The Stella Rimington reports, so-called debriefings with Viktor Oshchenko after he defected from the KGB in July 1992, have just been published on the Cryptome website. These reports refer to an “Operation Billiards”, although it is not clear what scope this operation covered - was it perhaps an operation including all the issues raised by Oshchenko’s defection, or possibly it was only concerning issues related to the UK. However, it is clear that the American KGB agent referred to as Mr E was included within the scope of Operation Billiards.
Oshchenko is referred to as ‘a former SVR Line X officer who served in London between 1972 and 1979 and in Paris from 1985 to 1992 who defected to the UK in 1992’. However, it is not clear exactly what it was that Oshchenko said, as all the reports are written in the third person. He may have said something quite different in the transcript of the taped interviews. There is a strong indication that Oshchenko is being led by the interviewer into saying what MI5 want to hear, and we have to consider what agenda Stella Rimington had in mind, because she was the person behind this debriefing, as she was the Head of the MI5 department involved.
In relation to myself, the debrief reports numbered 013, 034, 046, 049, 063, 102, 122, 136, 137, and 147 are all dated after my interviews with the police had ended, which occurred between 8th and 11th August 1992. This leads to the conclusion that these reports had been tailored to agree with what I said during my interviews, rather than an unbiased reporting of what Oshchenko knew.
Another observation is that all Oshchenko’s assertions are presented as factual material, with very little comment or corroboration. However, when the details are analysed more carefully, the de-briefings break down on many points. Oshchenko’s allegations fall into three main categories: (a) facts that are true but which could be gleaned from records and other sources; (b) assertions that are impossible to prove or disprove due to lack of any corroboration; (c) assertions that are demonstrably untrue.
One interesting point is that references are made in the debriefing to three of my holidays, which have been embellished to bolster the Crown’s case: USA/Canada (1976), France/Spain/Portugal (1977), Vienna (1979). Reference has also been made to one planned but aborted holiday to France (1991).
Under paragraph 1 (‘Recruitment’), it is stated that ‘Oshchenko was invited to a trade union meeting in Kingston sponsored by Andy Wilson a few years after he arrived in UK.’ As far as I am aware Andy Wilson was never interviewed about this matter, and no evidence was produced that he had ever met or known Viktor Oshchenko.
It is then claimed that I met Oshchenko ‘regularly once a month in restaurants. Oshchenko treated these as covert meetings’. No evidence was produced that I had regular meetings with Oshchenko, or that I had ever met him or known him. The so-called “evidence” used in court amounted to claims of a circumstantial kind, e.g. I left the Communist Party at the time Oshchenko was in London. I was shown Oshchenko’s photograph during the interviews and I said that I had never seen him before.
There is then the rather bizarre claim that Oshchenko ‘encouraged [me] to join a tennis club and gave [me] a racquet’. Tennis connections were stressed by the police during my police interviews. My wife and I had 4 tennis racquets in our flat: (1) my wife had owned since her school days, (2) I bought in 1977, (3) came free at a garage with a gallon of oil, (4) was given to us by my wife’s father, who found it somewhere. I was interested in tennis at school in the mid 1960s. I bought a tennis racquet in 1977 from a sports-shop in Eden Street Kingston-upon-Thames, because I joined the EMI’s Staff Social Club tennis club (they advertised on a notice board in EMI). I joined the club partly to get fit and partly because a friend in my laboratory, John Evans, also wanted to join the club. I also played tennis with my wife.
The report indicates that Oshchenko was interested in me because of my work: ‘For the first year Oshchenko never broached the matter of his main interest; Parellic’s work in industrial technology’. This seems unlikely, because at the time I am supposed to have been recruited by Oshchenko (early 1970s ?) I worked at Rediffusion (Chessington, Surrey), on the design and manufacture of domestic television receivers - hardly a sensitive “industrial technology”.
