Leon Brittan, Special Branch and the creation of a surveillance state

An article in today’s Mirror by Don Hale, former journalist and confidante of the late Labour politician Barbara Castle, claims that Leon Brittan, when Home Secretary, treated Special Branch as his own personal ‘Gestapo’, which would monitor fellow MPs, according to Castle’s own account (Don Hale, ‘Leon Brittan: Ex-Labour MP Barbara Castle said former Home Secretary was man ‘she could not trust”, Mirror, January 24th, 2015). Castle claimed Brittan was the ‘last person you would want to give a file of the nature [the dossier given to Brittan by Geoffrey Dickens] to’; Hale himself said that files on sexual abusers at Westminster given to him by Castle, when he was editor of the Bury Messenger, were seized by Special Branch operatives and police in September 1984; this would have been three months after the rash of newspaper stories alluding to child abuse allegations against a cabinet minister, who was revealed to be Brittan, though the stories were deemed false by all the journalists who reported them. Hale’s article also includes the remarkable new claim that Castle had told of a second internal inquiry by Brittan to find out who knew about allegations of child sexual abuse, and that she came across a range of papers which ‘had Leon Brittan’s fingerprints all over them’, relating to people involved in meetings to speak about support for PIE, funding opportunities, and so on, including details of wealthy backers and subscribers to Magpie magazine; there were also allegations against friends and political associates of Brittan, including Rhodes Boyson, who was identified as a speaker and fundraise for PIE.

These claims are quite incredible. I wanted to look back on reports specifically on Special Branch during Brittan’s tenure at the Home Office (from June 11th, 1983 to September 2nd, 1985). Brittan appears to have used the occasion of an IRA bomb which exploded in Harrods in December 1983 as a justification for scaling up police anti-terrorist operations, including Special Branch. In early 1984, Special Branch used heavy-handed methods to remove a wide range of documents from the journalist Duncan Campbell, who had written about intelligence operations, police surveillance, and more, whilst Brittan pushed a new Police Bill through Parliament at a time of allegations that the RUC Special Branch were involved in criminal conspiracies. Special Branch gained a higher profile as they became involved with deportation of Libyans and a time of maximum hostility between the UK government and the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi, following the siege of the Libyan Embassy in London in April 1984, in which a police officer, Yvonne Fletcher, was shot dead by Libyan agents, and later also with deportation of Syrian citizens said to have connections with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. At the time of the Brighton Bombing in October 1984, which event provided the primary pretext for a scaling up of intelligence and surveillance operations, it was revealed that Margaret Thatcher was personally guarded by three Special Branch officers. After this, Special Branch’s activities were backed up by a new Home Office liaison committee, anticipating their merging with the Anti-Terrorism branch of the Metropolitan Police in 2006. But soon afterwards, a Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry was set up into Special Branch’s activities following the revelation that they had visited a woman who had written to a newspaper opposing cruise missiles (which sounds very similar to the visit described by Don Hale). As Special Branch became a deeper part of a surveillance state, Brittan was forced to deny in Parliament in late 1984 that they had been involved in tapping the phones of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, after claims to that effect by chair (later Labour MP) Joan Ruddock, but the revelations on the Channel 4 programme 20/20 Vision by former MI5 officer Cathy Massiter gave a different picture of the intelligence services’ infiltration of this group. Prior to this broadcast, during the course of the inquiry, Brittan published Special Branch guidelines which made clear that monitoring trade unionists (counted amongst ‘subversives’) was within their remit (this was extremely potent as the guidelines were published while the miners’ strike was ongoing). A combination of industrial strife, IRA bombings and an increased profile for CND were all being used by Brittan as reasons for beefing up the role of Special Branch; this would have been more than a little convenient if he wanted them to act to protect high-level abusers of children as well. This hardly inspired confidence when it became clear that Special Branch were involved in the investigation of the murder of 78-year old anti-nuclear activist Hilda Murrell, allegedly at the hands of intelligence officers (see also Nick Davies, ‘The mysterious death of Hilda Murrell’, The Guardian, March 1994). When the interview with Massiter was finally broadcast in March 1985, it became clear that not only CND, but a wider range of trade unionists, journalist, lawyers and others, with Brittan himself having personally authorised the tapping of John Cox, vice-chair of CND and Communist Party member; furthermore, a Ronnie White appeared in the programme to detail how he had infiltrated the National Front at the behest of Special Branch, which involved him becoming directly involved in violent assaults upon black citizens. The report of the inquiry was widely thought to be something of a whitewash, with several Labour members of the committee wishing to distance themselves from it, claiming that it was flawed because they had not been allowed to interview various key officials.

There is no doubt that Special Branch did gain significant new powers and authority whilst Leon Brittan was Home Secretary, and as such Barbara Castle’s alleged claims about his relationship to the organisation are perfectly plausible.

I do not rule out the possibility, as argued by Paul Foot and more recently by Guy Adams, that the claims about Brittan having himself been an abuser were part of a dirty tricks campaign. But if so, would this campaign not be a prima facie case of ‘to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy’ as presented in January 1985 by Brittan himself to the Home Affairs Select Committee? After the June 1984 allegations were published, what were Special Branch doing to investigate this type of plot?

Furthermore, as there were clear revelations of the intelligence services infiltrating the National Council of Civil Liberties and in particular their General Secretary Patricia Hewitt and legal officer Harriet Harman, what did they find concerning this organisation and individual’s relationship to the Paedophile Information Exchange? All of this information should be placed in front of the national inquiry.

Cathy Massiter was never prosecuted, despite her revelations following close on the heels of the (unsuccessful) prosecution of Ministry of Defence civil servant Clive Ponting for passing information to Labour MP Tam Dalyell concerning the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands’ War. In 2001, Richard Norton-Taylor pointed out that Massiter’s claims had never been disproved (Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Truth, but not the whole truth’, The Guardian, September 11th, 2001 – the date of this article indicates why it would have been mostly overlooked at the time). Why did Brittan and the government not prosecute Massiter, considering how damaging her revelations were? Is it possible that she might have found out other, more fatally damaging, information about the government, Westminster, and/or Brittan himself, which might come out in the event of her prosecution?


United Press International, December 19th, 1983

Britain today ordered 700 extra police on the streets and a 24-hour bomb watch following the Irish terrorist bombing of Harrods department store that killed five people and wounded 91, most of them Christmas shoppers.

Earlier, a businessman offered a $375,000 reward for information leading to capture and conviction of the bombers.

Home Secretary Leon Brittan, in a grim statement to Parliament, announced the capital’s toughest anti-terrorist operation ever and denounced the outlawed Irish Republican Army’s attempt to disclaim responsibility for Saturday’s car bombing as ”utterly contemptible.”

”What has happened is that the IRA has found that the action taken by its members has caused universal revulsion and condemnation,” he said. ”It is a piece of nauseating hypocrisy for them now to try and disown it and to claim that some kinds of brutal murder are legitimate and some are illegitimate.”

Brittan, after meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told Parliament that special police crews would patrol London streets in vehicles around the clock to respond instantly to threats or warnings of a terrorist attack.

In addition, over 700 extra police — ranging from detectives to Special Branch officers and dog handlers — will be on duty on central London, he said.

On Sunday, the IRA said it bombed the department store, but apologized for the civilian casualties, saying police did not take advantage of a warning the bomb was about to exploded at the luxury store.

Scotland Yard rejected the IRA expression of regret as ”contemptible” and said the group’s warning prior to the bombing had been ”an invitation to death” because it was not specific and came too late.

”I can confirm that an unnamed businessman has offered a reward of a quarter of a million pounds for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the bomb,” a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said.

The IRA said its members had planted the bomb outside Harrods, but that Saturday’s attack had not been approved by the group’s leadership.

”The Harrods operation was not authorized by the army council of the Irish Republican Army,” the statement said, admitting that IRA ”volunteers” have been operating in Britain during the past week. It said the IRA ”regretted” the civilian casualties.

”We have taken immediate steps to ensure there will be no repetition of this type of incident,” the statement said.

A policeman and policewoman were killed in the attack and 14 officers injured. Three civilians were killed, including Kenneth Salvesan, 28, an American living in London. His hometown was not available.

The IRA said the police had been given a 40-minute prior warning, but had not cleared the area due to ”inefficiency or failure.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard rejected the IRA statement, saying, ”had they given an index (license) number of this (boobytrapped) car, or even color or make, and had they not maliciously misled by adding false locations, five families would not now be tragically bereaved and 91 people would not have suffered injuries, scarring them for the rest of their lives.”

The spokesman said the IRA call ”was not a warning, it was an invitation to death.”

As Harrods prepared to reopen today, Aleck Craddock, Harrods’ chief executive, said his company would review security in the store.

Police searched rooming houses and appealed for public help in hunting down the IRA guerrillas responsible for the bomb.

Cmdr. William Hucklesby, head of the C-13 anti-terrorist squad, said the bomb consisted of 25 to 30 pounds of explosives — much larger than originally believed — and was packed inside a 1972 blue Austin GT 1300 parked outside Harrods on the heaviest shopping day of the Christmas season.

”We certainly mustn’t assume this is the end of it,” Home Secretary Leon Brittan warned the public. ”Those who have done what they have done have absolutely unlimited capacity for evil. We must track them down and every conceivable effort will be made to do that.”


The Associated Press, February 16th, 1984
‘No Inquiry Into Police Action Against Journalist’

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government Thursday refused a demand by the opposition Labor Party for an inquiry into the search and seizure of documents from investigative journalist Duncan Campbell.

Home Secretary Leon Brittan, the cabinet minister in charge of police, said anyone who thinks police powers have been exceeded can go to court.

Gerald Kaufman, Labor’s chief spokesman on such matters, retorted: “Tell the Metropolitan Police Commissioner that this is England and not South Africa.”

Campbell, 31, who works for the leftist weekly New Statesman, has embarrassed authorities for years by revealing intelligence gathering operations, telephone tapping methods, police surveillance details and secret plans for Britain’s defense in nuclear war.

In 1977, he was convicted under the Official Secrets Act, but was conditionally discharged on payment of legal costs.

The latest trouble began when he fell off a bicycle last week and was knocked out for five minutes. He later found all the documents in one bicycle basket container had been kept by police, as well as his contacts book, diary, wallet and a list of future writing projects. Police have still not released the items.

Police of the Special Branch, which conducts political surveillance, then obtained a search warrant, searched his north London apartment for nearly seven hours and took away more documents, Campbell said Thursday,

“Nothing, not even the potted plants, was left undisturbed,” the journalist wrote in an article in the latest New Statesman.

He said he assumed police interest was roused by one document on his bicycle about civil defense planning marked “Restricted.”He said the Greater London Council gave it to him officially since he was a committee member.


Guardian Weekly, March 4th, 1984
Jimmy Brown (Remand prisoner), Crumlin Road Prison, Belfast, ‘An Ulster law unto themselves’

There are numerous problems affecting the people of these islands, not least the right-wing governments of London and Dublin. However, one issue common to all is that of the law.

In London Leon Brittan is busy negotiating the Police Bill through Parliament in the face of growing opposition; in Dublin the Justice Minister, Mr Michael Noonan, is hoping to reinforce the status quo with his Criminal Justice Bill.

With these debates in mind, I urge a closer look at the law and its abuses — perceived or otherwise — as it applies to Northern Ireland.

During the heyday of the British Empire its supporters made much of its laws, equality, and freedoms. Few of these principles appear to be evident in Northern Ireland today, when one looks at how the supergrass system operates. Its critics span both Protestant and Catholic communities, and range through the clergy and trade unions to respected legal and political figures, including many MPs.

Consider the various disparities in the law as applied in Belfast and in London. The British Attorney-General is known to have issued instructions to the DPP for England and Wales not to proceed in cases where the alleged evidence of a supergrass is not corroborated by independent evidence.Yet in Northern Ireland the same Attorney-General permits the charging and trial of people solely on the basis of uncorroborated evidence.

For those who still feel safe in the belief that no such travesty could occur in England and Wales, the recent “conspiracy” case in Cardiff may prove illuminating. During this trial, it was stated that one of the accused had been asked to implicate the Welsh nationalist MP, Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas, in a conspiracy to cause explosions. There was no evidence except that offered by the investigating police officers to one of the accused. When the jury’s verdict resulted in the acquittal and vindication of the men involved, an inquiry was set up into police handling of the case.

In Northern Ireland it is possible to see not only evidence of such police tactics on a grand scale, but also the total disregard for any need for inquiry into the RUC’s handling of supergrass investigations.

During the Cardiff trial some of the accused were held on remand for up to 10 months. On average people in Northern Ireland are held for between 15 and 18 months.

But three men currently on remand in Belfast have just completed 2 years in custody. Thomas Power, Gerrard Steenson and John O’Reilly face charges on the uncorroborated word of their fifth supergrass. So far the allegations of three supergrasses have been withdrawn, and those of a fourth dismissed when the court found the RUC’s star witness to be a “habitual and psychopathic liar”.

They now await trial again on the uncorroborated word of Jackie Grimley, who is servicing a “life” term for the murder of five policemen and security force members.

Grimley has admitted under oath that the RUC instructed him to “set up an attempt to implicate Steenson and others” in any crime possible; and claimed that the RUC Special Branch had entered into a number of criminal conspiracies, including armed robberies.

Yet calls for a public inquiry have so far been ignored. Mr Thomas should be grateful that such practices are not yet perfected by the police in England and Wales.


United Press International, July 27th, 1984

Britain has secretly arrested and deported another Libyan reputed to be an associate of Col. Moammar Khadafy, Foreign Office and police sources say.

Special Branch detectives arrested the 39-year-old man July 13 while he was living under an assumed name as an agricultural student at Reading university some 40 miles west of London.

On the orders of Home Secretary Leon Brittan, he was held until July 20 at the Reading police station and put on a flight to Tripoli, police sources said.

The Home Office confirmed Thursday that a Libyan living in the Reading area had been deported under immigration rules, but refused to give further details.

News reports said, however, the man that enrolled at Reading University’s Department of Agriculture was known to security services as Saleh Al Wali. The reports also said he had strong links with Khadady’s inner circle.

A police source said the deportation was a direct result of inquiries into the Libyan embassy siege in April in which policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was shot and killed. The two nations broke diplomatic relations in the wake of the siege.

The deported man’s pregnant wife was not included in the order to leave but she voluntarily left with her husband.

Earlier this month, two Libyan diplomats were ordered out of the country for ”activities incompatible with their status.”

Reports said they were trying to force Libyan students to return home against their will for an ”ideology purification” seminar.


The Guardian, October 13th, 1984
Paul Brown, Colin Brown, Peter Hetherington, David Hearst and Gareth Parry, ‘Cabinet survives IRA hotel blast / Brighton bombing during Conservative Party conference’

An investigation into the security breach which allowed the Provisional IRA to attempt the assassination of the Prime Minister and most of her Cabinet at their Brighton conference hotel began last night.

The bomb brought tons of rubble cascading through seven floors of the Grand Hotel, Brighton, miraculously missing Mrs Thatcher but killing the Conservative MP for Enfield South, Sir Anthony Berry.

Also believed to be dead are Mrs Roberta Wakeham, wife of the Government chief whip, Mr John Wakeham, and Mrs Jeanne Shattock, wife of the president of the South-West Conservative Association, Mr Gordon Shattock. Mr Eric Taylor, chairman of the North-West Area Association was missing.

Mrs Thatcher’s bathroom was demolished two minutes after she had left it, but two of her senior ministers, the Industry Secretary, Mr Norman Tebbit, and Mr Wakeham were trapped in the rubble. Mr Tebbit was brought out after four hours and Mr Wakeham after six. Both men underwent operations in hospital. Mr Wakeham has serious leg injuries.

The Prime Minister insisted that the conference should continue as normal and went on to deliver her keynote speech. The bombing, she said, was ‘an attempt to cripple our Government – and that is the scale of the outrage.’

She and her colleagues had been surrounded by close personal protection for more than two months because of a tip-off about an IRA assassination squad.

Three Special Branch officers guard her personally and other officers were posted on the first, Second and third floor landings.

The American FBI had warned that a Provisional ‘sleeper squad’ had been reactivated and was planning a winter terrorist offensive. This underlined British intelligence information already gained.

The tip-off was lent extra weight two weeks ago when an FBI tip-off led to the arrest of five alleged IRA gunrunners and the capture of the trawler Marita Anne off the Irish coast.

Recent succeesses against the IRA meant that they had to seek to re-establish their credibility by a spectacular action.

At the scene, police officers confessed their amazement that so many had escaped death. This may have been due to the strength of the Regency building absorbing some of the blast.

The chief constable of Sussex, Mr Roger Birch, asked for an independent inquiry into the security arrangements to be conducted by the deputy chief constable of Hampshire, Mr John Hoddinott.

Commander Bill Hucklesby, head of the anti-terrorist squad, went to Brighton to help with the investigations being carried out by the Sussex police, led by Detective-Chief Superintendent Jack Reece. Also involved are Assistant Chief Constable David Scott and Chief Superintendent Dennis Williams.

Experts estimated the bomb at 10 to 15lb. but – with the dead and critically injured still trapped in the rubble – the Provisional IRA in Dublin issued a statement claiming responsibility and saying the bomb was 100lb.

The statement, addressed to Mrs Thatcher, said in part: ‘Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always. Give Ireland peace and there will be no war.’

After her speech to the conference, in which she again emphasised her refusal to be moved by the bombers, Mrs Thatcher went straight to the Royal Sussex Hospital, where she spent two hours with the injured.

She said the 18 victims she spoke to had one defiant message for the Provisional IRA – that she should not give in.

It was a miracle that even more people were not injured in the explosion, she said. Mr Tebbit and Mr Wakeham were both asleep during her visit.

She said some of the victims were asleep when the bomb went off. ‘They found themselves way outside their rooms, there were people several storeys down, it is unbelievable. There was a great deal of rubble, then a great deal of dust and a lot of water.’

Mr Birch, the Sussex Chief Constable, refused to speculate about the size or nature of the bomb. There were rumours that it was timed to go off when ministers would be in their rooms and had been planted in a front bedroom. The impact of the bomb appeared to have been concentrated on the fifth floor, collapsing lower floors and ripping off the roof.

Debris was scattered over the promenade and the beach. Forensic scientists are expected to take some days to piece together information about the device.

At a press conference, Mr Birch took complete responsibility for the security arrangements in the town but he insisted that they were adequate.

He said: ‘I feel a great sense of sadness that it should have happened. I am still of the opinion that the arrangements we made were appropriate to the occasion.

‘To guarantee 100 per cent security, particularly from an explosive device, would call for the sort of security arrangements which so far have or would prove quite unacceptable to the community, and therefore you would have to have a total split between the people like ministers in residence and other people sharing the hotel.’

The bomb, which went off at about 2.54 a. m., could have caused greater mayhem in the hotel had the main bar on the ground floor not closed promptly at 2 a. m.

All those staying at the hotel yesterday had to register at the conference centre to help the police to establish who was missing, and to reclaim property. Many lost their clothes. Marks & Spencer opened their store to replace them.

The blast also scattered Government papers and Cabinet documents, with their red boxes which were collected quickly by the rescue teams and driven away in a police Land Rover, but some remained buried in the ruins.

Sir Geoffrey Howe, the Foreign Secretary, was occupying rooms next door to Mrs Thatcher and Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, was next to him.

As well as Mrs Thatcher’s bathroom, Sir Geoffrey’s study was also demolished. Mr John Gummer, who was helping Mrs Thatcher to put the finishing touches to her conference speech, had gone across the corridor to collect some papers when the blast occurred. He was unhurt.

Mr Paul Boswell, aged 59, the hotel manager, said that if the blast had gone according to plan ‘it would have meant that the whole lot would have come down on Mrs Thatcher.’

Mr Boswell, who handed in his notice on Thursday ready for retirement, was in his flat on the second floor when the bomb went off.

In the hotel bar, Mr Ron Farley, aged 40, the Tory group leader of Bradford City Council, was still in evening dress when the explosion occurred.

‘Everyone was showered with glass and I told them to get down,’ he said. ‘I shouted to the people to join hands. There were about 30 or 40 of us who linked up and we slowly made our way through the back. Some of the people were crying or sobbing. I went back to try to help the injured.

‘There was one policeman lying on the floor, covered in rubble. We pulled away all the dust and rubbish. He was injured, I don’t know how badly.

‘Then I found this poor old dear, a 70-year-old lady, can you believe? She had one eye missing. It was terrible.’

Two bodies were recovered, perched and dangling from joists in the gaping hole in the front of the hotel.

Firemen had to pick their way downwards, taking off the beams and joists one by one.

After two hours, Mr Tebbit’s foot was seen poking through the beams. Fireman Tony Hayward said: ‘He was in quite a bit of pain but he did not show it. He is really a strong guy.’

The Tory party organiser, Mr Harvey Thomas, who was rescued after 1hr 45min under the rubble, left hospital to listen to Mrs Thatcher’s speech.

His wife brought him some clothes from London. He said he had thought he was going to die, but after an hour he heard firemen’s voices.

‘The firemen were terrific. They worked for an hour, during which time we were freezing cold and the water was pouring over us. I had been on the seventh floor and I was pulled out of the fifth, so I must have fallen two floors. I am very thankful. My wife is expecting a baby today.’


The Associated Press, October 22nd, 1984
International News

The government announced a new intelligence effort Monday to combat Irish terrorism, and security measures were stepped up around Parliament as legislators returned to work after the summer recess.

Home Secretary Leon Brittan told the House of Commons he had ordered “new arrangements centrally for countering the Irish terrorist threat” following the bomb explosion that killed four people Oct. 12 in the Brighton hotel at which Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet were staying.

He said the aim was to concentrate “the widest range of experience in assessing Irish terrorist intentions” and “coordinate the counter-measures required to meet them.”

He denied a weekend press report that the investigation of the Brighton bombing, for which the Irish Republican Army took responsibility, was being hampered by poor relations between different police forces. But his statement was seen as an attempt to make the country’s security agencies work more closely together.

The domestic news agency Press Association said an interdepartmental government committee was being established to assess data on terrorism and decide what measures were needed.

Britain has no national police force or equivalent of the American FBI. Its Special Branch, founded in 1870 to combat Irish subversives, and the present-day C13 anti-terrorist squad, are attached to Scotland Yard, which is responsible for policing the Greater London area.

The bombing probe in coastal Brighton is the responsibility of the local county constabulary.

To cries of “Hear, hear!” Brittan assured the Commons: “We will not be bombed into boltholes (hiding places) by terrorists.” But the security measures imposed in London were evident.

Video cameras, roadblocks and extra police were posted around the Houses of Parliament, and access to Mrs. Thatcher’s official residence at 10 Downing St. was severely restricted.

Mrs. Thatcher’s Conservatives are already consulting with police to plan their next annual party conference, in the northwest resort city of Blackpool. Brittan advised all party organizers to contact police well in advance to make their meetings secure.

He said total security was impossible because it would deny the public its customary accessibility to British leaders. But, he said, “Immediate attention has been given to the assessment of other potential targets and the provision of proper protection for them.”

Conservative legislator Peter Bruinvels introduced a motion calling for an early debate in the House of Commons on restoring the death penalty for terrorist crimes. Hanging was abolished in 1969, and last year a motion to restore it was defeated handily.


The Guardian, October 23rd, 1984
Colin Brown, ‘Parliament: Intelligence unit to combat Irish terror / Home Secretary Brittan on the Brighton bombing’

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, yesterday announced the setting up of an intelligence unit at Scotland Yard to counter the Irish terrorist threat, following the Brighton bombing which resulted in four dead and 32 injured.

In a statement on the bombing to the Commons on its return after the summer recess, Mr Brittan said: ‘We will not be bombed into bolt holes by terrorists.’

His message won united support from all sides of the House, including Mr Gerald Kaufman, the Shadow Home Secretary, who said: ‘Let it go forth that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us – we shall resist that attack and we shall win.’

The Commons joined with Mr Brittan in expressing sympathy for the families of the victims.

Mr Kaufman, in expressing the sympathy of the Opposition, was cheered when he said Labour MPs hoped soon to see the Industry Secretary, Norman Tebbit, restored to health and returning to the Commons ‘in his usual rude health.’ Mr Tebbit and his wife. Margaret, are also still in hospital.

The Home Secretary told MPs that the explosion had no less a purpose than ‘to strike a blow at the heart of our democracy by killing the majority of the Cabinet.’

Praising the police. and the security services, Mr Brittan said: ‘The task of obtaining evidence about the bomb itself was formidable and the police were not yet in a position to describe it more fully beyond that it was believed to have been about 20 pounds of commercial explosive.’ A total of 31 skips and 750 dustbins full of debris had been removed from the Grand Hotel and 228 police officers were engaged in this task.

More than 200 police officers were engaged in a pursuit of inquiries about the bombers. Mr Brittan said that it would be wrong to anticipate the conclusions of the police report on security at the conference. ‘I shall, however, to the extent that this does not prejudice security, report them to the House in due course.’

Mr Brittan assured the Commons that new measures to improve security in the Palace of Westminster were in hand.

‘The Brighton bombing also demonstrates the vulnerability of party political engagements, This applies locally as well as nationally. Local party organisers should be careful to contact the police about arrangements well in advance,’ said Mr Brittan.

New arrangements for countering the Irish terrorist threat had been set in hand centrally. The aim, he said, was to bring to bear the widest range of experience in assessing Irish terrorist intentions and capabilities and to advise on, and coordinate, the counter-measures required to meet them. These would supplement the continuing role of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.

Mr Brittan said: ‘Total security is impossible in a free, democratic society. Political and other leaders are vulnerable because they must be accessible. Everything which can be done, will be done to prevent such outrages and protect their targets. But we will not be bombed into bolt holes by terrorists.’

Mr Kaufman, for the Opposition, said: ‘This was no random act of violence. It cannot be compared and should not be compared with any other act of violence, great or small, which takes’ place in our society.

‘This was a deliberate attempt to destroy the Government by mass murder.

‘That Government is a Conservative Government with which we have the most serious differences. But it is the democratically elected government. It is the British Government and let it be said in the plainest terms, the only way to get rid of a Government in Britain is by the ballot box.

‘Terrorism and assassination have no place whatever in the political process in this country.

‘We utterly and unanimously reject it and will fight with every fibre of our being against it. With Voltaire, we say to the Government we disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.’

Mr Kaufman called for an examination of the whole question of security surrounding the Government and parliament.

He added: ‘But while we here are obvious targets for terrorist action and it is important to ensure the maximum possible security compatible with the right of the people to have access to their elected representatives, let us be clear that our security is no more important than that of the whole of the population who are at risk from the foul gangsters.’

Just because politicians have chosen to take part in public life, they could not expect greater safety than those caught up in the Harrods bomb, the Regents’ Park atrocity or those in Northern Ireland, civilians and troops, who face these dangers every day.

‘We are all in the front line. We must face these risks unitedly together.’

Mr David Steel, the Liberal leader, on behalf of the Alliance, said the IRA had misunderstood both public and parliamentary opinion. ‘We are one family in this House and when one member of that family is attacked, the only effect is to unite all members of the family. We will not bow to terrorism.’

Mr Julian Amery (C Brighton Pavilion) protested about the very unfair criticism of the police force before any inquiry had taken place.

Mr Andrew Bowden (C Brighton Kemptown) protested about an article in the Sunday Times claiming that there were serious differences between the Sussex police and the Metropolitan police. He said it was totally and completely untrue and one of the most scurrilious pieces of journalism he had seen.

‘They have printed the names of witnesses when they were specifically asked not to do so by the Assistant Chief Constable. Is that not impeding his inquiry and making it more difficult to bring the guilty to book?’ he said.

The Home Secretary said it was important to make it absolutely clear there was no truth at all in the suggestion of differences of opinion between the forces investigating the murder nor any truth in the suggestion of inadequate resources being available.

Mr James Molyneaux (OUP. Lagan Valley) told Mr Brittan that in seeking the cooperation of the Republic of Ireland in the battle against terrorism, the Government should avoid paying any price which concede the objectives of the terrorists either in whole or in part.

Mrs Jill Knight (C Edgbaston) said the IRA could not continue their campaign of anarchy without help from their two major sources of supply for money and arms – the Soviet Union and the United States.


The Guardian, November 22nd, 1984
Stephen Cook, ‘MPs suspect whitewash in special branch inquiry / Inquiry into police special branch’

Opposition MPs suspect that the Government has devised a strategy to play down the controversial aspects of the inquiry into the police special branch.

The inquiry, by the Commons home affairs committee, opens on Wednesday with evidence from the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

They believe that their anxieties over the balance in special branch operations between the safety of the state and civil liberties will be brushed off by government and police witnesses either as ignorance or police-bashing.

It is the notable change in he Government’s attitude towards the inquiry which leads Labour MPs to think that attempts are being made in the political lobbies and through the media to limit the potential damage from the inquiry by playing down its significance.

When it was first mooted – following the news that special branch officers had visited a woman in the West Midlands who had written to a newspaper opposing cruise missiles – the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, warned that it might end up ‘in a blind alley’.

Now that the committee has decided to go ahead, the Government is making much of the fact that all evidence will he given in public, and suggesting there is nothing to hide. Although the committee has powers to make witnesses give evidence it cannot make them answer questions.

The Labour MPs on the committee, chaired by Sir Edward Gardner, QC and Conservative MP for Fylde, are particularly keen to clarify the reasons why certain people are subject to listing by the special branch, whose primary job is to liaise with M15 to gather political intelligence.


The Guardian, December 11th, 1984
‘Phone taps on CND illegal / Home Secretary on alleged phone-tapping of anti-nuclear group’

Security services could no have legally tapped the telephones or intercepted the mail of CND members, the Home Secretary, MrLeon Brittan. told MPs yesterday.

Mr Brittan made it clear that CND was a legitimate organisation, despite its opposition to government policies on defence, and could not have its communications intercepted legally under the guidelines set out in a 1980 white paper.

Warrants for interception under the guidelines can only be granted for the police to assist them in the detection of serious crime or if there is a subversive, terrorist or espionage activity that is likely to injure the national interest.

His assurance that the CND Members and their organisation did not fall within this category is bound to lead to speculation that interceptions took place illegally when the National Council for Civil Liberties presents a series of complaints by CND to the home affairs select committee of the Commons tomorrow in its review of the Special Branch.

CND has complained that its mail has been tampered with and it has noticed irregularities with telephone calls – in one case a conversation was played back. The Post Office has paid compensation to the organisation.

Mr Brittan told the former Labour Home Secretary, Mr Merlyn Rees, that something had gone wrong.

But Mr Brittan suggested that until the Post Office’s inquiries were complete the only two things that the Commons could be sure had gone wrong were a Post Office machine and the quality of CND packaging.

He firmly ruled out a government inquiry into the complaints by CND, which were raised by the shadow home secretary, Mr Gerald Kaufman.

Mr Brittan also surprised MPs by refusing to give any categorical assurance that they were not having their telephones tapped, whether or not they were members of CND.

Mr Eldon Griffiths, parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation, said last night he had investigated tampering with his own mail and clicks on the telephone which suggested that it might have been tapped by the security forces, because he lived near USAF and RAF bases.

But he said the letters had been opened and re-sealed as a result of machinery going wrong and had been delayed by incompetence or industrial action. Interference on the telephone had been caused by trees outside his home coming into contact with telephone wires.

Mrs Joan Ruddock, chairman of CND, commented later: ‘The Home Secretary’s failure in the House of Commons to condemn any form of telephone and mail interference, authorised or unauthorised, does no credit to the government of a supposedly free and democratic society.’


The Guardian, December 15th, 1984
Stuart Wavell, ‘Weekend people: The chief prepares to quit the field of battle / Joan Ruddock considers stepping down as CND chairperson’

As the staff of CND reportedly debate an appropriate financial inducement for the successor to Monsignor Bruce Kent as general secretary, Joan Ruddock is giving serious thought to stepping down as the organisation’s chairperson.

Mrs Ruddock, who was recently re-elected to her fourth term of office, told me this week that while she has no immediate plans in mind, her job possessed an inherent limit that was ‘not too far away.’ She admitted that she is attracted to the idea of returning to politics (she stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in Newbury). ‘Whether I would find a constituency that wanted to adopt me is another matter,’ she said.

She explained that part of her dilemma stemmed from CND’s reluctant compliance with the media’s desire that its message should be projected by a couple of individuals (her and Mgr Kent).

‘The danger is that these people, their personalities and characteristics, become more important than the policies they convey,’ she said. ‘That is why there has to be some limit to the amount of time that anyone stays in that very high profile position. I won’t say at this time what I expect to do, but you will gather from what I am saying that the limit should not be too far away. Just as Bruce chose to carefully time and phase his departure, I would have the same concerns.’

She also mentioned the strain on her personal life. She works part-time for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Reading, devoting weekends and most spare time to CND activities. But it is not clear from all this how serious she is. Last year she told Weekend People that if she had known what the job had entailed she might not have taken it on, yet she has stood twice since then.

I asked whether a contributory factor was a distaste for CND’s cumbersome decision-making apparatus spelled out recently by Mgr Kent. The conference structure of CND, he wrote in the New Statesman, favoured those who lived ‘in a world of resolutions, amendments, points of order and points of information.’

She replied that this was sometimes boring and frustrating, but that she did not know of a better system nor of any other such organisation which established policies by democratic means. CND’s membership, she pointed out, was probably larger than those of the Labour Party and the SDP.

Well, did she agree with Mgr Kent’s complaint that a not insubstantial section of CND seemed content with pushing into the Labour Party’s manifesto as many of CND’s ultimate aims as possible without much interest in converting the electorate?

She did, up to a point. She said that CND had achieved as much with Labour as they had a right to expect, and that Labour’s defence document still needed some revision.

Converting the electorate, however, was not CND’s job. ‘The Labour Party can’t sit back and say ‘ We have got the policy and that will do.’ That will not do. They have got to dispel the myth that removing nuclear weapons will leave Britain defenceless. We are not doing something that will translate into votes for us. We cannot do it for them; they must do it themselves. So far we have seen little sign of their being prepared to do so.’

The reason for this interview had been to elicit more information about what is bugging CND – part of the current investigation intoSpecial Branch activities undertaken by a Home Office select committee. Appropriately my telephonic approach to CND was greeted with a fruity selection of crackles.

All par for the course, notionally normal but down-right suspicious, Mrs Ruddock believes. Engineers probing disconnections and loss of dialing tone had been mystified. And there was Mrs R’s own unique experience. ‘I was trying to regain the dial tone by pressing the receivers. I heard my voice repeating a portion of the conversation I had just had. Some people conclude it’s a form of harrassment.’

She found Leon Brittan’s statement that the security forces could not have legally tapped CND’s phones or intercepted its mail to be disturbingly ambiguous. Developments would be viewed with scepticism, she said. His remark about the quality of CND wrapping was at odds with the fact that envelopes had been cleanly slit open.

She first suspected Special Branch surveillance some years ago, when she was the relatively unknown co-ordinator of the Newbury Campaign Against Cruise Missiles. Photographers with telephoto lenses had snapped the crowd outside a Newbury meeting addressed by Francis Pym. At Greenham, where she had helped to set up a peace camp before the advent of the Cardiff women, car numbers had been taken overtly.

‘One day I went up there by myself. There wasn’t a soul around. I turned my car round and stopped. Suddenly a police car rushed up. The policeman wound down his window and said ‘Hello Mrs Ruddock, can we help you? ‘

Since when she believed the taking of car numbers and photographic surveillance has become standard. And now phone-tapping, brought to the attention of the National Council Civil Liberties because of the volume of complaints from CND members.

‘Because of these inexplicable instances I work on the assumption that a third party is listening. I object very strongly.’

She and her husband live outside Reading in the village of Burghfield, home of a Royal Ordinance Factory which is believed to manufacture and rearm nuclear weapons. Wasn’t that rather like moving to Brands Hatch and complaining about the noise? She laughed.

‘I went there in oblivion, not knowing that the ROF was a weapons plant. If I had known I wouldn’t have lived there.’

Most of the villagers work for the Ministry of Defence. ‘I understand – and they know I understand – that it’s uncomfortable for them to be associated with me. I don’t accuse anybody of anything. I know they have no choice, although I want to have a choice. I have never had a bitter argument with any of them.’

Mrs Ruddock will be getting some new neighbours soon. Building work is in hand at Burghfield to accommodate American servicemen from Greenham Common. Eye contact, one imagines, will be a ticklish daily hazard.


The Guardian, December 20th, 1984
Stephen Cook, ‘Brittan bans bugs in telephone boxes / Home Secretary orders tighter restrictions on police surveillance’

Police must stop putting devices to tap telephone conversations in public call boxes and must tighten procedures for authorising and recording the use of surveillance equipment, the Home Secretary announced yesterday.

But it is clear from Mr Leon Brittan’s statement that all police forces now use a wide range of equipment to observe and listen to people in public and private places, including people’s homes.

In a Commons written reply he said that no information is to be made public about these devices and how they are used. Nor will statistical information on their use be gathered at the Home Office. HM Inspectors of Constabulary are to check that they are only used where necessary.

Mr Brittan was referring to new guidelines to police forces drawn up after a review prompted by a case in North Wales where officers were seen placing a listening device in a telephone kiosk.

He said: ‘The guidance issued in 1977 recommended that records should be kept of the use of aural surveillance devices, and the new guidelines will require records to be kept for both aural and visual devices.’

Under the guidelines – which apply to Special Branch and the CID – only a Chief Constable may authorise the covert use of listening, recording, and transmitting equipment. If a member of the public is cooperating with an operation authority can come from an assistant chief constable.

But in the case of covert operations the Chief Constable must be satisfied that the investigation concerns serious crime that other methods have failed or are unlikely to succeed, and that there is good reason to anticipate an arrest and conviction or the prevention of terrorism.

The authorising officer must be satisfied that the degree of intrusion into people’s privacy is commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.

‘Where the targets of surveillance might reasonably assume a high degree of privacy, particularly in their own homes, listening devices should be used only for the investigation of major organised conspiracies and of other particularly serious offences, especially crimes of violence,’ the guidelines say.

Chief officers are reminded that telephone tapping can only be done with a warrant from the Home Secretary, but the use of a listening device should not be ruled out simply because it might pick up or end of a telephone conversation.

If cameras are to be used to observe a person in a private place – private homes, or hotel bedrooms – the same procedures should be observed as for listening devices.

Where there is general surveillance or surveillance of an individual in a public place, a Chief Superintendent can give permission.

Use of binoculars telescopes, and night vision equipment should be controlled by an officer with a rank of at least Inspector. In exceptional urgency, a Chief Superintendent can give permission normally reserved to a chief officer

The Home Office said last night that it would be illegal for police to place a device inside a person’s home or otherwise to tamper with his property without his permission.


The Guardian, December 21st, 1984
Stephen Cook, ‘Special Branch guidelines published / Home Office guidelines on countering terrorism and monitoring subversives’

Home Office guidelines to police forces about the role of the Special Branch in countering terrorism and monitoring people it considers to be subversive were unexpectedly published for the first time yesterday by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan.

The appearance of the guidelines, which confirm much common knowledge about Special Branch activities, was claimed as something of a coup by some members of the Commons select committee on home affairs, which is halfway through an inquiry into the branch.

Earlier this year Mr Brittan, who is due to give evidence to the committee next month, said that the inquiry would face a blind alley. But its members feel that it is making some progress, and some want it prolonged to take evidence from junior as well as chief police officers.

Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North, who pressed for the inquiry, said yesterday: ‘One can only rather cynically conclude that this is a pre-emptive strike by the Home Secretary. But the guidelines provide too wide a framework and need to be tightened up.’

The guidelines say that Special Branch duties include assessing whether marches meetings, demonstrations and pickets pose a threat to public order, and helping the security services to guard against espionage, sabotage, and the actions of persons or organisations inside or outside the country ‘which may be judged to be subversive to the state.’

Another duty is armed protection for people thought to be at risk, and the monitoring of anyone ‘who may plan to harm prominent individuals for political reasons or because of mental disturbance.’ Special Branch officers keep watch and gather information at airports and seaports, and may help with immigration or naturalisation inquiries.

The Metropolitan Police Special Branch has national responsibility for matters relating to Irish terrorism, the guidelines say, and for protection for the Royal Family, Government and former ministers and diplomats. A national joint unit at Scotland Yard coordinates inquiries and applications for exclusion orders under prevention of terrorism laws.

Intelligence should be released only to people with ‘a particular need to know,’ say the guidelines. They warn: ‘Data on individuals or organisations should not under any circumstances be collected or held solely on the basis that such a person or organisation supports unpopular causes or on the basis of race or creed.’

Mr Winnick said that the guidelines were so ambiguous as to leave it to the discretion of Special Branch officers to decide on their targets. They did not forbid the kind of operation in which Mrs Madeleine Haigh, a CND member in the West Midlands, was visited by Special Branch because she wrote to a newspaper to oppose cruise missiles.

‘The manner in which they are required to keep tabs on demonstrations and marches is also a bit disturbing,’ he said. ‘I feel that not enough is being done to give Special Branch proper training in the processes of political democracy. It is quite easy for them to think that anyone who challenges the existing order is subversive.’

Mr John Wheeler, Conservative MP for Westminster North and another member of the committee, said: ‘Our inquiry makes it necessary to produce this kind of information, and I think the more we expose what is done, the more reassuring it all is. Most Special Branch officers are engaged on boring and routine duties.’

He added: ‘Flexibility is a most important aspect of their work, but there is clearly a question about whether they are wasting resources investigating people who don’t count and don’t matter. This is something we have yet to put to the police. It was the nub of the evidence given to us by the National Council for Civil Liberties.’


