC James Tubbs saw me emerging from Cardinal Avenue into Latchmere Lane and heading towards home.

Heading homewards
9.33 Detective Inspector Martin Nicholson saw me moving south on Staunton Road and crossing the junction with Park Farm Road.

9.33 Detective Sergeant Gary Pepe saw me moving south on Staunton Road and crossing the junction with Park Farm Road.

Visiting Moran’s newsagents
9.32 DC John Collins saw me in Kings Road entering the Moran’s newsagents (where I bought a newspaper)

Arriving home
9.37 DI Martin Nicholson saw me walking into Park Farm Road from Chesfield Road.

DS Gary Pepe saw me walking into Park Farm Road from Chesfield Road (no time given).

9.40 DC Alexander Hordern saw me coming from Chesfield Road approaching my home.

As I approached my home I was arrested, and I received my first police caution. The arresting officer D.I. Martin Nicholson, said “I am arresting you for communicating classified information to a hostile agency. This is an offence against the Official Secrets Act”. I knew there must be a mistake, since I didn’t deal with classified information in my work at Hirst Research Centre. It was also claimed in court that I thought I was being kidnapped by the KGB, rather than arrested by plain clothed Special Branch, and it was said I later calmed down when I saw uniformed police. This is a complete falsification of what actually happened - the exact opposite in fact - and the true story can be proved from statements given by the police themselves.

The telephone call from Mr B was over very quickly, and so when I actually left my home (some 17 minutes later) I was already uncertain about the location of the telephone kiosk mentioned in the call. I did not recall Durlston Road being mentioned, but I thought I had heard the name Cardinal Drive. I guessed that the location was near the Cardinal public house, as that was my local pub during the time in the 1970s when I lived in nearby St Albans Road. This was the reason I headed first to “telephone kiosk 1” (marked on the map), which was apparently the location intended by the police. However, when I arrived there I could see nothing to indicate that this was the kiosk mentioned, and so I stayed there probably less than a minute and then went off up Hollybush Road looking for Cardinal Drive.

I did not go anywhere near telephone kiosk 2, on the corner of Tudor Drive and Latchmere Lane, which the police initially tried to insist I had done. Apparently the police were trying to copy a KGB method, whereby an agent would go to a second telephone kiosk if he failed to make contact at the first kiosk. I could not have known this and so did not act as the police had wanted. It is my guess that the 2 policemen on surveillance at that location were waiting to take photographs of me at kiosk 2.

When I emerged from Hollybush Road I turned left and headed towards Tudor Florists, the first shop in the parade. I was unsure if there was a Cardinal Drive in this area, and so I asked the woman shop assistant in the flower shop if there was a Cardinal Drive around there. She did not know the answer, and she called a man from the back of the shop, and I also asked him. The man had not heard of Cardinal Drive either. On receiving these answers I went back down Hollybush Road. About half-way down the road I met another man walking in the opposite direction and I asked him whether he knew of a road called Cardinal Drive; again I received a negative answer. Although I mentioned this man in my police interviews, nothing was done to try to trace him, and it is possible he was also a policeman.

The police had acted as agent provocateurs and this was a classic case of entrapment. However, I had not understood the phone message and did not behave as the police had expected. At the point where I sat on the wall (after returning to kiosk 1), I even thought a friend of ours could be playing a hoax; he often phoned us and used funny voices to confuse my wife and I. In fact, this whole operation was a hoax, with the part of “George” performed by Mr B of MI5. All the instructions given to me, by Mr B, were guided by the Special Branch officer in charge of the operation, Detective Chief Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod, who was in the same room as Mr B during the phone call. As I returned home I went via Moran’s newsagent, where I bought a newspaper.

DCS Malcolm MacLeod said the surveillance operation around my home was set up with Detective Chief Inspector Hector MacKenzie on 7 August 1992. Detective Sergeant Keith Gregory-Parry was given the job of team leader, and he was responsible for keeping a contemporaneous record of all the radio transmissions during the surveillance operation. However, in court, DS Gregory-Parry was unable to explain inconsistencies in his log, and he had to admit to the previously withheld evidence that a second log book of the police operation existed, although this other log book was never disclosed to the defence and not produced in court. It appears that the surveillance operation was not totally revealed, and it is likely that more details were withheld. It is apparent, for example, that Gregory-Parry did not record the times given by DC Brown and Kindleysides.

The times recorded by individual police officers can be expected to show some variation, due to mistakes in telling the time or the inaccuracies of the clocks or watches used. However, in this confusion over timings, there are a couple of significant discrepancies that indicate something more sinister was going on. It is interesting, for example, that according to Simpson and Plummer I had only left kiosk 1 for about one minute, when I had surely been gone 5 or 6 minutes (based on the times on the photographs). There are two significant main points that arise from this:

(a) An attempt to deny I went into Tudor Florists
The part of my journey between kiosk1 and the shops, where the Tudor Florists was located, had not been correctly observed. How could it appear to DCs Brown and Kindleysides that I emerged from Hollybush Road into Tudor Drive at 9.25, and yet both DC Plummer and Simpson agreed that I returned to Kiosk 1 at exactly that time of 9.25. This is even more mysterious when it can clearly be seen on the photos taken by Simpson that I returned to Kiosk 1 at 9.30.
This apparent contradiction seems to be because the police did not want to admit I had entered the Tudor Florists to ask directions.

(b) Portraying me as sitting on a wall waiting for the phone to ring
When I returned to kiosk 1, I felt I had not found the kiosk I was looking for. I sat on the wall for about 30 seconds (a period of time the judge Justice Blofeld told the jury they should accept) to consider what to do next. Although it was apparent I had only been sitting on the wall for a very short time, DC Plummer had rigidly stuck to her story that I was sitting there for about 7 minutes, which was not true, but her story gave the impression I was waiting for the phone to ring. DC Simpson also appeared to say he had taken photographs of me sitting on the wall, but in court he denied having done so.

