23 March 2009

Challenging Dame Stella Rimington about her lies

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.

Kind regards,
Michael John Smith

UPDATE: Voice of Russia are now covering this story. An interview with Tony Holland here.

20 March 2009

Sir Derek Spencer continues to lie about evidence at spy trial

I am astonished how Sir Derek Spencer shows no shame at the way he promoted false evidence to be used to gain my conviction at the trial in 1993, but he continues to push these lies on his chambers website.

It is quite disgusting to see a man of his reputation gloating over what he has done. He should have removed this entry years ago, as all it demonstrates is his lack of any honesty in how he approaches a prosecution. What he has written is this:

R v Smith (1992): Official Secrets Act. The accused was convicted of spying for Soviet Russia. He had been employed in a laboratory that gave him access to top secret information on weapons systems and leading edge technology. The trial involved evidence from top physicists and counter intelligence officers. Post conviction the defendant applied twice unsuccessfully to the CCRC.

What is wrong with that you may ask? Well, for the first thing "Soviet Russia" was dissolved in December 1991, and so Spencer is using an emotive term here for something that was already defunct by the time I was arrested. I noted that he was fond of using terms like this to spice up his courtroom delivery. No doubt this was designed to strike a chord with the old Cold War feelings that the jury members had had instilled in them over their lifetimes.

What "Russians" am I supposed to have dealt with? Spencer was very keen on referring to my "handlers", but when it came down to the detail he couldn't offer any names. Likewise, when Stella Rimington was asked under oath whether MI5 had any evidence that I had met any Russians, she said they had no photographs, surveillance logs, or any information to support this claim of the Russians being involved at all.

Where he got the story that I had access to 'top secret information on weapons systems' I have no idea. My level of security clearance gave me no opportunity to gain access to even "secret" information, let alone "top secret". I had very low security clearance, just sufficient to do my job, and I was often denied access to places where sensitive material was dealt with for that reason.

No, it suited Spencer's purposes to lie about my security status, so that he could then exaggerate my role and beef up his case to the jury. Too bad he was wrong, but lies have a way of being believed, and live on long after they have been debunked. Why don't you own up to this lie Sir Derek Spencer, or are you not man enough to admit when you are wrong?

The testimony given in court by the Prosecution witnesses contained significant false evidence. I am sure that Sir Derek knew which parts of the evidence were dodgy, so that he could neatly side-step any potential challenges to those lies in court. That is what is so insidious about this whole affair. It all got documented, and the transcripts reveal the lies that were told, and yet the legal system does not wish to address those points. That is why the Criminal Cases Review Commission spent 10 years trying to resolve my case in the Prosecution's favour. The CCRC simply ignored or nullified any points in my submissions that they did not like.

It seems I shall have to spell all the details out, because the legal system does not like to admit that its officers of the court are devious cheaters.

On 20 March 2009 I sent the following e-mail to Sir Derek Spencer's chambers at 18 Red Lion Court:

Dear Sirs,

I ask you in a polite way to please remove all references to my case from Sir Derek's personal page, i.e. the case listed as R v Smith (1992).

The entry is not only very old now, but it makes an incorrect statement that I had 'access to top secret information on weapons systems'. I had the lowest level of security clearance, which denied me access to any information classified "secret" and above, and so this entry is not only incorrect but it creates a false picture of the nature of the work I was involved in.

Kind regards,
Michael John Smith

This morning (23 March 2009) the 18 Red Lion Court chambers of Sir Derek Spencer has removed the offending paragraph from their website. Just as well, because the next step would have been to report Sir Derek Spencer to the Bar Council for making false claims about my case.

Despite this small but significant victory, the matter is not concluded by a long way. The details about what happened before and during my trial is a disgrace, because it proved that evidence could be wilfully manipulated in favour of the Prosecution, and the Defence team were not even given sight of material that could have led to my acquittal at trial.

A lawyer has given me this sarcastic comment that he thinks Sir Derek Spencer could have added to his comment about my case:

"and I presided over a calculated campaign to ensure his defence lawyers didn't have access to exculpatory material..."

So I am not alone, of those who know what happened at my trial, who believe that Sir Derek Spencer still has a lot to answer for. This matter is not over until all outstanding issues have been resolved once and for all.

04 March 2009

Dame Stella Rimington confronted about courtroom fiction

Dame Stella Rimington visited the Perth International Festival of Arts in Australia on 26 February 2009. She gave a talk there which has been issued as a podcast on ABC Radio.