The Guardian, December 22nd, 1984
David McKie, ‘MPs protest at role of Special Branch / Labour MPs protest over Special Branch guidelines on industrial disputes’

Labour MPs protested yesterday over the guidelines for Special Branch activity unexpectedly published late on Thursday by the Home Secretary, MrLeon Brittan.

The main target of their complaints and their demands for further information was the role which appeared to be given to the special branch in industrial disputes.

The Labour employment spokesman, Mr John Prescott, wrote to Mr Brittan yesterday asking for further clarification. ‘As you will appreciate,’ he said, ‘this is a most sensitive area which involves the rights of our citizens, and in particular trade unionists who, in the judgment of some government ministers, are considered to be and are treated as the enemy within.’

Mr Prescott said the guidelines had produced the first public acknowledgement that the special branch was monitoring union activities which might be judged subversive, though he accepted that the guidelines said the information must not be passed on to employers or other organisations.

Mr Prescott asked whether the definition of subversive activity related solely to possible acts of a criminal nature, or whether it also involved the branch in making political judgments.

He said he knew of Special Branch activity in photographing disputes and pickets, and introducing reports on the movements of individual trade unionists. He asked for more to be said about how such information was used and asked if people approached by the Special Branch on the basis of such information and requested to identify individuals, had the right to refuse.

Mr Prescott said yesterday that the Government’s definition of ‘subversives’ was a threat to trade unions and trade unionists.

Tony Heath writes: A call for an independent judicial inquiry into the activities of the Special Branch was made yesterday by the president of Plaid Cymru, Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas, MP, who claimed that political policing was intensifying, particularly in Wales

Speaking at Dolgellau, in his Merionnydd Nant Conwy constituency, Mr Thomas said: ‘In a democracy the police have a duty to protect the right of those who disagree.

‘Instead, the Special Branch guidelines published this week indicated that unaccountable public servants are free to act on any whim, fancy, or piece of misinformation. They equate democratic dissent with subversion.’

Plaid Cymru had been collecting evidence of political policing for almost a year. The miners’ strike had given rise to over-reaction by police on and off the picket line, Mr Thomas said. Interfering with activists’ telephones was common-place.

Plaid Cymru’s initiative was welcomed by the Welsh Language Society.


The Guardian, December 22nd, 1984
Leading Article: ‘Guidelines into a very grey area / Guidelines for police Special Branch’

For 101 years, part of the British police force has been solely engaged in political surveillance. In 1984 as in 1983, one of its principal targets is Irish republicanism. But gradually the net has widened from Fenianism. The Special Irish Branch has become the Special Branch pure and simple and it now concerns itself with a far wider range of oppositional activities. Some idea of how wide that net is now cast emerges from the guidelines on Special Branch work released this week by the Home Office. Today’s Special Branch deals with firearms and explosives crime, immigration and nationality inquiries, port and airport surveillance, armed protection for VIPs and checking on the movements of foreign diplomats. But the guidelines also highlight two further major responsibilities: the Branch are the legmen for MI5 in dealing with terrorism and subversion and, in the bland language of the new document, they gather information about threats to public order.

Nothing of what we now know about the Special Branch has emerged without outside public pressure. Until recently, there was no public information whatsoever. MPs who tried to put down questions on the subject were simply refused answers. No local police force (and each has its own Special Branch) gave any information to its police authority. This changed in the dying years of the Callaghan government, after the furore about the Agee and Hosenball deportations and the ABC official secrets case. After pressure from Mr Robin Cook MP, the then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, allowed a brief adjournment debate, in which he acknowledged that the Branch concerns itself with ‘subversive activities which threaten the safety or wellbeing of the State, and which are intended to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.’ Since then, most local police forces have given brief and anodyne annual details of their Special Branch. Even so, it has taken the brave decision of the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee to mount an investigation into the Branch to prise out the latest details. This week’s release of the guidelines is designed to cushion Mr Leon Brittan’s unwilling appearance in front of the committee in the new year.

The new guidelines beg vital questions. In finally admitting what many already assumed, that the police ‘provide assessments’ about marches, demonstrations, meetings and pickets, they fail to say how far and by what methods the police routinely keep tabs on wholly legitimate political activity. The elastic definitions of subversion allow police to gather information on legal as well as illegal activities. Recent revelations about the surveillance of the CND and of the miners’ union are only the tip of this grey area iceberg. An inquiry in South Australia in 1977 by Mr justice White into a Special Branchwhich was set up by British police on the British model revealed that almost every protest movement, trade union and socialist group (including the Labour Party which formed the elected state government) had been considered systematic fair game. It is probable, at the very least, that the BritishSpecial Branch employs similar criteria in its file-keeping, and there is nothing in the new guidelines which seriously dents that suspicion. When Mr Brittan sees the select committee, someone should ask him how many Special Branch files exist on members of the Labour Party and how many on the Conservative Party.

Every state has a right to prevent its overthrow and to stop terrorism. The British state has long had laws giving it those powers. But the civil liberties of those who oppose the government are no less vital, and they have no such legal support. At present, the publication of the guidelines serves to legitimate current dubious police practice rather than to protect the right to oppose. Even the guidelines, inadequate though they are, have no force. What is needed is legislation to put the security services, the Special Branch and their methods on a statutory basis which can at least be challenged in the courts.


The Guardian, December 24th, 1984
Paul Keel, ‘Labour wants Brittan to lead inquiry into the Murrell death / Allegations surrounding the murder of Miss Hilda Murrell in March 1984’

The Labour front bench has now entered the controversy over the murder of 78-year-old Miss Hilda Murrell with a call for Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary to head personally an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding her death.

Attention was focussed on the murder inquiry last Thursday when Mr Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP for Linlithgow, claimed in the House of Commons that the elderly anti-nuclear activist had died as a result of a violent encounter with British intelligence officers at her home in Shrewsbury last March.

He said that they were searching for supposed sensitive documents relating to the sinking of the Belgrano because her Nephew, Mr Rob Green, had been a naval intelligence officer at the time of the Falklands conflict.

West Mercia police, who are heading the murder investigation, have said that there is no evidence whatsoever to support Mr Dalyell’s allegations.

But yesterday Mr Alf Dubs, the MP for Battersea and a Labour shadow spokesman on home affairs, said that so many apparent discrepancies were emerging.

‘What is required is for the Home Secretary himself to take personal charge of the inquiry and to make the findings public, otherwise there will be the feeling that a cover-up is taking place,’ he said.

It emerged at the weekend that, contrary to initial statements by the investigating police, the Special Branch had taken part in the early stages of the murder inquiry.

Mr Dalyell asked yesterday why this branch of the police force would have taken part in in investigation into the murder of an elderly spinster unless there was more to the crime than has since been suggested.


The Guardian, January 23rd, 1985
James Naughtie, ‘Brittan sets up team to foil bombers / Home Secretary announces plans for new security at party conferences’

A committee of senior police officers, security officials and representatives of the political parties is to draw up plans to counter terrorist attacks at party conferences.

Announcing the measure yesterday, Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, said the police were not responsible for security lapses leading to the Brighton bombing on October 5 last year – but he disclosed that his own suite in the Grand Hotel had not been searched before the explosion.

He told the Commons that the team under the chairmanship of Sir Lawrence Byford, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, would help significantly to provide ‘a firm framework.’ But he was accused by Mr Gerald Kaufman, the Shadow Home Secretary, of having made an ‘inadequate and complacent’ statement.

He complained that the Government had refused to allow senior opposition figures in all parties to see the report on the Brighton bombing prepared by Mr John Hoddinott, the deputy chief constable of Hampshire.

Mr Merlyn Rees, the former home secretary, said that confidential access to such reports had been provided in the past and it is clear that there is strong feeling in the Opposition that Mr Brittan should have provided full details on Privy Counsellor terms, assuring confidentiality.

Mr Brittan told MPs that the bomb which killed five people in the Grand Hotel had contained between 20 and 30lbs of explosives and it had been placed behind a bath panel in Room 629. It was almost certainly detonated by a long-delay timer, he said. A person who stayed in the room about three weeks before the explosion had given a false address.

The most startling information revealed by the Home Secretary was in answer to Mr Alex Carlile, the Liberal home affairs spokesman, when he agreed that of the rooms on the first floor which had been searched before the conference, his own had been omitted. Mr Brittan is one of the most closely guarded ministers in the Government.

Although he said the police were not to be criticised for not discovering the bomb, many MPs last night were expressing surprise at the failure to search the hotel adequately. Mr Brittan said the failure was because of the absence of a ‘clear allocation of responsibility within the Sussex police.’

He then announced the establishment of a permanent working group to co-ordinate police activities with the Home Office and including representatives from M15 and the army. Mr Brittan said that central arrangements for assessing terrorist intentions set up after the bombing had already proved of value.

The essence of Mr Hoddinott’s report as revealed by the Home Secretary, was the need for better co-ordination between the Metropolitan Police special branch, other security authorities and local police forces, which would continue to carry much of the responsibility for specific counter measures against terrorist attacks.

However, he made no secret of the Government’s view that there was a limit to the security arrangements which were acceptable in a democratic society.

He said of Mr Hoddinott’s report: ‘He did not criticise the police for failing to control and search each person enter ing the hotel during the period of the conference. He concluded that the hotel and those wishing to use it would not have accepted such an arrangement and that, given the assumption of free access to the hotel, the numbers involved would, anyway, have made it impracticable.’


The Guardian, January 24th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Thinking hard among the Grand debris / Security and terrorism’

When a shattering outrage like the Brighton hotel bombing takes place, the instinctive reflex is to demand a sweeping and ferocious response. Last October, this instinct produced two reactions. The first was to find a scapegoat. The second was a demand for wholesale tightening of preventive security in order to stop the unthinkable from happening again. Initial responses of this kind are understandable and natural. But they are psychologically complex. Retribution and guilt sit cheek by jowl with rational effectiveness. And such instincts have almost always proved an unreliable basis for long term policy and law-making.

A decade ago, within days of the Birmingham pub bombings, the Wilson government pushed a temporary Prevention of Terrorism Act through Parliament. That law remains not without its occasional legitimate uses, but also providing a large and convenient fig-leaf for some highly dubious police trawling within the Irish community. It was not a healthy precedent and, as the Grand Hotel bomb showed, it has not prevented the determined terrorist. No subsequent government has publicly accepted this argument. But, to judge by the tone of his remarks in the House of Commons this week, this lesson has been well learned by the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan. On Tuesday, in his statement to the house on the Brighton bomb and on the findings of the inquiry by Mr John Hoddinott, deputy chief constable of Hampshire, Mr Brittan offered no legislative panaceas. Indeed, in unlikely agreement with the urgings of Mr Tony Benn, Mr Brittan went out of his way to state that the balance between security and the exercise of civil liberties should not be lightly altered. ‘Nothing that I have said,’ the Home Secretary emphasised, ‘indicates the slightest readiness to slide over civil liberties.’ Words to remember.

Having said which, there are some very unsatisfactory and unresolved aspects of the Home Secretary’s report. One has to be a mite cautious about making these criticisms, since the text of the Hoddinott report has been kept secret. Mr Brittan only gave MPs the gist of the findings. He has even refused to reveal the full report in private, on ‘privy councillor’ terms, to Opposition front benchers. This suggests an element of bluff in Mr Brittan’s relatively low profile public response. Nevertheless, the Grand Hotel bomb came close to obliterating the Cabinet. Judged against the magnitude of that act, the Hoddinott report exposes two exceptionally serious areas of failure. The first is in the police’s physical preparations. Mr Hoddinott has given his Sussex colleagues a pretty easy ride. Their plans were ‘proper and reasonable.’ They carried them out ‘competently and professionally.’ This is a lot to swallow. The fact is that the Brighton conference area (which included the Grand Hotel) was cordoned off for the week of the Conservative conference. Nevertheless it was pretty easy to get through the barrier and, once through it, access to the Grand was straightforward, at all hours. Searches of the hotel were clearly inadequate, judged not merely by the fact that the bomb went off, but by the admission that not all rooms were searched and by the ease with which it was possible to move around the hotel.

The second big question is whether the police really understood enough about the threat which they faced. Mr Hoddinott says that they had access to the relevant intelligence. Perhaps so. But did they know how to draw lessons from it? Clearly not. Information is one thing, and the Special Branch has plenty of that. Knowledge based on that information is quite another matter. And there is plenty of accumulated evidence that the Special Branch and MI5 do not know how to make sound deductions from the mass of information at their disposal. The Special Branch gets off particularly lightly from what Mr Brittan told the Commons on Tuesday and that may well be because he wishes to protect them from criticism while they are under investigation by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Nevertheless, Mr Brittan is setting up a new improved counter-terrorist liaison group to advise on future threats. Liaison is naturally, blandly welcome. But no amount of liaison is a substitute for improved and better focused methods of intelligence interpretation.


The Guardian, January 29th, 1985
James Naughtie, ‘Brittan guidelines ‘give special branch carte blanche’ – Labour / Home Office guidelines for the special branch’

Mr Leon Brittan the Home Secretary, was accused yesterday of writing ‘a spies’ charter’ for special branches throughout Britain in the Home Office guidelines on their activities.

Mr John Prescott, Labour’s employment spokesman, said Mr Brittan’s interpretation of the guidelines in a letter to him yesterday revealed the freedom given to special branch officers as ‘carte blanche.’

Mr Brittan is due tomorrow to appear before the Commons select committee on home affairs, which is considering the role ofspecial branch officers.

In his letter to Mr Prescott, Mr Brittan said that the special branch must not be prevented from ‘looking into the activities of those whose real aim is to harm our democracy, but who for tactical or other reasons, choose to keep (either in the long or the short term) within the letter of the law in what they do.’

He denied that this definition allowed special branch officers to make political judgments about alleged subversive elements in industry or other aspects of national life. He emphasised that the functions of the special branch in relation to public order were quite different from its functions in relation to subversion.

Special branch officers should only concern themselves in industrial matters to the extent necessary to maintain law and order and protect the state against subversion. Special branches were not interested in trade unionists as such.

Mr Prescott reacted angrily to the letter, claiming that it showed the wide discretion given to the special branches attached to each police force in deciding what constituted subversion or a threat to law and order. ‘They can do more or less whatever they like under the guidelines.’

He argued that, for example, special branch officers could photograph miners under suspicion that they might travel to a picket line, although chief constables now admitted that the tactic in the pits dispute of stopping cars of pickets on motorways well away from picket lines had sometimes been unwise.

Mr Brittan said in his letter: ‘Picketing would be of no interest to special branches if it were always conducted peacefully and within the law. But where picketing may pose a threat to public order it is entirely right that a chief officer should have access to any relevant information that his special branch can provide to help him determine an appropriate level of policing.’

The right of an individual to cooperate with a special branch officer in providing information or to refrain from answering questions were the same as in any other case where the police sought the assistance of a member of the public.

Mr Prescott said that many individuals approached by the special branch as potential informants felt it more difficult to refuse than they would in more normal circumstances, and that greater safeguards were therefore needed.


The Guardian, January 30th, 1985
David Pallister, ‘Hit-squad suspects deported to Syria / Four men deported from Britain’

Four men with Syrian passports who were arrested in a London hotel on Sunday by Special Branch officers on suspicion of being an anti-PLO hit squad were deported to Damascus yesterday.

Their removal from Britain was personally authorised by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, under the Immigration Act, as people ‘not conducive to the public good.’

It is believed that they were travelling on diplomatic passports without being accredited to the Syrian embassy in London.

The police feared that one of their targets may have been the PLO representative in London, Mr Faisal Aweida. He left last week for a trip to Tunis, the headquarters of the mainstream Fatah PLO organisation.

The police moved in on the men at the Cumberland Hotel. Five were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but one was later released.

It is not known whether the police had any evidence with which to charge the men with offences in Britain. Even if they had, the Home Office considers that deportation, before a substantive offence is committed, is preferable to a politically explosive trial.

With Syria backing the dissident faction of the PLO, all Syrian nationals arriving in Britain are liable to Special Branch surveillance.


The Guardian, January 31st, 1985
Stephen Cook, ‘Brittan defines Special Branch targets / Home Secretary speaks at Commons investigation committee into the Special Branch’

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, last night offered political activists and other campaigners a do-it-yourself method of working out whether thespecial branch might have marked them down as subversives and put them under surveillance.

Such people should ask themselves two questions, he told the Commons home affairs committee inquiry into the special branch. Did they intend to harm the safety or well-being of the state, and did they intend to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy?

The answer to both questions had to be yes if they were to fall within the official definition of subversion and become legitimate targets of the special branch, Mr Brittan said. If the answer to only one question was yes, the person should not be a target.

It was not necessary for someone to have committed or be contemplating a criminal offence to be classed as a subversive, Mr Brittan said. It would be wrong to prevent the special branch investigating people whose real motives, under a cloak of respectability, were to harm our democracy.

He denied that this meant that anyone could be classed as a subversive at will by the special branch, and refused to elucidate how judgments about people’s motives might be made. But he agreed with committee members that special branch officers had a different difficult and sensitive task, and might sometimes make mistakes.

Mr Brittan said that he was broadly happy with the current double-headed definition of subversion, first drawn up by the Labour government in 1975. However, he would be glad to consider any new definition which the committee might come up with in their inquiry, which has now finished taking oral evidence.

The Home Secretary said that the present Government had been more liberal on special branch matters than any predecessor, and had tightened and published the guidelines under which it worked. Rules on record keeping, in particular, had been made more rigorous.

He argued that there was less public disquiet about the special branch than was sometimes claimed.

‘Hundreds of innocent people have been saved from the bomb because of special branch information.’

He encouraged chief constables to week unnecessary information from their special branch files, and urged them to publish as much as possible aboutspecial branch work.

Mr Brittan rejected the suggestion of Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall, that there must be hundreds of thousands of people like Mrs Madeleine Haigh of Sutton Coldfield, who was apparently considered by some special branch officers to be a security risk.

Mrs Haigh, who was visited by special branch after writing to a paper opposing cruise missiles, was being repeatedly cited to fill a gap in evidence, Mr Briitan said. A mistake had been made and admitted in her case.


The Guardian, February 1st, 1985
Paul Brown, ‘MPs bar seamen / Parliamentary select commitee not to hear evidence’

Mr Jim Slater, general secretary of the National Union of Seamen, who wanted to give evidence to a Commons select committee of alleged Special Branch infiltration of his union issued an angry statement yesterday when he was told that it would not be allowed.

The home affairs select committee decided that it would take no more witnesses after hearing Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary on Wednesday. Mr Slater said that the committee had heard evidence from the minister and chief constables.

A spokesman for the committee said that if Mr Slater would submit written evidence it would be circulated.


The Guardian, February 21st, 1985
David Hearst, ‘Kent, Scargill and Gostin ‘targets of MI5′ / Telephone tapping of dissident group alleged’

Allegations that leaders of the CND and the National Council for Civil Liberties had been subjected to surveillance were made by Cathy Massiter, a former MI5 intelligence officer, in a Channel 4 documentary banned from the screen last night.

Another former officer claimed that senior trade unionists had their phones tapped regularly.

Ms Massiter gave the names of leaders who, she said, were scrutinised by M15 in the 20/20 Vision programme, MI5’s Official Secrets. which the IBA ordered should not be shown.

The list included Mgr Bruce Kent, general secretary of CND, Barbara Egglestone, national organiser of Christian CND, Larry Gostin, general secretary of the NCCL, as well as former general secretary Patricia Hewitt, who is now an adviser to Mr Neil Kinnock and the NCCL’s former legal officer Harriet Harman, now a Labour MP.

In 1981, Ms Massiter, who had been recruited from a university library 11 years earlier, said she was put in charge of the surveillance of CND, even though the organisation was taken off the MI5’s list of subversive organisations

Ms Massiter said in the Channel 4 programme: ‘It was perceived as more than ever necessary that we had to be able to answer very precisely whatever questions we were asked about CND and its subversive penetration, which meant that our study had to be perhaps rather closer than it certainly would have been otherwise.’

To do this MI5 got one of its agents, Mr Harry Newton, a respected lecturer in trade union law and life-long activist in left wing political groups, to join CND in 1982. Newton, who died last year, had been the treasurer of the Institute for Workers’ Control, a left wing think tank supported by prominent trade union officials like Jack Jones and Alex Kitson and had been recruited by MI5 in the 1950s.

Newton filed regular reports about the workings and activities of CND headquarters. Ms Massiter said: ‘He (Newton), had a strong opinion that Kent might be a crypto-communist. I personally saw no justification for this whatsoever, but that certainly was the view that he expressed.’

She said that Newton’s reports were entered on MI5 files and the view that CND was controlled by extreme left-wing activists was passed on to Mr Michael Heseltine, the Defence Secretary, even though she found no evidence to support this view.

Confronted by the revelation that Mr Newton was an MI5 agent, and that he told M15 that Kent was a ‘crypto-communist,’ Mgr Kent said: ‘Well they have overpaid him in that case. I am not a crypto-communist. I don’t know what crypto means, I’m not a communist.’

Cathy Massiter also alleged that material gathered by MI5 was passed on to a counter propaganda unit set up by Mr Heseltine in March 1983 to combat the CND’s unilateralist line. The unit is known as DS19.

Instructed by her superior Ms Massiter passed on nonclassified information on any extreme left-wing affiliations of CND leaders. The passing of information from MI5, a security organtsation, to DSI9, a political body may be seen as a direct breach of MI5’s own code of conduct, known as the Maxwell Fyfe directive.

It states that it is essential that ‘the Security Service should be kept absolutely free from any political bias ‘or influence.’ Cathy Massiter said: ‘It did begin to seem to me that what the Security Service was being asked to do was to provide information on a party political issue.’

Shortly after DS19 received MI5’s report, Cathy Massiter was told that the MI5 would ‘consider favourably’ an application to tap the phone of a communist target in CND.

Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary had said that the ‘lawful campaigning’ to change the mind of government about nuclear disarmament was an entirely legitimate activity, which did not fall within the criteria of the 1980 white paper on the role of the security forces. But in spite of these assurances, the programme said, Mr Brittan, authorised MI5 to tap the home telephone of a leading CND official in August 1983, two months after the general election.

The target chosen was John Cox, vice-president of CND and a number of the Communist Party. From him, MI5 obtained information about Bruce Kent, Joan Ruddock on ‘a wide range of topics that were concerning CND at the time.’ Cathy Massiter questioned whether John Cox posed a subversive threat to the state.

In 1963 Lord Denning wrote: ‘The Security Services are to be used for one purpose only, the defence of the realm.’ The Channel 4 programme also interviewed another former agent of MI5. whose identity in a closed guarded secret, who confirmed that senior trade unionists had their phone tapped regularly.

The agent said: ‘Mick McGahey, a prominent communist and mineworker’s leader and a member of the Scottish TUC was subjected to extensive surveillance, including the tapping of his home telephone. This gave rise to an office joke about the girls who had to listen to Mrs McGahey’s interminable telephone conversations with friends and relations, but we were able to get information from her chatting about his movements which he himself was careful to conceal.’

The MI5 bugged Arthur Scargill’s phone during the seventies. The agent said: ‘Scargill himself would occasionally shout abuse into the phone at the people who were tapping him.’ Asked whether Scargill’s phone was being tapped now, during the miners’ strike, Cathy Massiter said: ‘I would think it very likely, highly likely, in view of his particular history and his known political views.’

The programme also alleged that MI5 tapped prominent members of the Fire Brigades Union during the firemen’s strike, and a Ford union telephone during key pay negotiations. The purpose of these telephone taps was to find out what the union leader’s ‘bottom line’ was in the pay talks.

Another man, Mr Ronnie White, interviewed on the programme, claimed that he had been used by the Special Branch to infiltrate the National Front. As an SB agent he said he broke into the homes of selected targets and beat up blacks to establish his bone fides with the National Front.



The Guardian, February 22nd, 1985
James Naughtie and David Hearst, ‘DPP studies film report on MI5 / Director of Public Proscecutions Hetherington to view TV documentary on surveillance targets’

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Thomas Hetherington, yesterday launched an investigation into the Channel 4 documentary on the surveillance targets of M15, which the IBA banned because it feared prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

The DDP has asked to see the film, but said that any further action would depend on its contents. A spokesman for the DPP said the inquiry was prorapted by an IBA statement, expressing fear that screening the film would be a criminal offence.

The Government stonewalled attempts by Opposition MPs to hold an emergency debate on the programme’s allegations, and refused to answer allegations that senior ministers had misused the security services for their own party political purposes.

Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, refused to discuss individual telephone taps, which it was alleged had been placed on Mr Arthur Scargill and Mr Mick McGahey, president and vice-president of the NUM, or claims that leading peace campaigners like Mgr Bruce Kent, general secretary of CND, had been been targets of M15 surveillance.

In a letter to Mr Steve Norris, Conservative MP for Oxford, Mr Brittan said it was still policy – as it had been under previous Governments – neither to confirm nor deny whether interception had taken place in any particular case.

He stressed that any telephone tap approved by ministers had to satisfy two demands – that the subject was engaging in activity threatening the safety or well being of the state and at the same time was seeking to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.

However, he stopped short of repeating the statement he made to the parliamentary select committee on home affairs which was investigating thespecial branch. At a hearing on January 30, asked whether the CND fell within the category of a subversive organisation, he said: ‘No, CND does not attempt to undermine parliamentary democracy.’

In his letter, Mr Brittan said he was ‘fully satisfied’ that the security service was ‘absolutely free from any political bias or influence,’ but gave no reasons to support his view.

His remarks came as Opposition MPs reacted furiously to claims made in the Channel 4 documentary. Ms Harriet Harman, Labour MP for Peckham, who was named as the subject of an M15 surveillance, wrote to the Prime Minister demanding to see her MI5 file, asking what form the surveillance had taken, and who had access to her file.

She said: ‘It is very sinister if I have been subject to surveillance because I have argued for civil liberties. As a Member of Parliament I demand to see my file.’

Mr Larry Gostin, general secretary of the NCCL, whose offices had also been the subject of surveillance, it is alleged, wrote to Mr Brittan demanding to see his file, and asking for a full judicial inquiry into the security services.

Labour MPs challenged the Government to respond to the allegations made in the film but the indications last night were that there will be no change in Ministers’ traditional refusal to discuss the operation of MI5.

Instead, Mr Brittan pointed to the forthcoming bill on the interception of telecommunications and mail, and said proposed independent tribunal to study complaints would guarantee full investigation to anyone who believed there had been improper interception.

Relatives and friends of the late Mr Harry Newton, said by the programme to have infiltrated CND, were shocked and saddened by the allegations. In a statement they said: ‘Those who have indulged in this should now produce proper evidence, or withdraw their allegations and apologise for the distress they have caused.’


The Guardian, February 22nd, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Who polices the secret policemen? / MI5 and Special Branch political surveillance’

As the official denials grow ever more emphatic, so the evidence about MI5 and Special Branch political surveillance gets furiouser and curiouser. Time after time during the last ten years, Home Secretaries, junior ministers and sometimes even Prime Ministers have delivered weighty but essentially obscure statements to Parliament. ‘Difficult area. As frank as I can. Cannot go into detail. Dedicated public servants doing a vital job. No evidence of abuse. Minsters in complete control.’ And then, deep in the forest, a whistle blows. Sometimes a strangled cheep-cheep. Occasionally a stentorian reveille. And, once again, the dog-eared old brief is dusted off and is thrust into the hands of yet another minister of unimpeachable integrity. ‘Difficult area. As frank as I can ..’

There comes a time when the old platitudes won’t work any more. It is early days yet, but it looks as though that point has been reached with the as yet unbroadcast revelations of two former MI5 operatives about political targetting under this Government. The evidence of Ms Cathy Massiter and her unnamed former colleague is potentially the most important blow ever delivered to the credibility of the internal activities of the British national security state. As always with such revelations, there is a cynical, worldly-wise voice which says that there’s nothing here that we didn’t know and there’s not a lot that can be done about it anyway. But that won’t quite do, this time. Just look at the allegations of substance in the Channel 4 documentary. First, that trade unions, the peace movement and the National Council for Civil Liberties, all of which are legal, freely supported bodies, are designated subversive and are subjected to routine infiltration and surveillance. Second, that particular individuals in these movements are specifically targeted because they either are Communists, or were once, or might be, or have friends who are, were or might be Communists. Third, that such ground rules as do exist, whether public or secret, about who or what to watch and bug are flouted at the whim of the watchers and buggers. Fourth, that Mr Michael Heseltine knowingly used the security services and the Special Branch to spy on his political adversaries, in this case members of the CND, some of whose members are Tories. Fifth, that the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, somehow misled MPs in an answer about phone tapping of CND members.

Any one of these charges would be serious enough on its own. Added together, though, they are an exceptional indictment of this country’s internal surveillance practices. But they are not exceptional when compared with revelations in two jurisdictions where the policing and parliamentary systems are closely modelled on British methods. In South Australia, in 1977, a judicial investigation of the state Special Branch concluded that it had consistently concealed its activities from the state government. The inquiry found that the Branch’s files were based on ‘the unreasoned assumption that any persons who thought or acted less conservatively than suited the security force were likely to be potential dangers to the security of the state.’ The files were ‘irrelevant to security purposes and outrageously unfair to hundreds, perhaps thousands of loyal and worthy citizens.’ Is that not exactly what Ms Massiter is saying, too? Then also, in Canada in 1981, the McDonald Royal Commission on the internal security activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found a similar situation. ‘The perception of threats to security and the concept of subversion were gradually extended to encompass a wide spectrum of groups associated with radical dissent, political, social service surveillance was not directed by any explicit government policy or guidelines. Nor was there explicit authorisation for a number of the investigative and countering activities developed over the years by the RCMP.’

In South Australia and Canada, the revelations destroyed the security services. New machinery was created, strictly limited to combatting genuine threats to the state, accountable to parliament. But it took major judicial inquiries to achieve it. What has Britain got to offer? A heavily circumscribed select committee inquiry into the Special Branch is now nearing completion. It hasn’t been allowed to look at the files and its recommendations will have no effective force. MI5, by contrast, does not even exist officially. Nothing is revealed about its structure, aims and methods save by a few dogged journalists and, as now, by the all too rare whistle blower. Additionally, there is now a Government bill to legalise telephone tapping. The bill, which creates and confines as many problems as it solves, comes up for second reading shortly. The Channel 4 programme’s allegations raise fresh doubts about the bill, because they imply that either the Home Secretary is misleading parliament about the true uses of communication interception, or else that he is himself being misled by the agencies which the bill purports to regulate. Either way, the bill will need drastic revision. And beyond that, there is now a compelling need for a full public inquiry, along royal commission lines, into internal national security surveillance by both the Special Branch and MI5.


The Guardian, February 23rd, 1985
James Naughtie and David Hearst, ‘Brittan challenged on phone-taps / Government urged to allow investigation into improper tapping by MI5’

The Government was challenged last night to allow a committee of senior Privy Councillors to investigate allegations of improper telephone tapping by the security service. MI5.

Mr John Cartwright, SDP MP for Woolwich, wrote to the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, expressing dissatisfaction with ministerial assurances about the extent of phone tapping.

He said Mr Brittan should make an early statement to the Commons on the allegations made by former M15 officers in the documentary made for Channel 4’s 20-20 Vision programme, but not shown because of an Independent Broadcasting Authority ban.

Mr Cartwright said there should also be an investigation by Privy Councillors into the allegations that organisations and individuals were put under surveillance though they were no threat to national security.

The Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers, was also pressed last night to give an assurance that Miss Cathy Massiter, the former M15 intelligence officer whose allegations formed the heart of the television documentary, would not be prosecuted under Section 2 of the Officials Secrets Act.

Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North and a member of the select committee on home affairs which has investigated the Special Branch, said he would ask the Attorney-General about the likelihood of a prosecution, which could be used to muzzle debate in the Commons.

A senior legal official of the Director of Public Prosecutions viewed the film yesterday. A spokesman said that investigations were continuing.

The film’s producers said they were considering hiring a public theatre in London, so that the film could be shown to the public. Claudia Milne, co-producer of the documentary, said they intended to go on tour around Britain showing the film in big towns.

In his letter, Mr Cartwright was responding to a letter from Mr Brittan in which the Home Secretary reiterated the ground rules for telephone tapping by MI5 and repeated that he was fully satisfied that the security service was ‘absolutely free from political bias and influence.’

Mr Brittan stuck firmly to the Government’s refusal to confirm or deny whether any interception had taken place in a particular case. But he made a clear distinction between the surveillance of individuals and organisations in response to the allegations that trade unions and CND had been subject to surveillance.

‘I have made clear on a number of occasions that peaceful political campaigning to change the mind of the Government or people generally about political issues cannot constitute subversion.

‘This is particularly relevant because a number of the allegations have been in connection with CND. Similar considerations apply in relation to trade unions and their members,’ he said.

No individual need fear surveillance unless his or her options or intentions brought him within the strict criteria set out in the guidelines – a threat to the safety of the state, and an intention to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy.

Mr Cartwright said such a reassurances were not adequate in the light of the detailed allegations made in the programme, which has been seen by MPs. ‘Had I never seen the programme I might have been prepared to accept the Home Secretary’s assurances,’ Mr Cartwright said.

‘The evidence of the programme is that reassurances about the past activities of the security service had not been adequate. I cannot see why such reassurances should be blindly accepted for the future.’

Either guidelines had been broken without ministerial knowledge, or MI5 had been used for political purposes.

Mr Brittan said in his letter that he was anxious to assure MPs that telephone tapping was designed to deal with genuine threats to the state or from the actions of those people or organisations ‘which may be judged subversive to the state.’

Ministers will be questioned further about the programme next week. Many Opposition MPs are determined to try to force the Government to be more specific in its assurances, though there is determination in Whitehall to resist such invitations.

The traditional refusal to discuss in detail the operations of any of the security or intelligence agencies appears as strong as ever.

However, an opportunity for detailed discussion of the issues raised by the programme will come in the debate on the bill to regulate the interception of communications which is likely to have its second reading the week after next.

The committee stage of the bill, in particular, will give MPs a chance to discuss in detail the guidelines under which interception is authorised by ministers. The Government is proposing a tribunal to handle complaints about unauthorised interception.

According to the white paper on the interception of communications in the UK published earlier this month, 235 warrants for telephone interceptions authorised by the Home Secretary or the Scottish Secretary were in force at the end of last year.

A further 98 warrants signed by the Foreign Secretary were still in operation. During the year, 538 warrants had been signed, the white paper said.


The Guardian, February 26th, 1985
Ian Aitken, ‘Ministers avoid MI5 trial / Case of Cathy Massiter who gave information to Channel 4 TV on phone tapping’

The Government is unlikely to invoke the notorious section two of the Official Secrets Act against Miss Cathy Massiter, the former M15 intelligence officer who has alleged breaches of surveillance guidelines by the security services.

The signs last night were that law officers are not inclined to prosecute Miss Massiter for her disclosures in a banned Channel 4 programme about telephone tapping by M15 and the Special Branch. They are regarded as a breach of her undertakings as a government employee but her superior officers treated her reservations about her surveillance duties as a matter for a psychiatrist rather than a disciplinary officer.

Yet another prosecution under section two of the act, following so closely on the collapse of the prosecution of Mr Clive Ponting in the Belgrano case, would open the Government to further charges of heavy handedness in protecting state security.

Efforts to have the matter debated in the Commons; or to persuade ministers to answer Commons questions on the subject, were stonewalled at Westminster yesterday.

The Speaker rejected an Opposition application for an emergency debate on allegations in the programme, which was banned on security grounds by the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, declined to respond to demands for a ministerial statement on the allegations or to agree to answer a private notice question on the subject.

It was clear in Whitehall yesterday that the Government intends to dismiss the row as a matter of interest only to limited groups like readers of the Guardian and Observer newspapers. It was insisted last night that the Prime Minister knew nothing about the controversy. since she had been visiting Washington at the time of the ban.

However, further efforts were being made at Westminster last night to ensure that as many MPs as possible are made aware of the allegations by two former M15 officers about the extent of surveillance of radical and leftwing organisations.

The film, which was to have been screened on the 20-20 Vision programme, will be shown for a third time in a Commons committee room today.

The Opposition demand for an emergency debate on the allegations was put to the Speaker yesterday by Mr Gerald Kaufman, the shadow home secretary. He described the claims as ‘of the utmost importance for freedom in a democratic society’ and condemned the IBA’s ban as ‘craven and sycophantic.’

Mr Kaufman said that everyone who was alarmed at the prospects of a big brother state wanted the allegations cleared up.

The Speaker rejected the application for a debate, arguing that it did not fall within the terms for emergency discussion laid down in Commons standing orders. He said that there would be a further opportunity to debate the matter when the Government’s bill to control telephone tapping was considered again.

David Hearst adds: The producers of the Channel 4 programme yesterday asked the IBA to reconsider the ban and give the reasons for it.

The IBA said last week that it had been advised by counsel that it would be committing a criminal offence under the Official Secrets Act if the programme were broadcast.

The producers of the programme, Ms Claudia Milne and Mr Geoffrey Seed, said last week that according to the legal advice Channel 4 had received the programme could be broadcast.


The Guardian, March 1st, 1985
‘Agenda: The spymasters who broke their own rules / Excerpts from banned TV documentary on the MI5 and Special Branch’

Although the two former MI5 employees, both women, are covered by the Official Secrets Act, they have decided, in the public interest, to talk about their work.

They don’t know each other. But during their service, they each became alarmed at the extent of MI5’s clandestine operations in Britain, spying on political parties, trade unionists and pressure groups like CND whose views are dissenting but not illegal.

One of the women was an MI5 clerk. She wants to remain anonymous but has sworn a long, detailed statement, revealing how MI5 targets certain trade union leaders and taps their telephones. She said:

‘I think it is totally unjust and immoral to direct these surveillance techniques and operations against decent and law abiding trade unionists and members of legitimate political parties and organisations like CND.’

The second woman, Cathy Massiter, was an intelligence officer who actually ran MI5’s investigation into CND. She’s left MI5 a year ago. She’s taken the unprecedented step of speaking publicly because of her worries about MI5’s secret operations against CND. She said:

‘We are violating our own rules. It seemed to be getting out of control. This was happening not because CND as such justified this kind of treatment but simply because of Political pressure; the heat was there for information about CND and we had to have it.’

In 1970, Cathy Massiter was a dissatisfied librarian. She went back to her university appointments board, seeking a new career. She explained:

‘They were aware of a job going with M o. D which they understood was to do with processing information. They knew very Little about it they couldn’t give me any details.

‘I got a letter from B branch, the personnel branch of MI5. not of course identifying themselves as such but saying could I come for an interview. Suddenly, I found myself a member of the staff of MI5.’

Most of MI5’s work isn’t glamorous – it’s painstaking and tedious. Cathy Massiter spent many years in F branch, which, among other things, studies left wing subversives in industry.

Much information about trade unionists is supplied by Special Branch officers, the policemen who work most closely with M15. Britain’s 1500 Special Branch officers investigate terrorism, espionage, sabotage and subversion. New Home Office guidelines published last December state: Subversive activities are those which threaten the safety or well being of the State and which are intended to undermine or overthrow Parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.

The programme dealt with two cases of Special Branch infiltration of legal organisations. One was by a man named White, recruited by the Special Branch after he became a member of the National Front. On the programme White admitted taking part ‘in beatings and burglary to protect his cover within the NF.

The other was described by a man named Mackie, a Manchester councillor, who explained that someone he knew infiltrated Friends of the Earth for theSpecial Branch. Councillor Mackie’s contact confirmed that he did work for Manchester Special Branch but refused to be interviewed about why he was monitoring FoE and also the National Council for Civil Liberties.

The Home Office guidelines go on: Data on individuals or organisations should not under any circumstances be collected or held solely on the basis that (such) a person or organisation supports unpopular causes.

They don’t say ‘unpopular’ with whom. However, NCCL was certainly unpopular with M15. During the mid 1970s, under a Labour government, an assistant director at M15 personally had NCCL targeted as a subversive organisation.

Cathy Massiter explained: ‘Anyone who was on the National Executive of NCCL, who worked for NCCL, or who was an active member to the degree of being, say, a branch secretary of NCCL, would be placed on permanent record and the routine enquiries would be instituted to identify such people and police inquiries were sought.’

Q What would you ask the police to do?

A’The police were actually sort of asked to identify branch secretaries in their area and report on the activities of the NCCL.’

Q Did the police or Special Branch have agents, as such, inside NCCL?

Cathy Massiter remembers some of the many NCCL officials that MI5 recorded:

‘People Like Patricia Hewitt (presently an adviser to Neil Kinnock) who used to be its general secretary. Harriet Harmom (Labour MP) who used to be its legal officer. They would be put on record as communist sympathisers. Hewitt because of her close association, with somebody who was at the time a member of the Communist Party, a close personal association.’

Q But she’s now in close political association with the leader of the Labour Party.

A’That’s right.’

Q But she’s done nothing wrong, nothing illegal with her political activity.

A’No, no.’

Q Yet MI5 has a file on her.


Q Do you think that’s right?

A’No, I don’t.’

Q But MI5 clearly do.


Q But how did it happen that an assistant director at MI5 was personally able to have NCCL targetted in this way?

A’What seems to have been the deciding factor was his own view that NCCL’s attacks on certain institutions such as the police um were deliberate attempts to undermine these institutions.’

Tapping telephones and infiltrating trade unions is carried out by MI5’s ‘F’ branch, now considerably expanded since the early 1970s. In her statement, the other former M15 employee, a clerk, says they tapped the phone of Duncan Campbell, a prominent writer on the defence and intelligence matters. They wanted to trace his sources. Left wing trade unionists were tapped too.