Well, one answer to this puzzle is that the police told my solicitor Richard Jefferies that the plan was to be as follows: I would be phoned at kiosk 1 and told to go to kiosk 2, where I would receive another phone call asking me to meet “George” at the recreation ground in Latchmere Lane, where it was planned to arrest me. If I had been trained in KGB techniques, as the police claimed, then it was assumed I would automatically go to kiosk 2 and wait for a call there. Mr E described a method by which he met KGB officers or received calls at phone boxes, and these boxes seem to have been arranged in pairs, presumably so he could use either box to receive a call (UK phone kiosks are notorious for being vandalised). By making it appear that I was waiting for a phone call, the police had hoped to link me to methods used by Mr E, who was trained by Viktor Oshchenko to use telephone kiosks for contacts. However, Mr E said this system never seemed to work, and it appears it did not work for the police either, as they did not know what they were doing and neither did I.

It is interesting that the police should have chosen a kiosk near my old home in St Albans Road; rather than kiosk 3, the one just down the end of my road. I was aware of kiosk 1 from when I lived in St. Albans Road, and one period particularly comes to mind in about 1977, when my flat mate and I were having problems with our phone. We found quite regularly that when we picked up the receiver there was no dialing tone, as though the connection had not been made at the exchange. I even contacted the telephone company to ask for this to be checked. I found one way to get the phone to work was to visit kiosk 1 and dial my home number, and this seemed to clear the fault. I later suspected this phone fault was caused by the security services tapping my phone.

The consequence of the surveillance on 8 August 1992 shows clearly that the police were not interested in the truth. On 11 August 1992, during my police interviews, I told the interviewing officers that I had gone into Tudor Florists to ask if there was a Cardinal Drive around there. I explained how I had asked for directions from a woman and man, but neither of them knew of a Cardinal Drive. I also told the police that I had asked a man in Hollybush Road for directions.

In the course of that morning’s events I had only acted on the instructions given to me by Mr B, and even then I had misunderstood them. It was evident I did not know if I was to meet somebody at a telephone kiosk, receive a call, or find something else there. The fact that I did not wait at kiosk 1, both the first and second time I was there, would tend to suggest I was not waiting for a phone call, or for “George” to appear. However, the police version was that I knew exactly what I went there for, and they concealed the details that supported my story, e.g. that I had visited the flower shop. I pleaded with my solicitor Richard Jefferies to speak with the people in Tudor Florists, because I was sure they would confirm what had happened, but he said there would be no problem as it would soon become apparent what had happened.

My fears were borne out by the behaviour of the police. Instead of checking my story, which was clearly expressed in the interview, the police waited 8½ months before they interviewed the owner of Tudor Florists, and 3 men connected to the shop, on 20 and 22 April 1993. Marcia Ashwood-Luck, the owner of Tudor Florists, was asked who might have been in the shop that day. She said she employed 2 full time women and 2 part-time women, but she seemed certain that the full time employee Katherine Gould would have been in the shop that morning. Marcia Ashwood-Luck said she did not employ any men, but 3 men did help out on an ad hoc basis by delivering flowers. It seems strange, therefore, that the police only interviewed the 3 men, but none of the 4 women. Not surprisingly, none of the 3 men could remember the incident I described. One of the men, David Wheeler, thought he probably was in the shop that morning, and he made the additional comment that the road I asked for, Cardinal Drive, did not exist in that area. After this delay the witnesses could not be certain who had been in the shop that day.

My action of going to the flower shop did not fit in with the prosecution’s interpretation of what happened, and so they played it down in court. The 2 policemen who observed me at the shops (Brown and Kindleysides) made it sound as though they had lost sight of me when I approached the parade of shops. It is suspicious that the second log book, containing details of what Brown and Kindleysides had observed, was the log book that went “missing”.

It was only after strenuous cross-examination, by my QC Rock Tansey, that the police admitted further photographs were available. DCS Malcolm MacLeod’s explanation, for not producing these photographs earlier, was that the police had now developed the remainder of the film. This contradicts the fact that only one 36 exposure film was taken at the scene, and all the photos must have been developed at one time. Five of the photos from this film were shown to me during my police interview, 2 days after my arrest, although none of the pictures showed me at telephone kiosk 1 the second time. The extra photographs had been withheld from the Defence for nearly 14 months, until the end of the first week of my trial, and they were important because they confirmed I returned to kiosk 1 at 9.30. The judge then acknowledged I only stayed at kiosk 1 for about half a minute. Although I accept I did sit on the wall for a very short time, there were no photographs showing me in that position.

I suspected I had been under surveillance at various times in the past, and I even indicated in a letter to the MoD in November 1980 (Exhibit No. 41) that I was aware of being under surveillance. However, it was not until after my appeal (in the Security Commission report of July 1995), that it was confirmed I had been under surveillance between 1978 (when I lost my security clearance) and my arrest in 1992. I knew someone had been watching me in the past because I had seen odd characters hanging about outside my home.

The police were specifically asked if I had been under surveillance before my arrest, and DCI Martin Charles Gray stated that Special Branch did not put me under surveillance prior to 8 August 1992. It seems strange then, that I was shown surveillance photographs of my wife and myself leaving our home, and these pictures must have been taken before the day of my arrest. Who took the photographs of my wife and I? Was it MI5 who took them - and if so how long had they been watching me? If I had been under surveillance prior to my arrest, then surely there would have been evidence that I had been meeting “Russians”. Whatever the police or MI5 knew, they were certainly not keen to disclose all their evidence, especially if it might help the Defence.