In paragraph 2 it is stated that ‘Oshchenko suggested that [I] should get a better job and cut [myself] off from [my] CPGB activities. This took time as [I] was at first unwilling to break with [my] friends’. I told the police that I left the CPGB shortly after a holiday to the then USSR in 1975, which increased my disillusionment with socialist methods. This holiday was not regarded as significant by the Prosecution during my trial. The police apparently never checked with any of my friends or associates in the CPGB, whether they thought it was suspicious that I left the CPGB. Effectively this was just circumstantial evidence that was given great importance by the Prosecution as an indication I had been directed to leave the CPGB.
Another claim made in these reports is that I was directed to change my job: ‘Together they drew up a short list of companies, one of which was EMI. Parellic applied and EMI showed interest’. I joined EMI as the result of an advert in an electronics magazine. The advert was for electronic engineers at EMI (Woking) but I was eventually offered a job as a Test Engineer in the Quality Assurance Department at EMI Systems and Weapons Division at Victoria Road, Feltham, Middlesex. Nobody drew up any list of companies with me. It was a colleague at Rediffusion who showed me the advert (Tony Collis I believe) and several of my colleagues were interested in applying due to a downturn at Rediffusion in 1975/6. Several of my other colleagues had already left Rediffusion (including Brian Smith) and at that time I was in a mood to move on.
In their anxiety to show some connection between my change of jobs and a non-existent influence from Oshchenko, it is claimed that ‘The salary was lower than his current job, but Oshchenko agreed to compensate him for this. Oshchenko paid Parellic a significant sum (£1,000?) for joining EMI’. The issue of salary was raised during my police interviews, and I strenuously denied taking a pay-cut and challenged the police to check my pay-slips, which I had kept for more than 20 years. I had gained a small pay increase of about £200 p.a. by going to EMI. Nobody paid me £1,000, nor any other sum, as compensation and no evidence was produced to prove it. Because it was false, the prosecution dropped this issue at my trial.
In paragraph 3 it is said: ‘Oshchenko also encouraged Parellic to get professional qualifications and improve his prospects’. I believe this is an issue that was emphasised to try to add more weight to the Prosecution’s desire to show similarities between my background and that of the American KGB agent known as Mr E. I attended a part-time (day release) MSc course in Communications Systems (1977-1979) at The Polytechnic of Central London. This course was paid for by EMI and was attended by 4 other people from EMI, including 2 from within 20 feet of my desk at EMI. My friend from Rediffusion, John Raynard, also attended this course.
I have no idea where this comment came from: ‘Parellic’s landlord told him that the police had visited the house asking questions about his contacts’. The only landlord this comment could apply to was Christopher Bird of 65 Saint Albans Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. I rented the ground floor flat, which I shared with John Watson, between November 1975 and September 1979. I can remember no occasion when Mr Bird said such a thing, and John Watson and Mr Bird would be able to confirm this. A policeman visited me in early 1977 asking questions about a robbery of antique clocks in Kent, which I mentioned to John because he had friends in Kent, but I did not - I now believe this visit was connected with MI5 surveillance, although I could not have known that at the time - I never discussed this with my landlord.
In paragraph 4 is stated that ‘Oshchenko asked Parellic for information on the [nuclear bomb] fuse’. This never happened. It is also not true that ‘At this time Parellic was having difficult relations with a girlfriend who was financially demanding’. I only had three girlfriends during this period: Marguerite Bennett (January 1977- February 1978), Marilyn Badman (March/April 1978), my wife (May 1978-1999). None of these women was financially demanding. My ex-flat-mate John Watson can confirm this.
In paragraph 5, the report goes on: ‘At first Parellic gave Oshchenko a brief description of the fuse. Oshchenko paid Parellic a small amount of money for this and asked him to find out about the security arrangements at EMI’. Nobody asked me for information about the project or security arrangements at EMI, and nobody paid me money for information from EMI. These allegations were raised during my police interviews but no evidence was produced to support them.