During the 1977 firemen’s strike, officials of the Fire Brigades’ Union were convinced that telephones at their strike headquarters in Leeds were tapped.

Soon after the firemen’s strike ended in 1978, the MI5 witness joined the Security Service as a clerk and began attending training sessions. She said:

‘A woman Lecturer told us, rather boastfully, that MI5 had long-term moles inside certain trade unions so deep that even their own families didn’t know their true purpose.

Cathy Massiter did not know the clerk but she began her Security Service career on the industrial desk in 1970. She confirms that MI5 does have moles inside trade unions:

In her sworn statement, the former M15 clerk reveals the names of some left-wing trade unionists targetted by the security service for telephone taps and even a break-in.

Margaret Witham of the Civil and Public Services Association:

Mick Duggan of the same union:

Derek Robinson, then a British Leyland shop steward:

Mick Costello, a Morning Star journalist and a Communist Party official:

Bill Dunn ‘and Gerry Cohen, two other Communist Party officials: and John Deason of the Socialist Workers Party.

Cathy Massiter was also aware of phone taps on trade unionists deemed subversive by MI5.

‘Whenever a major dispute come up, er, something at Fords or the mines, or Post Office, there was a big Post Office strike while I was there, immediately it would become a major area for investigation: what were the communists doing in respect of this particular industrial action and usually, an application for a telephone check would be taken out on the leading comrade in the particular union concerned.’

But according to the former MI5 clerk, certain telephones were tapped in the late 1970s, irrespective of any industrial dispute. She said:

‘Mick McGahey, a prominent communist and mineworkers’ leader and a member of the Scottish TUC, was subjected to extensive surveillance, ‘including the tapping of his home telephone.’

She learned that MI5 bugged McGahey’s London hotel and a cafe where he met other trade unionists. Arthur Scargill’s phone was tapped too during the late seventies: ‘Scargill himself would occasionally shout abuse into the phone at the people who were tapping him.’

Was it likely that Arthur Scargill’s phone would have been tapped during the latest miners’ strike? Cathy Massiter:

‘I would think it very likely, highly likely, in view of his particular history and his known political views.’

In late 1978, the Labour government was fighting for its life. Its ability to contain the unions and enforce its pay policy turned crucially on what happened to pay negotiations at the Ford Motor Company.

Syd Harraway, a communist, was then key shop stewards convener at Ford’s car plant in Dagenham. His phone was permanently tapped and the MI5 clerk transcribed his calls:

‘This seemed to be economic information from within a legally constituted trade union organisation which the Security Service and the government had no right to know.’

We asked Cathy Massiter to speculate on why such economic information might have been sought.

‘Well, I can only assume that it was requested because the Department of Employment was seeking in some form, this information. It surprises me in a way it was dome so blatantly.’

The only published document governing MI5’s conduct is called the Maxwell Fyfe Directive, named after the Home Secretary who issued it in 1952. It says:

‘No inquiry is to be carried out on behalf of any government department unless you are satisfied that an important public interest, bearing on the defence of the Realm .. is at stake.’

We asked Cathy Massiter if it would be legitimate for MI5 to pass on information about union pay negotiations, obtained via a phone tap, to a government department:

‘I would say not and it highlights very clearly, this extreme ambivalence between what the security service is there to do, what it perceives itself as being there to do, to study subversion, and what actually happens in practice which is in effect to broaden the study quite a long way beyond those basic guidelines.’

In her sworn statement, the former MI5 clerk says she was told that MI5 broke into the home of Ken Gill, a communist, general secretary of TASS, the white collar section of the engineering union, and a member of the TUC,s general council. His home telephone was tapped but he got even closer scrutiny during the 1970s when TASS, the draughtsmens’ union, planned to merge with the engineers, she said:

‘His home had been broken into and a bug placed inside a room to monitor talks between Mr Gill and other trade unionists prior to or during the merger. ‘I found This a sinister intrusion into a person’s civil rights and privacy.’

Ken Gill has confirmed to us that important meetings regarding the unions merger were held in his home during this period.

In 1981, Cathy Massiter was chosen to take over MI5’s investigation of leftwing subversive influence within CND. She felt such limited study of CND was legitimate. But she says increasing political pressure meant she ended up studying the organisation as a whole, and led to the Security Service breaking its own rules:

‘You couldn’t just concentrate on the subversive elements of CND, you had to be able to answer questions on the non subversive elements and the whole thing sort of began to sort of flow out into a very grey area.’

Q This is the dilemma presumably of not knowing someone as a subversive until you monitor him?

A’Yes there is some truth in that, but in that case you know they’re going to be monitoring all of us, aren’t they?’

Her first job was to read MI5’s files on CND. In the mid sixties, CND had been classified as a subversive organisation active members were recorded as communist sympathers and went into MI5’s records. MI5 has two thick files on Bruce Kent, CND’s general secretary. And Barbara Egglestone, national organiser of Christian CND, is on file, too.

Q She’s neither a communist nor a communist sympathiser. And yet MI5 has a file on her? Does that disturb you or anything?

A Very much, yes.’

People like Barbara Egglestone were filed as Communist sympathisers when CND was treated as a subversive organisation. But by the time Cathy Massiter began her study in 1981, CND itself was no longer on the subversive list.

According to the rules, that should have meant that active investigation stopped, and that membership of the organisation was no longer enough to make someone a subversive. MI5’s interest in CND should have been limited to studying the influence of Communists and Trotskysts within it. But the practice was different from the theory.

Cathy Massiter believed this was because of increasing political pressure.

By 1981, the peace movement had become a mass movement, mounting the biggest demonstration ever seen in Britain. A year later, MI5’s need for more inside information on CND became urgent.

Cathy Massiter said:

‘I think it was perceived as more than ever necessary that we had to be able to answer very precisely whatever questions we were asked about CND and its subversive penetration which meant that our study had to be perhaps rather closer than it certainly would have been otherwise.

‘One of the means that was used was the introduction of an agent, a chap who had worked for MI5 for many years, 20 or 30 years all together, into CND headquarters.’

The agent was Harry Newton, a 60-year-old lecturer in trade union studies and a life-long activist in left wing political groups. He’d been recruited by MI5 in the 1950s when he was a member of the Communist Party.

He became treasurer of the Institute for Workers’ Control, a left wing think tank supported by prominent trade union officials like Jack Jones and Alex Kitson and MPs such as Tony Benn.

Harry Newton joined CND in 1982 and his first job for MI5 was to attend CND’s annual conference.

Cathy Massiter said:

‘We sort of regarded it as very important to know as soon as possible after the conference who the new people on the national council were so that we could make our usual breakdown of how many subversives were on it and could sort of pass the information along to the interested parties at Whitehall. After that he became involved in CND headquarters.

‘What tended to come across was very general information about what was going on in CND headquarters. It was fairly low level stuff. I mean, he was able to chat to people like Bruce Kent, this sort of thing.

‘Harry was still very caught up in the idea of the international Communist conspiracy and therefore had a bit of a tendency to see the hand of the communists everywhere.

‘I mean, he, he had quite a strong opinion that Kent might be a krypto Communist, um, I personally saw no justification for this whatsoever but that certainly was the view that he expressed.’

Q That’s something that might find its way on to Bruce Kent’s MI5 file?

A’Yes indeed.’

Harry Newton died in 1983. Cathy Massiter says there were other agents inside CND, put there by Special Branch around the country. Such infiltration reflected the State’s concern about the peace movement both ‘in terms of its susceptibility to political manipulation and as a public order issue. That concern was most acute in 1983, election year. In January, Michael Heseltine had taken over as Defence Secretary.

In March, Mr Heseltine set up a special unit called Defence Secretariat or DS19, to combat CND’s unilateralist propaganda.

Cathy Massiter became concerned after a senior official from the counter propaganda unit DSI9 approached her boss at MI5.

Cathy Massiter said:

‘What they appear to have requested was information about the subversive political affiliations of leading members of CND including members of the national council and people working for CND.

‘It seems to have been part of erm what DS19 felt, that they required in order to fulfil the brief that they had been given by the Defence Minister Mr Heseltine and they appeared to feel that MI5 were the best people to supply this information.’

After the approach from DS19, Cathy Massiter was instructed by her superiors to go through MI5’s files, extracting non-classified information on any extreme left wing affiliations of CND’s leaders. She did so, and wrote a report Which was passed on to DS19. But why was she concerned by this episode?

‘It was a very important party political issue.

‘Unilateral nuclear disarmament had been adopted as a policy by the Labour Party, a general election was in the offing and it had been clearly stated that the question of nuclear disarmament was going to be an important issue there. It did begin to seem to me that what the Security Service was being asked to do was to provide information on a party political issue.

Q Do you think that’s a legitimate function of MI5 and someone like you, an intelligence officer?

A’It’s clearly not a legitimate function because it directly contravenes the charter.’

The Maxwell Fyfe directive says that it is essential that ‘ .. the Security Service should be kept absolutely free from any political bias or influence.’

Cathy Massiter said:

‘I did express my concern on this issue and I know other people did so too, who were aware of the work that I was doing. The difficulty is that having expressed one’s view, there is no way of taking it any further. If your view is not accepted you’re simply left with the option of accepting the situation or of course ultimately resigning, if you feel that strongly about it.’

Before a Home Secretary signs a phone tap warrant for MI5 he has to be sure the case involves:

Major subversive, terrorist or espionage activity:

The information gathered must relate directly to the defence of the Realm:

Normal methods of investigation must have been tried and Failed or be unlikely to succeed.

CND’s allegations of phone interference caused a row. In the Commons last December, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Gerald Kaufman, pursued Leon Brittan for answers.

Mr Brittan, like all previous Home Secretaries, wouldn’t confirm or deny that a specific target had been tapped. But he did say this:

‘There is no doubt that lawful campaigning to change the mind of the Government about nuclear disarmament whether unilateral or otherwise is an entirely legitimate activity which does not fall within the strict criteria of the 1980 white paper.’

In fact, Leon Brittan did authorise MI5 to tap the home telephone of a leading CND official in August 1983, two months after the general election.

Cathy Massiter says the possibility of tapping a Communist CND official’s phone was first discussed at MI5 the previous April:

‘We were prepared to go along with the tap before the general election. But it was deferred because of the election as it was felt that it it was too sensitive a matter to go ahead with at the time. In fact, it actually went on, I think, in August 1983.’

Q Why should they feel it was sensitive; if it was important for MI5 to tap someone’s phone, surely it should not be a consideration that the general election’s coming up.

A’Well, it was, as I have said, a very sensitive party political issue in a general election and if it ever did come out that a tap had been on at that time, the motivation for the tap might have been strongly questioned.’

Cathy Massiter did question the need for a tap but she lost the internal argument. So who did she choose?

‘John Cox, the vice-president of CND. He was the obvious candidate. He lived in Wales and therefore there would need to be a fair amount of telephone communication between him and CND headquarters. Cox was already well known as a member of the Communist Party. He’d been involved in CND practically since its inception.

Q So what additional information on John Cox and his activities did MI5 get from their tap?

A’Not a lot really that we didn’t already know, a hit more detail perhaps.’

Q He would be routinely in contact with Bruce Kent, Joan Ruddock and CND?

A’There was quite frequent contact yes.’

Q So to some extent, you had no need to tap their telephones?

A’Not really, no one was getting information about their attitudes on quite a wide range of topics that were concerning CND at the time.

‘I’ve never been a member of CND, I’m not currently a member. I have a lot of sympathy with CND. I don’t know that I fully accept their arguments for total unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom but I do think the issues that they raise are very important.’

Cathy Massiter left MI5 about a year ago. She’s talked publically about those aspects of MI5’s activities against alleged subversives which she feels breached the Maxwell Fyfe directive – not its work against terrorism and espionage which she fully supports. However, she’s still covered by the Official Secrets Act so Why has she spoken out?

‘Because I became very concerned during my years studying CND with this question of the definition of what is the legitimate area of study of the Security Services, particularly in respect of subversion because I think it ought to be more clearly defined.

‘There ought to be clearer guidelines and I think the only way of achieving this is to get a degree of opening up of the Security Service and some kind of Parliamentary accountability in the end, for it.’


Guardian Weekly, March 3rd, 1985
Who polices Britain’s secret policemen?

AS the official denials grow ever more emphatic, so the evidence about M15 and Special Branch political surveillance gets furiouser and curiouser. Time after time during the last ten years, Home Secretaries, junior ministers, and sometimes even Prime Ministers have delivered weighty but essentially obscure statements to Parliament. “Difficult area. As frank as I can. Cannot go into detail. Dedicated public servants doing a vital job. No evidence of abuse. Ministers in complete control.” And then, deep in the forest, a whistle blows. Sometimes a strangled cheep-cheep, occasionally a stentorian reveille. And, once again, the dog-eared old brief is dusted on and is thrust into the hands of yet another minister of unimpeachable integrity. “Difficult area. As frank as I can.”

There comes a time when the old platitudes won’t work any more. It is early days yet, but it looks as though that point has been reached with the as yet unbroadcast revelations of two former M15 operatives about political targetting under this Government. The evidence of Ms Cathy Massiter and her unnamed former colleague is potentially the most important blow ever delivered to the credibility of the internal activities of the British national security state. As always with such revelations, there is a cynical, worldly-wise voice which says that there’s nothing here that we didn’t know and there’s not a lot that can be done about it anyway. But that won’t quite do, this time. Just look at the allegations of substance in the Channel 4 documentary. First, that trade unions, the peace movement and the National Council for Civil Liberties, all of which are legal, freely supported bodies, are designated subversive and are subjected to routine infiltration and surveillance. Second, that particular individuals in these movements are specifically targeted because they either are Communists, or were once, or might be, or have friends who are, were or might be Communists. Third, that such ground rules as do exist, whether public or secret, about who or what to watch and bug are flouted at the whim of the watchers and buggers. Fourth, that Mr Michael Heseltine has knowingly used the security services and the Special Branch to spy on his political adversaries, in this case members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, some of whose members are Tories. Fifth, that the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, somehow misled MPs in an answer about phone tapping of CND members.

Any one of these charges would be serious enough on its own. Added together, though, they are an exceptional indictment of this country’s internal surveillance practices. But they are not exceptional when compared with revelations in two jurisdictions where the policing and parliametary systems are closely modelled on British methods in South Australia, in 1977, a judicial investigation of the state Special Branch concluded that it had consistently concealed its activities from the state government. The inquiry found that the Branch’s files were based on “the unreasoned assumption that any persons who thought or acted less conservatively than suited the security force were likely to be potential dangers to the security of the state”. The files were “irrelevant to security purposes and outrageously unfair to hundreds, perhaps thousands of loyal and worthy citizens”. Is that not exactly what Ms Massiter is saying, too? Then also, in Canada in 1981, the McDonald Royal Commission on the internal security activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found a similar situation. “The perception of threats to security and the concept of subversion were gradually extended to encommpass a wide spectrum of groups associated with radical dissent, political, social and constitutional change and the use of demonstrations and confrontations for political purposes,” it concluded. “Security service surveillance was not directed by any explicit government policy or guidelines. Nor was there explicit authorisation for a number of the investigative and countering activities developed over the years by the RCMP.”

In South Australia and Canada, the revelations destroyed the security services. New machinery was created, strictly limited to combatting genuine threats to the state, accountable to parliament. But it took major judicial inquiries to achieve it. What has Britain got to offer? A heavily circumscribed select committee inquiry into the Special Branch is now nearing completion. It hasn’t been allowed to look at the files and its recommendations will have no effective force. M15, by contrast, does not even exist officially. Nothing is revealed about its structure, aims, and methods save by a few dogged journalists and, as now, by the all too rare whistle-blower. Additionally, there is now a Government bill to legalise telephone tapping. The bill, which creates and confirms as many problems as it solves, comes up for second reading shortly. The Channel 4 programme’s allegations raise fresh doubts about the bill, because they imply that either the Home Secretary is misleading Parliament about the true uses of communication interception, or else that he is himself being misled by the agencies which the bill purports to regulate. Either way, the bill will need drastic revision. And beyond that, there is now a compelling need for a full public inquiry, along royal commission lines, into internal national security surveillance by both the Special Branch and M15.


The Guardian, March 5th, 1985
James Naughtie, ‘Senior Tories press PM on phone-tapping / Pressure to set up Parliamentary committee to investigate security and intelligence services’

Former ministers and senior Conservative backbenchers are putting strong private pressure on the Government to set up a Parliamentary committee to scrutinise the security and intelligence services.

The controversy about telephone tapping and the barrage of allegations of improper conduct by the authorities has convinced influential MPs with experience of security matters that the Prime Minister will have to abandon her opposition to an independent committee with access to information about the operations of MI5. MI6 and the special branch.

It is now clear that even some of Mrs Thatcher’s closest colleagues are joining former senior ministers in arguing that such a step is not only necessary to allay public anxiety, but would work in the interests of those responsible for security.

The allegations of breaches of MI5 guidelines made in the banned documentary produced for Channel 4’s 20/20 Vision programme, are the subject of a report due to be presented to Downing Street today.

Tomorrow, the Commons will debate the second reading of the Interception of Communications Bill.

The bill, which advocates a tribunal to hear complaints of improper telephone tapping of the interception of mail, will provide an opportunity for MPs critical of the existing guidelines to challenge ministers.

The Government has decided to take the committee stage of the bill to the floor of the House instead of to a small commit tee. Such a general discussion will inevitably raise more awk ward questions for ministers, but there is strong pressure for open discussion.

Mrs Thatcher and the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan have refused – like their predecessors – to divulge details of the surveillance of individuals. However, the prospect of a series of debates giving MPs an opportunity to question ministers on the operation of MI5 in particular is causing concern among senior Conservatives.

Some of them believe that the result will be the formation of a committee of senior Privy Councillors to exert some form of scrutiny on security matters. They argue that such a step is essential to curb public discussion about the operation of the security authorities.

As a result, they are presenting the same argument as many of those who have been most critical of MI5 and other organisations.

Lord Bridge’s report will deal with the specific allegations made in the Channel 4 documentary – which has been seen by many MPs in private showings – and it was said last night that it would address the question of the classifcation of individuals or organisations as subversive.

Mr Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader, wrote to Mrs Thatcher yesterday to say that he believed she was in conflict with her Home Secretary in appearing to limit the scope of the inquiry to interceptions made under the authorisation of the Home Secretary.

Mr Brittan told the Commons last week that the question of anyone being falsely classified would come directly under the inquiry conducted by Lord rige ‘as he will cover interceptions contrary to the criteria.’

In a letter to Mr Kinnock, Mrs Thatcher sai the inquiry would not cover allegations that interceptions had taken place without proper authorisation.

Mr Kinnock’s complaint that this presented an unacceptable contradiction was rejected in Whitehall last night on the grounds that Lord Bridge would investigate the allegations made in the documentary.

The difficulty for the Government is that the report is expected to deal with the allegations in general rather than specific terms, and that it will therefore raise new protests.

The Environment Secretary, Mr Patrick Jenkin, was accused last night of keeping files listing the personal, financial and matrimonial details of Labour councillors for use in the Government’s political campaign against them.

Ms Harriet Harman, Labour MP for Peckham, tabled Commons questions asking whether Mr Jenkin’s department had collected information on councillors, using civil servants, special branch officers or the security service, MI5.

She denounced such’ snooping’ and said that if the allegations passed to her were true, it was a grotesque way for the government to proceed.

One former minister familiar with the operation of the Special Branch and MI5 said last night he believed it was highly unlikely that the organisations would participate in a collection of such information for an overtly political purpose.

He added that it was probable that such files were drawn up from information gathered from purely political sources


The Guardian, March 5th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘The parts politicians can’t reach / Bridge report on phone-tapping’

Inevitably, and rightly, a Conservative government and a Conservative Home Secretary are in the dock over phone-tapping and control of the security services. It is Mr Leon Brittan who has taken temporary refuge behind Lord Bridge’s onanistic quickie inquiry into the abuse of surveillance guidelines. It is Mr Brittan who is tomorrow bringing forward an obviously ineffective bill on phonetapping. And it will be Mr Brittan, Sir Michael Havers and the Prime Minister who must now be made to face the fill seriousness of the Massiter allegations about MI5.

Nevertheless, the opposition parties start from a disadvantage as they begin this chase. All the former Home Secretaries who still sit in the Commons (Messrs Jenkins, Callaghan and Rees) repose on the opposition benches. And each of them has presided over the sale system which now threatens to come apart in Mr Brittan’s hands. In particular, the Callaghan government’s much blotted copybook was soiled by the abuses of the secret state. It was Mr Rees who, as Home Secretary, got rid of Messrs Agee and Hosenball on the basis of undisclosed and highly suspect security information. It was Mr Rees who presided over the surveillance operation against the offices of the National Council for Civil Liberties (whether or not he authorised it) that led to the arrest and prosecution of Aubrey, Berry and Campbell. And it was Mr Rees, along with Dr Owen at the Foreign Office, who deported Ms Astrid Proll.

Mr Rees has responded to the Massiter revelations in an illuminating way. He has denied, quite categorically, that the alleged surveillance of the fire brigade and Ford union leaders took place. That is to say, he has denied that it took place on his authority. Unfortunately, and this is the whole point, that is not the same thing. It does not mean that Mr Rees is a wicked man, or even a naive one. Quite the contrary. To his credit, as Home Secretary, he was the first holder of the office to allow parliamentary debate on the Special Branch (albeit only under pressure from Mr Robin Cook). Yet what Mr Rees said in those debates raised more questions than he answered. ‘The Special Branch collects information on those who I think cause problems for the state,’ he declared in March 1978. This may have been true or it could have been a top of the head folie de grandeur. Mr Brittan, being a lawyer, puts it more circumspectly when he talks about the Special Branch and MI5. The trouble, though, remains the same. Nobody, and on a generous interpretation this includes the Home Secretary, really knows the truth. A structure in which the whole of MI5 (however many people and Wing systems that includes) and the Branch are mysteriously ‘accountable’ to one individual is no structure of accountability at all. And no judge can bridge the gap either.

Both Mr Neil Kinnock and his shadow Home Secretary, Mr Gerald Kaufman have now made clear that it will all be different once they have got their hands on the levers. Well, we have, alas, heard that before. And not just from Labour leaders. The point here is not whether Mr Brittan or Mr Rees is the tougher chap, nor whether Mr Kaufman would be any better. They are all talented politicians with the credentials of adequate control. The point is that the system itself is an impossible one, imposing unworkable demands upon any individual Home Secretary. That is why, at the end of the Massiter affair, it will be necessary for any future government (or even for this one, which allowed greater frankness about security matters than its predecessors) to legislate. Legislate, what is more, on the basis of far better facts that Lord Bridge will ever provide. So far, the whole security area has been looked at piecemeal. A reform of Section 2 here (or not, as the case may be). A statute on phone-tapping there. No party has approached the subject in the round. The nearest attempt has been the Labour Party’s policy document of 1983 on the security services, which sensibly proposed a new Espionage Act to replace Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act and a Security Act to put the secret agencies and their surveillance techniques on a statutory footing. That could be a start. But all the parties still have detailed thinking to do, and all must recognise the errors of their previous ways. We have moved – and Miss Massiter has helped that movement – to some final realization that things have to be fundamentally changed. And the fundamentals of a fresh start apply right across the spectrum of politics.


The following edition of 20/20 Vision was finally broadcast on Channel 4 on March 8th 1985, and contained the revelations by former MI5 officer Cathy Massiter about spying upon members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.


The Guardian, March 9th, 1985
David McKie, ‘Ministers to reinforce security service morale’

The Government is expected to use Tuesday’s debate on the Interception of Communications Bill to re-emphasise its confidence in the security services and to remind the nation how much it has owed to their unseen protection.

Senior ministers are riled by the continuing assumption that the services are now out of control, though they continue to assume that the apprehensions which have surfaced since the disclosures of Ms Cathy Massiter are confined to a relatively small and unrepresentative section of opinion.

The television programme which featured Ms Massiter, MI5’s Official Secrets, which was originally banned from transmission by the IBA, was screened last night.

Ministers claim there is little evidence of any national surge of concern in their postbags or constituency encounters. They are disturbed, however, by the effect of recent events on the morale of the security services and the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, is likely to use his speech in Tuesday’s debate to try to restore that morale.

Mr Brittan gave evidence to the home affairs select committee on January 30 about the work of the Special Branch, which has a crucial role in the work of the security services. He said then: ‘It is the individual case where something goes wrong that is drawn to people’s notice and dwelt upon by some people, but what are less known are the successes of the Special Branch.

‘It cannot be known because it cannot be proclaimed. When hundreds of innocent people are saved from a bomb because of the information the Special Branch has obtained, which enables them to step in before the bomb actually explodes. that is something I cannot talk about.’

The Liberal peer, Lord Wigoder, will be asking the House of Lords on March 20 to demand the scrapping of Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act.


The Globe and Mail (Canada), March 9th, 1985
Leslie Plommer, ‘Britain’s spymasters under surveillance’

THESE ARE unhappy times for the people in charge of the security of the British realm, as suspicion, normally their own stock-in-trade, is being turned on them in an unwelcome spate of publicity.

No sooner had the prolonged debate over Government secrecy subsided after last month’s acquittal of senior civil servant Clive Ponting who leaked information to an MP in the Belgrano affair, than a sensational television documentary seized the spotlight with allegations of illegal surveillance of trade union and anti-nuclear leaders by the domestic intelligence agency MI5.

With press photographers poking their lenses through the herbacious borders at the suburban home of MI5 Director-General Sir John Jones, and senior parliamentary figures from all parties demanding closer scrutiny of the security services, the current controversy over what Liberal Party leader David Steel dubbed ‘the secret state’ comes at a bad moment for the Conservative Government.

It has led directly to postponement in Parliament this week of the second reading of a proposed law, the Interception of Communications Bill, whose critics were suddenly supplied by the television documentary with dramatic evidence supporting their fears about several of the bill’s provisions and omissions.

The proposed law codifies for the first time criteria under which four senior Cabinet ministers may authorize telephone and mail tapping, and establishes a tribunal to hear complaints by people who believe they are being improperly tapped.

In contrast to U.S. practice, it prohibits use of any information gathered in this way in court. Such interceptions are solely to assist investigations.

However, the bill has no regulation of covert surveillance using long-distance microphones or room bugs – methods that can render traditional tapping obsolete. And it omits restrictions on the scope of a ministerial warrant to tap.

Since 1980, roughly 500 such authorization warrants have been issued annually on the British mainland. What this figure conceals, however, is that one such warrant can be extended to take in various contacts or relatives of the person tapped. The bill ignores this.

The proposed law also puts economic espionage on paper for the first time.

To date, national security and serious crime have been the only publicly admitted criteria for ministers to authorize communications taps. Now the ‘well-being of the economy’ is to join the official list, meaning that the lawful conversations of oil and currency dealers can be tapped.

When the bill’s contents first became known last month, parliamentary critics were assured by Home Secretary Leon Brittan that this criterion would not be used to tap, for example, union leaders conducting strikes damaging to the British economy.

The television documentary, entitled MI5’s Official Secrets, provided evidence that this was untrue, and that the intelligence agency was also being used by Defence Minister Michael Heseltine for political purposes.

The documentary was banned just before its planned showing on the Independent Television network (ITV) on Feb. 20 when the supervisory Independent Broadcasting Authority ruled that the film could be a breach of Britain’s Official Secrets Act, the same statute under which Mr. Ponting was unsuccessfully prosecuted for leaking documents on the 1982 Falklands War.

Furious producers quickly arranged screenings for MPs and the press, and the uproar began.

In the film, two former MI5 employees made a damning series of allegations against the intelligence agency. One was unnamed. The other was Cathy Massiter, aged 37, an MI5 officer for 14 years who from 1981 until her resignation in 1983 headed the agency’s surveillance unit monitoring the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) – an old and broadly based British protest group that opposes nuclear weapons.

Miss Massiter – who says she was sent to a psychiatrist after expressing concerns to her superiors about MI5 actions in several areas – accused the agency of breaking its own charter by tapping telephones of peace-movement leaders to provide ministers with political ammunition.

Falsely labelling some of these people as ‘subversive’ to get permission to tap them.

Creating hundreds of ‘illegal’ files on CND activists, in co- operation with the police Special Branch.

Expanding surveillance greatly in the ’70s to include new ‘soft’ targets such as lawyers, journalists and pressure groups.

Miss Massiter and her anonymous colleague said in interviews that surveillance included not only CND leaders and officers of the National Council for Civil Liberties, against whom there was no evidence supporting a ‘subversive’ label, but also trade union figures. During trade union disputes in the ’70s, the unnamed agent said, MI5 tapped the phones of Scottish miners’ leader Mick McGahey, a Communist, and militant Arthur Scargill, now president of the National Union of Mineworkers, to learn their strike strategies and bargaining positions.

Mrs. McGahey’s ‘interminable telephone conversations with friends and relations’ became something of an MI5 office joke, while ‘Mr. Scargill would occasionally shout abuse into the phone at the people who were tapping him.’

During the same period, it was alleged, MI5 tapped the striking Fire Brigades Union in 1977; a union convenor’s telephone during Ford Motor Co. pay negotiations in 1978; officials of a civil service union; a British Leyland union shop steward; and Shelter, a housing pressure group.

Asked whether Mr. Scargill’s phone was tapped during the recent year-long British coal strike, Miss Massiter said: ‘I would think it very likely, highly likely, in view of his particular history and his known political views.’

With the television documentary – whose accusations cover former Labor governments as well as the present Conservative one – following hot on the heels of the Ponting secrets acquittal, state machinery was forced into action.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ordered an inquiry into the television allegations by Lord Bridge of Harwich, head of the Security Commission.

His brief report, submitted this week, provoked a Commons outcry that forced the Government to delay debate for a week on the phone-tapping bill for fear of chaotic parliamentary scenes.

‘I am satisfied, after full examination of all the relevant documents, that no warrant for interception has been issued in contravention of the appropriate criteria,’ the former Lord Justice of Appeal reported.

Echoing the views of many MPs, Labor’s home affairs spokesman, Gerald Kaufman, responded: ‘The Bridge report, if it can be dignified by such a description, is an insult and an outrage.’ Lord Bridge had been given narrow guidelines and therefore supplied an inevitable non-answer to the issues raised about MI5, Mr. Kaufman pointed out.

He had not been asked about people tapped after being falsely classified as subversives; he had not been asked about whether the political and personal lives of people in non-subversive organizations were under investigation; he had not been asked about party-political use of the intelligence service; he had not been asked about infiltration of lawful organizations.

Mr. Steel, the Liberal leader, added that the report failed to deal with unauthorized ‘freelance’ activity by MI5 or the problem of blanket warrants allowing multiple taps of a legitimate organization.

The controversy over the Bridge report has forged a powerful parliamentary alliance including many senior MPs and former ministers supported from the wings by some in the present Cabinet, which now is pressing for an independent parliamentary committee – possibly composed of Privy Councillors – to be set up to oversee Britain’s security and intelligence apparatus.

In the meantime, the legal threat against the television film has been lifted. It was screened yesterday after the Director of Public Prosecutions recommended against prosecution under the Official Secrets

The reluctance to prosecute appears to stem not only from Government concerns of more dirty laundry being aired in court, but also – according to The Times of London – because some of the program’s allegations are true.


Guardian Weekly, March 10th, 1985
Madeline Haigh, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield: Letter ‘When the IBA uses its umbrella in a climate of secrecy’

The revelations by Cathy Massiter about MI5 and the Special Branch confirm the gravest targets of surveillance. Her information makes nonsense of most of the answers given by Sir Philip Knights and his senior officers in response to questions on my own case, asked by me, my solicitor, and members of the West Midlands police committee.

Ms Massiter’s assertions contradict the reassurances given by serving chief constables and by the Home Secretary in evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee investigation into the Special Branch. Either the police chiefs and Leon Brittan are ignorant of the widespread breaches of the official guidelines, or they have deliberately misled a parliamentary committee.

Cathy Massiter states that Leon Brittan signed a warrant to authorise the tapping of John Cox’s telephone, even though he knew that Mr Cox did not satisfy the stated classification of “subversive.” How could this happen? — Was the Home Secretary not aware of what he was signing?

Or was he on holiday at the time?


The Guardian, March 12th, 1985
Colin Brown, ‘Special Branch
‘acquittal’ angers Labour / Inquiry into intelligence services’

Changes in an all-party select committee draft report, which gives the all-clear to the Special Branch, will be demanded by Labour MPs tomorrow.

The private meeting of the home affairs select committee promises to be a stormy affair. Labour members of the committee are angry that the draft report is so ‘anodyne’ that it will undermine their reputations.

The Labour MPs were demanding that the committee should reopen its inquiry into the Special Branch – regarded as the operational arm in Britain of MI5 – after the revelations in the 20/20 Vision film MI5’s Official Secrets.

The draft report will be considered at tomorrow’s meeting in the light of the debate on the bill on telephone tapping in the Commons today, and Labour MPs are hoping that the controversy may have changed the minds of some Tory MPs on the committee.

One of the committee members, Mr David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North, rejected assurances he was given by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, last night in written Commons answers about some of the allegations made in the film.

Mr Brittan refused to comment on the film’s allegation that Mr Harry Newton, a life-long leftwing activist, had been supplying information to the security service and Special Branch.

Asked about reports that Mr Stanley Bonnett, former editor of the CND magazine Sanity, had supplied information to Special Branch officers, Mr Brittan said the functions covering the branches were set out in guidelines published on December 19, 1984.

‘I am assured by the Commissioner that no enquiries have been initiated by the Metropolitan Police Special Branch outside the terms of those guidelines,’ he said.

‘I have made it clear on a number of occasions that peaceful political campaigning to change the mind of the government or of people generally about the validity of nuclear disarmament does not come within the definition of subversion which is given in the guidelines.’

Mr Winnick said: ‘In my view, until these guidelines are changed, it will mean such activities will continue even though we find them distasteful.’

Mr Winnick said the Home Secretary’s response was like the Lord Bridge inquiry into telephone tapping – it did not answer the core questions which had been raised.

David Hearst adds: Mr Roy Jenkins, MP, a home secretary in two Labour governments last night said he was ‘sceptical’ of the value of MI5’s role in monitoring political organisations.

Mr Jenkins said he was quite happy to allow Lord Bridge to see the papers relating to his two periods as home secretary, from 1965 to 67 and 1974 to 76. Lord Bridge’s report, which Mrs Thatcher ordered in response to allegations by Miss Massiter, cleared successive government of breaking the rules on telephone tapping.

Mr Jenkins refused to discuss specific allegations, in keeping with the practice of home secretaries never to talk about details of MI5’s role. However, he did say that he now questioned MI5’s role in monitoring political organisations.

Its controversial F branch, for which Miss Massiter worked, checks the activities of political parties and trade unionists.



The Guardian, March 13th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Tapdancing your way out of a jam / Allegations of criminal activities by the security services’

Yesterday afternoon’s speech by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, on telephone tapping and the security services positively groaned with reassurances. There was Lord Bridge’s report to rely on. That had shown that all the authorised warrants since 1970 were authorised warrants. Thank you, Lord Bridge, for that. But there was more. Mr Brittan himself had found time in a busy schedule to carry out his own inquiries. He had looked to see if the security service had been tapping anyone without authorisation. And he has found that they had not. The net effect of these assurances is, therefore, that MI5 and the Special Branch are in the clear as far as the Home Office is concerned. And yet what appear at first sight to be a watertight set of assurances is, on closer examination, distinctly unseaworthy. The inference from Mr Brittan’s speech is that all the phone tapping carried out in this country by the security services is done under warrants and, in turn, that all the warrants are issued in accordance with the definitions which ministers have repeatedly endorsed over the past decade. That brings the argument back to the definition of subversion first published by the Callaghan government, namely of activities which ‘threaten the safety or well being of the state and which are intended to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political industrial or violent means.’

Put that definition together with the allegations in the 20/20 Vision Programme, MI5’s Official Secrets. There we were told that Mr Brittan himself had authorised the tapping of the phone of Mr John Cox, a Communist Party member who is also the vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Yesterday, Mr Brittan again went out of his way to say that peaceful opposition to the Government’s defence policies, i. e. being active in CND, is not a tappable offence. But he also said that membership of a campaign, or a trade union, could not confer an immunity from tapping. Result,you can tap Mr Cox’s phone because he is a member of the CP and, hey presto, you are plugged into the phone conversations of Monsignor Kent, Mrs Ruddock and the rest of them. And, as a result, you also swell what 20/20 Vision described as the ‘two thick files’ on Mgr Kent. Thus the assumptions about Communists are the key which unlocks the door to the files of CND. And not just of CND. Take also the example of the National Council of Civil Liberties. Its fonner general Secretary, Ms Patricia Hewitt, lives with Mr Bill Birtles, who was a Communist for some years. Result, the Communist connection is used to justify the keeping of files on Ms Hewitt and, in all probability, to sanction the occasional phonetapping of the NCCL’s headquarters.

All this is quite acceptable to most Conservative backbenchers. These MPs, who so often proclaim their devotion to individual freedom, have sat on their hands ever since the 20/20 Vision allegations were made. There are some exceptions, such as Mr Steven Norris, who deserve credit for their independence. Yet of those who dutifully went through the lobbies in support of Mr Brittan last night, all but a few treat the issue with indifference. The comments of Sir Anthony Kershaw, one of those anonymous influential senior Tory backbenchers who bob up in Westminster reports, are not unrepresentative. ‘If he is not watching these people, I want my money back.’ That also seems to be the approach of the Tories in the Home Affairs Select Committee. Their love of liberty is currently on display in the way they are stifling the committee’s investigation of the Special Branch and seeking the production of a bromide report. There’s nothing wrong, they all cry. Even if there were a few rule benders, they whisper in clubland, MI5 is so bureaucratic that nobody would be greatly harmed by the over-enthusiasm. If there was a problem we would get to hear of it. But that is just what has happened, isn’t it? That is precisely why the 20/20 Vision programme is so important. The former MI5 officers have made allegations which are not being denied and which remain the central issue in spite of all Mr Brittan’s clever legal footwork. Nothing that Mr Brittan said yesterday, or that Lord Bridge said last week, has laid a glove on Ms Massiter’s allegations. That’s why Mr Roy Jenkins is right to thunder from the Chilterns. And that is also why, away from the limelight, Mr Brittan is currently planning a private shake-up of the security services that, intrinsically, gives the lie to yesterday’s bland reassurances.


The Guardian, March 26th, 1985
The Day in Politics: ‘MI5 chief will not be quizzed by MP’s’

The Prime Minister last night ruled out any possibility of the Director General of MI5, Sir Antony Duff, or other members of the security service, appearing before a Commons select committee,

Mrs Thatcher was asked to explain the Government’s policy on allowing the Director General to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee by Mr David Winnick one of its Labour members,

The committee has been considering a draft report on the Special Branch, but Labour members were demanding the reopening of its inquiry following the allegations in the Channel Four 20-20 vision film that the Special Branch was being used by MI5 in breach of the guidelines laid down on telephone interceptions. Labour members of the committee feel that Sir Antony should be brought before them, in camera if necessary, to enable their report to be completed properly.

The Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, yesterday declined to expand to Labour MP on how he had gone about his recent review of security operations following the Channel Four allegations.

The Opposition will be stepping up their demands for a Select Committee to be appointed to oversee the operation of telephone tapping and to make the security service answerable to Parliament for the first time, by amendments to the committee stage of the bill on telephone tapping.


