Sir Maurice Oldfield, Sir Michael Havers, and Kincora – guest blog postPosted: July 10, 2014
[Once again I thank profusely @MySweetLandlord for a very important guest post in light of the announcements of Baroness Butler-Sloss as chair of the abuse inquiry. Butler-Sloss is of course the brother of the late Sir Michael, later Lord, Havers]
Sir Maurice Oldfield (1915-81) was director of MI6 from 1973 to 1978 and Ulster Security Co-ordinator 1979. He was also homosexual. We know this to be true because Margaret Thatcher was forced to make a statement on the issue on April 23rd 1987.
The Prime Minister: Sir Maurice Oldfield became Security Co-ordinator in Northern Ireland in October 1979. Subsequently reports were received which caused his positive vetting clearance to be reviewed. In March 1980, in the course of that review, he made an admission that he had from time to time engaged in homosexual activities. His positive vetting clearance was withdrawn. By this time he was already a sick man; he finally ceased to serve as Security Co-ordinator in Northern Ireland when a successor took over in June 1980; he died in March 1981.
There was a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Security Service, which included many interviews with Sir Maurice Oldfield himself, to examine whether there was any reason to suppose that he himself or the interests of the country might have been compromised. The conclusion was that, though his conduct had been a potential risk to security, there was no evidence or reason whatsoever to suggest that security had ever been compromised; indeed, he had contributed notably to a number of security and intelligence successes which would not have been achieved had there been a breach of security. That conclusion stands.
The facts of the case were made known to the Security Commission, when it undertook the review of security procedures and practices, including vetting, in the public service which I commissioned in March 1981. In that report the commission dealt with criteria for positive vetting clearances and with the security implications of male homosexuality. I made it clear in my statement on the Security Commission’s report, which was presented to Parliament in May 1982 as Cmnd. 8540, that the Government accepted the Security Commission’s report and were acting upon its recommendations.
Ken Livingstone brought up the issue again on March 8th 1988, in the context of the Kincora Boys’ Home.
It turns out that Sir Maurice Oldfield had confessed his sexual preferences to none other than Sir Michael Havers. This was disclosed by journalist Chapman Pincher in the Spectator, September 12th 1998: http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/12th-september-1998/20/leakers-i-have-known
The most delightfully indiscreet oyster I ever met was Michael Havers, the Tory attorney- general for many years and, briefly, lord chancellor. He had a healthy sense of the ridiculous which made him deride excessive secrecy, but he also derived peculiar pleasure from breaking the secrecy rules with which he was so deeply involved. Among many leaks to me, perhaps the most extraordinary was his detailed confirmation — while we were shooting pheasants in 1986 — of the Official Secrets scandal surrounding Sir Maurice Oldfield, the former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
At dinner in Grosvenor House a year previously, Sir David McNee, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, had told me that Oldfield had been suspended from secret work after Scotland Yard officers had reported his involvement in homosexual activities. His behaviour, which would then have barred him from service in MI6, was not detected until he had retired as MI6 chief in 1978. Courageously, he had come out of retirement at Mrs Thatcher’s request to become security supremo in Northern Ireland, and McNee had been so concerned by what he was then told about the ‘rough trade’ visiting Oldfield’s London flat that he informed the home secretary, who alerted Mrs Thatcher. Why did McNee tell me this well-kept secret? It was the reaction of an honest copper and great believer in the role of intelligence in national security, appalled that such behaviour by any man in a supreme position of trust should remain covered up to suit the establishment.
I took no action until Havers told me that Oldfield had confessed his folly to him and had admitted having falsified his positive vetting form over many years when asked about his sex life. He also told me that the prime minister had withdrawn Oldfield’s security clearance and suspended him from his intelligence job, though he had been allowed to continue, briefly, after inquiries had shown that he had not been blackmailed and had promised to restrain himself.
Chapman Pincher knew Sir Maurice Oldfield better than most, and went on to claim Oldfield’s obsession was “what is referred to in Britain as rough trade; lower-class, down-and-out young males”.
Chapman Pincher elaborated further in 1987 – http://winnowinghistory.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/inquiry-call-on-ex-mi6-chief.html
But according to Mr Pincher, in his book Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason, Special Branch officers who were giving Sir Maurice round-the-clock protection throughout his Northern Ireland appointment discovered that male prostitutes were visiting him in his flat in Westminster.
It would seem that Sir Michael Havers told Chapman Pincher about Sir Maurice Oldfield’s ‘follies’ in 1986, with the confession actually taking place in March 1980. Sir Michael Havers was Attorney General from May 1979 to June 1987. Sir Maurice Oldfield finally resigned as Security Co-ordinator in Northern Ireland in June 1980, presumably after not being able to restrain himself.
A further story appeared in the Sunday News April 22nd 1984 –
Sir Brooks Richards came up in another Sunday News Kincora article (22 April 1984). It was claimed that one Michael Bettaney was going to reveal at his trial that Sir Maurice Oldfield, former head of MI6 and Ulster security co-ordinator, was heavily involved in Kincora. This failed when, on orders from Richards, head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, it was arranged to hold the trial in secret session.
Sir Maurice Oldfield in fact had a long-standing association with Kincora
It is often wrongly assumed that Oldfield’s links with Ireland date only from his appointment as Ulster Security Coordinator in 1979. But as Director of MI6 throughout the 1970s he was not only closely connected with Irish affairs, including the Kincora operation, but was a regular visitor to Belfast.
Sir Michael Havers would have been acutely aware of the Kincora scandal, which first came to public attention with an article in the Irish Independent in January 24th 1980, with the first convictions having taken place in December 1981. On February 16th 1982 there was a high-level meeting at the offices of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, in London. Also present were Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior; and Sir William Bourne, a barrister and senior civil servant. Sir Michael Havers reported he had previously been briefed by the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions that the RUC were still investigating issues around Kincora despite the recent convictions. On March 23rd 1982 Sir Michael Havers wrote to James Prior, admitting that Kincora had turned out to be a much more complex affair than he had first thought.
‘Though some of the allegations may have been mischievous, it is essential that the police have a free hand to pursue every lead,’ he said.
Attending secret, high-level meetings with the cream of the legal establishment is what Sir Michael Havers did, and he was establishment though and through.
By 1982 Sir Michael Havers had taken a confession from Sir Maurice Oldfield, a man with a long-standing association with Northern Ireland, that he was a promiscuous homosexual. By 1984 he must have known that Michael Bettaney was going to name Sir Maurice Oldfield as a man heavily involved in Kincora. He was fully aware of the child abuse infesting Kincora, and he must have known Sir Maurice Oldfield was involved. But his instinct was to protect the state.
Robert Michael Oldfield Havers, and his sister Anne Elizabeth Oldfield Havers. Oldfield is an unusual name, not one passed down through the family. It may be a coincidence, but it is still symbolic. Of a long-dead child abuser, told to restrain himself. Sir Michael Havers never wanted to get to the bottom of Kincora because that was where he would find Sir Maurice Oldfield, amongst others. The establishment had to be protected from that. And it was.