This morning I sent off an e-mail to Chrissie Schwartz at Random House, issuing a challenge to both Dame Stella Rimington and Random House to come clean over the lies that Rimington was responsible for at my trial in 1993. It will be interesting to see if they try to ignore this challenge, or whether Rimington is happy to discuss the details that she claimed were correct at my trial.
Dear Ms Schwartz,
It has been brought to my attention that Dame Stella Rimington's autobiography, Open Secret, does not give an honest portrayal of the period towards the end of her career in the Secret Service, when she attained her highest levels of responsibility in the management of that organisation, and was advising John Major of threats to our country's national security.
Dame Stella has been less than honest about some of her activities during her period in office. No doubt she will be tempted to explain away omissions in her book as necessary for security reasons, but the points I wish to raise with you were already in the public domain at the time her book was published.
The particular issue that I want to address is the role Dame Stella played in my prosecution and conviction under the Official Secrets Act. You may not be aware of my case - and I am sure Dame Stella wishes it would go away - but in 1992 she played a major role in preparing a case that I had been involved in espionage with Russia's SVR intelligence organisation. Rather than bringing the people concerned to court, Dame Stella gave evidence herself, and made claims that I had been recruited by the KGB, had been trained in Portugal, and had passed secret military information to the Russian SVR.
What Dame Stella did not make clear was the political infighting between MI5 and MI6, the confusion over what had been discovered in the Mitrokhin Archive, and the decision of Dame Stella to engineer an entrapment operation to ensure that I would be convicted. She decided on the material that she would fabricate, based on circumstantial evidence she pieced together.
This is the real reason why Dame Stella has omitted, to the surprise of several commentators, any mention of my case in her book (along with Mitrokhin). Dame Stella is embarrassed by my case - although to any impartial observer I was the big success of her career. How many Director-Generals of MI5 have been responsible for the conviction of a major Russian spy, who was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment at the Old Bailey?
Only when confronted by my friend Tony Holland, at the Perth International Arts festival on 26 February 2009, did Dame Stella show her true feelings about my case. Mr Holland had outlined my story to the minders accompanying Dame Stella, and he asked if he could put some questions to her. Her minders agreed, and so Mr Holland asked her about Professor Lewis and about the ALARM missile - parts of the evidence that she knew had been fabricated. Dame Stella was visibly shocked and refused to answer any questions. Mr Holland then called Dame Stella a liar to her face, in front of members of her audience.
We do not intend to let this matter drop there, and will make sure that the actions and lies of Dame Stella will be exposed as fully as possible in public. In fact, we would like to challenge Dame Stella to debate this matter in a public forum, to see just what she has to say about the false evidence she was responsible for introducing into my trial in 1993. I want to be scrupulously fair, and to give her an opportunity to answer these accusations that I make against her. If Dame Stella is confident about her position, her actions, and her testimony under oath that led to my conviction, then she should find no difficulty in agreeing to reveal what she knows.
Michael John Smith
UPDATE: Voice of Russia are now covering this story. An interview with Tony Holland here.