Courier Mail, May 11th, 1985
Patricia Morgan, ‘The MI5 Spy who had a conscience’

The gardens around the moated ruins of 14th century Scotney Castle, in Kent, are among the most romantic in England. Ex-spy Cathy Massiter, now a trainee gardener, is happily at work there. At 37, she is through with espionage. For the rest of her life she intends to cultivate only things that flourish in the open. “”I am extremely relieved that I am not sitting in prison,” says the young woman whose obedience to her conscience, and not the Official Secrets Act, has made her notorious. An intelligence officer for 13 years, she spoke out recently because she could no longer be part of the phone-tapping abuses of MI5 which were in contravention of its own charter. She became deeply disturbed over the thousands of people being put on file without being remotely subversive, including Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) leaders, trade unionists, civil liberties people and even a pressure group for the homeless. “”What has happened has made all the risks worthwhile,” she now says. The political storm that blew up over what was the third successive security leak to embarrass Whitehall has been reverberating ever since. Cathy Massiter was convinced she would follow Sarah Tisdall, the civil servant jailed for six months last year for publicly divulging Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine’s secret date for arrival of cruise missiles. Then top civil servant, Clive Ponting, was charged under the Official Secrets Act for leaking facts over the Falklands Belgrano affair, but acquitted. Following that Cathy announced her bombshell. “”It had begun to seem to me that what the security service was being asked to do was to provide information on a party political basis. It was tapping phones and using undercover agents to satisfy politicians demands for intelligence on the peace movements.” The service’s code of conduct requires it to be kept absolutely free of political bias or influence. Lord Denning laid down that the “”security service should be used for one purpose only, the defence of the realm”. She went to her superiors, first to head of section, then assistant director, and finally the personnel branch, complaining that she could see MI5 giving in to persistent political pressure. “”I was told to consult a psychiatrist,” she explained on a TV program which aired her exposure to a disturbed nationwide audience and an embarrassed Government. The “”shrink” she saw had a security clearance to deal with the personal problems of MI5 officers. “”They were not really concerned about my mental health or they would not have let me carry on working, but the upshot of it all was that they made it very clear that I had to go,” she said. “”I had already decided to resign anyway and had told them so.” The Government allowed her retraining facilities, and within a few months she will finish her gardening course at Scotney Castle. “”I have not got the faintest idea what the future holds in store for me,” she told me, answering my questions through Geoffrey Seed, co-producer of 20/20, the TV program which unleashed the MI5 bombshell. She has refused a deluge of requests for interviews. Apart from the fact that she is still bound by the Official Secrets Act, she has said and done what she set out to say and do. She did not even seek the TV exposure. Geoffrey Seed and the other co-producer, Claudia Milne, found her. Like many a secret, it emerged innocently. There had been a letter published in the magazine New Scientist about the pressures on spies _ in this case relating to Michael Bettaney, who is now serving a long term for trying to give secrets to the Russians. Already deeply troubled, Cathy Massiter wrote a letter to the magazine saying, “”in the course of my own career I became increasingly at odds with myself about the nature of the work and its justifications”. The alert 20/20 team scented a story. “”We met her in July, 1984, and it was October before we did our first bit of film. We had many meetings but we could not put pressure on her. The risks of prison were very real,” explained Seed. Both he and his partner, Claudia Milne, are married, each with three children, and neither relished a spell in prison either. They are in their mid-30s. Cathy Massiter is a deeply serious woman, with an expression of serenity that seems to suggest a contemplative religious order, rather than the world of espionage. She is in fact very devout and is a deaconess of the Church of England. She took an English degree at London University and after graduating in 1968 did some social work in Liverpool and was finally a university librarian when MI5 recruited her, in 1970. In 1981 she was put in charge of surveillance of CND, even though the organisation had been taken off MI5’s list of subversive organisations. “”It was presented as more than ever necessary that we had to be able to answer very precisely whatever questions we were asked about CND and its subversive penetration, which meant the study had to be closer than it certainly would otherwise have been,” she said. The upshot was that MI5 got one of its agents, Harry Newton, a lecturer in trade union law and a life-long activist with Left-wing political groups, to join CND in 1982. Newton, who died least year, filed regular reports on the activities of CND headquarters, among them the opinion that Monsignor Bruce Kent, the general secretary, was a “”Crypto communist”. “”I saw no evidence to support this view,” said Cathy Massiter. She sympathises with some CND ideas but is against its arguments for unilateral nuclear disarmament and has never been a member. Monsignor Kent has subsequently denied being any kind of communist, Crypto or otherwise, and said MI5 overpaid Newton for his snooping. It bothered Massiter when the material MI5 was gathering was passed to a counter-propaganda unit, known as DS19, set up by Defence Secretary, Michael Heseltine, in March 1983, to combat CND’s unilateralist line. She felt the instructions to her by her superiors to pass non-classified information to a political body breached MI5’s code. Shortly after DS19 received the MI5 report, she was told MI5 would strongly favor the application of a tap to the phone of a communist target in CND. It bothered her that Home Secretary Leon Brittan, then authorised the tap, although he had said the campaign to change the Government’s thinking on nuclear disarmament was an entirely legitimate activity, which did not fall within the concerns of the security services. The phone tapped was that of John Cox, vice-president of CND and a member of the Communist Party, she said in the TV program. She questioned whether Cox met the proper criteria for phone tapping. “”We knew from our coverage of the Communist Party that he was not getting up to anything in CND,” she said. Under its charter, MI5’s domestic surveillance should be limited to subversives _ defined as those who threaten the State or seek to undermine Parliamentary democracy. Information was also obtained through tapping CND chairman Joan Ruddock. “”It was fully recognised that she had no subversive affiliation but now she was chairman they wanted a file opened,” she said. “”The problem of a category to fit Mrs Ruddock was solved when she gave an interview to a Soviet journalist based in London. The journalist was actually a KGB officer. Joan Ruddock did not know that, but it provided the ground for recording her as a contact of a hostile intelligence which was ridiculous.” Many other names of phone-tap victims spilled forth from Massiter’s exposure, which was backed up by another MI5 officer, whose identity has remained a secret. Barbara Egglestone, national organiser of Christian CND was bugged, so was Larry Goslin, general secretary of the National Council of Civil Liberties, Patricia Hewitt, former NCCL general secretary and now press and broadcasting officer to Opposition leader, Neil Kinnock. The other former MI5 agent said trade unionist’s phones were regularly tapped. Miners’ leader Arthur Scargill used to shout abuse at his “”listeners” during the 70s. His deputy Mick McGahey’s phone was bugged, too, but Mrs McGahey’s interminable chatter to friends and relatives had to be endured to discover information about him. Cathy Massiter was ordered to spread her investigation from CND’s national organisation to its regional structure and attended a series of Special Branch conferences. “”I think the Special Branch were confused about what we wanted. I’d get up and say we were only interested in real subversives. Then I’d speak to them later and say “well in fact we’d like quite a bit more than that’. “”It is impossible to say how many files there are on CND members who are not subversive but there are certainly thousands of them around the country. MI5 itself has 200 or 300 files on CND members who are not subversive under official definition.” The Housing Pressure Group shelter was monitored. And a new task was looking at graduate trainees starting work at the BBC, as well as any journalists in politically sensitive posts. Harriet Harman, a Labor MP who was also bugged, demanded information in a stormy debate in the Commons. But the Home Secretary has stuck to the line that authorisation of security surveillance is never denied or affirmed. Massiter is the only one to have gone public from inside MI5 while remaining in Britain. Peter Wright did it last year, but from the safe distance of Australia. The abuses she exposed were well aired during Commons debates on a Bill which creates a new offence of unauthorised tapping, establishes a tribunal to which aggrieved persons can take complaints and provides for unlimited damages if their complaints hold up. It now has to go to the Lords and could be law within months. As for Cathy Massiter she is taking stock of her own life. “”All I regret are the wasted years,” she says. “”From a personal point of view I am gratified the program has been taken very seriously in high places. “”It is wonderful to be free of the double life. When you are a spy you can never tell people what you do. You can’t say “I’m spying on the peace movement’. I am completely relieved I am no longer in MI5. “”But the way public attention has been focused on the problems that existed and still exist in MI5, and especially the scrutiny of phone tapping, makes the risks I ran under the Official Secrets Act worthwhile.” CATHY Massiter . . . out in the cold. It is wonderful to be free of the double life. I’m completely relieved. SCOTNEY Castle, where ex-spy Cathy Massiter works as a gardener.


The Guardian, May 22nd, 1985
Paul Keel, ”Whitewash’ claims on special branch / Criticism of report by Commons home affairs committee’

A House of Commons committee which gave a clean bill of health yesterday to the activities of the police special branch was last night being accused of a whitewash by civil liberties spokesmen. Labour members of the inquiry team dissociated themselves from its findings.

The home affairs committee, which began its investigations into the special branch last November, concluded in its report yesterday that there were no grounds for public anxiety. It suggested that recent fears about the activities of such police officers in the areas of political and industrial disputes were due to a basic misunderstanding of the role of the special branch.

Presenting the report at tbe House of Commons yesterday, the committee’s chairman, Sir Edward Gardner, Conservative MP for Fylde, was clearly aware of the criticism which would greet the report. ‘This inquiry has not been abortive. It is not a whitewash, it was never intended to be a whitewash. It was intended to be and was an earnest and active inquiry into the special branch.

But the four Labour members of the committee, who produced a minority report calling for an independent investigation into the role of the special branch, said that their seven Conservative colleagues on the committee had never seriously sought to examine the issue.

One of the Labour members, Mr David Winnick, MP for Walsall North, said that the committee’s decision not to take evidence from individual special branch officers had seriously inhibited its inquiry. Two others, Miss Clare Short (Birmingham Ladywood) and Mr Robin Corbett (Erdington) complained that the committee had refused to take evidence in several cases where allegations had been made of the special branch exceeding its guidelines.

Miss Short said that these included people involved in trade union, political and peace activities, such as Mrs Madeline Haig, from Sutton Coldfield, who was the subject of inquiries by West Midlands special branch after she wrote to a local newspaper protesting at the siting of cruise missiles in Britain.

Sir Edward acknowledged yesterday that his committee had been restricted in its inquiries by the need not to disclose anything which might damage national security.

But, he said, it was worth repeating the words of Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, who had told the committee that it was the individual cases where something went wrong that tended to come to the public’s attention: ‘But what is less well known is the success of the special branches. It cannot be known, because it cannot be proclaimed.

‘When hundreds of innocent people are saved from a bomb because of the information that the special branch have obtained, which enables them to step in. before the bomb actually explodes, that is something that I cannot talk about and the special branch officers cannot talk about. ‘However it happens, and it happens frequently. There are many people in this country who are alive but who would be dead if the special branch did not exist.’

But Sir Edward’s observations failed to convince the opposition parties in the Commons yesterday or critics outside the House, Mr Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader, accused the Consevative majority on the committee of a copout and said their inquiries had failed to answer any of the questions, including the essential one of how the special banch defined subversion. ‘We still stick with the idea that if you organise a strike you can be held to be subversive and investigated by the special branch.

Mr Alan Beith, the Liberal Chief whip and MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, said the committee’s findings were complacent and unconvincing. ‘the committee’s report has failed to tackle the key problem of controlling the special branch – that is, how to ensure that they are properly accountable whilst still being able to carry out their essential work.’

The National Council for Civil Liberties said that the committee’s report was meaningless because it had specifically excluded from its enquiries special branch work dealing with the security service and it had excluded individual complaints.

Ms Marie Staunton, the NCCL’s legal officer, said last night: ‘The committee received disturbing evidence that the special branch kept unnecessary records on local MPs, councillors, members of CND and Friends of the Earth.

‘In order to reassure the public about personal privacy and ensure an efficient special branch, the Government should set up a commission of persons with security clearance to carry out an inquiry into these matters similar to that completed in South Australia.’


The Guardian, May 22nd, 1985
Paul Keel, ‘MP’s split on restricted special branch review / Results of investigation by Commons’ home affairs committee’

The bounds of national security restricted from the start MPs’ inquiries into the activities of the police special branch, the Commons committee on home affairs says in the introduction to its report.

Within such strict limits – as the Conservative majority on the committee described their terms of reference, and which their Labour colleagues complained had defeated the object of the exercise – the inquiry set out to examine the grounds for suspicions that the special branch persecuted harmless citizens for political reasons, acted in nefarious ways to assist the security services, and was a threat to civil liberties.

In their majority report yesterday the Conservative members concluded that many of the suspicions derived from a serious misunderstanding about the nature and purpose of the work carried out by the 43 divisions of the Special branch in England and Wales.

As defined by Home Office guidelines, the report noted that the special branch operated in two areas; the fight against subversion and terrorism and the job of helping to preserve public order. Both functions involved the gathering of information likely to assist these objectives.

On public order, the committee said that the special branch did not concern itself with opinions of individuals or with the merits of any particular industrial or political dispute. It accepted evidence from the Home Secretary and the Association of Chief Police Officers that the sole object of such inquiries was to gather intelligence about the necessary levels of policing and whether there were any persons who would seek to exploit disputes for subversive purposes.

‘We are satisfied that such public concern as may exist about special branch investigations in relation to public order is unfounded, and we hope that the clear statement of the functions of special branches in this matter contained in the (Home Office) guidelines will dispel it,’ the report said.

As for subversion, the definition provided by Lord Harris of Greenwich in 1975 – then a Labour government minister at the Home Office – remained adequate to outline those who would be the proper subjects of investigation.

Such persons were those ‘threatening the safety or well-being of the state,’ and ‘intending to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.’ The report concluded that it agreed with the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, that the definition stood the test of time.

The guidelines were sufficiently narrow- not to encourage unnecessary inquiries and broad enough to enable the security of the realm to be adequately protected.

On the keeping of special branch records, the report expressed confidence that individual police forces would – if only for reasons of convenience and efficiency – delete old and irrelevant material about individuals. Referring to evidence from the Home Secretary, it stated: ‘We accept his view that there is no point in a special branch dealing with a lot of inaccurate and wasteful material.’

With the caveat that evidence had been restricted and that the committee reserved its right to return to matters relating to the special branch, the report said: ‘We are satisfied, on the basis of the evidence which we have received, that the special branches of the police forces in England Wales do not justify public anxiety.’

ln a minority report, the Labour members oalled for a change in the present definition of ‘subversive,’ saying it gave too wide a discretion to the special branch. They also called for a ‘thorough inquiry into the practices and records of the special branch’ to be conducted by an independent commission of inquiry.

Complaining about the overall lack of parliamentary scrutiny of the security services in Britain, the minority report said: ‘We do strongly recommend that the work of the special branches should be debated from time to time in the House, and although some doubt was at the time expressed on grounds of security about the present inquiry, no one has now argued that the country has been endangered as a result of our investigations.’


The Guardian, June 15th, 1985
Harold Jackson, ‘Big Brother’s invisible men / Focus on the work of the Special Branch of the police’

The Home Office revelation of the size of police records should hardly have come as a surprise to any MP in the habit of reading the fine print. The inexorable expansion of police files has been implicit in a number of official reports over the past decade.

Eight years ago, the Callaghan government disclosed that some 24 million people were already listed in the computer system, with many more waiting to be entered from the old files. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, however, was unwilling to explore what goes on record during the first Parliamentary investigation ever mounted into the operations of the Special Branch – Britain’s most controversial compilers of personal data.

In the words of the committee’s chairman, Sir Edward Gardner, ‘It is the policy of this committee not to investigate specific cases’ – a decision which seems to have stopped the inquiry studying a substantial body of evidence from witnesses who believe the Special Branch may not be as well-ordered as the Conservative majority on the committee judged it.

There has been a steady flow of incidents down the years suggesting that the secret records kept by the branch can contain highly inaccurate or questionable details of people’s political, trade union, and other legitimate activites. A few were aired by MPs on the committee, but the bulk remain in the files of local authorities and private groups.

It has been estimated that, in addition to the main police records, there are some 2.5 million individual files in the Branch’s own system. These records not only include such factual information as name, address, age and physical description, but data officially defined as ‘intelligence’ – suspect activities, known associates, and other less checkable nuggets.

For most of the century it has been in existence, of course, the Special Branch kept its records on bits of paper, with a card index cross-reference. Many of its files are still in that form but, like the rest of the world, computerised records (now called databanks) are taking over.

Nearly all information about the computer system is as highly classified as are the details of its contents. In the words of the head of Scotland Yard’sSpecial Branch, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hewett, ‘We put a lot of people on record. They are not all computerised although we use the computer a great deal.’

The Police Review commented of one system: ‘Much of the information is valid intelligence. A substantial proportion is unchecked bunkum.’ The former Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, Mr JC Alderson, said that he had discovered Special Branch files on local MPs, councillors, anti-nuclear power campaigners, members of CND, and of Friends of the Earth.

‘I found that officers, often with the best of intentions, had made records of things about people which I thought were totally unnecessary. They had nothing to do with criminal affairs at all but in their view were sufficiently of interest to the Special Branch and probably the security services to warrant being recorded. A very high proportion of the records were either out-of-date, useless or of the kind one would not want to keep.’

The Police National Computer can be accessed from about 500 terminals installed in police stations throughout the country. It allows all police forces to call up the index to the five million personal files of the Criminal Records Office, the index to 3.5 million sets of fingerprints, the details of every vehicle in the country with 35 million owner’s names and addresses, the list of 350,000 stolen and suspect vehicles, of 300,000 disqualified drivers, and of some 110,000 wanted and missing persons.

The Lindop Committee on Data Protection reported that the Home Office had acknowledged that the CRO records ‘were not entirely accurate or complete.’ The committee commented that ‘the linking of factual personal information about an identifiable individual with speculative data about criminal activity could pose a grave threat to that individual’s interests.’

And there is unquestionable evidence that this has happened. The police computer system allows what is known as ‘flagging,’ through which comments can be entered into the national vehicle register or other records. The Lindop Committee found, for example, that one car record included a note that the vehicle was believed to have been used in a bank robbery. It is not clear how authentic such information must be to get on to the file.

Much will depend on the judgment of the police collator, the officer responsible for processing and recording data for the files. In addition to normal criminal information – arrests, convictions, and the like – there is also the collation of ‘occurrences.’ This covers almost anything a constable may enter into his notebook, regardless of its immediate relevance.

The decision to include the encoded date of birth on British driving licences was in the interest of police computerisation since it is the key to the data bank files. There may be 10,000 John Smiths, but not many of them were born on the same day. The moment one of them produces his driving licence there is enough information on it to allow a patrolling policeman to call up his file.

The centralisation of the files and the capacity of the police computer to carry out multi-factor searches has significantly changed the nature of the records. It is now possible to ask for the record of any fair-haired male of 26 who owns a green Chrysler registered in Liverpool. Within moments the inquirer will have been offered a selection of records with whatever flagged notes may have been added to them.

And the quality of these comments is impossible to guess. The observation that bill Brown was probably the wheels man in a recent smash-and-grab could be the shrewd observation of a seasoned detective. But what is one to make of the notation in one of the Devon files that the subject ‘had lunch with Wedgwood Benn’?

There have been enough authenticated cases of misinformation to raise legitimate worries about what may be on file about individuals. The most startling in recent years was probably that of Ms Jan Martin, listed in the files as an associate of the Baader-Meinhoff terrorist group. She was only able to discover this because her father was a former chief superintendent at Scotland Yard.

It eventually transpired that the note was based on the supposed resemblance of her husband to one of the German terrorists, reported to the Dutch police by a witness in an Amsterdam restaurant. Without her father’s influence, presumably, she would never have been able to discover what had been recorded against her.

According to the Home Office, there are now 1,249 Special Branch officers in England and Wales, roughly six times as many as there were 20 years ago. But they are not members of one force – each of the 52 separate police forces in Britain has its own branch. By far the largest is that of the Metropolitan Police which has been given specific responsibility for dealing with Irish terrorism.

Some country forces have no more than a handful of officers seconded to the Special Branch on a rotating basis.

The Met’s Special Branch was the first to be formed in 1883, as a response to the Fenian campaign for Irish independence. Two years later it became part of the Criminal Investigation Department and was limited to between 15 and 20 men. That had swelled to well over 100 by the end of the second world war and to 225 by the time Harold Wilson became Prime Minister.

Now it has 379 officers, and there is a Special Branch unit in each of the capital’s 24 police districts. The greatest proportion of the officers, according to their commander, regard their membership of the branch as their career and will stay in it for their whole service. At any given time, 73 of them are assigned to Heathrow or the Port of London and another 67 are acting as armed bodyguards. The Irish Squad numbers about 70 members and there are some 100 officers in the Anti-Terrorist Squad. The current cost of the Met’s Special Branch operations is about pounds 15 million.

Government guidelines require each Special Branch to gather information about threats to public order; assist the security services to combat espionage and sabotage; provide information about extremists and terrorists; keep restricted diplomats (mainly Soviet) and foreign officials within bounds; protect the royal family and other public figures; maintain surveillance at airports and seaports; deal with immigration and naturalisation inquiries; and examine all incidents involving firearms and explosives.

The relationship with the security services – principally MI5 – is both obscure and complex. One of the constitutional oddities of British military intelligence is that its officers have no official status: they can no more execute warrants or arrest suspects than can any other citizen. Officers of the Special Branch, as sworn constables, have to do that for them.

It is acknowledged that MI5 helps in the training of Special Branch men. Mr Alderson told MPs: ‘The security services from time to time would run courses for the provincial forces.’ But there have been repeated allegations of a far closer relationship. In part this stems from the official requirement that the Special Branch deal with ‘subversion’ – an ill-defined concept which requires highly-political decisions and touches heavily on civil liberties.

The official notion of subversion is contained in the Home Office guidelines. They say that it comprises activities which ‘threaten the safety or well-being of the state, and which are intended to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy by political, industrial, or violent means.’ The imprecision of this formula is evident in trying to decide whether the ‘well-being’ of the state is threatened, or whether a given action is ‘intended’ to achieve an undesirable aim.

It is not at all clear how this definition evolved and it has been the subject of constant criticism by lawyers and others. It sprang, apparently unbidden, from Lord Harris of Greenwich (then a junior Home Office minister) during a House of Lords debate in February 1975. The significant departure from what had previously been taken as the norm was that Lord Harris omitted any reference to breaking the law.

In 1963 Lord Denning had described subversion as ‘contemplating the overthrow of the government by unlawful means’ but this rather precise formulation has been steadily eroded over the past 20 years. Not only has its confinement to illegal activities been dropped, but there has been a growing tendency to elide the distinction between subversion and terrorism. A clue to the reason for the official blurring may have been offered by Mr Leo Abse during a Commons debate on nuclear power. ‘As a lawyer,’ he said, ‘I know of no crime of ‘ subversion ‘ in English law.’

It has been impossible, other than in the occasional incidents which have unwittingly emerged in public, to gauge how the Special Branches choose to interpret their official instructions.

For most of the century, in fact, the Clerks’ table at the House of Commons automatically rejected members’ questions about the branch and all parliamentry discussion was virtually taboo until Mr Robin Cook, the Labour MP for Edinburgh Central, finally managed to secure an adjournment debate in 1977. It was the first time in the history of the branch that Parliament had ever been allowed to consider its activities. Mr Cook secured another debate the following year, but both tended to raise more questions than they answered.

This secrecy survives in spite of the select committee’s unprecedented hearings. In an extraordinary exchange during the evidence, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hewett flatly refused to give MPs the slightest information about the Scotland Yard files.

Ms Clare Short MP, who had raised the point, commented ‘I am not asking for the exact magnitude or an exact number. I am asking is it 100,000 or 10,000?’ Mr Hewett responded: ‘I do not think it is in the public interest to give the number of records that we keep.’

Some – but far from all – of the mystery has been lifted by academic and libertarian researchers and some of the information was put on record in the select committee proceedings. But there is still a deep reluctance to offer any but the most grudging information.

The concerns raised by this lack of information tend to be heightened when the Government occasionally lifts a tiny corner of the curtain. In December. the Home Secretary released details of new rules governing the police use of surveillance equipment. His announcement included the comment that ‘the criteria for the authorisation and use of listening devices and of certain types of visual surveillance are considerably tightened’. Yet his predecessors had repeatedly assured Parliament that all was well and that Special Branch officers were, in the words of Mr Merlyn Rees, ‘accountable in the same way as any other police officer’.

Many critics find it hard to understand how accountability can be ensured when there is so little information on what an officer is accountable for. As Home Secretary seven years ago, Mr Rees told the Commons, ‘The Special Branch collects information on those I think cause problems for the state,’ but, like previous and subsequent holders of the office, resolutely declined to elaborate.

Last year Mr Leon Brittan gave an equally gnomic answer, declaring that ‘There is a variety of ways in which the safety of the state may be threatened and attempts made to overthrow parliamentary democracy, Tactics which are not in themselves unlawful can be used with the aim of subverting our democratic system of government.’

Across the political divide, therefore, ministers have maintained an almost impenetrable Through-the-Looking-Glass stance on the rules governing the activities of the Special Branch,

This official resistance to releasing information has obliged researchers to tum to overseas institutions known to be based on the British model – notably the police forces of Canada and Australia. They have not offered a reassuring picture. In both oases Royal Commissions appointed to examine the operation of the security services uncovered startling malpractices.

The McDonald Commission was set up by the Trudeau government to investigate allegations against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal force which operates in eight of the country’s 10 provinces, the steady expansion in the range of the security branch’s surveillance led the federal cabinet to draw up tighter operational guidelines. The security service director responded with a confidential memorandum to his senior staff commenting ‘while at first glance the ingredients of our guidelines appear to be strict legal precepts, they are not.’

What followed was described by the Royal Commission as ‘a breakdown in the rule of law.’ Security branch officers carried out 47 illegal break-ins, either to examine files or install unauthorised listening devices. There were 94 established cases of mail interception and other instances of unauthorised use of the personal records stored in government information banks. In the words of the report, ‘the practice of law-breaking became institutionalised within the RCMP.’

The government took draconian action, immediately abolishing the security branch and replacing it with a new civilian agency.

Certainly the Australian Royal Commission’s results were well in the same tradition. The South Australian Special Branch was administered by a former chief constable from Yorkshire, Mr Harold Salisbury, and used methods formally acknowledged to be ‘influenced by the security services of the United Kingdom.’

The branch turned out to have been secretly compiling voluminous files on senior members of the Australian Labour Party at local and national level, a number of the state’s current and former governors, members of the Supreme Court and other judges, trade union officials, advocates of divorce law reform. civil libertarians, and a huge range of others.

There were 41,000 names in the card index and dossiers containing information which Mr Justice White described as ‘scandalously inaccurate, irrelevant to security purposes, and outrageously unfair to hundreds, perhaps thousands of loyal and worthy citizens.’ The surveillance had been undertaken because Mr Salisbury defined subversive activities as ‘a deliberate attempt to weaken public confidence in the government and/or the constitution’ – a formula briskly dismissed as ‘nonsensical’ in one of the subsequent judicial reports.

But, just before he was dismissed, the South Australilan police commissioner offered an even more alarming interpretation of his official role in an interview with the state’s premier, Don Dunstan. Mr Salisbury told the premier that the Special Branch ‘had duties which I consider to the Crown and to the law, not to any political party or elected government.’ Justice Roma Mitchell described it as a statement which ‘suggests an absence of understanding of the constitutional system of South Australia or, for that matter, of the United Kingdom.’


The Guardian, July 13th, 1985
Tom Sharratt and David Pallister, ‘Council suspects MI5 of raids / Manchester council’s police monitoring committee claims illegal state activities may have occured’

MI5 or the Special Branch may have been responsible for break-ins at the offices of police research units set up by Manchester City Council and the Greater London Council, it was claimed yesterday.

A meeting of Manchester council’s police monitoring committee was told by the chairman, Mr Anthony McCardell: ‘I personally believe it is possible – it might even be probable – that there is some state agency involved.’

Personnel from both units are connected with the inquiry set up by Manchester council into allegations of police violence against demonstrators during a visit to Manchester University students’ union by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, on March 1. Documents related to the inquiry were apparently the burglars’ main target.

The units were set up to research police activities for the councils’ police committees. They were a response to growing demands for more police accountability to local authorities.

The first break-in happened on June 25, between 9 pm and 10 pm at the London unit’s sixth floor offices in county hall.

Mr Tony Bunyan, the deputy director of the unit and a member of the Manchester inquiry, returned to the office at 10 pm to find the lights on and an internal fire door off the latch.

Mr Bunyan found that the key to a filing cabinet had been stolen as well as his notebook of the inquiry’s public hearings. The cabinet held material concerning matters outside London. The notebook reappeared in another office of the unit three days later.

The Manchester unit, on the fourth floor of St James’ Building in the city centre, was ransacked the following night. It has given administrative support to the inquiry.

Mr Steven Wright, the director told the committee that the door had been forced and drawers smashed open. An inquiry file containing the transcripts of court statements relating to the events of March I had been moved, and pounds 1 of tea money was taken.

Mr Bunyan said last night: ‘I believe that whoever it was was probably looking for the private statements which have been made to our inquiry and the photographs that were taken by the students.’

None of these have been shown to the police inquiry into the incident headed by a 12-man team from Avon and Somerset police.


The Guardian, July 15th, 1985
Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Unions challenge security ruling / Civil Service unions question definition of ‘subversion”

The new definition of subversion accepted by Mrs Thatcher gives too much scope to the security services, particularly by encouraging them to keep surveillance on trade unionists, Civil Service union leaders have told the Government.

In a letter to Mr Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, Mr Peter Jones, secretary of the Council of Civil Service Unions, says that the definition ‘provides too ready an excuse for the security services to intrude into the daily lives of trade unionists in a way more attuned to a police state than to a western democracy.’

Under guidelines revealed in a written parliamentary answer just before the Easter recess, Mrs Thatcher said that a subversive group would be defined as one ‘whose aims are to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy .. by political, industrial, or violent means.’

Though this form of words is used by the Special Branch and in the Government’s Interception of Communications Bill, it is significantly broader than the one proposed in the 1982 Security Commission report on which Mrs Thatcher says she based the guidelines covering employees in the public sector.

The commission referred to only ‘the proliferation of new subversive groups of the extreme left and the extreme right (mainly the former) whose aim is to overthrow democratic parliamentary government by violent or other unconstitutional means.’

Civil Service unions are concerned over the guidelines’ reference to industrial action. Trade union activities are normally a peaceful and perfectly legal method of representation, Mr Jones says in his letter to

The Government has defended its definition by referring to a similar form of words used in a speech by Lord Harris, then a Labour Home Office minister, in February, 1965. Lord Harris, was making an ex parte statement unconnected with any proposed legislative or administrative change, says Mr Jones.

‘We are mystified, therefore, as to how this apparently off-the-cuff, isolated, statement has come to be elevated into an important working definition, which guides the security services in their day-to-day work in this delicate and controversial area.’


The Guardian, July 22nd, 1985
David Pallister, ‘Policemen ‘persecute students who protested against Brittan’ / Inquiry into police action during Manchester University demonstration against visiting Home Secretary’

Students who demonstrated against a visit by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan, have been harassed and threatened by a group of policemen, it is claimed.

Allegations of violent police behaviour during the demonstration at Manchester University students’ union, in which 33 people were arrested and 40 injured, have led to an internal police investigation and an independent panel of inquiry set up by Manchester council’s police monitoring committee.

A number of students have made private statements to the panel headed by Mr John Platts-Mills, QC, claiming that they have been stopped repeatedly on the streets by policemen who make veiled threats based on information about their private lives and political opinions.

Different statements, from students unknown to each other, have mentioned in particular two plain clothes officers who drive a W registration red Ford Cortina.

One student says he was detained, stripped, assaulted and left naked in a cell for an hour, ostensibly for a drugs search, and interrogated about his politics.

Mr Steven Shaw, a 22-year-old politics and philosophy student, has also had his house broken into; the only thing missing was material for his thesis on police technology. At one stage, on the advice of his tutor, Professor Roger Williams, he was provided with safe accommodation on the university’s Whitworth park campus, paid for from the university registrar’s special fund.

These events coincided with two suspicious burglaries at Manchester and London council offices where documents relating to the students’ inquiry have been tampered with. Last week, the chairman of Manchester’s police monitoring committee, Mr Anthony McCardell, said he could not rule out the involvement of M15 or the special branch.

Mr Shaw went to the demonstration on Friday, March 1, to protest about Mr Brittan’s immigration policy and the policing of the miners’ strike. The next Monday, at a large students’ union meeting, Mr Shaw volunteered to liaise with the council police committee’s support unit to set up a defence group for those arrested and to discuss ways of holding an inquiry.

The next afternoon he returned to his home in Oldham to find the door smashed and a file of research material missing. His stereo and television were untouched. The file was marked ‘police’ on the front and ‘police technology and criticisms of’ on the back.

That evening he gave details of the burglary to Professor Williams, Mr Steven Wright, head of the police committee support unit, and to the students’ union executive.

Two days later, Mr Shaw was stopped in his car by uniformed police officers who claimed he was speeding. It was the first of five similar incidents to happen over the next nine weeks.

At first he refused to accept the form requiring him to produce his car documents and was taken to a police station. He says the desk sergeant told him: ‘You’re the one making allegations about your thesis.’

Mr Shaw says: ‘I had definitely not reported it to the police. Someone must have told them about the meeting at the union executive.’

On May 14, Mr Shaw says he was stopped by the red Cortina and invited to a police station by the two plain clothes officers ‘to help with inquiries into Leon Brittan’s visit.’

Mr Shaw says he was asked about his role in the defence group, why he had gone on the demonstration and about his political affiliations. He was refused a solicitor and a doctor and was then instructed to take his clothes off by the younger of the two officers who said they suspected him of carrying drugs. The search included an anal inspection he says.

He complained but was now allowed to dress. ‘It was at this stage that I got punched in the stomach by the younger one and slapped in the face. They both went outside and took the clothes with them. I was left naked and alone for about an hour.’

This was followed by another 90 minutes of questions. Just before he was released one of the officers said he knew the timetable of Mr Shaw’s final examinations and suggested that he may not make it to them. ‘They said: ‘When you are walking along the street, you could be stopped at any time’.’

Mr Shaw feared for his safety and, on the advice of his solicitor. left Manchester for his parents’ home in London. He returned to the city last month for exams and Professor Williams arranged the secure accommodation. Walking near the students’ union on June 7, he says a uniformed officer got out of a police van, walked over to him and said: ‘Oh, so you’re living at Whitworth Park now, are you?’

Mr Shaw’s experiences, and those of other students who have remained anonymous, prompted Mr Platts-Mills to refer to their cases at the opening of the independent inquiry on June 15.

He said that a number of students had been ‘so pursued, harried, harassed and beset’ that they had been unable to get on with their studies and had left Manchester.

Mr Platts-Mills said last night: ‘We have had firm and most unhappy evidence about interference with students by police. At least three were advised by their student body and their professors to leave the university for a time in order to finish studying for their finals.

‘We have had confirming evidence about many of the allegations made to the Guardian and are well forward with preparing our report, which is to be published in October.’

Mr Shaw and the other students have decided not to make formal complaints to Manchester police or to the 12 officers from Avon and Somerset under their deputy chief constable, Mr John Reddington, who are carrying out the internal police inquiry into the demonstration. However it is expected that their stories will be included in the report of the council’s panel.

Mr Reddington said after consulting with Manchester:

‘We have not received any complaints of this nature. they should be made to the deputy chief constable of Manchester, who I am sure will take them seriously. But I can’t imagine why any policemen would want to do these things. It will certainly have no effect on my inquiry.’


United Press International, July 29th, 1985
Ed Lion, ‘British government wants IRA documentary pulled’

The government Monday urged the British Broadcasting Corp. to cancel a television documentary featuring an interview with a suspected leader of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, saying the show would aid terrorism.

In what media analysts called an unprecedented warning in peacetime, Home Secretary Leon Brittan told BBC officials the film, scheduled to air Aug. 7 as part of a series called ”Real Lives,” was ”contrary to the national interest.”

A government spokesman said Brittan told the television executives he did not ”wish to exercise the powers of censorship.”

Brittan also stressed ”in the strongest terms that … the program appeared to be giving succor to terrorist organizations by the opportunity for public advocacy of terrorist methods of a prominent member of the IRA,” the spokesman said.

Brittan said the film ”gave spurious legitimacy to the use of violence for political ends,” the spokesman said.

But Paul Hamann, the program’s producer, said the film was balanced and gave viewers insight into political strife in Northern Ireland, where the IRA is waging a guerrilla war to wrest the province from British control.

”It is a legitimate piece of reporting,” said Hamann. ”I don’t think anyone seeing the film would feel it is helpful to the IRA.”

The BBC said its 12-member board of governors would meet Tuesday to consider the request.

The government move came two weeks after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher urged the media to voluntarily bar terrorists from obtaining publicity, and also followed her vow to ”condemn” the BBC if it screened interviews with the reputed IRA leader, Martin McGuinness.

The BBC is funded by a government tax on television users, but operates under a Royal Charter that assures its independence from the government and sets standards of fairness and balance in news reporting.

But the government has emergency powers to censor news reports in the interests of national security, as it did during the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982.

The program features an interview with McGuinness, who was convicted of IRA activities in Londonderry but is now a member of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA. He is an elected — but absentee – member of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast which acts as a consulting body to help advise on policies in Northern Ireland.

Security sources believe he is the IRA’s chief of staff, but in the documentary McGuinness refuses to confirm or deny the allegation.

”I believe for me to talk about that issue, to elaborate on it, would be to give information to the Special Branch (a British police unit) and the British military intelligence who may be watching this program,” McGuinness says in the documentary.


The Guardian, August 6th, 1985
UK News in Brief: ‘Met special branch’s new head / Appointment of Simon Crawshaw as head of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch’

Home Office approval is expected this week for the appointment of Commander Simon Crawshaw as head of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, the largest in the country. He will be promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner, writes Stephen Cook.

Mr Crawshaw is to take over from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Colin Hewett, head of the special branch since 1980, who was recently appointed to head the new National Drugs Intelligence Unit, set up by the Home Secretary, Mr Leon Brittan.

Mr Crawshaw, aged 42, took over the Anti-Terrorist Branch (C13) nine months ago. His latest move coincides with a plan for C13 andspecial branch to work more closely. In the past they have sometimes duplicated work and failed to share information.



The Guardian, August 19th, 1985
Leading Article: ‘Brigadier behind closed doors at the BBC / Row over vetting of broadcasting corporation staff’

The BBC seems determined to prove that, as far as its own affairs are concerned, any publicity is bad publicity. Just at the time when the Peacock committee (as its chairman hinted publicly in Edinburgh yesterday) seems poised to insert the commercial knife between the corporation’s public service shoulder-blades, the BBC has become accident-prone. First, of course, there was the disreputable saga of the on-off Real Lives documentary, whose worldwide fall-out has not yet been fully quantified. And now, displaying the unerring clumsiness of the walking wounded, the BBC is faced with the revelations about the brigadier in Room 105.

It is easy to respond with worldly wisdom when you read that behind the door of Room 105 in Broadcasting House there lurks Brigadier Ronnie Stonham, formerly of the Signals Regiment, single-handedly weeding out all pinko job applicants and making sure that the lefties don’t get promotion. Most state-financed broadcasting stations like to vet the political credentials of their journalists. Our own security services take a more than casual interest in appointments to senior journalistic posts (and not just in the BBC) especially among foreign correspondents. And, looking at it even more cynically, what kind of a thought police is it anyway that can turn up a mere eight cases – if that’s all there be – of political blocking in a period of 20 years among a staff of 30,000 people – and only two during the Thatcher years?

Easy to be worldly wise, but mistaken. You do not have to buy the full conspiracy version to sense that there is something pretty corrosive and hypocritical going on here. The tales of the brigadier don’t, in themselves, prove that the BBC’s independence, of which so much has been heard this month, is an entire sham. They do not justify the crude conclusion that Mr Leon Brittan, in his capacity as the boss of MI5 and the Special Branch, controls the whole staffing and policy of the corporation through a vetting system which extends from the governors down to anyone who has ever done a day’s work for the BBC. But they do expose the country’s principal broadcasting organisation to the charge that it has long connived in a degree of routine interference by an unaccountable and reactionary secret service that is fundamentally at odds with the principles of editorial independence and political pluralism.

One casualty of the latest revelations ought logically to be the gut belief, apparently held by all Conservative MPs, that the BBC is a nest of left-wing vipers. It is that belief which is impelling the Cabinet, through the mechanism of the Peacock inquiry, towards the fullscale destruction of the foundations on which the BBC stiil rests. The vetting revelation, however, shows that those foundations are very fragile. It further erodes the principle of editorial independence. A confident and united BBC stands some chance of resisting the government’s increasingly determined assault. But a divided and suspicious BBC is a target with very few defences.


The Guardian, August 22nd, 1985
Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Secret vetting spreads its net far and wide / Screening of public sector staff by the security services’

Sixty-six thousand people working in the public sector or in state-owned companies, such as British Nuclear Fuels, know they have been vetted. But there are many more, including those in private firms, who are vetted by the security services without being told, inquiries have revealed.

The open admission that a person will be investigated is the crucial difference between the system known as positive vetting – to which senior officials in the Ministry of Defence or Foreign Office are subjected – and the more widespread ‘negative vetting’ which the BBC operates.

Positive vetting is a formal procedure, albeit open to abuse, with the subject asked to fill in a questionnaire about whether he or she has contacts with Communist, Fascist or Trotskyist organisations, and to give the names of referees.

Negative vetting is more discreet, and is used to investigate officials at a relatively low level in the Civil Service. It also covers trade unionists in the public sector and employees in British Telecom, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Post Office and companies, notably those involved in defence and energy supply.

M15, which has 500,000 names on its files, and the Special Branch report to the Government or the relevant employer in what is described as the ‘nothing known against routine’ if the subject of the investigation is cleared.

One error on the file can ruin a person’s career. Not only is he or she unaware of the investigation, there is no right of access to personal files to check their accuracy.

Lord Bethell, the writer on Eastern Europe and Conservative Euro-MP for Northwest London, spoke yesterday of how he had been the victim of a smear campaign by M15 in 1970. He said that his requests to see the security services to point out that allegations against him were untrue were met by a wall of silence.

He resigned as a junior minister and, with Mr Leon Brittan, now Home Secretary, acting in his defence, won a libel action against Private Eye where the allegations appeared.

Lord Bethell said that M15, had not properly checked out the information it was given about him. He called yesterday for legislation, similar to that in the United States to give individuals access to files held on them and to enable errors to be corrected.

Four years ago, Ms Jan Martin, a freelance film producer was told by the construction company, Taylor Woodrow, that she would not be welcome on their premises. According to Special Branch files, she had connections with the Baader-Meinhof gang.

This false allegation was based on information passed by a cafe-owner in Holland, where Ms Martin was on holiday. The cafe-owner mistook her husband for a member of the gang. The mistake on the Special Branch file was established by Ms Martin’s father, a former detective chief superintendent at Scotland Yard.

A Home Office circular instructs police forces to give information to the relevant ‘professional or public bodies’ about a range of individuals, including magistrates, dentists, nurses, those responsible for the care of children, and youth leaders. The information is supposed to be restricted to evidence of any criminal conviction.

Since April, vetting procedures have been backed up by sweeping new powers enabling ministers to weed out employees in ‘the public service,’ the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority, British Telecom, the Post Office, the police, and firms engaged on government contracts.

Mrs Thatcher said that the purge procedure would be extended to anyone who is a member of a Communist or Fascist organisation, or ‘of a subversive group, acknowledged as such by the minister, whose aims are to undermine or overthrow parliamentary democracy .. by political, industrial or violent means.’

This is a wider definition of subversive even than that proposed by the Security Commission. Civil servants, including senior officials, believe it could lead to vetting and purges based on narrow political criteria rather than on a genuine need to protect the security of the state.



