13 November 2007

Daily Telegraph spy case chronology

I noticed an article on the Telegraph website that I felt needed to be challenged. I sent an email to the journalist who wrote it:

from: Mike Smith
date: Nov 14, 2007
subject: Chronology of Russian spy cases

Dear Mr Harrison,
I refer to your article published on the Telegraph website dated 12 November 2007:

Cold War rivals play at spy game

I am puzzled why you have listed these cases and have omitted others?

For example, I can see that you have left off the names of Douglas Britten and David Bingham, and you have mentioned Melita Norwood but not included the other linked case of John Symonds, which was also widely publicised in 1999 as part of the Mitrokhin affair.

You have referred to Richard Tomlinson as "passing secrets to Russia", but I believe that is a false accusation. Tomlinson will probably complain to the PCC about your statement when he is aware of what you are claiming.

Following the George Blake sentence of 42 years, the next longest sentence for a British spy case was Geoffrey Prime, in 1982, who received 35 years. However, you have not mentioned Prime?

The third longest sentence was 25 years, which I received in 1993 when I was convicted under the Official Secrets Act, but there is no mention of my name in your article? I am particularly surprised that my name has been omitted, because in August I won a successful PCC complaint against the Telegraph, after it was claimed that Daniel James was the first OSA spy case since Michael Bettany. Now, again, the Telegraph is attempting to write me out of history.

Is it possible that you, or your editor, has been informed by MI5 that my conviction was false, and that there was no evidence I had been spying for the Russians? The reason I say this is because Stella Rimington decided not to mention me in her autobiography, despite the fact that my case was the only major spy trial during her term in office as Director General of MI5. Rimington even testified at my trial that MI5 had no evidence I had ever met anyone in the KGB.

In 1992 I would have considered it impossible that I could be "framed" for selling military secrets to a Russian, because I did not have access to secrets where I worked, and no "Russian" could be identified who I might have been meeting. It was only later that I realised I had been involved in some sort of MI5 entrapment operation, although they never admitted that was what they did.

Then, in the cases of Rafael Bravo and Ian Parr, MI5 decided to admit they had entrapped these men. It was evident that a new model had been developed for "catching" spies. Possibly this new technique had been learned from Customs & Excise, who had produced a string of convictions based on setting up drug operations, and then arresting the people they had recruited - this is why they always failed to catch the "Mr Big", because they couldn't admit it was C & E who had planned the whole thing.

Now, another MI5 entrapment has "caught" Peter Hill. I can't help feeling sceptical about what is going on here. Low level Territorial Army folk, such as Peter Hill and Daniel James, can hardly be compared to real espionage, like the nuclear spy Klaus Fuchs (yes, another name you have omitted from your article).

I was expecting more from the Telegraph, such as attention to detail and accuracy. It seems that journalists are simply not as good as they used to be.

Michael John Smith