In paragraph 6: ‘Oshchenko asked Parellic to memorise passages and diagrams from documents and reproduce them at home. He was then to photograph his notes’. It would be impossible to memorize the information in the way suggested. There were many very large circuit diagrams and many pages of detailed documentation, and I only had access to what I needed to do my job, which was to test the circuits. I never photographed any notes and no evidence of a film was produced to back-up these claims. ‘The information was sent to Moscow Centre who replied to Oshchenko that the fuse was old fashioned and of little interest’. The fuse was of the latest design when the project started about 1972/3, but it was still under development in 1980 and was becoming dated as the project dragged out due to technical problems. The WE 177 bomb was still in service until 1997/8.
What appears to be a reference to an actual event is presented in paragraph 7: ‘Oshchenko and Parellic were walking together in the grounds of Hampton Court when they came across Andy Wilson’. This is a completely unbelievable account. I have rarely been to Hampton Court Palace, and I have never met Andy Wilson there; this event is pure fiction. The police never checked this point with Andy Wilson - why would Andy Wilson be wandering around Hampton Court grounds - he hated going more than a few yards without his car.
At paragraph 8 Stella Rimington records a story that seems more like a piece of John le Carre fiction than the debriefing of a real spy. I refer to the “Vienna Oral Lie Detector Test”. But sticking to the parts of the account that can be verified: ‘Oshchenko suggested to Parellic that he travel to Austria in August with his girlfriend on the pretext of taking a holiday’. I went on a long weekend break holiday to Vienna early in August 1979. This was booked through a travel company (Enterprise, Sovereign or Horizon Holidays - I cannot recall which one it was), who offered trips to Madrid, Rome, Athens, Paris and Vienna. Vienna was the only place I had not visited, and so that is why I chose that destination. My visit was only a few days before I set my marriage date; I was in serious doubts about getting married, and since I was seeing my fiancée every day I needed some time on my own, and that was why I decided to go away for a few days. I told my future wife that it was a business trip, otherwise she would have been unhappy why I didn’t want her with me.
The story told here is a complete fiction and parts of it are simply implausible, such as: ‘Moscow Centre instructed Oshchenko to tell Parellic to take copies of classified documents to Vienna. Oshchenko objected to this unnecessary risk but was overruled. Oshchenko believed that Parellic had copied the documents in EMI but could not be sure’. Nothing odd happened in Vienna, and I was only sightseeing and relaxing. No evidence was produced to support the claims made by Oshchenko. I took no documents to Vienna, classified or unclassified. I left EMI Systems and Weapons Division early in May 1978, about 15 months before this trip, so I had no access to this information that is being referred to. It was impossible to photocopy classified documents due to restrictions at EMI; every copy was numbered in red, so it was impossible to remove originals without them being missed.
In paragraph 9 Oshchenko reveals that he ‘did not have time to undertake the bureaucratic process of formalising Parellic as an agent. Parellic therefore remained a confidential contact while he was run by Oshchenko’. This therefore indicates that the claims I had been an agent of Oshchenko was never a proven fact, as was claimed by the police during my police interviews, or was alleged by Oleg Gordievsky during my trial. In fact, no evidence was produced that I had ever been a KGB agent or confidential contact.
Paragraph 10 also reveals more false claims with ‘Oshchenko gave Parellic the money to buy a camera. This was a normal SLR model, either a Konica or a Canon’. I bought a Fujica ST801 SLR camera using my Access credit card in October 1977 (the police found the camera and receipt). My ex flat-mate John Watson had bought a Zenith SLR camera earlier that year, and when we were on holiday in 1977 (the Oporto holiday) I took some poor pictures due to my cheap camera (at that time an Ilford “Sportsman”). I determined to capture better pictures in future and so that was the reason I bought a new camera.
Another fictitious event is claimed by Oshchenko in paragraph 11: ‘Oshchenko noticed surveillance just before a meeting that he was unable to abort. Oshchenko grabbed Parellic and took him to a nearby station where they took a train’. No such incident occurred. If this had happened, then MI5 would have a surveillance log and would have used it during my trial.
Paragraph 12 again repeats the claims of paragraphs 6 and 8, that I had copied classified documents onto film and that I was asked to take documents to Vienna. There is no truth in these allegations.