Guardian Weekly, August 25th, 1985
‘The brigadier in Room 105’

THE BBC seems determined to prove that, as far as its own affairs are concerned, any publicity is bad publicity. Just at the time when the Peacock committee seems poised to insert the commercial knife between the corporation’s public service shoulder-blades, the BBC has become accident-prone. First, of course, there was the disreputable saga of the on-off Real Lives documentary, whose worldwide fall-out has not yet been fully quantified. And now, displaying the unerring clumsiness of the walking wounded, the BBC is faced with the revelations about the brigadier in Room 105.

It is easy to respond with wordly wisdom when you read that behind the door of Room 105 in Broadcasting House there lurks Brigadier Ronnie Stonham, formerly of the Signals Regiment, single-handedly weeding out all pinko job applicants and making sure that the lefties don’t get promotion. Most state-financed broadcasting stations like to vet the political credentials of their journalists. Our own security services take a more than casual interest in appointments to senior journalistic posts (and not just in the BBC), especially among foreign correspondents. And, looking at it even more cynically, what kind of a thought police is it anyway that can turn up a mere eight cases — if that’s all there be — of political blocking in a period of 20 years among a staff of 30,000 people — and only two during the Thatcher years?

Easy to be worldly wise, but mistaken. You do not have to buy the full conspiracy version to sense that there is something pretty corrosive and hypocritical going on here. The tales of the brigadier don’t, in themselves, prove that the BBC’s independence, of which so much has been heard this month, is an entire sham. They do not justify the crude conclusion that Mr Leon Brittan, in his capacity as the boss of MI5 and the Special Branch, controls the whole staffing and policy of the corporation through a vetting system which extends from the governors down to anyone who has ever done a day’s work for the BBC. But they do expose the country’s principal broadcasting organisation to the charge that it has long connived in a degree of routine interference by an unaccountable and reactionary secret service that is fundamentally at odds with the principles of editorial independence and political pluralism.

One casualty of the latest revelations ought logically to be the gut belief, apparently held by all Conservative MPs, that the BBC is a nest of left-wing vipers. It is that belief which is impelling the Cabinet, through the mechanism of the Peacock inquiry, towards the fullscale destruction of the foundations on which the BBC still rests. The vetting revelation, however, shows that those foundations are very fragile. It further erodes the principle of editorial independence. A confident and united BBC stands some chance of resisting the government’s increasingly determined assault. But a divided and suspicious BBC is a target with very few defences.


Colin Tucker, steward to Fiona Woolf, Fettesgate and the Scottish ‘Magic Circle’ Affair, and Wider Networks – Part 1

In the letter from the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, dated October 11th 2014 and published on the website of the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on October 20th, as well as the details of connections to Lord and Lady Brittan, the CityUK organisation, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, former Legal Officer NCCL, and Harman’s successor Marie Staunton (who openly defended the organisation’s affiliation to the Paedophile Information Exchange (Leo McKinstry, ‘The Left’s web of shame: It’s not just Harman, Dromey and Hewitt. As we reveal, many other members of Britain’s ruling liberal elite held senior posts at the NCCL when it was closely linked to paedophiles’, Daily Mail, March 1st, 2014), the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (the trial of a former teacher at which will take place in early 2015), and the City of London School for Girls (whose former trumpet teacher Helen Goddard was jailed in 2009 for abusing an underage girl, as detailed within this long post), there was a hitherto little commented-upon passage concerning an employee at Mansion House:

I believe it is appropriate to bring to your attention the report of an inquiry conducted in Scotland in 1993 relating to an allegation to pervert the course of justice. A current staff member at Mansion House, an employee of the Corporation, was referred to in that inquiry; the individual concerned was not in the employment of the Corporation during the time period mentioned in the report. Full details of the inquiry and its conclusions (at pages 106-107) are contained in the attached link to the full report (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228813/0377.pdf ). I can confirm that I have never discussed this issue with the individual and was unaware of the individual’s prior history until the matter was recently brought to my attention.

The individual in question is Anthony Colin Tucker, a former solicitor who has been steward to the Lord Mayor since the late 1980s, and so was in the employment of the Corporation at that time (see the Herald report from 12/12/89 below). The report in question is W.A. Nimmo Smith QC and J.D. Friel, Regional Procurator Fiscal of North Strathclyde, The Report on an Inquiry into an Allegation of a Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice in Scotland, Return to an Address of the Honourable the House of Commons dated 26th January 1993. In this audio interview, Tucker speaks about his work for the Lord Mayor in what is essentially a butler-like role, suggesting something rather closer than Woolf’s term ‘current staff member at Mansion House’ would imply.

The report refers to the now mostly forgotten almost 25-year old saga involving an alleged ‘Magic Circle’ within the Scottish legal establishment, in which gay judges were alleged to have given more lenient sentences to gay criminals because of fear of blackmail. Tucker’s own trial on charges of embezzlement, for which he was acquitted, was central to this affair; the trial came about after Tucker’s senior partner, Ian Walker, killed himself. One journalist, Graham Grant, Home Affairs Editor for the Scottish Daily Mail, reported on this connection this Saturday (October 25th, 2014), in this article below.

Mail 261014 - Woolf aide linked to 'magic circle' gay sex ring claim

As mentioned by Grant, of central importance is the role of Tucker’s defence counsel, the late Robert Henderson QC. Henderson has been in the news again since his daughter Susie has claimed that she was abused by both him and the late former Scottish Solicitor General Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Emma Cowing and Graham Grant, ‘I was raped aged 4 by top aide to Thatcher: Woman claims she was abused by senior Conservative MP who visited notorious guest house with paedophile Cyril Smith’, Daily Mail, August 14th, 2014), who has also been alleged to have been a visitor to the notorious Elm Guest House in Barnes, a key location for VIP guests to abuse young boys, said to have been delivered from care homes (‘Sir Nicholas Fairbairn in child abuse scandal link’, The Scotsman, July 13th, 2014). This has led to a renewed interest in the ‘magic circle’ allegations (see for example Jonathan Brocklebank, ‘A magic circle of judges, a sex abuse probe and the sinister truth about the Fettesgate scandal’, Daily Mail, August 14th, 2014), though until Grant no-one had made the connection with someone close to the Lord Mayor of London.

Tucker is also listed as a partner in a company entitled ‘LD Inns’, address 24 Howe Street, Edinburgh EH3 6TG, from March 9th 1988 to July 17th, 1989, together with the firm Burnett Walker and David Ben Aryeah. It turns out this was the notorious Laughing Duck gay bar (see Rory Knight Bruce, ‘Below the Law: It is a short walk from Edinburgh’s Court of Session to the Laughing Duck’, Spectator, January 27th, 1990), mentioned at various points in the 1993 report, and listed with a three star rating in the 1982 edition of Spartacus International Gay Guide for Gay Men; membership of Spartacus, which was run by Roman Catholic priest John Stamford, who was later convicted of sending pornographic material through the post, also notoriously gave discounts for stays at Elm Guest House, and championed PIE; Stamford also published PAN: A Magazine about Boy-Love (David Hencke and David Pallister, ‘Elm guest house scandal: Coded advert that gave signals to perverts’, Daily Mirror, February 2nd, 2013).

Tucker was also for seven years an elder at St Cuthbert’s, next to Edinburgh Castle (Bruce McKain, ‘Solicitor tells fraud trial his partner had hold over him’, Glasgow Herald, December 16th, 1989). Burnett Walker is also listed  as part of the directorship of a delicatessen, Victors of Edinburgh; Edinburgh-born David Ben-Aryeah worked for the Israeli military, as a travel agent, and was one of the first journalists to report on the Lockerbie disaster (‘Remembering Lockerbie 20 years on’, The Scotsman, December 18th, 2008; see also his commentary here; he also wrote a tour guide for Soviet musicians in Edinburgh in a 1987 issue of New Times International)

Amongst other matters, this affair demonstrates the importance that the inquiry incorporates Scotland as well (and Northern Ireland, where the Kincora Boys’ Home scandal is said to have involved intelligence operatives from the mainland). Not only is Fairbairn alleged to have been linked to abusers in both England and Scotland, but also the Paedophile Information Exchange was itself founded in Scotland, in Glasgow in 1974 by Ian Campbell Dunn and Michael Hanson as an outgrowth of the Scottish Minorities Group, of which Fairbairn was himself honorary vice-president in the early 1970s (Guy Adams and Andrew Malone, ‘Revealed: The Full horrifying truth about Sir Nicholas Fairbairn – the other paedophile at Margaret Thatcher’s side’, Daily Mail, August 22nd, 2014).

In the meantime, it is reported today that Fiona Woolf may have to face a second appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee (Ben Riley-Smith, ‘Fiona Woolf may face second grilling from MPs over links to Leon Brittan’Daily Telegraph, October 27th, 2014); it is important that Keith Vaz MP and other members of the committee also question her over this affair and whether it represents a significant conflict of interests.

Below I reproduce a wide range of articles from Tucker’s trial, through the course of the ‘Magic Circle’ and ‘Fettesgate’ affairs, up until the release of the report (with many thanks to Brian Merritt (@MySweetLandlord on Twitter) for helping with editing the materials) and its aftermath. Part 2 will include subsequent articles on the affair, the allegations of sexual abuse made in 2000 against Robert Henderson, then some obituaries of Henderson, followed by recent press articles which have revisited these affairs, relating to Henderson and Fairbairn. The Fettesgate affair related to the theft of a report by Detective Inspector Robert Orr on ‘Homosexuality and the Criminal Law’, relating to the possibility of a homosexual network in the legal profession, which can be read here. This is a complex and detailed affair which requires extensive reading.

See also this blog post from the redoubtable Cathy Fox on the magic circle and Operation Planet, an investigation into claims of sexual exploitation of boys from Scottish care homes.

Thanks also to Troyhand (@Snowfaked on Twitter) for locating information on the Laughing Duck, Ben-Aryeah and other matters.

The Herald
, Tuesday 12 December 1989
‘Court told lawyer embezzled £47,000’

THE Law Society of Scotland’s chief accountant told a court how he had sent the Crown Office a dossier detailing irregularities in the accounts of a firm of West End solicitors in Edinburgh.

Mr Leslie Cumming, 46, told the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday that his investigations into the firm of Burnett Walker, Writers to the Signet, of Stafford Street, Edinburgh, began in April, 1988, and continued for several months, ending in police involvement and a report to the Crown Office.

Mr Cumming said that during the investigation the senior partner of Burnett Walker, Mr Ian Mcfarlane Walker, died in June and at that stage he was appointed by the Law Society as the judicial factor over the affairs of the firm and its remaining partners.

Mr Cumming was giving evidence at the trial of Mr Arthur Colin Tucker, 35, of The Mansion House, London, who was a partner in the firm.

Mr Tucker has denied embezzling more than £47,000 while acting with another person at the firm between August, 1987, and April, 1988.

He has denied in the first charge embezzling sums of money totalling £19,364.90 while acting as executor for the late Robert McGinty and as solicitor for the deceased’s widow, Mrs Jessie McGinty, 79.

It is alleged that while Mr Tucker had power of attorney and control over Mrs McGinty’s financial affairs he embezzled the money between August 25, 1987, and May 20, 1988.

It is alleged that Mr Tucker had also induced Mrs McGinty to sign a false receipt purporting to show that she had received £5000 from the firm through a cheque in favour of the Royal Bank of Scotland. In truth she had not received such a sum and as she suffered from senile dementia, she was incapable of understanding the nature and meaning of a receipt.

Mr Tucker has further denied embezzling sums of money totalling £28,012.89 while acting as solicitor to Doris Lilian Duncan, 90, while he had power of attorney to manage her financial affairs between April 17, 1986, and April 17, 1988. It is alleged that Mr Tucker opened an account with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Leven Street, Edinburgh, and caused £19,041 of the £28,012 to be credited to the account in the false name of Colin Forbes.

In his evidence Mr Cumming said he interviewed Mr Tucker about the ledger kept in the law office on behalf of the McGintys.

Mr Cumming told the High Court that Mr Tucker had informed him during the interview that he had transferred about £18,000 from the McGinty account into bank accounts held by the senior partner, Ian Mcfarlane Walker. He said Mr Tucker claimed he had done so on the instructions of the senior partner.

”Tucker gave certain information about Mr Walker. He claimed Walker instructed him to withdraw various sums,” said Mr Cumming.

Mr Cumming said that he then interviewed Ian Walker in the presence of another law society official. Mr Walker denied any knowledge of, or involvement in the apparently missing funds, but he identified Mr Tucker as the partner responsible for the administration of the McGinty account.

He said that Mr Walker died on June 4, 1988, and that he was appointed by the Law Society to take control of the affairs of the firm and its partners. He later disposed of the practice and submitted a report to the Crown Office.

The trial continues before Lord McCluskey.

The Herald
, Wednesday 13 December 1989
Bruce McKain, ‘Solicitor took his life during Law Society check, trial told

THE senior partner in a law firm took his own life while his company was being investigated by the Law Society over missing funds, a court was told yesterday.

Mr Leslie Cumming, the Law Society’s chief accountant, said that in June 1988 he had been shown a copy of the death certificate for Mr Ian Walker, senior partner in Burnett, Walker WS, of Stafford Street, Edinburgh, which showed the cause of death as asphyxia through hanging by a ligature.

He told the High Court in Edinburgh that it had been reported to him that Mr Walker had taken his own life.

Mr Cumming was giving evidence at the trial of Mr Colin Tucker, 35, of The Mansion House, London, who denies embezzling more than £47,000 from two elderly clients while a partner in Burnett, Walker, between April 1986 and May 1988. Mr Tucker has lodged a special defence blaming Mr Walker.

It is alleged that Mr Tucker embezzled £19,364 while acting as solicitor for Mrs Jessie McGinty, a 79-year-old widow, by getting her to sign a false receipt at an old folk’s home, when she was suffering from senile dementia and not capable of understanding the meaning of a receipt.

He also denies embezzling £28,012 from 90-year-old Mrs Doris Duncan.

Mr Cumming, 46, has told the court that a routine inspection of the firm’s books showed up a £19,364 deficit in the account of Mrs McGinty. When asked about it, Mr Tucker had explained that he had transferred the amount into bank accounts held by Mr Walker. That had been done on Mr Walker’s instructions and Mr Tucker had received £3000 from him.

Yesterday he told Mr Robert Henderson, QC, defence counsel, that he had twice spoken to Mr Walker about Mrs McGinty’s affairs in May last year. On the first occasion, the solicitor had denied any knowledge of or involvement in the matter. On May 26, he had said it was nothing to do with him, and that Mr Tucker was the partner in charge of the McGinty case.

Mr Cumming agreed that he had later discovered that fairly large sums of money had found their way into Mr Walker’s bank accounts. Mr Henderson asked: ”So what he (Walker) told you in the course of these interviews were lies?”

”Indeed, yes,” replied Mr Cumming.”

Mr Henderson suggested that Mr Walker knew full well that his accounts were being credited with money from the McGinty funds. ”Yes, he would know that,” agreed Mr Cumming.

Mr Henderson asked: ”Would it be accurate to say that Mr Walker died leaving many questions unanswered in relation to the affairs of the firm Burnett, Walker?” Mr Cumming agreed.

He also agreed that if Mr Walker had lived, he would have wanted to ask him a variety of questions, not only in connection with the McGinty and Duncan cases, but also a number of other clients and bank accounts.

Mr Cumming said he later discovered that Mr Walker had about eight bank accounts in Edinburgh and London. Mr Cumming was responsible for winding up the affairs of the practice and valuing his estate, and reckoned that, taking into acount the value of the Stafford Street offices, two flats in Edinburgh and Mr Walker’s family home, he was worth about £681,000.

Miss Collette Mitchell, 33, an accountant with the Law Society, later told the court that during her investigations Mr Tucker seemed helpful but afraid of his senior partner.

She told how she telephoned the firm’s offices because she wanted copies of documents to hand over to police, asking for Mr Tucker and saying that ”a friend” was calling. Later they met in the street and the copies were handed over.

”Was this a secret meeting ?” asked Mr Henderson. ”It was to protect Mr Tucker, ” Miss Mitchell replied.

The trial, before Lord McCluskey, continues.

The Herald
, December 14th, 1989
Bruce McKain, ‘Woman of 90 trusted lawyer, fraud trial told’

A SOLICITOR alleged to have cheated a 90-year-old woman out of more than £28,000 was regarded as her trusted friend, a court was told yesterday.

Doris Duncan, who lives at an old people’s home, told the High Court in Edinburgh that she had given Mr Colin Tucker power of attorney to look after her affairs. She said she signed the document in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where she was recovering from a broken leg.

She knew exactly what was being done and was quite happy about it because it all seemed to be above board. Miss Duncan told the court that Mr Tucker used to visit her almost every week at the home. ”He made himself a friend and I trusted him.”

She said she had thousands of pounds in the bank and building society and, asked whether the accounts were still open, replied: ”Well, the books were left with Mr Tucker but what he did with them I do not know.”

Miss Duncan agreed with Mr Robert Henderson, QC, defence counsel, that Mr Tucker had visited her on a social basis. They would take tea together, he would take her for a run in the car and gave her Christmas cards.

She invited him to the home’s Christmas carol service and knitted a cardigan for him.

Asked if she had not grown quite attached to him, Miss Duncan replied: ”Yes, I trusted him. So far as I knew he was acting in my interests.”

Mr Tucker, of the Mansion House, London, denies embezzling a total of £47,000 from Miss Duncan and 79-year-old Mrs Jessie McGinty while in control of their financial affairs between April, 1986, and May last year.

He has lodged a special defence, blaming Mr Ian Walker, who was his senior partner in the Edinburgh law firm of Burnett, Walker. The court has heard that Mr Walker committed suicide during a Law Society investigation of the firm’s books.

The trial continues.

The Herald
, December 15th, 1989
Bruce McKain, ‘Jury told of suicide note from lawyer’

A jury yesterday heard details of a suicide note written by a lawyer who had been blamed for embezzling cash from two elderly women.

Mr Ian Walker, 63, formerly senior partner in the Edinburgh legal firm of Burnett Walker WS, hanged himself at his home on June 4, last year, while the Law Society was investigating the company’s books.

His partner, Mr Colin Tucker, is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh charged with embezzling more than £47,000 from two clients aged 79 and 90, but has lodged a special defence of incrimination naming mr Walker.

Detective Sergeant Peter Brown told the court yesterday that a note had been found by Mr Walker’s wife in their hallway, addressed to her.

Mr Robert Henderson QC, defence counsel, asked Mr Brown if the note included the words: “I am so, so sorry. I cannot go on. The humiliation is and will be awful. Forgive me.” Mr Brown agreed that these words had been included in the note.

The trial continues.

The Herald
, December 16th, 1989
Bruce McKain, ‘Solicitor tells fraud trial his partner had hold over him’

A solicitor accused of embezzling £47,000 from elderly women clients told a jury yesterday that he had been frightened of his senior partner, who, he alleges, had a hold over him.

When asked what the hold was, he said that the senior partner knew he was a homosexual.

Mr Colin Tucker said he knew what was happening was not right but he did not consider that he had done anything criminal. He told the High Court in Edinburgh: “I just wish I could have done something about it at the time but it was just not possible.” Mr Tucker, 35, denies two charges of embezzling money from two women clients aged 79 and 90 between April, 1986 and May last year. He has lodged a special defence of incrimination blaming Mr Ian Walker, his partner in the Edinburgh law firm of Burnett Walker.

The court has heard that Mr Walker, 63, hanged himself while the firm’s books were being investigated by the Law Society.

Mr Tucker told the court yesterday that after being suspended from practising as a solicitor last year he got a job as a footman with the Lord Mayor of London, earning £9000 a year. He said he had been an elder of St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh for seven years.

He said he had been invited to become Mr Walker’s partner on condition that he paid £20,000 into the firm, which he did after borrowing from the bank. The deal was that he would receive 15% of the profits and although he did not think that was fair, Mr Walker reminded him he would eventually fall heir to the business.

Mr Tucker told the court that he got on very well with the two elderly women whose money he is alleged to have embezzled while exercising power of attorney. He said Mr Walker had told him he wanted to borrow money from the clients.

“I said I was not happy about that at all, but he just would not listen or discuss it with me. He just said: ‘That is what is going to be done. They are my clients and it is nothing to do with you.'” Mr Tucker explained that the money taken from clients had all gone to Mr Walker who had promised to repay with interest.

Mr Tucker admitted that he had obtained the money and passed it on to Mr Walker. His counsel, Mr Robert Henderson, QC, asked whether, as a lawyer, he did not think there was anything odd about the transactions. “Well of course I did,” replied Mr Tucker.

“But at the time I just could not do anything about it. I was just so caught up in the whole thing.” He agreed that at the time he was transferring the clients’ money to Mr Walker he had received £3000 but denied that this was in any way a “cut” for him. It was his share of profits he had been seeking from Mr Walker for many months.

Mr Tucker told the court that because of his involvement with Mr Walker he had lost the £20,000 he initially put into the firm – which he still owed to the bank – and a £40,000 profit from his house in Edinburgh which had been retained by the judicial factor appointed to take control of Burnett Walker.

He told Mr David Burns, Advocate-depute, that he knew what he had done was not right but did not have the ability to do anything about it. “I just felt I was being used as a tool by Mr Walker.” Mr Tucker said he had been frightened because: “Mr Walker had some sort of hold over me.”

The trial continues.

The Herald
, December 19th, 1989
‘Lawyer found not guilty of embezzling from old women’

A LAWYER was yesterday cleared by a jury of embezzling more than £46,000 from two elderly women while he was managing their financial affairs.

Mr Colin Tucker, 35, had claimed his senior partner, Mr Ian Walker, 63, hanged himself eight days after Law Society officials began an investigation into irregularities in their Edinburgh law firm, Burnett Walker.

After a six-day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, the jury found Mr Tucker not guilty on two charges of embezzlement.

He denied in the first charge embezzling £18,648 while acting as executor for the late Robert McGinty, and as solicitor for the deceased’s widow Mrs Jessie McGinty, 79.

It was alleged that while Mr Tucker had power of attorney and control over Mrs McGinty’s financial affairs, he embezzled the money between August, 1987, and May 1988.

He also denied embezzling a total of £28,012.89 while acting as solicitor to Doris Lilian Duncan, aged 90, while he had power of attorney to manage her financial affairs between April 1986 and April 1988.

It was alleged that he opened an account with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Leven Street, Edinburgh, and caused £19,041 of the £28,012 to be credited to the account in the false name of Colin Forbes.

In a special defence in which he blamed Mr Walker, Mr Tucker claimed that he had transferred money from the accounts of the women to Mr Walker’s personal bank account.

Mr Tucker said he carried out Mr Walker’s instructions to transfer the money. He said Mr Walker had a hold over him because he knew he was a homosexual.

In his summing up speech to the jury, Mr Robert Henderson, QC, re-read the suicide note which Mr Walker had left. It stated: I am so, so sorry. I cannot go on. The humiliation is and will be awful if I don’t. Forgive me.”

He also read a letter from The Rev. Tom Cuthell, Minister of St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh, where Mr Tucker served as an elder for some years.

Mr Cuthell said that the accused was the church’s law agent, and was a warm, caring person, adding: ”I find it difficult to believe he was capable of the evil of which he is accused.”

Mr Tucker was suspended from practice by the Law Society of Scotland after the firm’s affairs were wound up and the firm sold.

The court heard that The Law Society sold Mr Tucker’s West End flat as well as the law firm and two other flats owned by Mr Walker, who was said to have left an estate of more than £700,000.

The Independent
, January 19th 1990
Anthony Bevins and Mark Douglas Home, ‘Commons statement urged on homosexuality claims’

MINISTERS were yesterday warned that a Commons statement would be required to kill the damaging rumours about alleged homosexuality in the Scottish judiciary.

Responding to parliamentary calls for ministerial action, Sir Geoffrey Howe, Deputy Prime Minister, condemned cross-party calls for a Government statement.

But he officially revealed that Lord Hope, Lord President of the Court of Session, Scotland’s most senior judge, had been responsible for the questioning of three Scottish judges over allegations of homosexual activity.

Sir Geoffrey said: ‘The whole House will welcome the fact that the Lord President has taken prompt action to dispel rumours about events in Scotland.’ The Scottish Office and court authorities yesterday refused to answer questions on the affair. Lord Hope, who revealed the extent of the allegations in a non-attributable briefing with editors, has made no further comments.

Rumours about a homosexual scandal involving Scottish legal figures started after the trial in Edinburgh last month of a lawyer accused of embezzling more than pounds 46,000 from two women.

Colin Tucker, 35, was cleared after blaming his senior partner, Ian Walker. The jury was told that Mr Tucker transferred money from the women’s accounts to his senior partner’s account. He said he was acting on the instruction of his senior partner, who had ‘some sort of hold’ on him.

Mr Tucker explained that the senior partner, who hanged himself before Law Society of Scotland officials began an investigation into the firm’s finances, knew that he was a homosexual.

The Government’s position on the scandal is that because of the formal separation of the executive from the judiciary, neither Parliament nor Government have any responsibility for the personal conduct of judges – other than, in extreme cases, by motion of both Houses for their removal. But Sir Nicholas Fairbairn QC, Conservative MP for Perth and Kinross, said on BBC radio’s World at One yesterday that a ministerial statement was ‘absolutely inevitable’.

He said: ‘Now that the reasons for Lord Dervaird’s resignation are publicly known and (there are) allegations against as many as, I understand, four other judges, of conduct of a pretty questionable nature, I think the whole inquiry and the truth must be given to the public by the Lord Advocate, at least, who appointed them.’

A number of parliamentary questions on the issue were last night accepted by the Commons authorities. Tabled by Jim Sillars, Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow Govan, they were all addressed to Mr Rifkind.

But when Mr Sillars put a question to Sir Geoffrey in the House yesterday he replied that most MPs would ‘have nothing but contempt for the way in which he has raised this matter’.

Mr Sillars asked for a statement on the circumstances surrounding Lord Dervaird’s resignation, saying that it could raise a question of civil liberties: ‘Whether a practising homosexual should be protected in his office of employment, and if that wasn’t the case with Lord Dervaird, then we are entitled to a statement as to the reason for his resignation.’

Sir Geoffrey said that as Lord Dervaird had resigned for personal reasons, the reasons were a matter for him.

He also dealt sharply with a question from Dennis Canavan, Labour MP for Falkirk West, who said that if a statement was not made ‘then the public will rightly suspect that there is yet another Establishment cover-up’.

Daily Mail
, January 22nd, 1990
James Grylls, ‘MPs return to attack over ‘sex case’ judge’

MPs will today renew their attempts to prise disclosures from the Government on the Scottish judges storm.

Observers were speculating last night that, in view of mounting speculation, Scottish Secretary Malcolm Rifkind may take the opportunity to clear the air.

He need answer questions only formally, but he could clear up the mystery of how Lord Dervaird, a senior Scottish judge, came to resign following allegations of homosexual practices.

Some of the rumours circulating surround homosexual Colin Tucker, who was found not guilty of embezzlement at the High Court in Edinburgh last month, just before Lord Dervaird’s resignation.

Tucker was a partner in a now-defunct law firm in Edinburgh. His defence was that his partner, Ian Walker, had committed the offence.


Walker, also a homosexual, had hanged himself before the trial, leaving a note for his wife which read: `I am so, so sorry. I cannot go on. The humiliation is, and will be, awful. Forgive me.’

His wife Esme is now married to Sir Kenneth Scott, assistant private secretary to the Queen.

Tucker, known among the homosexual legal community as Sophie, is now a Pounds 9,000-a-year footman at the Lord Mayor’s mansion in London. Lord Dervaird, 54, and his wife Bridget are at present on holiday in Cyprus.

They are staying at the three-star, Pounds 10-a-night Kissos hotel overlooking fields strewn with building waste and rusting cars on the outskirts of the resort of Paphos.

The Herald
, July 30th, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie and Raymond Duncan, ‘Calls made for resignation of Lothian chief constable. Police in second dawn raid’

SCOTTISH newspaper editors last night asked for meetings with the police and the Lord Advocate, as calls for the resignation of Lothian and Borders Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland followed a second dawn raid on a journalist’s home.

Sun reporter Alan Muir was detained in Ayr for six hours and released without charge, while in Edinburgh, Scotland on Sunday reporter Ron McKay was bailed on charges of resetting documents stolen during the “Fettesgate” break-in claimed by animal liberationists at police headquarters in Edinburgh eleven days ago.

Scotland on Sunday editor Andrew Jaspan demanded an independent investigation by a deputy chief constable of another force into the conduct of the inquiries by Lothian and Borders, while McKay, speaking after his release, called for the resignation of the chief constable — a view being voiced privately by many councillors yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Scottish news editor of the Sun claimed its office in Glasgow was having its telephones tapped.

The first signs of an effort to dampen increasing bitterness between police and press came when the National Union of Journalists, which has been highly critical of Lothian and Borders Police, received a telephone call from Deputy Chief Constable Hector Clark which was described as “conciliatory”.

The raid on the Sun reporter came at 7am at his home in Ayr, where he was asleep with his wife, Shirley, and six-month-old son Fraser. “It was quite an effective early morning call,” said Muir.

After questioning for half an hour there they took him to Ayr police station, using their powers under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980. “They refused to allow me to wash, removed my possessions — tie, belt, comb, watch – – and put me in a grotty detention room with an open toilet for four and a half hours, during which time I was given nothing to eat or drink.

“I was then taken to an interview room and grilled for over an hour. Serious Crime Squad detectives told me they already knew the name of my source. They told me he had been identified by police checking records of phone calls to and from that source.

“They produced evidence of phone calls to and from the Scottish Sun offices in Glasgow.

“My only crime has been to try to protect the name of my source like all good journalists should. The police have spent six hours confirming what they already knew.”

His news editor, Mr Derek Stewart Brown, added: “Because of other things that have happened in the last fortnight I am convinced that this office has had its phones tapped.”

The newspaper’s Scottish editor, Mr Bob Bird, said of the latest dawn raid: “This is another outrageous example of their heavy-handed behaviour. The police were caught with their trousers down over the break-in.

“Now after yet another early morning raid it seems they are trying to catch every journalist in Scotland with their trousers down. Police embarrassment has turned to police harassment.”

McKay was charged that “on July 25 at 20 North Bridge, Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Edinburgh he reset a quantity of documents, telexes, and photographs which had been stolen from police headquarters in Edinburgh on July 18/19.” No plea was made and he was released on bail without a further date being set.

He then emerged from the rear of the sheriff court building to applause and to be met with a hug and a handshake from his editor, Mr Andrew Jaspan.

He was taken by taxi to the nearby offices of Scotland on Sunday where at a news conference he questioned the competency of Sir William and called for his resignation.

“You are dealing with a man who can’t organise putting locks on his windows and stop documents being stolen,” he said.

This was the man organising security for the EC Summit in December. “If I was John Major I would be very worried.”

McKay said: “This is an outrageous state of affairs and if this had happened at Scotland Yard the heads of senior policemen would be stotting along the pavement.”

He said of the chief constable: “He can’t lock up his secrets or the people who take the secrets but he is locking up a journalist and treating him like a criminal. This seems to me intimidation of the press.”.

Pleading his innocence he said that after police knocked on his door in Kent and said they were arresting him and charging him with reset of stolen documents he asked them: “Why do you have to do it like this? I was ready to talk to you about it any time.”

He alleged a woman police officer from Chatham who was with two Scots detectives told him: “It was the element of surprise.”

McKay said that to his knowledge no documents were found by the police in any premises associated with him and he said he had not broken the law in any way.

He said he would now be resuming his holidays and a trip to a cottage in Cornwall with his girlfriend Ms Justine Mann, who he was told was having her telephone tapped, and baby Gabriel.

The journalist said the police told him they had tailed him from Glasgow to the south of

England. “That must have taken a huge surveillance operation. Is the effort going into catching criminals or preventing journalists cover stories?”

He said he felt exceedingly angry adding: “Over the last 30 hours I have been in three different jails, fingerprinted, handcuffed, and dragged across the country.”

Mr Jaspan said he considered McKay’s detention “incommunicado” to be a gross intrusion into the rights of reporters to carry out their jobs and an intrusion into the rights of press freedom.

“We will be taking this matter further,” said Mr Jaspan, who claimed the police, after giving him an undertaking that they would not place his staff under surveillance or impede them from carrying out their duties, had swooped on McKay’s home and treated him like a criminal.

“We said all along the SoS would co-operate with the police and Ron”

The Herald, 
July 31st, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Inquiry into Fettesgate affair’

THE chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, Sir William Sutherland, last night instigated an independent inquiry into his force’s handling of the Fettesgate affair.

With his officers accused of spending more time harassing journalists than tracking down the burglars who carried out the recent break-in at his headquarters, and with previously excellent relations with the media slumping to an unprecedented low, Sir William invited Deputy Chief Constable Peter Mitchell of Strathclyde Police to oversee an investigation into complaints about the conduct of his officers.

Scotland on Sunday editor Andrew Jaspan, whose reporter Ron McKay has been charged with reset for handling stolen documents, had criticised the “dawn raid” tactics employed by the police and called for an inquiry by a deputy chief constable from another force.

Welcoming the announcement, which came in a letter to him from Sir William, he said: “I think it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a mark that the chief constable is taking the complaint seriously and is at long last beginning to co -operate with the press in the way we expected him to co-operate from the outset.”

Apart from arresting Mackay who was on holiday in the south of England, police investigating the break-in also held Sun reporter Alan Muir for six hours after a dawn raid on his home in Ayr, before releasing him without charge.

In a statement last night, the Sun said it had received notification that its complaints are to be investigated. The newspaper’s editor, Bob Bird, said: “I am delighted that the police appear to have taken on board some of our complaints.

“But we are still looking for answers to specific questions we raised on phone tapping and the treatment of our reporter,” he added.

Sir William, in his letter to Scotland on Sunday, said: “Because of the close association between the complaints and an on-going criminal investigation, I have referred the issue to the procurator-fiscal who has instructed me that the start of any investigation should be deferred in the meantime until it can be established whether or not the criminal investigation could be jeopardised in any way by the parallel investigation.

“When the question of jeopardy is resolved the full investigation will proceed.”

Sir William is also to meet Mr Arnold Kemp, editor of The Herald, and Mr Magnus Linklater, editor of the Scotsman, on Monday in their capacity as members of the editorial committee of the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society.

The National Union of Journalists has called a meeting in Edinburgh on Tuesday to debate the issues arising from the affair. Branch chairman Martin Hannan said: “This should be a matter of concern for every journalist in Britain. I am calling for the NUJ nationally to alert members to what is happening.”

Out in force assault

The Herald
, July 31st, 1992
Raymond Duncan, ‘From a breach to an all-out assault on top security’

The initial shock over the Fettes Police HQ break-in may have passed but its legacy is lasting

THE shock waves that have followed the unprecedented breaching of security within the Scots police headquarters in Edinburgh appeared yesterday to be felt when Scottish Conservatives held a party news conference in a Glasgow hotel.

While the searching of cases and handbags, the checking of tape and broadcasting equipment and a heavy police presence for a routine Tory announcement was being played down by the Strathclyde force as an “appropriate” level of security, to the media security seemed unusually tight.

Speculation was concentrated on the thought that behind the police operation lay a response to a reported threat by animal rights extremists who might have planned a “spectacular”, targeted at Scotland’s establishment — a move which would make the break-in just under a fortnight ago at Lothian and Borders police HQ seem insignificant in comparison.

Strathclyde Police’s statement on yesterday’s level of security could be dismissed as deadpan or po-faced but it was positively garrulous compared to the attitude of Lothian and Borders Police where the drawbridge has been drawn up and secured with a vengeance.

The Fettesgate affair — originally attributed to the Animal Liberation Front – – has left the Lothian and Borders force in the midst of a fierce civil rights storm involving police and press. The line from the Fettes Police HQ yesterday was definitely stiff upper lip.

For the moment attention has swung away from the original break-in to the civil rights aspect with concern being expressed at dawn swoops on journalists. Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland is at the receiving ends of calls for his resignation and for an inquiry into Lothian and Borders handling of this case. The journalists deny illegal activity and accusations about a police state are levelled from opposing points of the political spectrum.

It now appears that there is, at very least, a large question mark against Animal Liberation Front involvement. The group’s official spokesman has appeared unable to decide whether to claim credit or deny all involvement, depending on how serious the consequences seem.

A more likely scenario could be that the police are the victims of a straightforward burglary — with information the targeted prize. The next step for the perpetrators is to transform information into hard cash by hawking it around potential customers.

With the Scottish Crime Squad based at Fettes it is not hard to imagine that photocopied files could have a cash value in underworld circles.

The fact that a Scotland on Sunday journalist has been charged with reset indicates that the police are in no mood to make fine distinctions.

The shame for the Lothian and Borders Force is that their security was breached. The fact that it proved possible to force a downstairs window and gain access to the building without triggering off any alarm is an obvious cause for concern.

In his only public comment on the incident — waylaid by a television crew at a function — Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland voiced his anxiety and said steps were being taken to prevent a recurrence.

It wouldn’t happen now. The door is firmly secured, as it always is after the horse has bolted. While Fettes is thought of as the “new” police HQ in Edinburgh it was designed in the early seventies at a time when police stations were less likely to be thought of as a target for terrorist or criminal activity.

Current security thinking would militate against producing a plan for a major police HQ, housing national units, with a large number of street-level windows and a ground-floor operations room.

The other major embarrassment for the force is the fact that in December Edinburgh will be host to the heads of government of nations of the European Community.

At present they are having to face the sneer from some that if they cannot maintain security in their own HQ how can they possibly handle a major international event with sensitive political and diplomatic overtones.

In charge of the EC summit security is Hector Clark, Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders who was at Maastricht last year as part of his preparation, and who is currently personally supervising the investigation of the Fettes break-in.

The Foreign Office was able yesterday to offer him one crumb of comfort. It does not view the Fettes incident as reason for doubting Lothian and Borders competence in the security field. The message was that there is no intention to review the normal security arrangements — which remain the responsibility of the local police force.

The Herald
, August 3rd, 1992
Chris Holme, ‘Arrest of Fettesgate reporter ordered by procurator-fiscal’

LOTHIAN and Borders police force yesterday received support as it emerged that the procurator-fiscal instigated the arrest last week of Scotland on Sunday reporter Ron McKay.

Assistant fiscal Kenneth MacIver said that the afternoon before the arrest, after receiving a police report, he applied for a warrant from a sheriff for Mr McKay’s arrest.

“I then passed this on to officers from Lothian and Borders police for enforcement,” he added. Mr MacIver declined to say if had consulted the Crown Office over the matter.

Mr Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow, said he had great sympathy for the chief constable.

“I know Sir William Sutherland very well and I have a very high regard both for him as a policeman and for the Lothian and Borders force.

“During the miners’ strike they behaved impeccably and in many other difficult situations they have been sensitive, helpful, and responsible. I have not had any of the difficulties my colleagues have faced in the south battling with police forces and chief constables and God knows what.”

Mr Dalyell said he supported calls for an inquiry into metering and tapping of telephones. “I am a passionate believer in the freedom of journalists to investigate,” he said.

There were, however, problems in reconciling protection of civil liberties and allowing the police adequate powers to catch criminals in a high technology age. “It is a very grey line between criminal activity and improper surveillance,” he added.

Councillor Ross Martin, who chairs the Lothian and Borders police board, yesterday reaffirmed his support for the chief constable and his deputy.

He was greatly concerned at the break-in at the Fettes headquarters and the board would consider measures to improve security in the wake of the inquiry.

“In many ways we have been the victims of our own enthusiasm to be open, friendly, and welcoming to the public. We do not want police stations surrounded by barbed wire and machine guns,” he added.

The Herald
, August 4th, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Gay claim in police break-in’

CRIMINAL elements on the fringe of the Edinburgh gay scene were involved in the Fettesgate break-in, according to a man claiming to be one of the burglars.

In a telephone call to The Herald last night, the man, who did not give his name, supplied significant inside details of the break-in which appeared to substantiate his claims.

He said he and an accomplice entered the headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police to steal a specific file to order.

They were to be paid £1500 each. Their “paymaster”, a criminal and fellow member of the city’s gay scene, gave them details of exactly where they would find the police file on a prisoner called Stephen Conroy.

Conroy was jailed six days before the break-in for fraud and was said to have had a homosexual relationship with a senior lawyer who is now a sheriff.

The burglar said he was speaking to The Herald because although they had delivered their side of the bargain — handing over the Conroy file among several bags full of documents — they were never paid their £3000.

He named the man, claiming he had first met him inside prison and then later in a gay bar in the East End of Edinburgh.

ALF — the Animal Liberation Front — was painted on the wall of the Scottish Crime Squad office purely as a diversion, and the stealing of other files had a similar effect. This fits with the story that files have been hawked around for money and adds to the fear that they could be used for extortion.

“We were paid to get in and steal one specific file. It was a file on a gay sheriff and a guy called Stephen Conroy,” said the burglar.

He said of the paymaster: “We believe he has had the work done. Now he is refusing to pay us out. We’re the ones who did the dirty work. He has used us. He said if we got that specific file we would get the money.”

The caller gave specific details about the colour and brand of the paint used to spray the wall of the office, and specified other facts about the bags they used to take away the files, the lay-out of the office, and what precautions they took to avoid anyone interrupting them.

For legal reasons The Herald is unable to give a full transcript of the conversation, but has made a note of it available to police.

The call is the latest twist in the Fettesgate saga, which began as supposedly a break-in by the animal rights activists, was then linked to drugs barons trawling for information, and has been said to be a purely criminal undertaking with a view to selling the information for cash.

