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