At first Tony Holland discussed my case with a couple of Stella Rimington's minders, who were sitting next to him in the audience at this event. He explained that there were issues that he wanted to raise with Rimington, and they were intrigued about my case, as they had never heard of it before.

Tony was introduced to Dame Stella, and asked if he could have his picture taken with her. Not suspecting that anything was wrong she agreed, and even managed a smile.

Tony Holland stands next to Stella Rimington

Then Tony Holland started to ask her about my case. At first she seemed confused and she said she couldn't remember it. As Tony became more insistent she became evasive. He asked her about the false evidence that she had been aware of concerning the ALARM missile, and the plot to fabricate evidence at my trial during the testimony of Professor Meirion Francis Lewis.

Dame Stella was clearly flustered and fiddled nervously with her glasses. She was afraid to say anything that might incriminate herself in some way. It was at this point, in front of other members of the audience, that Tony Holland accused Dame Stella of telling lies. It was an embarrassing moment for her, but there will be more such moments to come in the future.

Tony Holland accuses Stella Rimington of telling lies

On 3 March 2009 in Melbourne Dame Stella Rimington did another talk about her life and career at MI5, which is available as a podcast. I wrote to Sue Turnbull, who is an Associate Professor in Media Studies at La Trobe University, who shared the platform that day. Below is a copy of my e-mail to Ms Turnbull:

Dear Ms Turnbull,

I listened to your podcast with Stella Rimington from 3 March, and was struck by the friendly easy-going nature of the conversation.

Unfortunately, you were only seeing the false disguise of Ms Rimington's public persona. In the early 1990s Stella Rimington was responsible for engineering my conviction under the UK's Official Secrets Act. She set about an entrapment operation that was aimed at making it appear that I had been dealing with the Russian SVR intelligence service, and I was subsequently put on trial largely because of Ms Rimington's desire to capture a "spy".

Stella Rimington gave evidence at my trial (documents now published on the Cryptome website in New York) and she made claims that I had been recruited to the KGB by a Russian defector names Viktor Oshchenko. She went into some detail about Oshchenko, and how he had been identified as a Russian agent-running KGB officer with 12-18 months of his arrival in London. It was some surprise to the court, however, that after Ms Rimington's detailed explanations of how espionage works in such cases, she had to admit under cross-examination that MI5 actually had no evidence that I had ever met Oshchenko. So Ms Rimington's claims about my espionage with Oshchenko was in effect nothing more than speculation.

Ms Rimington had learned early in 1992 that another Russian defector, Vasili Mitrokhin, had brought some pieces of paper claimed to have been copied from KGB archives to British Intelligence. Apparently my name was mentioned in these papers, although nobody is allowed to check the details, and my Member of Parliament, Andrew Mackinlay, was refused access to these papers.

Among the points in the Mitrokhin account is a claim that I had been sent to Lisbon in 1979 on a KGB training mission. No such visit took place, but Ms Rimington was desperate to show a link to Portugal, as it allowed her to bring in a whole lot of other irrelevant but prejudicial material into my trial. Fortunately for Ms Rimington I had been on a camp-drive holiday with a friend in 1977, and we had spent 3 days staying in a campsite outside Oporto, in Northern Portugal. Ms Rimington seized on this as a way to incriminate me, and she gave evidence in court that this was the KGB training mission with which she wanted to connect me. The "evidence" was an old tourist map I had been given at the campsite marked with bus-stops and a restaurant that we had been told to use to visit the town, and where to join the excursion we had booked at the restaurant.

What impressed me about Ms Rimington was her ability to lie about these details as though they really were linked to the KGB.

While Stella Rimington visited the Arts Festival at Perth last month, a friend of mine approached her and asked her why she had lied at my trial. She became flustered and could not answer. Stella Rimington knows full well what she did. She lied under oath at the Old Bailey in order to gain my conviction, and the result was a 25-year sentence of imprisonment that has ruined my life.

I now challenge Stella Rimington to explain why she lied, and to give an account of her false testimony in court. I shall continue to expose her lies until she takes responsibility for what she did. For example, she does not acknowledge my case, or to even mention it in her autobiography, despite the fact that it has been in the public domain since 1992, and was one of her biggest achievements during her period as Director-General of MI5. This indicates to me that Stella Rimington is really ashamed of what she did to me, and would rather it be a period of her career which can be forgotten.

Ask Ms Rimington about my case and see what she says. I guess she will say it cannot be discussed, or some such excuse, when in reality she does not want to admit the wrong she did to me and the lies she had to tell to gain my conviction.

Kind Regards,
Michael John Smith

UPDATE: Voice of Russia are now covering this story. An interview with Tony Holland here.