Paragraph 13 refers to my work at EMI Medical, and the claim that I had ‘obtained twelve volumes of documents on a medical scanner’. This is again fiction. Why would the KGB be interested in the Brain and Body Scanners manufactured by EMI Medical? There was a scanner in Moscow and several others scattered about the USSR and Eastern Europe, and so it would be easy to gain access to the machines and find out how they worked. In any case detailed manuals were with the scanners, because, due to their unreliability, they required almost daily attention by a full-time engineer.
A second KGB officer is mentioned in paragraph 14: ‘Oshchenko introduced Parellic to Lazin at a meeting’. I was shown Lazin’s photograph during my police interviews. I said I had never met him and no evidence was produced that I had.
An un-provable event is mentioned in paragraph 15: ‘While Lazin ran the case a DLB in a telephone box was lost. … It was concluded that children had found the DLB and destroyed the map’. I did not know that DLB meant “dead letter box” when the police put this to me in the interviews. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. As described, it appears so amateurish it is unlikely to have occurred.
Another contradictory statement from Oshchenko comes in paragraph 16, where he says: ‘Oshchenko heard some details of the case while he was in Moscow where he initially worked on the British desk but he could not be sure that he had heard all the significant details’. If Oshchenko had worked on the British desk in Moscow, and had been a KGB officer in London from August 1972 and September 1979, then this would have given him a tremendous opportunity to reveal everything he knew about KGB operations in the UK. So why was I the only person arrested I the UK after he defected?
We know that MI5 kept identified KGB officers under close surveillance. Well, according the Stella Rimington, they had identified Viktor Oshchenko as a KGB officer within 18 months of him arriving in the UK, but he was allowed to stay in the UK to continue spying for a further 5 years. In all that time MI5 had never seen me with Oshchenko or obtained any evidence that I had met him or had any contact with him whatsoever. Now in pargraph 17 we can see another anomaly in MI5’s case: ‘After Lazin was expelled contact was lost with Parellic’. So clearly Viktor Lazin had been expelled because he had been under surveillance by MI5, they had evidence that he was acting as a KGB spy in the UK, but again MI5 had no evidence that I had any contact with Lazin.
This apparent incompetence by MI5 starts to get tedious when we now see that two other KGB officers are claimed to have been making attempts to contact me: ‘A A Chernyayev (Line X, en poste 1979-83) made a reconnaissance to re-establish contact. He may have made a telephone call to Parellic. O P Krasakov Line X, en poste 1984-85 re-established contact by which time Parellic was working for GEC’. Chernyayev’s and Krasakov’s photographs were shown to me during my police interview. I denied meeting them and no evidence was produced that I had. As I had started work at GEC on 2 December 1985, it should be possible to check if Krasakov was in the UK at that time. Clearly Oshchenko has no worries that he has put himself at risk by naming KGB officers in this way.
Another claim by Oshchenko also has the appearance of being fabricated to make him appear more credible to MI5: ‘In September 1991 Oshchenko received a letter in Paris from Moscow asking him if he could organise a meeting with Parellic in France. Oshchenko did not reply to the letter’. It seems unlikely that Viktor Oshchenko would be consulted in 1991 about a case he claimed he handled in the 1970s. It also seems unlikely, in his version of events, that he would have ignored two KGB requests to take action about a case. I planned a driving holiday around Brittany with my wife for the second week in September 1991. The police found evidence that the trip was aborted - the refund document for the unused tickets - because my wife was taken ill with a kidney stone the night before our planned departure. The police at first claimed that I went to France alone; however, I visited my wife in hospital and was in regular phone conversation with her and her parents, so this was impossible. Evidence shows that I organised this trip in August 1991, so VO’s claim to have received a letter in September 1991 could not be linked to my planned holiday.
In paragraph 19 Oshchenko makes a comment that he had used some spy tradecraft in my case: ‘the signal for danger would typically be a piece of paper (with no message) of a particular colour under the windscreen wiper of Parellic’s car’. This method, using coloured paper, is quite different from any other tradecraft referred to in my case, and it is also different to the trap used by the police on the morning of my arrest. It seems to be inconsistent of the entrapment operation that it did not adopt this method mentioned by Oshchenko to see if it would work. But this is yet another example of incompetent planning by these inept Special Branch and MI5 officers.