* Last night police declined to comment on reports that detectives investigating the break-in at the Fettes headquarters had recovered a number of stolen files at an Edinburgh house which were delivered in the morning mail by a postman.

The Herald
, August 4th, 1992
Chris Holme, ‘Police chief seeks to ally fears on criminal law against journalists’

LOTHIAN and Borders Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland yesterday sought to allay fears over the use of the criminal law against journalists.

He was speaking after meeting representatives of the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society which has expressed concern over police action following the Fettesgate affair. Mr Ron McKay, a Scotland on Sunday reporter, was arrested and charged with reset, and Mr Alan Muir, a reporter for the Sun, was detained for questioning for six hours.

Sir William said there was no intention of extending use of criminal law against journalists.

“I recognise the difficulties that journalists have to work under. It is always a matter of sorrow that we have to resort to the criminal law in dealing with someone from the press,” he said.

The police, however, had to enforce the law and take advice on its implementation from the procurator-fiscal, who sought the arrest warrant which the police enforced in this case.

Mr Magnus Linklater, editor of the Scotsman and chairman of the SDNS editors’ committee, welcomed Sir William’s assurance that the action was not a deliberate and systematic attempt by the police to use the criminal law against reporters.

“This was very much, in his words, a unique event. We are reassured up to a point about that. There are still matters of concern over the use, whether as a one-off or not, of the criminal law against journalists.

“We think that is worrying and it is a matter we would want to take up with the Crown Office at a later date after the disposal of the cases,” he said.

Mr Arnold Kemp, editor of The Herald, said: “There is a very important unresolved question which is whether the criminal law of reset can be applied to information.

“If that were to be the case, it would be a departure for all comparable democracies and it would be something we in the SDNS would regard with the gravest concern.”

The editors also raised the question of early morning raids on the homes of the reporters. The chief constable said this and other matters would be considered by the outside inquiry by Strathclyde Police.

“We will also be looking at our procedures in the meantime,” he added.

Earlier, Sir William said the force’s reputation had been unfairly tarnished in the past two weeks.

“I wouldn’t make any excuse for the break-in at all. It is a very difficult investigation. We all know that criminal inquiries sometimes take a long time and that is proving to be the case here,” he said.

There was no ground for fears about the European summit in December. Lothian and Borders had unrivalled experience of any UK force outside London in dealing with royal and VIP security.

“We have always been successful in our duties. The summit will be well policed,” he added.

The Herald
, August 6th, 1992
Derek Douglas and Raymond Duncan, ‘Two help police as files found’

THE original files stolen in the Fettesgate incident have been recovered by detectives in an operation mounted in Edinburgh, though photocopies may still be circulating.

Police were unable to confirm last night that two men involved with the Edinburgh gay scene had been detained for questioning.

It is understood that the men, one from Edinburgh and the other from Dundee, were held under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, 1980. This allows police to detain a suspect for up to six hours.

Meanwhile, a property factor, Mr Michael Glen, whose home at Gayfield Place in Edinburgh was raided by police on Tuesday morning, told The Herald he had been “set up” by disgruntled homosexuals.

He said that four police officers had arrived at his premises early in the morning with a search warrant.

While they were there, he said, “an envelope came through the letter box. It was a small brown envelope stuffed full of papers. It was so full that they were bursting out.

“They were originals from the break-in. The police took them away.”

Last night, however, Lothian and Borders police would not pinpoint where the documents had been seized, but said they had been found on Tuesday night in an operation in the Edinburgh area. They were in two hold-alls.

At a news conference earlier, Sir William Sutherland, the chief constable, ruled out terrorists or animal rights extremists as the source of the break-in at his headquarters in East Fettes Avenue last month. Members of the Animal Liberation Front had been initially suspected after an ALF slogan was found daubed in the building.

In an emotional voice responding to questions about the effect of the raid on his force, Sir William said: “This has knocked us back.” But he believed the force would recover. People would see that its overall objective of providing a good service to the community, efficiently and effectively, was being met.

The chief constable told the news conference that while a significant number of the documents had been recovered he could not yet categorically say everything stolen was back in their possession.

Pressed on the number of files recovered, he said: “I believe that all of the files we had listed as stolen have been recovered.”

Sir William said some equipment taken from the offices of the Scottish Crime Squad and some personal property of officers had also been found.

He stressed that none of the documents related to the security issues which the force had to deal with and in particular did not apply to the forthcoming EC Summit, the papers for which were kept under secure burglar alarm conditions in another part of the building.

He said at no time had the Foreign Office expressed worries about the force’s competence to handle security at the Summit.

The files recovered were operational ones properly kept by the Scottish Crime Squad. A lot of them related to criminals and criminal records.

Sir William said: “It is sensitive. It obviously must be harmful if files which relate to the way we go about our investigative work fall into the wrong hands. It must make it more difficult in the future.”

The chief constable said no arrests had been made so far but added that he was optimistic of clearing up the crime.

He admitted a photo-copying machine had been used by the thieves and there could be copies of documents circulating.

He said he believed whoever was behind the break-in had a reasonable appreciation of the building and had put a reasonable amount of time into the planning of the crime.

Since the investigation into the break-in began around the middle of last month, a Scotland on Sunday journalist, Mr Ron McKay, has been charged with reset while a Sun reporter was detained in a separate operation and questioned for six hours before being released.

Last night after the recovery of the documents the Crown Office in Edinburgh said the charge of reset against Mr McKay was being investigated by the procurator-fiscal in Edinburgh who would report to them in due course.

Meanwhile, Councillor Ross Martin, police board chairman, in a statement to a meeting of Lothian Regional Council, said the break-in was a matter of grave concern and would be the subject of a report by the chief constable to the joint board on August 20.

He gave an assurance that the report of an internal investigation by Mr Hector Clark, the deputy chief constable, into the break-in would be made available to all councillors.

Confidence in the chief constable and the force was expressed by both Councillor Martin and Councillor Donald Gorrie, Liberal Democrat, who said it was important for the council to demonstrate its accountability to the electors and to show there was no “cover up”.

The Herald
, August 6th, 1992
‘A dubious judgment’

THE Fettesgate affair rumbles on. Police investigations into the break-in are continuing and much remains speculative, though a criminal rather than a terrorist milieu seems to be in question. Police have now recovered the stolen documents but a reporter who received them and was arrested still faces the charge of reset. We make no comment on the specific aspects of this case, since they are now covered by the Contempt of Court Act, but that does not prevent us from expressing our general disquiet about the use of the law of reset in cases where information, rather than any moveable object, is really in question.

The unauthorised disclosure of information to journalists is as old as the press itself. Various attempts have been made, by statute and by the courts, to regulate it. Official secrets have often been involved. The civil servant who leaked details of the Belgrano affair, Clive Ponting, was prosecuted under the old Official Secrets Act. When the jury refused to convict him, the Government’s tendency was to resort to civil law, as in the Spycatcher episode. More recently there has been much concern about the press invading the privacy of prominent people. After the Mellor affair, the Government may choose to introduce a Bill setting out stricter laws on electronic surveillance, since according to some reports Mr Mellor was entrapped by eavesdroppers. This would be a simpler matter than a new law on privacy.

In Scotland, the law of reset has never, as far as we are aware, impinged on journalists in the pursuit of information. It developed to deal with people receiving stolen goods for profit. A strict interpretation would therefore suggest that if a reporter had the original of a stolen document, he might be accused of reset, but of the document rather than of the information it contained: if he had a photocopy he would be beyond this particular law. The distinction is so fine as to throw the fiscal’s judgment very much into question. Information, particularly of a kind which embarrasses the authorities, has a life of its own. The Lord Advocate should desert the charges.

The Herald
, August 7th, 1992
Derek Douglas and Robbie Dunwoodie, ‘Hunt now on for copies of Fettesgate documents’

DESPITE recovery of two holdalls full of sensitive documents stolen during the Fettesgate break-in, Lothian and Borders police are concerned that duplicates might be circulating and will be used by the thieves in a campaign of embarrassment.

The greatest fear of police, who have been accused of lapses in security, is that even after an arrest is made, copies of the documents might still resurface during the European Summit in Edinburgh in December.

Detectives yesterday were still declining to say how the documents were recovered or whether the operation was connected to the detention earlier this week of two men.

It is now clear that individuals connected to the break-in at the Scottish Crime Squad Office in Lothian and Borders Police Fettes HQ nearly three weeks ago are involved in a vendetta against police.

Virtually every Scottish newspaper has been contacted and provided with a bewildering mixture of accurate details of the raid which are then coupled with increasingly fanciful claims as to motive and personnel involved.

Police dismiss much of the material released by anonymous callers to the media as being malicious misinformation, designed to create a smokescreen.

At the outset of the investigation, attention was focused on the Animal Liberation Front organisation, whose ALF slogan was spray-painted on a wall seemingly as a diversion.

Next came the suggestion of a possible link with Irish terrorism, and currently the 16-strong investigating team is involved with inquiries within criminal elements of the Edinburgh gay community.

Earlier this week Dundee hotelier Norman Lillburn and Edinburgh-based Derek Donaldson were detained for six hours by police under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act. They were subsequently released without charge.

Police also raided the Edinburgh home of property factor Michael Glen. While four officers were on the premises a batch of stolen documents arrived through the letterbox in a brown envelope. Mr Glen, who says he was “set-up” by disgruntled gays, was questioned but not charged.

Detectives reacted scornfully yesterday to a claim in the Sun that a “gay cop” had acted as the inside-man for the break-in team.

It is understood that not only was the central claim of involvement of a gay officer rejected, but that several other allegations from the same source were dismissed.

In many respects the telephone claims made to the Sun were close to the version of events recounted on Monday evening to The Herald. Some details of the raid were repeated, as was the claim that the burglary was undertaken with the involvement of a criminal element within the gay community.

Meanwhile, Mr Ken McIver, the procurator-fiscal in Edinburgh, said that police recovery of the two holdalls containing the stolen papers would make no difference to the reset case against Scotland on Sunday reporter Mr Ron McKay.

He said that Scotland on Sunday editor Mr Andrew Jaspan had been in touch with his office on Wednesday but so far as the fiscal’s office was concerned the McKay case was no different to hundreds of other petition cases which came before his office.

He said: “Witnesses will be seen and interviewed and a report will be sent to Crown Counsel in due course. There will be no early decision. Return of the documents makes no difference to the case at all but there is, obviously, an on -going inquiry into the crime of theft.”

He said the normal timescale for bringing a petition case before the courts in Edinburgh was anything from six weeks to four months.

The Herald
, August 8th, 1992
Arnold Kemp, ‘Justice: how much can be seen to be done?’

ONE of my prized possessions is a set of books by William Roughead, the classic chronicler of Scottish crime. He wrote or edited the definitive accounts of the trials of Deacon Brodie, Oscar Slater, Burke and Hare, William Porteous and many others.

He was himself a lawyer and historian. He was also an ironist and amused observer of the human condition. He was a writer of such distinction that he does not deserve the obscurity into which he has sunk. He is not mentioned, as far as I can discover, in any of the shorter modern dictionaries of biography.

I thought of Roughead this week, for two reasons. First, Magnus Linklater and I paid a visit to the chief constable of Lothian and Borders at his headquarters in Edinburgh, scene of Fettesgate.

Our task as members of the editors’ council of the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society (Magnus, editor of the Scotsman, is our current chairman) was to express our concern about the arrest of a reporter charged with the reset of stolen documents.

This issue involves information, illegally liberated, about crimes and other matters. The law of reset applies to stolen goods. Can it also apply to information? The question is comparable to that of intellectual theft and computer crime for which a new legal framework is developing. But it is complicated by competing considerations of what may constitute public interest.

Life was simpler for Roughead. He wrote his books in a more leisurely age. He was an essayist and historian rather than an investigative reporter. Crime had not become an industry. I thought of him again later in the week when Lord Hope, the Lord President, announced that the supreme courts were to be opened to television cameras though in a tightly regulated way and only after successful experiments.

The cameras will not be allowed to cover criminal trials except for subsequent use in documentaries or similar programmes. Even that will be subject to the agreement of all parties, including the jury. The Judge will have to view and approve the film before it can be screened.

It is a pretty limited advance and re-asserts the judiciary’s claim to control the press and live media at points where they impinge on the judicial process – – a claim that has been carried to a more extreme point in Scotland than in most comparable jurisdictions.

Television will convey to the public the flavour and pomp of proceedings in some of the supreme courts but not much else. After the novelty wears off it will attract little attention except, perhaps, in appeals involving particularly notorious cases.

Will a modern Roughead emerge in the form of a television producer? Will resources be available to permit a crew to devote their time, as Roughead did, to one crime and follow it through all its judicial stages?

A dramatised documentary, using actors, would probably make better television but in any case the question of resources is likely to be decisive. There is an underlying problem here which Lord Hope ignores (rightly, for it is not of his making).

The coverage by the media of the Scottish criminal legal system has become patchier than most of us would like. There is now so much crime that coverage of the courts stretches the resources of the media to the point where routine but serious cases may be quite widely ignored.

A small number of staff journalists and freelances cover the Court of Session and the High Court in Edinburgh. Our own Bruce McKain has achieved great distinction in this work but he and his colleagues cannot be everywhere at once.

The supreme courts are well served compared to others. The Glasgow Sheriff Court is called the busiest criminal court in

Europe. Appropriately it is housed in the most lavish modern building in Glasgow — for crime is an industry that knows no decline. The sheriffs are driven like shift workers. So many cases are dealt with that the hard-working freelance agency based there cannot afford to sit in a court all day unless the case offers some prospect of usable copy.

A lawyer who wishes to avoid press publicity for his client requires only a little cunning to have a fair chance of achieving his purpose. As for the High Court, its sittings have multiplied and it seems permanently on circuit.

Of course there still are cases of exceptional interest to which a news editor can safely commit staff in the knowledge that they will yield copy (the luxury of being omnipresent is not open to him either). The recent acquittal of Paul Ferris for the murder of “Fat Boy” Thompson produced some outstanding reporting, of an old-fashioned kind, from The Herald’s Carl Gordon and James Freeman. Here was the Roughead cocktail: authority, concision, irony and human observation.

Quite apart from the volume of cases and the problems of resources, the reporting of crime has become an obstacle course for the press. The restrictions on pre-trial publicity set out in the Contempt of Court Act are designed to protect the right of an accused to a fair trial but are interpreted by Judges much more strictly in Scotland than in England. When a case becomes “active” (with arrest or its imminence) then what we can report becomes heavily restricted. Even when a case comes to court, contemporaneous reporting can be prevented: this has been true of a round of current fraud cases.

Since regionalisation, police forces have become more sophisticated in their approach to the media anyway. No longer do the desk sergeants give information to the reporter who does the round of the stations. Instead it is channeled through a dedicated department.

No doubt there are some gains from the new regime. There is less sensationalist reporting of crime, and there is less risk of pre-trial prejudice.

The effect, I would argue, has not been entirely to the benefit of the public. Crime is at record levels. Violent crime seems an almost everyday occurrence. It is a subject often brushed under the carpet. If you read the excellent crime reporting in, for example, the metropolitan section of the New York Times, you realise how great our loss has been.

Lord Fraser, when Lord Advocate, even proposed that the full rigour of the contempt law would apply to the Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing. Does that mean that Scottish papers that published their pictures are at risk of a substantial fine if they come to court here?

The Herald
, August 11th, 1992
Derek Douglas and Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Gays in turmoil over Fettesgate’

One of the more bizarre aspects of the Fettesgate break-in at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters has been the series of claims linking the raid with criminal elements within Edinburgh’s homosexual community. But the secretive gay scene is one in which criminality can prosper and where many of its members still live in constant fear of exposure. Derek Douglas and Robbie Dinwoodie report

FETTESGATE was two weeks old and responsibility for the break-in at Lothian and Borders Police HQ had already been laid at the door of the Animal Liberation Front, drug barons and criminals with Irish terrorism links, when the gay dimension came to light.

In an anonymous mid-evening phone call to The Herald’s office in Edinburgh the caller, who claimed he was one of the burglars, said the theft of sensitive documents from the office of the Scottish Crime Squad had been ordered by a gay criminal to obtain the file on a prisoner called Stephen Conroy.

Conroy, a 22-year old fraudster who was said to have had a relationship with a lawyer who became a Sheriff in the West of Scotland, had just been jailed for six years at the High Court for his involvement in a £280,000 bank scam. Our caller said he and an accomplice had been promised £1500 apiece to carry out the raid. They had never been paid and had decided to blow the whistle on the alleged paymaster.

He then named as the mastermind Michael Glen, and it became clear the call was malicious. For Glen’s flat had been raided that morning by police investigating Fettesgate and while they were there a package of stolen documents was delivered by the postman. It had the unmistakable smell of a set-up, something which seemed to be confirmed when the anonymous caller to The Herald also attempted to put Glen’s name in the frame.

Glen, who factors two blocks of property in the city, is a familiar figure on the gay scene. Interviewed by The Herald, he named two other gays who, he said, had set him up and had been responsible for our anonymous phone call.

Later last week two gay men with criminal records were detained by police under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, 1980. However, they were released without charge after six hours of questioning. Coincidentally, two holdalls containing what police hope is all of the stolen documents were recovered. The police will say only that the documents were recovered as the result of “an operation”. They have steadfastly refused to say whether the detention of the two gay men and recovery of the documents were in any way connected.

Privately, senior detectives say, too, that because of the campaign of embarrassment which has been conducted by means of almost daily anonymous calls to Scottish newspapers, they have had to move against certain individuals earlier than they would have liked to.

The gay dimension, with subsequent newspaper informants speaking of the existence of a “gay cop” behind the theft and a so-called Magic Circle of well -placed legal figures and property fraudsters, whose police intelligence file might also have been the target for theFettesgate raiders, has seen investigating officers turning their attention to Edinburgh’s gay community.

Despite greater general acceptance of homosexuality it is still, in the words of one Edinburgh gay man who agreed to speak to The Herald, a febrile and, of necessity, secretive world where the opportunity exists for evil and unscrupulous men to extort and blackmail, engendering a climate of fear and trepidation.

The gay scene is one in which normal social barriers have no meaning, where, as one insider put it, “The Lord shall lie down with the labourer”. The homosexual community is host to lawyers and company directors, as well as fraudsters, extortionists and men of violence. It is a blackmailer’s paradise.

EDINBURGH is a notoriously class-riven city, its stratified social networks underpinned by its curiously anglicised education system. Virtually from birth to death the classes are divided into easily recognisable ghettos.

The gay scene cuts a swathe through this cosy arrangement which delineates place and position. Like freemasonry it operates on a clandestine self-help basis. However, because of its nature — the introduction of individuals, in all probability themselves gay, who wish to exploit it for their own criminal ends — it is vulnerable.

As veteran gay rights campaigner Ian Dunn puts it: “In many ways the key to Edinburgh is respectability. A middle-class desperate to keep its respectability cannot fully take part in letting its hair down. That’s the nub of it.”

Dunn said intolerance was as prevalent as ever, and the question of HIV had worsened this. He spoke of a small number of gay criminals prepared to exploit this, explaining: “If you want life assurance, or a house mortgage or other loan that depends on life assurance, you cannot be known to be gay. It can also be difficult to rent a home.”

A case in point: a gay man, with a criminal record, has told us that he has in his possession a photograph of Stephen Conroy and the aforementioned sheriff taken at the home of an Edinburgh QC. Our gay informant did not produce the photograph and, in truth, it may not exist, but he maintains he has shown it to tabloid newspaper reporters who have expressed an interest in its acquisition.

He says that the photograph shows the Sheriff — who our informant named — with his arm around Conroy. It is, he said, worth a considerable amount of money. The man claims to be a friend of Conroy and therefore he could not possibly part with it “unless of course The Sun came up with 10 grand.” The existence of such a photograph may, of course, be an evil fantasy but even the fact that it is a topic for discussion is a prime example of the vulnerability of closet gays.

Another Edinburgh gay, who we shall call Paul, told us that the entire Fettesgate operation was carried out with the sole purpose of embarrassing the police. He said it was engineered and carried out by a well-known criminal gay and police informer — who he named — who, despite his alleged police connection, had been convicted of sexual offences. He added that another gay, who was currently in prison, had also been involved in its planning.

“This entire affair goes a lot deeper and higher than a lot of people”

The Herald
, August 12th, 1992
Derek Douglas, ‘Dalyell seeks assurance MI5 not involved in Fettesgate raid’

A SCOTS Labour MP has written to the Prime Minister seeking an assurance that there was no security service involvement in theFettesgate affair.

Mr Tam Dalyell, MP for West Lothian, said yesterday that he had previously heard speculation from police sources that MI5 might have been involved, but had hitherto kept his own counsel. He had decided to write to Mr Major because of an article in The Herald yesterday which put the speculation into the public domain.

It is now over three weeks since the raid at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters in Edinburgh, when raiders broke into the Scottish Crime Squad office and stole large quantities of sensitive documents.

The Herald yesterday raised the possibility of MI5 involvement in the context of security service interest in the Edinburgh gay community and the poor relationship which is said to exist between MI5 and the police.

Edinburgh is to host a European summit meeting in December. The campaign of embarrassment, with a string of anonymous calls to Scottish newspapers, has proved deeply discomfiting to Lothian and Borders police.

The post-Cold War MI5, under its recently appointed director-general Stella Rimington, is said to wish a broader-based remit in the form of that enjoyed by the FBI. Police in Edinburgh say they enjoy a healthier relationship with the security service than do their counterparts in London but MI5 involvement, by its nature, is impossible to rule out.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Dalyell says that he and Labour Euro-MP David Martin had been informed by police sources that the security service might have been involved in the break-in.

He writes: “Personally, after the (security service’s) behaviour in the miners’ strike, I would not rule out any possibility, but since neither David Martin nor I have substantial evidence, we naturally did not raise the possibility in public.

“However, now that such speculation is in the public domain, could David Martin and I ask you in the light of The Herald article . . . is there not a case for a quick and categorical denial of involvement if that be the case from the senior Minister in the country?

“And, could we have an assurance that there is no question of security responsibility for the Edinburgh summit being taken from Lothian police and being given in part to MI5?”

Mr Dalyell goes on to ask Mr Major if there is any connection between the “Fettes situation” and the current detention of “an individual concerned with alleged aero-engine connected information under the Official Secrets’ Act” and a 1986 secrets’ case involving “aero and related information?”

Mr Dalyell told The Herald: “People don’t do this kind of thing for fun. Obviously there has to have been a reason for the break-in.”

The Herald
, August 19th, 1992
Raymond Duncan, ‘Fettesgate police call in security firms’

LOTHIAN and Borders police are looking to private security firms to prevent a repeat of the embarrassing Fettesgate incident.

In a report to the police authority Sir William Sutherland, the chief constable, will press for companies to be invited to tender for a security package at force headquarters as a matter of urgency.

Sir William says in the document to be put before councillors on Lothian and Borders police board tomorrow: “It is important that this process be concluded as soon as possible.”

His proposal to board members, which will involve substantial funding, will be accompanied by his report on the break-in at Fettes in the middle of last month.

Intruders entered the offices of the Scottish Crime Squad, which rents the rooms from the police authority, and stole sensitive files.

No one has been arrested for breaking into the building but most of the stolen documents have been recovered.

In his report Sir William expresses great anxiety about the incident during which it is thought the thieves gained entry through an insecure ground floor window.

The rooms were next to the force operations room and computer input section, both of which are occupied by police and civilian staff on a 24-hour basis.

“It is a matter of great concern that security was breached,” states Sir William’s report which says that several interim measures, both in security and procedural terms, have been taken to tighten security and heighten awareness among police staff.

The report says a fuller security review has also been undertaken and this has identified several security requirements for which financial provision would need to be made in the next few months.

The force has drawn up a specification detailing the security needs and a limited number of companies with experience in dealing with integrated systems to protect large building complexes have been invited to respond.

“Subject to the acceptability of these specifications, it is proposed that these companies be invited to submit tenders,” states the report.

Sir William also says the security of other force police stations is being looked at and money made available for additional measures which would undoubtedly be identified.

The Independent
, August 20th, 1992
James Cusik, ‘Police look to private sector for protection’

THE TRICKY question that every Latin scholar has been asked – quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who shall guard the guards themselves) – was answered in Edinburgh yesterday. If only the Romans had known about private security firms, writes James Cusick.

After the embarrassment of a break-in at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters in Fettes, Edinburgh, last month, the Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, reported to the police board yesterday that ”the problem must be concluded as soon as possible”.

The force, which will be partially responsible for security at a European Community summit in Edinburgh in December, has taken steps to hire a commercial security firm to protect police headquarters.

Securicor is among a number of companies that have been approached. The UK head office in Croydon said the company would provide the Fettes building with closed circuit monitors and a micro-chip network that would identify on a computer screen any breaks in light-sensitive alarms around the building.

The source said: ”If, for example, a beam was broken, messages would also be shown on-screen to our guard in a special control room inside the building.” And if it was serious? ”Well, he would be told to ring the police.”

Sir William’s report on what is being called Fettesgate describes how intruders entered the offices of the Scottish Crime Squad, which rents rooms from the police authority. Files, believed to include some sensitive documents, were removed. No one has been arrested, but most of the documents have been recovered. The thieves apparently gained entry by the simple means of climbing through a ground-floor window.

The Herald
, August 21st, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Call to end phone metering’

THE Scottish Council for Civil Liberties has launched a campaign against metering of telephones, the practice by which police can gain access to lists of itemised telephone calls.

It emerged during investigations into the so-called Fettesgate affair, when the headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police was broken into and sensitive documents stolen, that details of private calls can be obtained by police from BT.

Now the council has added its weight to calls from politicians for a tightening up of what is regarded as a loophole in legislation allowing police to gain details of calls dialled from certain telephone lines.

The civil liberties lobby has written to BT condemning the practice and urging it to desist. It has also asked the Data Protection Registrar to investigate metering and judge whether it might breach the Data Protection Act.

A spokesman for the council yesterday said it suspected its telephone system had been monitored without its knowledge or permission.

“We have no hard evidence, but it is our suspicion that calls and faxes are being metered and that British Teleom has been giving a print-out to the police and or a security agency,” said vice-chair Ken Brown.

The organisation has demanded that BT confirms or denies its suspicions. If such information has been provided, it wants details of all information handed over to the police or security agencies.

Unlike listening in to private telephone calls, telephone tapping, for which police must obtain a warrant from the Scottish Secretary, monitoring lists of itemised telephone calls does not require permission.

BT has confirmed it supplies such information to police at the request of a senior officer.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Tom Clarke and Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell have condemned the practice, describing it as a “loophole” in legislation. They have urged the Scottish Secretary to act against it.

The Guardian
, September 5th, 1992
John Mullin, ‘Gay informer was mastermind behind Police HQ raid’

A SERIOUS breach of security at the headquarters of the Lothian and Borders constabulary ensured an embarrassing summer for the force and its chief constable.

Intruders seized confidential documents early one Sunday morning in July with breathtaking ease, and the raid has been blamed variously on the Animal Liberation Front, Irish terrorists, drug barons and MI5.

No one has been charged with the break-in. Yet police have known the identity of the mastermind behind it for several weeks.

But charges have been ruled out, either for lack of evidence or because of worries over what the man responsible, a police informer, might say in the dock.

The affair is a story of the gay criminal underworld in Edinburgh and of the often precarious links between police and their sources. It is a tale of tip-off fees denied and of possible blackmail against at least one senior figure in the legal establishment, said to be associated with a gay fraudster sentenced to six years for his part in a pounds 280,000 bank scam just before the break-in.

The operation was sophisticated. While officers worked in offices nearby, the raiders gained access through a rear window to a deserted suite of rooms leased to the Scottish Crime Squad, a group of detectives brought together from forces throughout Scotland. As well as carrying out investigations into drugs and counterfeiting networks, the squad carried out surveillance for the Special Branch.

The raiders apparently spent more than two hours gathering documents, photocopying some, and scattering and ripping up others to confuse detectives about what exactly was taken.

In all, the raiders made off with two holdalls of documents, and sprayed the letters ALF – the Animal Liberation Front – on the walls of the offices to throw police off their trail.

For Sir William Sutherland, the Chief Constable, and a keen supporter of Neighbourhood Watch schemes, the raid has proved particularly embarrassing.

His force has the leading role in the security operation for December’s Euro-summit at Holyrood Palace, in Edinburgh. Sir William has assured his police board that no details of the security operation for the summit were taken. But it is known the raiders took documents relating to police “metering” of suspects’ telephones – a controversial technique stopping short of phone-tapping which police have used without seeking a warrant.

There was also information in the suite on ALF activities, on suspected Ulster loyalist sympathisers in Scotland, on a counterfeiting operation and a car-ringing network. It is also thought the raiders found lists of former Scottish Crime Squad officers and police informers.

But the raiders failed to find the file they really wanted: a dossier on Edinburgh’s so-called Magic Circle, a group of homosexuals with criminal interests. The file, locked in another office, contained details of relationships between figures in the legal establishment and gay criminals. It was to provide the mastermind, himself gay, with blackmail material.

However, the haul provided the mastermind – who is thought to have been furious about a cash wrangle with his police handlers – with plenty of scope to embarrass the police.

The window through which the raiders entered was regularly left unlocked to allow detectives to take a short cut to the car park, and one senior officer said: “The whole affair has been a total embarrassment, and we are now the laughing stock of the country.”

There have been many suggested motives behind the raid on the force’s Fettes headquarters. The ALF would have been after files on its alleged fire-bombing activities last year. The Irish contingent and the drug criminals would want lists of informers and security information. MI5, anxious to strengthen its anti-terrorist role, was seeking to embarrass the force.

Stories behind what inevitably became Fettesgate flourished. The mastermind, a regular visitor to the offices and who is fascinated by police procedures, mounted an impressive campaign of misinformation, mixing verifiable details with lies. With Lothian and Borders police adopting an effective news blackout, the wild tales mushroomed.

Only one person has been charged in connection with the affair, a Scotland on Sunday reporter. Telephone calls on July 25, six days after the raid, led Ron McKay to a grit bin close to his newspaper’s offices. There he found among abandoned crisp papers, used condoms and road salt, papers which he used to write a story for the next day’s paper.

Two days later he was arrested at his girlfriend’s house in Chatham, Kent. Mr McKay was held overnight and charged with reset, the Scottish equivalent of handling stolen goods.

Alan Muir, a reporter with the Sun, also received a telephone tip-off on Sunday, July 19, barely 12 hours after the raid. The Scottish edition of the Sun broke the story the next day.

It was also to cause Mr Muir problems. He spent six hours in police custody the next day, but was released without charge.

The police inquiry took a new turn on August 3. After a tip-off, four detectives raided the Edinburgh home of Michael Glen, aged 34, well known on the city’s gay scene.

Just after 7am, the postman delivered an envelope containing seven A4 pages. “I only got to see the first page, before they grabbed it out of my hand. It related to one of the ALF’s alleged fire-bombings last year,” said Mr Glen yesterday. “They could see I had been set up. If they had come at nine and had not been there when the envelope arrived, then I would have had a terrible time explaining what the papers were doing in my home.”

Yet police arrested Mr Glen, a property factor, who denies any involvement in the raid, as he returned to his flat that night. He was held on a warrant relating to an alleged pounds 150 bed and breakfast fraud at a Glasgow hotel in January. Mr Glen was held in custody overnight.

Two other men with links to the Edinburgh gay scene had their homes raided as Mr Glen was preparing to appear in court. Norman Lillburn, aged 38, proprietor of the Queensway hotel in Dundee, was held for six hours and released without charge. His premises were searched and nothing was found. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Detectives also visited the home of Derek Donaldson. They questioned him for six hours and released him without charge. Mr Donaldson would not comment yesterday.

On the evening of August 4, police were told where they would find the two holdalls containing the stolen documents and all the material was apparently recovered. But Sir William conceded there was no way of knowing how much had been copied. He accepted police inquiries had been compromised.

There are now two investigations going on into the affair. Sir William called in Strathclyde Police to investigate complaints from Mr Mckay and Mr Muir. Both say they were treated shabbily.

The findings of the internal Lothian and Borders Police inquiry go before the police board next month. It seems likely there will be disciplinary action. Police board sources say there is disquiet about some of the relationships between officers and their informants.

Meanwhile, Lothian and Borders police say the inquiry into the break-in is continuing.

The Herald
, September 12th, 1992
Alan Hunter and Bruce McKain, ‘Gay link fear in dropped court cases’

A LEAKED police report claims that the administration of justice in Scotland may have been influenced by homosexual activity among the higher echelons of the legal fraternity.

The report, which comes only weeks after the “Fettesgate” break-in in Edinburgh, immediately led to calls for an inquiry yesterday. It was also confirmed that another internal investigation by Lothian and Borders police into the leak had begun.

The Prime Minister has been asked to take up the matter with the Lord Justice -General and Lord President of the Court of Session, Lord Hope, and Scotland’s most senior law officer, the Lord Advocate Lord Rodger, will be asked within the next few days, to launch an investigation.

However, last night the chief constable of Lothian and Borders police, Sir William Sutherland, in response to questions from The Herald, was not available to answer whether he intended to pursue the contents of the report.

According to the report, ordered by Sir William and undertaken by a senior CID officer from his force, the conclusion was that homosexuality may well have been used as a means of seriously interfering with the administration of justice.

It followed concerns raised by Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell last November with the chief constable, but following a letter he received only on Thursday from the Lord President, it emerged that he decided to write to Downing Street, seeking a full investigation.

Mr Dalyell declined to disclose the content of the reply from Lord Hope, or of his letter to the Prime Minister, but admitted: “I have asked for an investigation into certain aspects of this situation which clearly demand explanation.”

Later, however, Edinburgh Central MP Alistair Darling said that as a priority he would seek a meeting with the Lord Advocate, whose department was the investigative arm of the justiciary.

He is due to meet the chief constable early next week as part of routine talks when he would raise the matter: “These are very serious allegations,” he said. “They strike at the heart of the system of Scottish justice.

“I will be raising the matter with Sir William and will certainly ask the Lord Advocate to mount a major investigation into those allegations.”

Mr Darling emphasised that in view of rumours circulating for a considerable time, the stage had now been reached where an inquiry was essential, otherwise a question mark would remain over the system of justice in Scotland.

The deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders, Mr Hector Clark, who is leading the investigation into the Fettes headquarters break-in, confirmed later that he had ordered an inquiry to establish whether information had been leaked improperly — and by whom.

For that reason, he said it would be inappropriate to comment further.

However, he admitted that there had to be concern about a police document being made available for public consumption.

Mr Clark said that the chief constable had no lack of confidence in the Crown Office and the judicial process, and that this was a view shared by senior officers in his force.

The Scottish legal establishment was under scrutiny two years ago, amid allegations of homosexuality, leading to the resignation of High Court Judge Lord Dervaird.

The cases investigated

by the detective included a major “rent boy” case in Edinburgh in which a large number of charges were dropped before the trial.

A Dunfermline fraud trial, involving two alleged homosexual lawyers, was abandoned by the Crown with no reason given.

Another involved an alleged mortgage fraud centring on a leading advocate which never went to trial.

A Crown Office spokesman said yesterday: “We are not going to be making any comment on what is a leaked internal police report. The Crown Office has not seen this report and we are not going to be commenting on a report that we have not seen ourselves.”

The spokesman added that the report appeared to have gone to the chief constable some time last year.

The view in the Crown Office seemed to be that much of what was contained in the report was speculation and innuendo and that the misgivings expressed by the police were not new.

It was accepted that the police, who investigate a case, and the procurator -fiscal or Crown Office, who finally decide on how it is prosecuted and in which court, sometimes can take a widely differing view on how seriously it should be treated.

A decision not to prosecute — as in a Glasgow rape case, which led to a private prosecution — or to cut down the number of charges does not always meet with the approval of the police who may have spent months conducting an investigation.

In High Court cases, it will be up to the Advocate-depute conducting the prosecution to decide how to deal with the case once it gets to court, for example whether to accept pleas to charges which are less serious or even abandon the prosecution.

This can happen for a number of reasons. For example, statements given by witnesses to police at an early stage of an investigation will not always stand up under cross-examination when the case gets to court.

Last night, Mr Ian Dunn, of the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group, said he understood why people might attempt cover-ups.

“The deviousness has to stop,” he said. “We want to see a certain amount more honesty. This sort of thing arises because of society’s hypocrisy. The root of the problem lies in attitudes within society at large.”

Daily Mail
, September 12th, 1992
James Grylls,‘Judge named in shock report on gay lawyers’

A POLICE report into claims that homosexuality ‘seriously interfered’ with Scottish justice names a High Court judge, two sheriffs and a prominent businessmen.

The leaking of the report’s contents prompted a police inquiry.

Senior officers refused to comment but did not challenge its authenticity.

It was commissioned by Lothian and Borders chief constable Sir William Sutherland after he was contacted by Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow.

Mr Dalyell said he had written to the Prime Minister to ‘raise aspects of the matter’.

The report allegedly concludes: ‘The inference is one of a well-established circle of homosexual persons in Edinburgh with influence in the justiciary who may or may not have exercised that influence but who have formed associations which, in themselves, lay them open to threats or blackmail.’

Cases referred to include that of a major embezzlement surrounding an Edinburgh firm of solicitors whose two partners were homosexual. One hanged himself.

During the trial of the other, Colin Tucker, in 1989, rumours surfaced of a list of members of the legal profession alleged to be homosexual. They included several judges.

The report says Mr Tucker’s acquittal caused ‘many expressions of disquiet from persons on both sides of the legal profession’.

Three days later, it adds, leading judge Lord Dervaird – who was not involved in the case – resigned amid allegations of homosexuality.

In another case involving a rent boy inquiry, all but ten of 57 charges were withdrawn just before the trial – meaning that no Edinburgh boys gave evidence about the capital’s ‘gay scene’.

The Independent, September 13th, 1992
Mary Braid, ‘Calls for inquiry into ‘collusion by gay judges”

PRESSURE is growing this weekend for a full inquiry into a leaked police report investigating allegations that homosexuals in the higher echelons of the Scottish legal system may have subverted the course of justice.

Opposition MPs say the report ”strikes at the heart of the Scottish judiciary” and that the allegations in it must be investigated immediately. The report includes the names of a High Court judge, two sheriffs and two other leading members of the legal system.

Looking into the handling of five legal cases, the report concludes that the authors felt that, in one case, the decision to drop charges and prosecution was ”a tactical one . . . to prevent the possibility of evidence being presented which could potentially compromise senior figures in the judiciary”.

One of the cases involved the withdrawal of 47 of 57 charges in a ”rent-boy” investigation shortly before the trial was due to begin. Another concerns an embezzlement surrounding Burnett Walker, a collapsed firm of solicitors, two partners of which were homosexual.

The leak has sparked the latest in a long line of homosexual-related scandals to hit Scottish legal circles since the resignation of Lord Dervaird, a respected High Court judge, in December 1989. Since then there have been rumours that some of the profession’s leading lights have been professionally compromised by their homosexuality.

A conspiracy theory has developed which incorporates the suicide in 1988 of Ian Walker, senior partner in Burnett Walker. The leaked report says: ”The instance is one of a well-established circle of homosexual persons in Edinburgh with influence in the judiciary who may, or may not, have exerted that influence, but who have formed associations which in themself lay them open to blackmail.”

The report, prepared for Sir William Sutherland, Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders, was initiated after Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow, complained to Sir William about the handling of some cases.

Yesterday Mr Dalyell denied being the source of the leak. He has written to the Prime Minister asking for a full inquiry. Mr Dalyell, who was interviewed by police yesterday, said that without an inquiry people named in the report might suffer ”a slow trial by tabloid newspapers”.

Alistair Darling, Labour MP for Edinburgh Central, said a full inquiry should be held to put ”the rumours to rest”.

Lothian and Borders police said all allegations of criminal activity had been sent to the Procurator Fiscal. It was up to the Crown Office to decide whether to prosecute and the nature of charges.

The leak comes within weeks of the ”Fettesgate” break-in at police headquarters in Edinburgh. Police refuse to say whether there is any connection.

The Herald
, September 21st, 1992
Derek Douglas, Bruce McKain and Margaret Vaughan, ‘Magic circle vanishes under scrutiny’

A POLICE report implying that homosexual Judges and senior lawyers used their influence to interfere with the course of justice is riddled with crucial errors, misrepresentations, and assumptions masquerading as facts.

An investigation by The Herald has revealed that while there is no hard evidence in the leaked report of a conspiracy involving a magic circle of gay Judges, advocates, and solicitors, there is disturbing evidence of a rift between the Crown Office and Lothian and Borders Police.

The Herald investigated the five cases cited in the report and uncovered flaws and inaccurate reporting of events relied upon to substantiate the conspiracy theory.

The report stemmed from deep disquiet among senior police officers frustrated by the collapse of cases representing years of police work. This disquiet was raised with Lothian and Borders Police Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland by the Labour MP for Linlithgow, Mr Tam Dalyell.

The apparently puzzling outcome of five major inquiries led to conclusions being drawn which do not stand up to scrutiny.

The first three involved fraud investigations. In the first the jury acquitted, the second was thrown out of court and in the third the Crown Office concluded there was insufficient evidence to proceed against leading defence counsel, Mr Robert Henderson, QC.

The report infers — on the basis only of rumour — that Mr Henderson may have used blackmail to avoid prosecution. The Herald investigation found no evidence whatsoever to back this assertion. More importantly, if the allegation had been true then Mr Henderson would surely have been pursued through the criminal courts. In the prolonged absence of any such action it must be accepted that the allegation is entirely without foundation and Mr Henderson’s reputation is totally unsullied.