More contradictory evidence is produced when Oshchenko discusses how an agent might contact a KGB officer. Oshchenko states quite clearly: ‘There would be no procedure for Parellic to contact his case officer’. In saying this Oshchenko has disagreed with the police version, which is that I was told to leave a sign for a KGB officer near to the Russian Embassy.
Regarding Oshchenko’s name: ‘Andy Wilson could also have told Parellic Oshchenko’s full name’. As I stated above, I am not aware that Andy Wilson was interviewed by the police about this matter, and so it appears to be a convenient oversight of the police operation that they failed to interview anyone who might be able to confirm the story being told by Oshchenko.
More fairy stories emerge when Oshchenko is asked about my loss of security clearance: ‘Parellic’s actions to find out why he had lost his security clearance were agreed with Oshchenko’. I only learned that I had lost my security clearance about 5 November 1979, and it was from that point onwards that I can be seen to be seeking to find out why I had lost it and whether I could have my security clearance restored. It was not physically possible for me to discuss losing my security clearance with Oshchenko, because he had already left the UK on 22 September 1979.
In paragraph 22 Oshchenko claims to know what my motivation was. It would seem these assumptions could apply to many people, and could equally have come from a spy novel. I deny these accusations, and in the end they can be dismissed as hypothetical guesswork on the part of Oshchenko.
‘Oshchenko asked him to talent spot other staff but he seemed reluctant or unable to do this’. I deny this allegation. Nobody asked me to talent spot or recruit anyone.
Again, in paragraph 24 Oshchenko makes claims to have met me: ‘Oshchenko used to meet Parellic in parks and restaurants in the Kingston area. Initially Oshchenko met Parellic near his home’. These meetings never took place, and Stella Rimington’s testimony at my trial was that MI5 had no evidence that I had ever met Viktor Oshchenko.
Oshchenko then goes on to make a very important point that is relevant to my entrapment: ‘Later Oshchenko used the telephone box technique to provide counter surveillance on Parellic before the meeting’. As anyone will know who has studied my case, this telephone box technique was the trap used on the morning of my arrest. Mr E said he was taught this technique by Viktor Oshchenko in the 1970s. This enabled the Crown to neatly link me to both Mr E and Oshchenko in the jury’s mind. Although there was no evidence whatsoever that I had learned this technique from Oshchenko, it played a key role in making it appear I had used this method of contact previously. In actual fact I had just followed the instructions of Mr B, the MI5 officer, in his telephone call on the morning of my arrest.
In an attempt to stress the use of spy tradecraft, in paragraph 25 Oshchenko again refers to what he said in paragraph 19 above: ‘The signal for an emergency meeting was a piece of paper of a particular colour under the windscreen wiper of Parellic’s car. On seeing this signal Parellic would go to a telephone box at a particular time when he would receive a call from Oshchenko’. Not only does this repeat a method that was not referred to anywhere else in my case, but now this use of coloured paper is linked to the use of telephone boxes to make contact. This was not what happened on the day of my arrest, so it is strange that, if the police were trying to connect me to Oshchenko, they did not use the method he alleges he used with me.
In paragraph 26, yet more spy tradecraft is mentioned: ‘Oshchenko only used DLBs [dead letter boxes] in telephone boxes to give Parellic a route to a meeting’. No evidence was produced that I had been involved with dead letter boxes. This is another reference to spy techniques, which was later brought into my trial to influence the jury that these spy techniques had been used by me.
The reference to a codeword appears in paragraph 27: ‘The codeword for Parellic was ‘BORG’. Oshchenko chose this because of his own interest in tennis’. No evidence was produced that anybody referred to me as “Borg”. Also, no evidence was produced about Oshchenko’s interest in tennis.