The report, which does not suggest that Mr Henderson is gay, seeks to link his successful defence of a homosexual lawyer, Colin Tucker, in the first fraud trial and supposed knowledge of gays within the judicial fraternity to the collapse of a fraud trial in Fife in which Mr Tucker was an accused.

The Herald uncovered a number of crucial flaws in the report, one being that Mr Henderson did not represent Mr Tucker at the second fraud trial.

The fourth case was a homosexual trial, the notorious Edinburgh Rent Boys case. The decision to drop the majority of charges and abandon cases against some of the accused was greeted with anger and incredulity amongst officers.

In the fifth case a homosexual businessman, Stephen Conroy, was jailed for six years for mortgage fraud. During police inquiries repeated reference was made to the existence of a compromising photograph linking the businessman with a senior prosecutor who is now a sheriff. The sheriff is named in the report but the allegedly damning photographic evidence has never surfaced.

If Conroy did have a homosexual relationship with the sheriff, there is no evidence to suggest that it was relevant in the conspiracy theory. On the contrary, Conroy received a six-year sentence which was seen in many quarters as particularly harsh.

The conspiracy theorists suggest that the severity of the sentence was intended to show publicly that, whatever the rumours and innuendo implied, those who might be thought to be part of the conspiracy could expect no leniency from the bench.

The sheriff named in connection with the Conroy case appears elsewhere in the police report, during his time as a prosecutor, in connection with one of the other cases. Serious allegations are made against him which, if true, would lead to his dismissal. But this affair must be viewed independently and does not provide evidence of a conspiracy.

A review of all five cases is now under way following the leaking of the report, compiled by the head of CID in Lothian and Borders Police, to an Edinburgh evening newspaper.

Following calls from MPs, led by Tam Dalyell with whom complaints about the cases were raised last November, the Crown Office belatedly ordered a review of the cases by two senior lawyers.

The Herald investigation discloses that inevitable tensions between investigating police officers and the independent prosecution service, which decides whether cases should be pursued, have resulted in mutual hostility and deep anger on both sides.

The Herald, September 23rd, 1992
Bruce McKain and Margaret Vaughan, ‘Dean gives disciplinary pledge over advocates’

THE Dean of the Faculty of Advocates said yesterday that if he had received any credible complaint that a member of the Scottish Bar had used information gained through his work for personal advantage he would have initiated immediate disciplinary action.

His remarks came at the same time that Scottish Office Minister Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the former Lord Advocate, dismissed as nonsense stories that a so -called magic circle of homosexual lawyers may have perverted the course of Scottish justice.

The Dean, Mr Alan Johnston, QC, emphasised that the faculty as a whole was more important than its individual members: “I regard it as of paramount importance to maintain the good reputation and professional integrity of the faculty and therefore take this type of allegation very seriously indeed.”

Apart from any question of criminal proceedings, the faculty has its own disciplinary system. In the most serious cases, an advocate can be suspended and expelled from the Bar after a complaint has been lodged and investigated.

Herald inquiries have revealed that no complaint has been received by the faculty from any source against Mr Robert Henderson, QC, the counsel named in a leaked report by Lothian and Borders Police.

These latest disclosures come in the wake of The Herald investigation which found no evidence to substantiate police claims in the report that a magic circle of gay lawyers may have perverted the course of justice. The investigation did, however, uncover a serious rift between the Crown Office and the police.

The police report recounts rumours of improper professional conduct involving Mr Henderson but concedes they are based on nothing more substantial than gossip.

The report speculates, with no proof, that Mr Henderson, one of the country’s ablest and most successful counsel, came into the posession of a “list” during his successful defence of homosexual solicitor Colin Tucker who was acquitted of embezzlement charges. It infers that he could have used this knowledge to his own advantage.

The list, if it exists, is supposed to contain the names of prominent members of the Scottish legal establishment who fear being exposed as gay.

The police report states: “The rumour in circulation is that Henderson is in possession of the list and as such is in a position to threaten to expose prominent figures and by such means influence the course of justice.”

The report suggests a link between the list and a decision by the Crown Office in October 1991 not to proceed against Mr Henderson in a separate inquiry.

However, Herald inquiries have established that the decision not to proceed against Mr Henderson was taken by Mr George Penrose QC, now Lord Penrose, but at the time the senior prosecutor in the Crown Office.

His decision was that there was insufficient evidence. Both as a Judge and a prosecutor, Lord Penrose has earned a high reputation for independence and integrity.

The police report appears reluctant to accept that the decision was made on purely legal grounds.

Sources within the faculty confirmed yesterday, however, that there had been no complaint against Mr Henderson by the police or any other individual.

In the absence of any complaint or prosecution, and given Mr Penrose’s thorough consideration of the facts, the rumour that Mr Henderson could have used his influence to prevent any case being taken case against him is without foundation.

It has also emerged that the faculty expressed concern to the Crown Office at what was seen as an inordinate delay in deciding whether Mr Henderson should be prosecuted. Effectively the Crown Office was being asked to put up or shut up.

Mr Johnston said yesterday he could think of no more serious charge against a member of the Bar than that he or she had used professional information for personal advantage.
“As Dean I have a responsibility to investigate allegations of professional impropriety, perhaps the most important responsibility of all.

“If I received plausible information which could be regarded as relevant to a charge that an advocate had used material gleaned as counsel to influence a decision affecting his personal affairs in any way, without even establishing the truth of the allegations, the advocate would immediately be suspended and the case sent to an investigating committee.

“I would ask the committee to report to me and if the facts were found to be established I would initiate action against the advocate concerned.”

On BBC’s Reporting Scotland, Lord Fraser also made it clear that he would co -operate fully with the inquiry set up by his successor, Lord Rodger.

He talked of his “dismay” at the way the police report, which he said had never come to him at Crown Office, had been leaked, but agreed that a review of the five cases mentioned in the report was necessary.

Lord Fraser agreed that allegations of attempts to pervert the course of justice were serious, had to be explored and people’s minds put at rest. That had to be disentangled from a “rather unsavoury attempt” to explore in a prurient way the homosexuality of people not involved in any criminality.

He emphasised it was important to bear in mind that a number of the cases in question were cases that went before courts. “It’s not as though what happened was in private. It was a matter that was discussed openly in the best traditions of our legal system in open court before a Judge and jury.”

The former Lord Advocate said the whole matter caused him “some despair”, but added: “I don’t think that I or any of those who acted under me have anything to be ashamed of, nothing whatsoever.

“What does cause me some concern is that there should be a suggestion that there is something corrupt or rotten at the centre of our prosecution service. That frankly is nonsense.”

The Herald
, September 23rd, 1992
Robin Dinwoddie, ‘Happy holidays’

AND now the traditional question: “What did you do in the holidays?” Or are you a bit nervous that William Nimmo-Smith or James Friel might ask you that?

If, on the other hand, you really have just arrived back after a couple of months spent languishing somewhere very isolated indeed, you might be able to handle a couple of lighter observations on recent events before the heavy hand of the inquisition knocks on your door.

For example, there was the tricky question, given the current nervous climate within the Faculty, faced by advocate Bill Totten during a rape trial at the High Court in Glasgow. He was questioning the alleged victim when she became angry at his line of inquiry and demanded to know: “Do you know what it’s like to have a man on top of you?”

The other rumour to have reached Devil’s Advocate is that the Magic Circle is thinking of changing its name to the Institute of Conjurors. We would advise them not to bother, confident that in a couple of months’ time the alternative to the traditional meaning of the phrase will be proved to have existed only in a few fevered minds propping up the bar in the police social club (not that anyone was in the bar, or locus as it is known, on the night of any incident).


THE reputation of Lothian and Borders Police for openness continues to shine forth. When a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh had to be adjourned for reasons which could not be made clear to the jury, counsel for the accused confided to members of the press: “I can’t tell you anything, but if you phone Fettes there should be a leak available.”

Net tightens

MEANWHILE, the hunt for the Fettesgate burglars begins to show signs of desperation, with the police making use of a public questionnaire in a thinly disguised attempt to trap the culprits.

The first sneak question in the Police Station Survey asks reason for attendance. After lulling respondents with several non-incriminating possibilities (reporting accident, lost property etc.,) it states “Other (Please specify)” with a space to fill in: “Breaking into Scottish crime squad office.”

Further questions ask who dealt with you (“Well, no-one, actually”), whether you were satisfied (“Yes, very nice haul”), and invite grades on whether the policmen were caring, courteous, interested, helpful, or sensitive and whether the station was clean, tidy, friendly, or welcoming. Heavy scoring there, clearly.

Then the crunch: “Please show the day and time you attended the station.” Early hours at the weekend? It’s a fair cop, guv. Only they forget to ask for your name.

Blue joke

THERE was more topical summer fun involving boys in blue during a recent murder trial in which the accused went by the unusual sobriquet “Chelsea.” When a witness was asked what the accused was wearing on the night in question the sotto voce reply from one of the police escorts was, naturally: “A David Mellor strip.”

Shot down

THE Law Diary can exclusively reveal who didn’t discharge a shotgun at former Solicitor-General Sir Nicholas Fairbairn last week, temporarily blinding him. It cannot have been his fellow advocate Anne Smith, because she called after our last column to protest nothing but affection for Nicky.

This was, we pointed out, because our reference to possible ideological differences with the Baron of Fordell was to the journalist Anne Smith, but we hasten to add that no-one is suggesting she was behind the flying lead last week either.

Bastions of the

Law (No.20)

HE may be a thirty-something advocate only three years in the Faculty, but in view of the current inquisition linking sexual peccadillos and public conduct Derek Ogg has the advantage over many of his colleagues in that, in his words, “all my skeletons are hanging out in the street. Unfortunately, closet doors are now slamming all over professional Edinburgh,” he says. “People who might have been considering coming out over the past year will not do so in this climate, and those of us who are out are that bit more exposed.”

Ogg grew up in a Dunfermline council house. As student president at Edinburgh the act of organising an international gay conference in 1979 had the effect of outing him. He recalls his mother hiding any upset by ignoring the issue. His father, who served in the Second World War and saw much suffering, emerged as a socialist and humanitarian who simply wanted for his son whatever would make him happy.

He spent the Thatcher years a determined Heathite (eventually expelled from the party for fighting far-right ultras) and practised in partnership with James Hunter and Jessica Burns before turning to the Bar in 1989.

A leading figure in Scottish Aids Monitor, he extracted a settlement from the Observer when an anonymous letter writer alleged a pro-middle class bias at the organisation. His lover for the past 11 years is HIV positive and Ogg is currently helping him through a period of illness.

The current “malicious calumnies” against gay lawyers, which he calls a “bar -room, prejudice-driven fantasy,” has led to his involvement in a new group, the Anti-Defamation League.

He resents the suggestion that gays make any more widespread use of prostitutes than do heterosexuals, and is critical of a small number of senior police officers whose homophobia has been stirred by greater public acceptance of gay rights — “what you might call the uppity nigger syndrome.”

Ogg was appointed Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Education Department last year and hopes further appointments will follow for himself and others who choose to adopt an open stance, but that these will be seen as unremarkable. “That’s the way I want it to be, not as some case of the gay boy made good.”

The Herald
, October 6th, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Police chief apologises to Lord Fraser’

SCOTTISH Office Minister Lord Fraser was given an unprecedented public apology by the Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders police, Mr Hector Clark, yesterday after threatening to sue over remarks about his private life.

It was a remarkable twist to the saga of the leaked police report alleging a gay conspiracy.

Lord Fraser, formerly the Lord Advocate, was furious over an alleged slur against him made by Mr Clark in the directors’ boardroom of Heart of Midlothian football club.

Yesterday morning Lord Fraser met Lothian and Border’s Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, to demand a public apology from his deputy. His intention was to take legal action for defamation if Mr Clark did not apologise immediately.

Lord Fraser declined to discuss the outcome of his meeting with Sir William but, asked if he would comment later, said: “Watch this space.”

A few hours later, a statement was issued by the force, on behalf of Mr Clark, saying he recalled a conversation he had at Tynecastle on 12 September but was not aware of having said anything to impugn Lord Fraser’s reputation or integrity.

“If, however, I might have made such a statement or one which could have been mistakenly so understood I wish to withdraw it unreservedly and offer my full apologies,” the statement said.

The remarks which infuriated Lord Fraser were made in the Hearts’ boardroom the day after the contents of the report were made public. They reached Lord Fraser’s ears soon afterwards.

After receiving the apology yesterday, Lord Fraser issued a short statement saying he accepted it and now considered the matter to be closed.

But while the matter may have been laid to rest in public, the serious and damaging repercussions of the leaked report continue.

It alleged that homosexual Judges, advocates, and lawyers may have been involved in a gay conspiracy to interfere with the course of justice.

An inquiry ordered by the current Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, is now investigating the content of the report.

Lord Fraser, who was not named in it, but at the time was Scotland’s most senior law officer, has said that neither he nor anyone working for him had done anything to be ashamed of.

He has indicated that he will happily co-operate with the investigators, Mr William Nimmo-Smith, QC, a former Advocate-depute, and the regional procurator -fiscal for north Strathclyde, Mr James Friel.

A Herald investigation of the report, and the five cases cited by police as evidence of a gay conspiracy, disclosed grave errors, heavy reliance on unsubstantiated rumour, and assumptions masquerading as fact.

While finding no hard evidence to substantiate claims of a magic circle out to pervert the course of justice, the Herald investigation did conclude that a serious rift has emerged between senior police officers and the Crown Office, as the independent prosecution service, over its handling of a number of cases.

The leaked report described disquiet and anger among senior police officers involved in a number of long-running police cases involving years of work.

An internal inquiry within the Lothian and Borders force into the source of the leak is continuing.

The Herald, October 7th, 1992
‘Police hand Fettesgate report to fiscal’

LOTHIAN and Borders police have confirmed that a report on the Fettesgate break -in at their headquarters has been submitted to the procurator-fiscal. The raid, which caused the force acute embarrassment, was on offices used by the Scottish Crime Squad, on the ground floor of the Fettes building. Burglars entered through a window and stole sensitive files and documents.

There followed a series of further incidents, involving leaked documents and telephone calls to newspapers. Most of the stolen material was eventually returned to police. Detectives have spent almost three months compiling the report.

The Herald
, October 9th, 1992
Bruce McKain, ‘Offender claims he was framed by Fettesgate robber’

A GAY sex offender yesterday claimed he was framed by the man responsible for the Fettesgate break-in.

Former soldier Terry Smith, in an appeal yesterday against a refusal of bail, alleged that the man was an associate of legal figures under investigation following a leaked police report.

The report alleges that a “magic circle” of Judges, advocates, and solicitors may have conspired to pervert the course of justice.

Smith, 36, jailed for four years in July at the High Court in Edinburgh after being convicted of sexually abusing an 18-year-old youth, also claimed yesterday that at the time of his arrest he was working on a television investigation of a former fiscal, now a sheriff.

Smith was appearing before Lord Hope, the Lord Justice General, sitting with Lords Allanbridge and Cowie at the Court of Criminal Appeal.

He conducted his own case, telling the court that his appeal against his conviction was based on impropriety in the Edinburgh legal profession. To ensure no conflict of interest, he was engaging lawyers from the west coast.

Smith told the court: “It will be my intention to be represented at appeal by counsel as distant from the Edinburgh establishment as is possible.”

Smith said that evidence had come to light since his conviction to indicate that he had been the victim of a deliberately manufactured miscarriage of justice. He alleged that the main witness against him at his trial was the lover of the Fettesgate burglar.

He also claims that the youth he is accused of assaulting is an associate of the raider.

He alleges that the raider blamed him for his conviction and six-year sentence from 1986, a case in which Smith had appeared as a Crown witness.

Reading from a prepared statement Smith told the appeal court Judges that the unnamed raider was an associate of Edinburgh lawyers who are being investigated in the inquiry ordered by the Lord Advocate following the leaked report.

He explained that he had been chairman of a radical gay political group (Rank Outsiders) and at the time of his arrest had been scripting a television programme.

“I was known to be working towards exposing the hypocrisy of a former regional procurator-fiscal, now a sheriff, whose indiscretions compromised his independence as a prosecutor, both with lawyers who knew of his private life, and the police who were well aware of these matters also.”

These lawyers, he alleged, are the associates of the man responsible for Fettesgate.

After a brief discussion on the Bench Lord Hope said they were prepared to grant interim liberation pending the appeal next month.

The Judge explained that one factor that had influenced the decision was Smith’s argument that imprisonment handicapped the preparation of his appeal case.

“We trust that you will use your liberation to take every step to prepare yourself fully and to make sure that those who represent you are properly instructed.” The court wished the appeal to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Lord Hope asked the Solicitor-General, Mr Tom Dawson, QC, whether he wished any special conditions to be attached to Smith’s bail. Mr Dawson replied that he did not.

The Herald, October 16th, 1992
Tom McConnell, ‘Police probe new Fettesgate claim’

A SENIOR police officer from Tayside was called in yesterday to investigate a claim by an Edinburgh lawyer that the head of Lothian and Borders CID made a deal to take no action against the Fettesgate intruder if the stolen documents were returned.

Sir William Sutherland, Chief Constable of the Lothian and Borders force, ordered the inquiry by Mr William Spence, Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside, after a newspaper report alleging a deal was struck but later reneged on.

The claim by the man’s solicitor, Mr Nigel Beaumont, is to be investigated as “a complaint against the police,” said Mr Hector Clark, deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders, police in a statement.

“Until the inquiry is complete and a report submitted, there will be no further comment on the matter,” he added.

In recent weeks, Sir William Sutherland has made public statements denying his force had guaranteed the thief would not be prosecuted in return for files stolen from the Scottish Crime Squad offices in a daring raid on the Fettes Headquarters on July 19.

A senior officer from Strathclyde is investigating complaints against Lothian and Borders Police over the arrest and detention of two Scottish journalists following the incident. A report has gone to the procurator fiscal.

The investigation by Mr Spence will be into the claims by Mr Beaumont, a former depute procurator fiscal, which were made public yesterday.

He alleged Detective Chief Superintendent William Hiddleston, head of CID, and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown agreed to “write my client out of the script.”

“Otherwise the files would never have been returned,” he added.

He agreed that no police officer at any level was in a position to grant immunity from prosecution, but if they did not report an individual to the fiscal, then there could be no proceedings against him. “That was my understanding,” he said.

He said: “As soon as it became obvious to me that the deal was being broken, I decided to have no further contact with the police.”

On the inquiry ordered by Sir William, he commented: “They seem to be veiwing it as a complaint against the police. I don’t really understand why that position has been taken.”

He added: “Obviously the police are going to defend their corner and perhaps suggest there was no deal done.”

Mr Alastair Darling, Labour MP for Edinburgh Central, said only the Lord Advocate, and through him the fiscal, was entitled to reach a deal or grant immunity from prosecution.

“The police never have been and never will be entitled to make that offer. They have a clear duty to investigate crime and, if it appears to them that an offence has been committed, to report it to the fiscal.”

“It is quite correct the specific complaint raised by the solicitor should be investigated. As far as I’m concerned, if the procurator fiscal has enough evidence in his view to justify prosecuting an individual in connection with the break-in, he should do so.”

Sir William and Mr Clark attended yesterday’s meeting of the Lothian and Borders Police Board, but declined to face reporters and television cameras waiting outside the room. Instead they took an alternative route out of the regional chambers.

The Herald
, October 17th, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Fraser rules out inquiry into police over Fettesgate affair’

DESPITE the latest controversy surrounding Lothian and Borders police handling of the so-called Fettesgate affair, Scottish Office Minister Lord Fraser of Carmyllie made it clear yesterday that he has no plans for an inquiry into the force.

There are now four inquiries, three external and one internal, into the activities of police officers from Lothian and Borders. Lord Fraser himself recently demanded and received an unprecedented public apology from the deputy chief constable over remarks he made in the Heart of Midlothian boardroom on September 12.

But while the position of the Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, is regarded in some circles as increasingly precarious, both the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr Ian Lang, and Lord Fraser, who has responsibility for policing, indicated yesterday that they are prepared to await the outcome of the existing inquiries.

“Proper arrangements have been made for the examination of the issues concerned. Pending the results of those inquiries, neither the Secretary of State nor the Minister of State see any necessity for any wider examination of the operations of Lothian and Borders to be put in hand,” they said in a joint statement.

The latest inquiry, announced on Thursday, was ordered by Sir William who called in the deputy chief constable of Tayside to investigate a claim from Edinburgh solicitor Nigel Beaumont that he had struck an immunity deal with two officers investigating the Fettesgate raid.

The lawyer claimed police reneged on an agreement that the files would be returned if police guaranteed that no report should be sent to the procurator -fiscal.

The chief constable has denied claims of such a deal and the procurator-fiscal has confirmed that police have no powers to offer immunity.

Further allegations surfaced yesterday from a convicted criminal who claims he was being forced by police to help “frame” the man police believe to be the perpetrator of the Fettesgate break-in. Tayside police confirmed that a complaint has been received and will be investigated.

Strathclyde police officers are already conducting an investigation into complaints from two newspaper editors concerning the conduct of officers in the wake of the Fettesgate investigation. Two journalists were arrested by police involved in the case.

The third inquiry is the review ordered by the Lord Advocate following the leak of a secret police report alleging a Magic Circle of gay Judges, advocates, and solicitors may have conspired to pervert the course of justice.

It is being conducted by a former Advocate-depute, Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, and a regional procurator-fiscal, Mr Jamies Friel, and is investigating all aspects of the cases cited in the report, including the actions of police officers.

An internal inquiry also continues with two Lothian and Borders officers ordered to find the source of the leak of the Magic Circle report.

Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell, QC, yesterday questioned whether it was possible to have effective “compartmentalised” inquiries when there was a degree of overlap in the issues under investigation.

“Ultimately the responsibility for these matters rests with the Secretary of State and he should be considering whether he is satisfied that the present arrangements for investigation of all these issues are adequate.”

Edinburgh Central Labour MP Alistair Darling said it is vital that the findings of all the inquiries are made public.

The Herald, October 21st, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie

Sun in search of the straight and narrow

THE motives of the Sun newspaper have always been somewhat suspect when it comes to its investigations of the so-called “magic circle” conspiracy theory. Is the paper’s concern the administration of justice, or has it been nothing more than thinly veiled gay-bashing from day one?

We turned to the newspaper’s editorial column for enlightenment on this point last Friday. “Are you a heterosexual Edinburgh lawyer? Do you know one?” asked the organ, adding, by way of launching a competition with a prize of £100 for the advocate who can “provide proof he’s not a poof”: “It seems there are so many gays in the capital’s legal profession we want to find a straight one.”

Since marriage certificates are not deemed conclusive evidence, one wonders just what would be acceptable as proof?

The newspaper’s pretext for all this is that on legal advice it had to hold publication of another story on the saga. “It appears that because of the Sun’s unerring accuracy on the subjects of both Fettesgate and homosexuals in legal circles, certain members of the Establishment are out to get us,” it frothed.

Unerring? Accurate? Whatever happened to the “gay plods” who gave inside help to the police HQ break-in?

The response from inside Parliament House was that a notice might be posted in the advocates’ robing room inviting heterosexual members of the faculty to sign. “You would probably get at least 10 names,” said the originator of the idea, adding “eight of them married women”.

Style counsel

THE finer points of etiquette and social mores in West Fife were the subject of much debate during a break in the recent trial of George Emslie — that is the “meek and deferential” George Emslie, member of Lochore Miners’ Welfare club, who used to live in the town with his bullying brother Thomas until he killed him with an axe, not the George Emslie who belongs to the New Club, used to be Lord Justice-General, was never to our knowledge bullied, and who has at no time been accused of meekness or deference.

Journalists discussing the Lochore case agreed that fratricide was indeed a breach of strict etiquette, even in West Fife, as had been Emslie’s conduct in blasting a neighbour to death in 1967 for impugning the character of his mother. A rush of blood to the head every 25 years was one thing, but the use of a shotgun or axe was deemed poor behaviour in polite society.

But when the conversation turned to criticism of Lochore Miners’ Welfare a journalist from the Kingdom felt honour-bound to come to the defence of that worthy club. “Of course the place has class,” he ventured. “The women members can spell their tattoos correctly.” It might have been pointed out that Lochore Miners’ Welfare never blackballed Ludovic Kennedy, but then again, no institution is perfect.

Send for Tam

WE hear that his stylish business card is posing the odd problem for Glasgow solicitor James Carmichael. Beneath the imprint of the crowned figure of Liberty, bearing her sword of retribution and scales of justice, is the Latin motto, picked out in the same tasteful copper print, “Tam Arte Quam Marte”.

Mr Carmichael may indeed succeed as a lawyer as much through skill as by strength, but some punters insist on calling his practice in Duke Street and asking, presumably on the grounds of the more down-to-earth monicker, for his partner Tam.

Cat call

THAT kenspeckle figure of the Scottish legal scene, John Renton Mowbray, made his mark recently once more before the shrieval bench. Summoned to answer a charge that he had failed to keep his dog under control, he arrived at the court with the offending mutt, his usual shopping trolley containing his legal papers, and a mysterious cardboard box.

At first he refused to divulge what was in the box on the grounds that it was part of his defence case. Finally he revealed that it contained a cat. The origin of this particular species, a plan worthy of the great Clarence Darrow in his heyday, was to let the cat out of the bag in the midst of his legal argument.

The dog, far from going berserk, would not bat an eyelid, thus proving that it was far from dangerous or out of control.

Needless to say, this cunning stratagem did not meet with the approval of court officials.


ADVOCATE-DEPUTE Edgar Prais is making a name for himself with his droll, self -deprecating wit. When Lord MacLean recently upbraided a witness for mumbling and said “the advocate-depute has to hear you, and he’s a bit deaf,” Prais countered, to the evident amusement of the jury: “I heard that, my Lord.”

Asked recently why he made the move over to the prosecution side, Prais, who was in fact a highly successful defence lawyer, nevertheless felt obliged to reply: “It was the only way I could get an acquittal.”

Bastions of the Law

(No. 22)

THE public usually makes the mistake of thinking that the imposing figure in the wig and red robe is the person in charge of the court, whereas the real master is of course sitting down below, ever vigilant to protect his Lordship from procedural howlers.

The clerks of court are a specialist breed, and Parliament House has just lost one of its most highly regarded and popular clerks with the retirement of the redoubtable Mrs Alison Leighton.

The depute clerk of session and justiciary, to give her her Sunday title, recently retired as clerk to Lord Milligan, and some of the stories about the petite but pugnacious lady are the stuff of legend. It is said that a zealous security guard at Parliament House once stopped his Lordship to ascertain his identity. Mrs Leighton was passing and Lord Milligan told the guard that she would vouch for him. “Never seen him before,” came the reply.

She served for 20 years as a clerk at Glasgow Sheriff Court before

The Herald
, October 24th, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘CID chief quits as police row continues’

DETECTIVE Chief Superintendent William Hiddleston, head of Lothian and Borders CID, yesterday announced his retirement.

The news that Mr Hiddleston, 53, was quitting came hours after the Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, made his first detailed public statement and accused a small group of detectives of “letting down the side”.

The statements follow the “Fettesgate” break-in at police HQ in July, when a raider gained entry through a window and stole sensitive files from the Scottish Crime Squad office. Deputy Chief Constable Hector Clark was appointed to head the investigation.

It has since been claimed by a city lawyer that in a meeting with Mr Hiddleston, who was promoted to the post in August 1991, and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown, an immunity deal was struck for the raider on condition the stolen documents were returned.

The force faced fresh embarrassment in September with the leak of a confidential police report which alleged that a “Magic Circle” of gay lawyers might have perverted the course of justice. The report was compiled by Mr Hiddleston.

An investigation by The Herald last month into the report concluded there was no evidence to substantiate the conspiracy claims and reported that the leak stemmed from deep disquiet amongst some senior officers about the outcome of a number of cases.

Such was the furore surrounding the leaked report that the Lord Advocate ordered a full investigation, headed by two senior lawyers.

Sir William’s attempt to regain credibility for his force was made in an interview with the Scotsman newspaper. In a statement issued yesterday, he admitted it was uncommon to issue a statement while internal inquiries were in progress.

“But faced with continued rumour and speculation regarding a number of matters, I have taken the unusual step of providing a full interview to the Scotsman newspaper.” He had done this to clear the air.

In his view, there was no evidence in the leaked report which would have justified him embarking upon any major criminal investigation.

Sir William said he had been immensely angered by the leak. “It was certainly serious misconduct and I don’t know if that’s putting it strongly enough.

“Gross disloyalty to me, gross unprofessionalism, and harmful to the reputation of Lothian and Borders police. In my view, it was done with some malice.

“I cannot see any justification for an act of this nature and that’s why we’ve set up a rigorous inquiry to try and discover who is responsible for it. That inquiry is still going on.”

However, he denied that a group of senior officers had acted as a law unto themselves. “I would say that there may have been a small number of people, particularly over the leaked documents, that have acted in a particular way and have been responsible for the leaking, engendering the atmosphere and gossip and rumour that’s been going about the city.”

Sir William admitted that further embarrassment had been caused by the apology that Mr Clark, his deputy, had been forced to make to the previous Lord Advocate, now Scottish Office Minister Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, over remarks made in a football boardroom.

Sir William said he was not aware that an immunity deal was proposed at the meeting between the solicitor acting for the Fettes raider and his two officers. “As far as I was aware, I’d been told that no deal had been done. In any case, police have no power to grant immunity.”

He had asked a senior Tayside officer to investigate the claims.

Sir William said he had agonised over the recent problems. He did not believe there should be a major clear out of his force: “I don’t believe that any of these incidents suggest we have a corrupt police force.”

However, he did believe there was a need for some change and he had identified where it would have to be made.

“Like it or not, we really are talking about a handful of CID officers. I don’t have to consider other parts of the organisation but this inquiry hinges around a few individuals within Lothian and Borders Police CID.”

He had not considered resignation and had been heartened by support he had received.

He promised action to root out the problems to preserve the good name of the force. Further resignations, it would appear, are likely.

Interviewed on Reporting Scotland on BBC TV last night, Sir William denied categorically that Mr Hiddleston had been made to resign.

The Herald
, October 27th, 1992
‘Detective given other duties after Fettesgate raid’

LOTHIAN and Borders Police confirmed last night that a detective who has been involved in controversy over an alleged offer of immunity to theFettesgate raider has been transferred to other duties.

Detective Sergeant Peter Brown has been moved for “operational reasons”, said a spokesman. He will be based at Drylaw police station in Edinburgh as a sergeant.

His transfer comes soon after the abrupt retirement of the force’s head of CID, Detective Chief Superintendent William Hiddleston, which was announced last Friday.

The two officers have been named in reports which alleged that they offered an immunity deal to an Edinburgh solicitor, Mr Nigel Beaumont, who said he was acting for the man who broke into Lothian and Borders’ headquarters.

The deal, which brought the return of stolen police documents, is now the subject of an inquiry by the deputy chief constable of Tayside, Mr William Spence.

Earlier yesterday, a stand-in head of Lothian and Borders CID was appointed to review the work of the department.

Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland has named Chief Superintendent Andrew Brown as temporary head of the department.

The statement said: “During his tenure of office, Chief Superintendent Brown will conduct a review of the headquarters CID functions and make recommendations on organisational change and particularly the line responsibility of the CID’s senior ranks.”

The reference to this review of departmental organisation is being seen in the context of Sir William’s comments last week that he had been angered by the leak of a police report alleging a gay conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by senior figures in the legal establishment.

Sir William spoke of “gross disloyalty to me, gross unprofessionalism” and a small group of officers acting as a law unto themselves.

Mr Brown, from Kelso, who is in his mid-forties, was promoted to chief superintendent earlier this year and appointed to head the force’s Edinburgh’s city-centre division.

Since joining the force in 1964, he has risen through the ranks and recently completed the senior command course at the Police Staff College at Bramshill, Hampshire.

Mr Brown insisted yesterday that the review was “nothing extraordinary” as he had conducted previous departmental reorganisations. “If improper procedures become apparent then I shall report them,” he said.

The permanent post of head of Lothian CID will be advertised nationally, although internal candidates will be invited. But it is expected the post will not be filled until the investigation into the aftermath of Fettesgate is completed.

The Herald, November 4th, 1992
Robin Dinwoodie, ‘Quest for legal eagles and mots justes’

AS YOU read this, quite probably with Arctic winds battering rain off your window, think where else you might have been if you only possessed a low golf handicap to match your law degree. To wit, at Novi Sancti Petri, Chiclana de la Frontera, near Cadiz in Southern Spain, for the inaugural European Legal Team Championship.

Today, having hopefully seen off the Dutch yesterday, our boys face the Auld Enemy, and Ken Pritchard, secretary of the Law Society of Scotland (with president Brian Adair and past incumbent Jock Smith also on the 10-strong team) was, as they say, quietly confident as they prepared for departure on Saturday. As “organiser, administrator, travel agent, and general factotum”, he said: “If we have higher handicaps than some of our rivals, it won’t stop us trying. We will come back burdened with a large trophy.” The quaich in question has been put up by sponsors the Royal Bank of Scotland, who say the organisers hope to make the event triennial. In terms of their annual encounter, Scotland lags England 5-4 so today marks a chance to even the score.

* As a footnote, it is worth pointing out that the Scottish party for Cadiz includes three wives. When the Edinburgh Press Club staged golfing trips to Spain no wives were taken, and indeed, unknown to the wives, no clubs were taken either.

Lingua franca

THE pretext for the international golf extravaganza, as for a European legal conference staged in Edinburgh last week, is the single market, and if being sans frontiers means we are going to parley more with our continental comrades Devil’s Advocate can heartily recommend Euroslang, Roger Hutchinson’s “practical guide to boozing and bonking from Mykonos to Malaga”. A snip from Mainstream at just £4.99, it would help Ken Pritchard and his team come up with phrases such as “Wir waren bestohlen worden!” (We wuz robbed!) or “Veinard!” (Lucky sod!).

But it is in the tricky area where sexual metaphor confounds literal translation that the book is particularly valuable. Some, such as the fact the French call a French letter an English cloak, are reasonably well known, but in view of the current investigation at the Faculty here are a few amber lights: Watch out for a Frenchman who offers to show you his andouille a col roule (sausage in a polo-neck), he may have mistaken you for de la famille tuyau de la poele (of the group with a tube in the stove).

The Italian equivalent would be to ask if you are un finocchio (a fennel bulb), a German might inquire whether you are vom anderen Ufer (from the other shore), while a Spaniard might refer to you as una cajetilla (a packet of cigarettes).

In fact, for a variety of reasons, it would pay to cut all references to taking onions, peeling lentils, opening cans of pate, brushing the floor, or turning the key in the lock, and avoid mentioning coffee beans, sea shells, water cress, chickens, car horns, torpedos, fence-posts or Spanish omelettes.

Otherwise you may end up in the hands of the polis, variously known as pigs, donkeys, bulls or chickens.


ALSO prone to linguistic misunderstanding is the recently revamped watering hole just down the High Street from the Supreme Courts in Edinburgh. Obviously oblivious to the nuances of the Auld Alliance, the legal fraternity has taken to referring to Les Partisans in more prosaic terms as Les Paterson’s.

Hot nuts

AN accused representing himself at Edinburgh Sheriff Court said he would be unable to make his trial date because he would be working, selling hot chestnuts. This brought a warning from the Bench that should he fail to show up a warrant would be issued for his arrest, or as the police escorting him from the dock put it: “Better turn up or you’ll get your nuts roasted!”


THE reputation of Parliament House for dynastic succession continues with the announcement that James Hope, son of the Lord President, has applied to join the Faculty. Sir Thomas Hope was Lord Advocate in the early seventeenth century and a Lord Hope was Lord President early last century. He had a son who was Lord Justice Clerk, from whose brother, James Hope WS, the current line continues. The Hopes’ dynastic rivals are the Clydes (two Lord Presidents and a present-day Judge), the Camerons (Jock and Kenny), and the Emslies (Lord President and two sons currently QCs).

Bastions of the Law (No 23)

SIR William Sutherland will be 59 in a few days time and Devil’s Advocate, unlike some other columnists on this newspaper, wishes him many happy returns. At the Christmas reception for journalists at Fettes police HQ last year Sir William spoke about the problems the police had experienced with their public image in England as a result of miscarriages of justice. He contrasted this with better public relations in Scotland built up over the years and hoped this would continue.

Well, it hasn’t worked out that way. The separate but linked cases of the Fettesgate break-in, with its immunity deal to secure the return of the documents, and the leak of the so-called Magic Circle report alleging a gay conspiracy to pervert justice, have led to five investigations, internal and external, being set up over a three-month period which has been a personal nightmare for the chief constable.

But would the resignation demanded by those who say the buck stops on his desk have been a good thing for the citizenry of Lothian and Borders? Such a course might be honourable in some abstract, theoretical way but it would be entirely negative in terms of policy and continuing progress by the force. That is why councillors on the Labour-controlled police board — who, according to the mythology of the English system, should want to confront and humiliate a chief constable — have been consistently supportive of Sir William.

His record of openness and self-examination has won over potential critics outside the force, and a reserved but generous manner did the same for any inside his force who were sceptical about change.

As he has pointed out, public complaints are at one of the lowest

The Herald
, November 24th, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Complaints report with chief constable’

A REPORT into complaints by two journalists about their arrest and detention following the Fettesgate raid is with Lothian and Borders chief constable Sir William Sutherland, it was confirmed yesterday.

It is expected to disclose that a senior detective failed to inform the chief constable or his deputy about plans for the dawn arrest of Scotland on Sunday reporter Ron McKay while he was on holiday south of the Border.

Sir William asked the deputy chief constable of Strathclyde, Mr Peter Mitchell, to investigate the complaints and his findings have now been submitted.

Mr McKay was subsequently charged with reset. He was flown to Edinburgh under police escort and appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Sun reporter Alan Muir was held after a dawn visit by officers who travelled to Glasgow during the investigation into the break-in at police headquarters in Edinburgh. He was released without charge.

A spokesman for Sir William said yesterday he was considering the report by Mr Mitchell.

Yesterday a Crown Office spokesman said that the report on Mr McKay was still under consideration. A decision on whether to proceed with the reset charge is expected within the next two weeks.

Last week, the Crown Office was sent a full report on the Fettesgate raid by the procurator-fiscal. It is now being studied by Crown counsel.

A further report on an alleged immunity deal offered to the Fettesgate raider was sent to the regional procurator-fiscal last week by the deputy chief constable of Tayside who was called in by Sir William to investigate claims made by an Edinburgh lawyer.

The Herald
, November 28th, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie and Ray Duncan, ‘Shake-up at Fettesgate HQ’

AN unprecedented reorganisation took place yesterday at the Fettes headquarters of Lothian and Borders police after the recent controversies over the break-in and leak of a report alleging a homosexual conspiracy in senior legal circles.

The major changes at the force involve several officers, and a woman has now taken control of the drug squad.

Yesterday’s moves made it clear that two of the inquiries into the affair — into the way the press was treated after the break-in and also into the leak of the police report — have been completed.

“It would be improper” to link some of these moves, a spokesman for the force said last night.

However, at the time of the leak, chief constable Sir William Sutherland called the incident “gross disloyalty, a case of gross unprofessionalism harmful to the reputation” of the force and promised “to take whatever action is necessary to root out the problem”.

After the controversy over whether an immunity deal was offered to the Fettesgate burglar to secure the return of the documents, the head of the CID, Detective Chief Superintendent William Hiddleston resigned and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown was transferred.

It is understood that several officers were interviewed yesterday by Mr Hector Clark, the deputy chief constable, and told they were being transferred.

Other moves were announced which were not linked with the force’s recent controversies.

Chief Inspector Janet Kerr of the city centre B Division will take over control of the drugs squad in the new year from Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Watson who will assume control of the CID in the West Lothian F Division on the retirement of DCI William Crookston.

The move involving CI Kerr is one of political significance clearly designed as a counter-balance to what was otherwise a gloomy day for the force.

A spokesman for the force said last night: “The transfers of several police officers within Lothian and Borders police are currently taking place. Some are as the result of decisions made following the internal inquiry into the leaking of a confidental report.

“Others include a promotion for operational and developmental reasons. Some relate to detective officers returning to uniform duties. It would be improper to associate one with the other. Full details will be released next week.”

The police spokesman confirmed that the background to many of the changes was the Fettesgate break-in, the subsequent treatment of journalists investigating the incident, and the leak of the so-called “magic circle” allegations.

The spokesman said: “In connection with recent complaints against the police by the editors of Scotland on Sunday and the Sun newspapers, and two journalists, the chief constable has considered the reports of the investigating officer Mr Peter Mitchell, deputy chief constable of Strathclyde.

“After considering the position, consultation and discussion with the regional procurator fiscal took place and he has now replied to the parties who lodged complaints.”

The Herald
, November 28th, 1992
Alan Hunter, ‘Lang tightens phone metering guidelines’

POLICE chiefs throughout Scotland are being told that any applications for telephone metering should be made only in serious crime inquiries, and where no other means of investigation can be used.

This was revealed yesterday by Scottish Secretary Ian Lang in a written House of Commons reply to Kincardine and Deeside Labour MP George Kynoch.

The issue of metering, which allows police access to lists of itemised telephone calls, was recently raised in the wake of investigations into the so -called Fettesgate affair.

It emerged that when the headquarters of Lothian and Borders police was broken into, sensitive stolen documents revealed that details of private calls could be obtained from BT by police.

Politicians and the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties called for a tightening of what was regarded as a loophole in the law, allowing police to obtain such details.

Mr Lang said he was satisfied the statutory requirements were being met and said there was no need for change.