There is some repetition in this “debriefing” which shows that the points are being laboured to stress the issues that MI5 want to disseminate about my case. In paragraph 28 the issue of money is raised again: ‘The payment of £1,000(?) was in recognition of Parellic’s success in getting employment with EMI and as an inducement to co-operate’. As in paragraph 2 above, no evidence was produced that I had been paid £1,000 to gain employment with EMI. In paragraph 29 the use of the money is mentioned: ‘Oshchenko instructed Parellic not to put the money in his bank and to use it wisely for private purposes’. I did not receive the payments, and nobody instructed me how to use my money. No evidence was produced to support these points, or to show that there was anything unusual about my financial affairs in the 1970s.
Paragraph 30 stresses the issue of spy tradecraft again: ‘Oshchenko gave Parellic tradecraft training. … He gave him training in anti-surveillance’. I was not given the training mentioned. If I had been given training in anti-surveillance, I would not have fallen victim to the surveillance used against me on the morning of my arrest.
The camera issue is raised again in paragraph 31: ‘Apart from the money to buy a camera, Oshchenko gave Parellic no equipment’. I was not given money to buy a camera. I bought the camera with my Access card.
Oshchenko’s claims to have taught me spy tradecraft were then extended in paragraph 32 to discussing cryptic notes: ‘[Oshchenko] did show him how to make cryptic diary notes giving details of their next meeting’. Nobody showed me how to make cryptic diary notes. The police analysed all my diaries and found no cryptic notes, although these diaries covered the period of my meetings with Harry Williams.
In paragraph 33, in discussing my trips abroad, it is claimed that Oshchenko: ‘knew that Parellic went to the USA in 1976/77. This was before he entered EMI. Oshchenko asked him to write a letter to his American girlfriend and ask for an invitation to visit. Oshchenko paid for the trip, hoping that Parellic may make contacts for a future job there’. I visited the USA and Canada in August/September 1976, after I joined EMI. I visited a friend Diane in Chicago; I had been writing to her regularly since we met on a holiday (with my friend Brian Smith) to Crete in September 1973. I also visited an old friend from university, Sol, who was then living in Quebec city. Both friends had asked me to visit them on several occasions before, and I eventually visited them both on this one holiday. I paid for the airfare (from Gatwick to O’Hare) using my Access card. I paid for foreign currency, Greyhound bus ticket, etc, using money from my bank account. I made no arrangements to find a job in the USA.
Continuing with my trips abroad: ‘Oshchenko also remembered that Parellic had visited Portugal. He was tasked to clear a DLB from an area prohibited to Russians’. The Portugal trip referred to is the holiday I took with my then flat-mate John Watson in August 1977. We only decided to go into Portugal when we were on the northern coast of Spain. The holiday had been vaguely planned before we left the UK and we were not certain where we would go until we got there. No Russians or DLB’s were involved during this trip. In Report No. 034 paragraph 8, Oshchenko claims that ‘the Local Residency was to provide officers to keep Parellic under surveillance throughout this route’, yet here he claims that the area was ‘prohibited to Russians’. No evidence was produced that the KGB paid for this or the USA trip.
Finally, in paragraph 34, Oshchenko speculates about the relationship I had with my wife: ‘Parellic married soon after Oshchenko’s departure from UK. Oshchenko thinks that this was the same girl with whom Parellic had been having earlier problems. Oshchenko is not certain that Parellic’s wife was aware of Parellic’s relationship with the Soviets but he thinks it likely. He considers Parellic’s wife (Pam) as having the stronger character and Parellic is therefore subordinate to her’. I never had problems with my wife financially or otherwise. There was a difficulty while I lived at 65A Saint Albans Road, that my wife was jealous, due to my previous relationship with Marguerite Bennett. Pam was jealous because of John Watson’s and his girlfriend Janet’s friendship with Marguerite. My wife had never said that she thought I was involved with the KGB. I do not consider I was subordinate to Pam - the neighbours can testify to this, because they used to complain about the rows we had.
The original reports are published on Cryptome.
Other reports from this series are published on my blog:
Report No. 034