He added, nevertheless, that he had decided to draw up new guidelines and said that any approach to telecommunications officers should be made from the rank of detective superintendent upwards.

Lothian and Borders police said yesterday it would comply with the instructions, which were similar to those already introduced by its chief constable.

The SCCL said it was not entirely happy with Mr Lang’s response. Spokesperson Carole Ewart said Mr Lang had not gone far enough.

“A warrant should be obtained from the Secretary of State before any metered printout is handed over to police,” she said.

Strathclyde Police said last night that the operating guidelines reflected standard procedures in its force.

The Herald
, December 2nd, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Police take no action after leaking of file on ‘gay plot”

NO formal disciplinary action is to be taken after the internal inquiry into the leak of a report alleging a gay conspiracy in senior legal circles in Edinburgh.

This was confirmed yesterday after Lothian and Borders Police refused to identify detectives who had been transferred to uniform duties since the completion of the inquiry.

The lack of formal disciplinary action points to the failure of the investigation to prove the identity of the culprit responsible for the action, which the chief constable, Sir William Sutherland, had described as an act of gross disloyalty which harmed the reputation of the force.

It was in September that Sir William ordered an investigation into the leak of the confidential report. No evidence had been provided to justify any criminal investigation, he said.

Sir William described the leak as, in his view, having been done with some malice. He indicated that a small number of detectives had been responsible for engendering gossip and rumour in the city.

He had been immensely angered by the leak, which amounted to serious misconduct, and for that reason had instituted a “rigorous” inquiry. He promised to “take whatever action is necessary to root out the problem”.

It had been expected that, if the source of the leak were identified, immediate formal disciplinary action would have been put in train. However, it is now clear that no such action is to be taken.

Last week, as The Herald reported, an unprecedented reorganisation took place within the force involving changes in personnel. A spokesman for Sir William said that some of the transfers were the result of decisions made after the internal inquiry into the leak of the confidential report. Others were not linked with the force’s recent controversies.

Details of the reshuffle which were announced yesterday did not include the names of those who were involved in the internal inquiry into the leak. These would not be disclosed, the spokesman said.

A number of officers were carpeted by last week by the deputy chief constable, Mr Hector Clark, and informed of the changes. One detective is still on holiday and has not been seen.

Sir William is expected to report to Lothian and Borders Police Board on December 17 on the outcome of the leak investigation and the result of the inquiry into an alleged immunity deal which an Edinburgh lawyer claimed had been struck on behalf of the man said to be responsible for theFettesgate break-in at police HQ.

It was in November last year that Mr Tam Dalyell, MP for Linlithgow, was approached by Edinburgh radio journalist David Johnston.

He wanted Mr Dalyell to raise with Sir William the rumours of chicanery in gay legal circles which had been circulating for some four years.

They dated back to 1988 when gay lawyer Ian Walker, a senior partner in the Edinburgh law firm Burnett, Walker, hanged himself when the Law Society began investigating the firm.

Johnston says he was involved in the intervening period in providing information for articles in newspapers which touched on homosexuality and fraud. “The rumours of a conspiracy were growing arms and legs. It just seemed to need a sensible look at it. I put together everything I knew and sent it to Tam.”

Mr Dalyell wrote to the chief constable outlining the concerns. Sir William called in the head of CID, Mr William Hiddleston, who has since retired.

Detective Inspector Roger Orr, based at Leith, was assigned to compile and write a report. It was to be used by the chief constable to respond to Mr Dalyell.

Mr Orr set about interviewing officers who had been involved in investigations of cases alleging fraud and male prostitution. They were deeply unhappy at the outcome of cases.

Mr Orr was also given access to details from taped interviews with informers and accused people who had made allegations about “gay” legal figures.

As an investigation in The Herald has shown, suspicions among police officers of a gay plot were rife.

Interviews by two fraud squad officers, Detective Inspector Mike Soutar and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown, with a young man suspected of mortgage fraud were used as “evidence” in the leaked report.

Hairdresser Stephen Conroy, a sometime legal clerk and self-styled entrepreneur, had fallen out with his partner, Kevin Crawford. When their volatile relationship ended, Conroy’s troubles were beginning.

His finances were in a mess and he had become involved in a mortgage scam, set up by a bank manager, which netted him hundreds of thousands of pounds. This was used to finance a lavish lifestyle.

Conroy agreed to meet and talk to officers from the fraud squad. He was surprised at their approach, he says. They were more interested in his knowledge of the gays he knew in the legal world than in the fraud they were investigating.

Conroy claims that police officers were obsessed with the idea of a gay conspiracy and continually pressed him to disclose names.

They told him his erstwhile partner, Kevin Crawford, had provided them with a lot of the information which only he, Conroy, could confirm.

Conroy was at best an unreliable witness. He was self-serving and anxious to save his own skin. He has admitted that much of the information he gave police was what he gauged they wanted to hear. Conroy admits he was trying to buy time to flee the country.

He was arrested, finally, on fraud charges virtually with the tickets for his flight to freedom in his pocket and later jailed for seven years.

Detective Inspector Orr meanwhile had compiled his report, a draft of which was circulated to the officers whom he had interviewed for comment. It was then signed by Mr Hiddleston and sent to the chief constable.

It was a combination of what police call “intelligence” — untested assertions from informers, rumours, and conclusions, which, as The Herald has shown, did not stand up to scrutiny.

Somehow, a copy of the report found its way to Mr Dalyell. Not

The Herald
, December 10th, 1992
James Freeman, ‘Who pays the Bill?’

Costs may be shared, but the price of not getting summit security right could be high for the capital police, says JAMES FREEMAN

THE key to security at the Edinburgh Summit is intelligence; the actual guarding of the 500 Eurocrats is a local logistical exercise in which the only real problems arise from sheer volume. For many months intelligence services in all the nations concerned have been sifting through material from their local sources, trying to detect the faintest hint that some terrorist movement or separatist group may have a grievance against someone scheduled to attend the

Edinburgh meeting.

To thwart any attacker seeking the world spotlight over the next few fraught days, Lothian and Borders Police are deploying every available vehicle, animal and officer. All leave and rest days have been cancelled and, to maintain a normal level of service, police on the beat will work 12-hour shifts.

It all costs dear, given the sheer scale of the operation. So the most vexed question on local lips is: who pays the policing bill, which is expected to be somewhere between £2.25m and £3m?

The idea that it be shared between Lothian Region (49%) and the Government (51%) has been rapidly attracting resistance as the summit has drawn nearer. When Sir William Sutherland, chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, first advised local MPs that the Government would meet only half the cost, Edinburgh Labour MP Nigel Griffiths protested to Scottish Secretary Ian Lang, claiming that if the summit were being held in London, all costs would be passed from Scotland Yard to the Home Office to be met in full.

And this week, Alistair Darling, another Edinburgh MP, is to raise questions in Parliament on the subject. He will demand that the Government reconsider its decision to leave almost half the cost with local council tax-payers.

Even so, the sharing arrangement is a departure from previous policy which will be of great interest at Strathclyde Regional Council HQ.

When Strathclyde Police mounted their huge security operation in 1990, enclosing Turnberry Hotel in the proverbial “ring of steel” for the NATO summit which followed the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the regional police authority was faced with a bill of £477,000. A stony-faced Scottish Office washed its hands of responsibility and NATO did likewise, so the cost was borne by the poll tax payers of Strathclyde.

The Scottish Office simply pointed out that it already paid 51% of police costs, which begs the question that the money spent on the summit could well have been spent for the greater local good.

The Turnberry operation involved 700 police, roadblocks throughout South Ayrshire, launches patrolling the coast manned by crews from the police and MoD — Northern Ireland is just over the horizon — and police and military helicopters overhead.

Guests at the hotel had been vetted for months — an exercise which has been taking place at Edinburgh’s big hotels: the Caledonian at the west end of in Princes Street, the Balmoral at the other end, the Sheraton, the George, the Royal Terrace and the Scandic Crown where the ministers, diplomats and civil servants will live.

The hotels and the various function points around the city are being physically vetted by bomb squad officers; the Special Branch of Lothian and Borders Police has been heavily involved and the SAS is a less-obvious presence.

Highly visible, however, will be the firearms-trained officers of the local force, who number 120. Weapons will be seen on the capital’s streets in its first such public show of arms. The armed officers are all volunteers who operate to strict codes.

The stringent guidelines for Scottish police who handle guns are laid down by the Lord Advocate. They apply also to any armed police or security bodyguards who may have been brought from the other countries by visiting dignatories.

Armed police will man high buildings along routes which delegates will use to pass to and from their various appointments, primed to spot potential snipers or mortar attacks. The IRA’s car and van bomb technique, used successfully in London in recent months, adds to the problem. Careless motorists could find their vehicles in smithereens on their return. It is expected that many streets will be simply cleared of vehicles for the two days.

All the usual security precautions will be in place, such as taped post-boxes, manholes and bins in vulnerable areas. Even sewers will be checked for bombs. Many residents will require special passes to go to and from their homes.

Lothian and Borders police, now undergoing a slow healing process after the damaging Fettesgate revelations, will be under extra pressure to get it right, and no one will be under the microscope more than Sir William Sutherland, who has borne the brunt of public censure over the scandalous affair.

He may comfort himself with the knowledge that the Scottish police, particularly Lothian and Borders and Grampian, are well used to major security operations. After all, the royals are regular visitors who have survived visits north of the Border so far, and will be out in force this week again, for state as well as family reasons. But no one will be very surprised if Sir William’s fingers are occasionally seen to be crossed.

* James Freeman is Home Affairs reporter of The Herald.

The Herald
, December 16th, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Police gay plot report wrongly involved a sheriff’

A SHERIFF at the centre of allegations of a gay plot to subvert the course of justice was the victim of mistaken identity by police informants, The Herald can disclose.

The damaging accusations made against the sheriff, a former senior procurator -fiscal, are based on a crucial error in the “Magic Circle report”, which was leaked following police anger at the outcome of a number of serious cases.

It seems police failed to double check the identification, at a gay disco, or ignored the fact that the wrong person had been identified because it did not fit the theory.

A Herald investigation has already cast doubt on the validity of the report, after finding serious inaccuracies. It emerged as a catalogue of errors cobbled together from rumour, speculation, and assumptions.

Detectives involved in its compilation were recently moved to uniformed duties after an internal police investigation into the leak.

It has now emerged that police suspicions about the role of the sheriff during his time as a fiscal were based on the discredited evidence of the main source in the report who wrongly identified the sheriff as someone he had danced with at a gay disco.

It is understood the sheriff has received a written apology from Stephen Conroy, who is serving a six-year sentence for fraud. Conroy has now acknowledged he assumed the man was a sheriff on the say-so of an acquaintance who pointed him out on the street.

Conroy, who was asked by police to identify the sheriff from photographs, realised he had named the wrong man when the sheriff’s picture appeared in newspapers in connection with an unrelated court case.

Conroy has alleged police pressed him into giving them information about his knowledge of gay lawyers because they were obsessed with the idea that a Magic Circle of homosexuals was conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

In an extremely damaging accusation, the police report accuses the sheriff, during his time as a fiscal, of hampering police inquiries into a fraud investigation. Since he was wrongly identified and falsely accused, that allegation is discredited given that the only inferred motive was his central role in the alleged gay plot.

The other source in the report who identified the sheriff was Conroy’s former partner in a hairdressing business, Mr Kevin Crawford. It transpires he named the sheriff to police on the basis of Conroy having pointed out a man and named him, wrongly, as a sheriff at a gay disco.

After Conroy and Mr Crawford had a row, damaging stories began to emerge in newspapers about Conroy’s alleged relationship with the sheriff, who was not named. And, as is confirmed by the leaked report, Mr Crawford supplied information to the fraud squad in December 1990 alleging the sheriff was gay.

The chief constable had requested a report to answer an inquiry from MP Tam Dalyell.

Following the leak of the report, the Lord Advocate ordered a full inquiry into its contents by a former Advocate-depute and a regional fiscal from the west coast. Their report is expected to be submitted to the Lord Advocate within the next week or so.

The Herald
, December 18th, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Source of report leak ‘not found”

THE source of the leak of the controversial “Magic Circle” report has not been identified, the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders confirmed yesterday.

Sir William Sutherland, appearing before a Police Board meeting in Edinburgh, which paid tribute to his force’s handling of the European summit, confirmed for the first time where many of the investigations into recent events stood.

He told the board he had put in place a high-level restructuring of the top positions in the force, accepted the resignation on retirement grounds of one of the central figures, and instituted a new tenure policy which in future would ensure that officers would not stay too long in one job.

His report put on record for the first time the status of the seven inquiries regarding his force:

* Following the break-in, civilian security staff to be hired — not a private firm but individuals hired directly by police.

* Report into break-in with fiscal.

* Treatment of journalists involved in case lawful but tactless — dawn raids to be limited and phone call monitoring to be restricted.

* Investigation into alleged immunity deals complete but still being considered by fiscal and chief constable.

* The leak of “Magic Circle” report complete but no-one positively identified.

* The content of the “Magic Circle” report still being investigated by Lord Advocate.

* Coercion allegations by individuals involved in cases — fiscal’s inquiries completed but matters not finalised.

The Herald
, December 19th, 1992
Bruce McKain and Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Bogus reporter investigated in Magic Circle case’

Fiscal investigates bogus reporter in Magic Circle case

THE duping by a bogus journalist of the senior counsel inquiring into allegations of a gay conspiracy in the legal world is being investigated as a potential fraud, the fiscal’s office in Edinburgh confirmed yesterday.

The QC investigating claims of a so-called Magic Circle was visited by a man who admits he is suspected by the police of involvement in the break-in at the Fettes headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police which took place last July.

Mr Derek Donaldson, a member of the city’s gay scene, told Mr William Nimmo Smith that he was a London-based reporter from the Daily Telegraph seeking a background briefing. But the results of the meeting at Mr Nimmo Smith’s New Town home, secretly taped by Donaldson, were splashed across six pages of yesterday’s Sun newspaper.

Some of Mr Nimmo Smith’s colleagues in the Faculty of Advocates expressed astonishment yesterday that he had allowed himself to be duped in this way, particularly without double checking Donaldson’s true identity. But it was being stressed that he had deliberately adopted a policy of openness to the media as crucial part of the inquiry.

The Sun’s story was headlined “Fettes ‘Thief’ Cons Gay Judges Probe QC” and Donaldson boasted of “making a mug” out of the Queen’s Counsel who, along with Strathclyde fiscal Mr James Friel, has been carrying out the “gay conspiracy” inquiry.

The Lord Advocate set up the inquiry after the contents of a leaked police report were published in a number of newspapers. The police report gave details of five cases in which it was alleged that senior lawyers had used their influence in the homosexual community to pervert the course of justice.

A Herald investigation into the affair concluded that there was no hard evidence of a conspiracy and that the report was riddled with errors and rumours masquerading as fact.

A senior fiscal said yesterday: “We are looking at the matter. We have discussed it with a senior police officer. An inquiry is being conducted under the auspices of this office.”

Explaining the legal background, the fiscal said that without referring to any individual person or incident it was the case that if someone obtained any advantage by a false pretence then a crime of fraud would be committed.

He added: “If a person pretends to be another person and achieves a result which he would not have achieved had he told the truth the actions are likely to be construed as fraudulent.”

Asked if it would make a difference whether a newspaper paid money in relation to such an incident, he said it made no difference. The point of law was whether an advantage was gained by the pretence.

The Sun claimed that Mr Donaldson had “tricked Nimmo Smith into spilling the beans on parts of his confidential inquiry,” but the transcript consists mainly of non-committal and highly circumspect replies by the QC to lengthy leading questions by Donaldson.

At one stage Donaldson asks: “Do you get the impression, I get the impression, that the report was leaked as an act of vindictiveness, not just against the senior command of Lothian and Borders Police, but also to have a damn good go, and this was an excellent opportunity to have a damned good go at Regent Road (the Crown Office)?” Mr Nimmo Smith replied: “Probably, yes.”

Early in the conversation Mr Nimmo Smith said: “This stuff is unattributable but you can use it for background,” adding later that he would welcome the publication of the “reporter’s” personal views on the affair “after the report is public.”

One of the critics of Mr Nimmo Smith granting the “interview” was West Lothian MP Tam Dalyell, who first raised the question of a Magic Circle conspiracy with Lothian and Borders Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland. He described himself as “open-mouthed” at yesterday’s revelations.

“Those conducting inquiries for the Lord Advocate or any other Minister are profoundly unwise to go on the record or say anything off the record in advance until such time as the inquiry is complete and in the public domain,” he said. “I would have thought it was extraordinary, even if he had spoken to a distinguished journalist from The Herald.”

However, unattributable briefings for journalists in advance of the publication of official reports are not unusual, since given pressures of time they enable more informed reports to be produced.

Mr Nimmo Smith’s policy of openness towards the media was made clear at the outset of the inquiry, which was originally intended to be produced anonymously. It was largely at the QC’s insistence that he and Mr Friel were named. The kind of general information given in the Sun, for example detailing the workings of the inquiry, has been given to other journalists seeking background.

The QC has made it clear that since journalists’ background knowledge and contacts have formed a central part of the inquiry it was vital for the integrity of the investigation that he remained accessible.

He also felt that if the workings of the inquiry were open to scrutiny by journalists it would help offset early allegations that the whole excercise was a whitewash designed to protect the legal establishment. Those close to the inquiry are convinced that nothing in the Sun report has compromised the lengthy investigation.

This view seemed to be confirmed by a short statement on behalf of the Lord Advocate stating: “Mr W. A. Nimmo Smith, QC, and Mr James D. Friel completed their report early this week, and the Lord Advocate is now considering it. The inquiry was formally instructed by the Lord Advocate on September 18, 1992. The remit was to review the decisions taken in a number of cases in order to ascertain whether there was any evidence to suggest that those decisions had been taken for improper reasons.

“As he indicated when he instructed the inquiry, the Lord Advocate intends to publish the report. It is envisaged that publication will take place in late January 1993. No further comment will be made in the meantime.”

The Herald
, December 21st, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Crime squad faces shake-up’

THE Scottish Crime Squad, whose offices within the Fettes headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police were broken into in July, has been brought under tighter control.

The squad draws its officers from all eight Scottish police forces and is accountable to a committee made up of the eight chief constables. However, following the break-in at Fettes in July a new sub-committee made up of three assistant chief constables has been established to act as a standing inspectorate to put the squad under closer permanent control.

Sir William Sutherland, chief constable of Lothian and Borders, has already moved the SCS office from the vulnerable ground floor of Fettes to more secure premises upstairs.

In an interview with The Herald on the wide-ranging restructuring he is carrying out to his force, Sir William revealed that other changes have been made in relation to the Scottish Crime Squad.

The squad’s main office is at Stewart Street police station in Glasgow and apart from the Fettes office there is another at Stonehaven, but in the past they did not come under the control of their host police force. When the break -in happened Lothian and Borders took the flak but had no operational control. “We were left naked,” said Sir William. “We had to ensure that could never happen again.”

It has now been agreed that the squad will be subject to dual accountability — to its own commander in Glasgow and to the assistant chief constable responsible for criminal investigation in each of the host forces. That, and the new inspection system, would mean that the committee of chief constables will be better informed. “Control and scrutiny will be better,” said Sir William.

The shake-up at Lothian and Borders introduces to Scotland for the first time the concept of a “tenure of office” policy, which will ensure that officers do not stay too long in specialist posts.

The implication is that officers left for too long in the CID were to blame for the leaking of the so-called Magic Circle report, alleging a gay conspiracy among senior lawyers, and for the immunity deal done to retrieve the documents stolen in July’s break-in.

Sir William wants to break down the idea that the only path to a successful police career is to move into the CID or a specialist area. “At present if anyone is moved from CID it is seen as if he or she has done something wrong. If people are moving in and out more regularly there will be no stigma attached to it all. The most vital part of policing is the uniformed part.

“If there is too much of a separation you end up denigrating the role of the uniformed officer. Anything you can do to break down that attitude is good, to lead them to see that we are all part of Lothian and Borders Police force. If you are in CID today and in uniform tomorrow you are still there as a police officer serving the public.”

Sutherland’s law

The Herald
, December 21st, 1992
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Sutherland’s law and new order’

Fettesgate and its aftermath have made 1992 an ‘annus horribilis’ for Lothian and Borders Police, but radical changes in the structure of the force — in hand before the events of last summer — have been agreed to improve efficiency and avoid the risk of a force within a force

PASSED through on the nod, almost unnoticed amid summit congratulations and Fettesgate commiserations, a far-reaching and radical overhaul of Lothian and Borders Police was agreed last week.

Although plans for the restructuring began long before the break-in at the police headquarters in July, the calamitous events of the summer are now acknowledged to have grown out of structural problems which are common to police culture throughout the country, and the crisis has quickened the pace of change.

The police board approved a package of changes last week with wide implications which the Chief Inspector of Constabulary is observing with interest. The force’s three assistant chief constables have had their posts redefined and responsibilities changed, and like every other rank from there down to constable, they will now be regularly reshuffled.

The “tenure of office” policy, the first to be adopted by a Scottish force, means that Lothian and Borders officers can now expect a considerably more varied career, with stints in different specialisms and in both CID and uniform. As a result, the problem of sections of the force becoming entrenched cliques should be minimised.

The dubious immunity deal struck for the Fettes raider in exchange for the return of documents, and the leaking of the so-called “Magic Circle” report alleging a conspiracy by senior gays in the legal world to pervert the course of justice, had the hallmarks of sections of the force slipping out of control.

But the chief constable, Sir William Sutherland, had already embarked on a restructuring of the force which would tackle head-on the problem, which was characterised by some members of the CID seeing themselves as a breed apart, a force within a force. “We have a good CID here, efficient and doing a fine job,” he said. “There are 280 officers and you have to be careful not to stigmatise them because of isolated incidents.”

Explaining the thinking behind the changes, he said: “Some forces in the South have a tenure of office policy, but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that it has been introduced in Scotland. It will be a difficult one to introduce. It is not going to be easy and will have to be done sympathetically.

“At present, if anyone is moved from CID it is seen as if he or she has done something wrong. If people are moving in and out more regularly there will be no stigma attached to it all. The most vital part of policing is the uniformed part. The public don’t think of the detective, or chief constable or traffic branch. When they think of police they think of the uniformed officer on the street.

“If there is too much of a separation you end up denigrating the role of the uniformed officer. Anything you can do to break down that attitude is good, to lead them to see that we are all part of Lothian and Borders Police force. If you are in CID today and in uniform tomorrow you are still there as a police officer serving the public.”

Historically the way of sweetening the pill of a move out of the CID back into uniform has been promotion. “The tail can end up wagging the dog,” said Sir William. “In five or ten years I hope this new system will be fully understood and accepted.”

The drawbacks in the system involve the possible waste of hard-won expertise and the cost of retraining. “There will be more expense but I think it is worth it. At the end of it all I think the gains are far greater than any losses.”

The restructuring plans began last February, with one of the three assistant chief constables, Graham Power, as main architect. He is now designated ACC management services, while Dick Prentice becomes ACC crime strategy. Tom Wood is the new ACC uniform operations, splitting for the first time responsibility for CID and territorial divisions between two different assistant chiefs.

Sir William has drawn on academic research by criminologist Richard Kinsey of Edinburgh University, and brought in management consultants who organised brainstorming sessions for officers of chief inspector, superintendent and chief superintendent grades. Money is to be set aside from next year’s budget to extend this practice to other ranks. Time and motion studies will also evaluate how officers’ time is spent and whether the balance is right.

“We have to be interested in the quality of service we are providing. Public expectations are high, and while 96% say we were good on our first response, they say we are not so good on following up, letting them know how inquiries are progressing, or giving reassurance after an incident. For example, for a single parent to suffer housebreaking can be particularly traumatic, and a follow-up visit by the police could help.”

The chief constable sets great store on the work done to find out what the public want from the police. “The thinking is that over the last few years there has had to be a recognition of the fact that the police have to become more involved with the public. In some areas there has been an attitude that policing is for police. That is wrong. Policing is for the community.

“We should be saying to ourselves, ‘what do the public think and are we giving them what they want?’ It’s not a new philosophy, but perhaps in the past there was a view that we know anyway, we understand what the public require and we don’t have to ask.

“My attitude is that if people have complaints about the way we are performing our duties I would rather hear about it. If there is a grouse, let’s have it out in the open.

“There has always been a problem with communication. I suspect that when we started doing these surveys some thought it was a gimmick or didn’t see the sense in it. Others may say we cannot meet all the public expectations already, how can we meet more. It’s difficult to get the value of this across.”

The survey by Richard Kinsey, Policing in the City: Public, Police and Social Work, highlights what people want from the service and compares the attitudes of police officers and social workers to the problems they

The Herald
, December 22nd, 1992
‘Question of liability in inquiry report’

THE Lord Advocate was asked yesterday whether the Government would pay for any defamation action which could arise from the publication of the inquiry report into allegations of a gay conspiracy in Scottish legal circles.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar, QC, Labour’s Scottish Legal Affairs spokesman in the House of Lords, has written to the Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, outlining concerns about the report.

Lord Macaulay asked if the authors of the report, Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, and Mr James Friel, fiscal, would be personally liable in defamation actions arising from the report in the absence of privilege.

It might be proved later that unfounded and defamatory allegations had been made against individuals. He said he was not convinced that even if the report were “presented in Parliament” its contents would be privileged.

If the lawyers were not liable, Lord Macaulay asked, “would the Scottish Office meet any awards which might be made in any court action for defamation?”

Lord Macaulay also sought information about whether shorthand notes were taken at interviews during the inquiry.

His understanding was that this was not done, at least not in the early stages.

He added: “If that is correct, then it raises very important issues for any individual who may be adversely affected by the findings of the inquiry.”

Lord Macaulay said anyone who felt he had been wronged would be at an extreme disadvantage compared with a court appeal where a full note of the proceedings would be available as an independent check.

Lord Macaulay added: “I presume the contents of the notebooks of Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel will be classified as confidential to the Crown Office and would not be available for examination by individuals affected by the report unless obtained in the course of court proceedings?”

He asked the Lord Advocate whether the entire report would be published or whether sections would remain confidential.

The report, prepared after a 13-week inquiry, has now been submitted to the Lord Advocate.

The inquiry was triggered by claims in a leaked police report that criminal prosecutions in cases linked with allegations of a gay so-called Magic Circle were improperly handled.

The Herald
, December 23rd, 1992
Margaret Vaughan, ‘Journalist threatens legal action after Fettesgate case is dropped’

A JOURNALIST who was arrested in an early morning raid, handcuffed, and held overnight in police cells for handling documents stolen in the “Fettesgate” raid, intends to take legal action against the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police.

The Crown Office announced yesterday that there would be no further criminal proceedings against reporter Ron McKay, who was charged with reset in the aftermath of the break-in at the offices of the Scottish Crime Squad at police headquarters in Edinburgh in July.

It also confirmed that no-one was to be charged with the raid, which caused police acute embarrassment. This is not an unexpected decision. The police investigation failed to find conclusive evidence with which a prosecution could be mounted.

Despite detailed claims made to newspapers by gay businessman Derek Donaldson that he was the prime suspect, it is understood there was no forensic evidence linking him with the break-in.

Mr Donaldson’s most recent ruse involved posing as a journalist and duping the co-author of the “Magic Circle” report, Mr William Nimmo-Smith, QC, into giving him a briefing on the inquiry into claims of a conspiracy by homosexuals in senior legal circles.

The story was splashed across six pages of a tabloid newspaper last week. A complaint to police by Mr Nimmo-Smith following the elaborate deception has resulted in a fraud investigation.

Senior police officers privately did not believe the outcome of their investigations into the raid on the ground floor office, rented from the Lothian and Borders force by the Scottish Crime Squad, would lead to a prosecution. Whatever their suspicions, there was no hard evidence.

Initially, they believed the break-in was the work of two small-time criminals on the fringes of the gay scene in Edinburgh.

Two months ago, Mr Donaldson’s lawyer complained that police had reneged on an immunity deal he had negotiated on his client’s behalf for the return of the stolen documents.

After the immunity controversy, the head of the CID resigned and a detective sergeant was transferred. The outcome of the investigation into the alleged immunity deal is still being considered by the procurator-fiscal and chief constable.

Although would be open to the Crown to ask the procurator-fiscal to instigate further inquiries on the Fettesgate raid, there was no indication yesterday that this was likely to happen. A Crown Office spokesman refused to elaborate on a statement which said Crown counsel had considered the report concerning the police investigation.

“No persons have been charged in relation to the break-in and theft, and on the information presently available from the investigation, criminal proceedings are not currently in contemplation.”

A senior legal source indicated that, even if claims by a person purporting to be the perpetrator were held to be a confession, that in itself would not be enough. Corroboration would be needed to secure a conviction.

The bizarre series of events which began with Fettesgate and led to a trail of inquiries, resignations, disciplinary action, and a leak by police officers of unsubstantiated accusations of a homosexual conspiracy in senior legal circles, looks set to continue with yesterday’s announcement by Mr McKay that he will not let the matter of his arrest rest.

Despite the Crown Office decision he said he remained extremely angry at his treatment by police, which had cast a shadow over the last five months:

“To be dragged out of one’s house, to have one’s household terrorised, to be handcuffed and then held overnight, leaves me very, very angry indeed.”

Police arrested Mr McKay, who worked at that time for Scotland on Sunday, while he was on holiday at Chatham in Kent in July, and flew him north where he was charged with reset at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

He had written an article claiming top secret police intelligence files had been stolen by animal liberation activists in the raid on Fettes, and that these had been passed to terrorist groups and some of Scotland’s most wanted criminals.

He wrote that he had been contacted by the Animal Liberation Front and had seen some of the documents stolen in the raid. It later transpired that the group had not been involved in the break-in.

After the article appeared, officers involved in the investigation travelled south to arrest Mr McKay at 7am. The chief constable has since admitted that the treatment of Mr McKay was tactless and apologised to the editor of Scotland on Sunday.

Yesterday, Mr McKay insisted police had not a shred of evidence against him, and in a bitter tirade against Sir William Sutherland, the reporter said the buck had now stopped with the chief constable, who should resign.

“I don’t know precisely what the legal recourse is, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, but it won’t stop here,” said Mr McKay.

The deputy editor of Scotland on Sunday, Mr Brian Groom, said the announcement that proceedings had been dropped had been greeted with delight at the newspaper.

Mr McKay is no longer on the staff of the paper and Mr Groom would not be drawn on whether it would back any legal moves against the police.

The paper had made complaints about the way he was arrested and had received an apology. The worrying point was that the law which led to Mr McKay’s arrest could be used against other journalists.

The Guardian
, December 23rd, 1992
Peter Hetherington, ‘CHIEF DEFENDS ‘MAJORITY’ OF CID; Charges against a Scottish reporter relating to a police HQ break-in were dropped yesterday. Peter Hetherington charts an embarrassing sequence of events for Lothian chief constable Sir William Sutherland’

WEIGHED down by investigations surrounding his police force, the Chief Constable chooses his words carefully before criticising a small core of senior detectives.

“The fact that one or two officers may do their own thing does not indicate that the whole of the CID acts in that way,” he insists. “We have a good, loyal, hard-working CID and it is unfair for it to be criticised by the actions of a few.”

Yesterday prosecution officials dropped charges against a Scotland on Sunday reporter, Ron McKay, relating to a break-in at the force’s Edinburgh headquarters – the latest twist in a difficult five months for Sir William Sutherland, head of Lothian and Borders Police. Mr McKay had been accused of receiving stolen documents. The break-in through a window at the Scottish Crime Squad’s ground floor offices last July led to allegations of senior detectives reaching an apparent immunity deal with a man – believed to be close to the city’s gay criminal underworld – for the return of highly-sensitive files.

After recovering the files the force faced further embarrassment when details of a confidential police report alleging that homosexuals in the Edinburgh legal establishment may have interfered with the course of justice were leaked. Sir William, unaware of any deal and incensed by the leaking of a report he had commissioned, launched inquiries and asked senior officers from outside forces to investigate aspects of both cases. Two months ago the head of CID, Det Supt William Hiddleston, became the first casualty of the Fettesgate affair – named after police headquarters in the city’s Fettes Avenue – when he retired from the force.

This month five CID officers, including a detective chief inspector from the crime squad, were returned to uniform duties following an internal inquiry into the leaking of the report.

“We have had problems with CID morale because of recent publicity, but I hope we will see an end to that over the next few months,” Sir William said. “None have been forced to leave. The head of CID was due to retire and in view of the pressure he was under it was probably an appropriate decision for him to take, but it was his decision.”

Sir William’s troubles are far from over. Next month his force will hear details of an investigation of CID activities by William Nimmo-Smith, QC, a leading member of the Scottish bar. Mr Nimmo-Smith was asked by the Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry – Scotland’s chief law officer – to review cases referred to in the leaked report.

This report – which the Crown Office has said is based on nothing more than “rumours, speculation and innuendo” – listed the withdrawl of 47 of the 57 charges before a so-called “rent boy” trial two years ago. CID frustration over the decision of the Crown Office to drop most of the charges, after an extensive police inquiry, is thought to lie behind the leaking. CID critics, including a leading criminal lawyer instrumental in arranging for a return of the stolen files, believe that a hard, homophobic core has been at work in the force for some time.

Sir William acknowledges that several officers have been disloyal: “On the leaking of the document we were badly let down. One or two did not behave in the way I would expect of police officers.”

Last week he announced a reorganisation of his 280-strong CID with the appointment of an assistant chief constable for crime strategy. He told police board councillors that a uniformed chief superintendent, temporarily in charge of CID, was undertaking a wider structural review.

He added that 120,000 pounds would be spent installing closed circuit television and “enhanced intruder alarm protection”, along with other measures, such as moving the crime squad and CID upstairs. Civilian security guards would be employed to patrol the building.

The mild-mannered chief, well-respected by all parties on his police board, is angered by comparisons between his CID and, for example, the now disbanded West Midlands serious crime squad.

“I haven’t got a corrupt CID,” he says, voice momentarily raised. “I have a very good and efficient CID and I don’t think it’s fair to compare one or two incidents in Lothian and Borders with incidents in the south.”

But judged by the standards of most British forces, Sir William has one ace to play: crime in Edinburgh has fallen 8 per cent this year, with every indication of a continuing downward trend.

“Judge us on that and we are very efficient,” he said.

The Herald
, December 28th, 1992
Tom McConnell, ‘Exhausted ‘gay plot’ investigator recovers’

THE man appointed to investigate allegations of a so-called Magic Circle in the upper echelon of Scotland’s legal system was said to be “absolutely fine” yesterday after a brief spell in an Edinburgh psychiatric hospital.

He had been suffering from nervous exhaustion.

Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, spent two days in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital shortly after it was revealed he had been duped into giving an interview to a false journalist on his inquiries into the alleged gay conspiracy to pervert justice.

His illness, according to family friends, was a direct consequence of the report which appeared in the Sun newspaper on December 18 giving full details of a taped interview said to have been carried out by Mr Derek Donaldson, 32, under the guise of being a Daily Telegraph journalist.

It is understood Mr Smith was extremely upset by the tactics used by the hoaxer to gain entry to his home and tape the interview, and by the nature of the six -page report in the newspaper.

Although the Magic Circle investigation had been completed and the report by Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr James Friel, a Strathclyde region procurator-fiscal, submitted to the Lord Advocate three days before the Sun’s account of the interview appeared, there were suggestions the inquiry had been undermined.

A spokesman for the Crown Office confirmed Mr Nimmo Smith had been “resting under medical supervision”. It is believed he went home last Monday.

The possibility of proceedings against Mr Donaldson or the Sun for allegedly obtaining an advantage by false pretence is still under consideration by the fiscal’s office in Edinburgh.

The Herald
, January 2nd, 1993
‘Fettesgate and after’

December 28.

I am a retired Strathclyde police officer who, from 1982 to 1985, served a three-year secondment with the Scottish Crime Squad in Stewart Street, Glasgow.

Robbie Dinwoodie’s interview with Sir William Sutherland, chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police (December 21), reported decisions Sir William had taken in respect of the Scottish Crime Squad since the break-in commonly referred to as the Fettesgate incident.

It was reported that prior to the break-in the squad had been accountable to a committee of eight chief constables. It was not reported that one of the eight was appointed each year as the head of the committee with overall responsibility for overseeing the squad.

Sir William mentioned that he had moved the squad upstairs from its vulnerable ground-floor offices. He failed to mention that until the late eighties the squad’s offices were upstairs near the top of the building.

I am sure the poll-tax payers of the Lothian and Borders region would like to know who the head of the committee of eight chief constables was for 1992 and who made the decision in the eighties to move the squad from its secure offices upstairs to the acknowledged vulnerable ground-floor premises.

Finally Sir William announced his force was the first in Scotland to adopt a “tenure of office” policy which would mean Lothian and Borders officers would have a more varied career, with stints of duty in both CID and uniform.

I find this announcement the icing on the cake of a whole series of blunders that Sir William Sutherland, as chief constable of Lothian and Borders, has presided over.

Surely he must know that Strathclyde Police have been operating this policy for more than 10 years. They call it job rotation, but it means the same thing.

The bill at the end of the day for the police blunders will be thousands, if not millions, of pounds. Someone must take responsibility and that someone is Sir William. He should resign.

Alistair Watson,
62 Falloch Road,

The Scotsman
, January 5th, 1993
Alan Hutchison, ‘Fettes suspects linked to attack on reporter’

SUSPECTS in the break in at Lothian and Borders police headquarters last summer are being linked with an attack at the weekend on a television investigative journalist, Duncan Campbell.

Mr Campbell was attacked by four men in Edinburgh on Saturday night The latest twist in what has become known as the Fettesgate affair emerged last night with police confirming to The Scotsman that one line of inquiry following the assault on Mr Campbell concerned “individuals believed to be connected with the original Fettes breakin.”

In another bizarre development, a man claiming to have been involved in the attack told The Scotsman that he objected to the persistence with which Mr Campbell had been pursuing his inquiries.

That had been the motive for the incident.

Mr Campbell who has been preparing a documentary on the Fettes raid, to be shown on Channel 4 later this month required medical attention after being attacked on the head and face by the men near Holyrood Park at about 9: 20 pm on Saturday.

A video camera stolen in the attack was later recovered.

The man who said he was involved in the incident claimed that Mr Campbell, 40, accompanied by a TV crew, had persistently sought an interview at his home and also at another address.

The man said: “Assault and robbery was not the motive. What was planned was to give Mr Campbell a taste of his own medicine to force him to agree to an interview. The video camera was only taken to retrieve the film he had made without our permission.”

It is understood a phone call, made anonymously to the BBC in Glasgow, led to the recovery of the camera, which was believed to have been placed in a grit bin on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Peter Watson, a Glasgow lawyer who is acting for Mr Campbell and Channel 4, said last night that it would be inappropriate to comment.

He said: “Mr Campbell has been the victim of a criminal assault. He is cooperating fully with the police and is ready and willing to give his account of the incident in court.”

The Herald
, January 5th, 1993
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Attack on journalist may be linked to his Fettesgate inquiries’

AN attack on a journalist at the weekend may well have been connected to his investigations into Fettesgate and the Edinburgh gay scene for a television documentary, police confirmed yesterday.

Reporter Duncan Campbell, formerly of the New Statesman magazine and now running his own television production company in Edinburgh, has been working on a programme to be screened this month by Channel Four.

He has been investigating the break-in at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters in July, in which criminals involved in the gay scene have been the main suspects, and the leaking of a police report alleging a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by a “Magic Circle” of gay lawyers.

These inquiries took Mr Campbell to the heart of the city’s gay scene, conducting interviews. He was attacked by four men near his company’s office in the Meadowbank area on Saturday, severely beaten, and had a video camera stolen.

Police made it clear they were not treating the case as a random mugging and appealed for witnesses to the attack, which happened at 9.30pm on Saturday in Queen’s Park Avenue at the entrance to the park.

Asked about the possibility that the attack was carried out for revenge by those being investigated by Mr Campbell or in an effort to warn him off, Detective Superintendent Eric John said: “We have to investigate all lines of inquiry and that is one of the lines.

“Whether it was purely a case of theft of a video camera or whether the attackers were after the contents of that camera is something we are investigating.”

One attacker was described by police as a white male in his thirties, 5ft 10in tall, well-built, with dark, receding hair, wearing a dark kagoul. Another was a white male in his twenties, of medium build, with short, dark hair and sideburns, wearing a dark jacket and jeans. The others were white males in dark clothing. Police have appealed to anyone who passed on foot or in a vehicle to come forward.

Of the severity of the attack, Superintendent John stressed that it was both an assault and robbery. Mr Campbell was severely beaten, losing teeth, and has a suspected broken nose, but he was not detained in hospital.

It is understood that the tape in the video camera did not contain anything vital from the forthcoming documentary but Mr Campbell, who was badly shaken by the attack, was not available for comment yesterday.

The Herald
, January 6th, 1993
‘Businessman arrested’

EDINBURGH businessman Derek Donaldson is one of two men who have been arrested by police investigating an attack on journalist Duncan Campbell, who was making a television documentary on the Fettesgate break-in. A statement from Lothian and Borders police said that in connection with an assault and robbery which took place in Queens Drive, Edinburgh, on January 2, two men are being detained in custody. A report is to be sent to the procurator fiscal. The reporter had been working on a programme to be screened this month by Channel 4.

The Scotsman
, January 12th, 1993
‘An intrusion into press freedom; It Began As An Initiative To Protect The Innocents From Media Abuses, But Editors Tell Brian Pendreigh, That The Leaked Calcutt Report Could Provide Cover For The Guilty’

‘THEY would, wouldn’t they?” That was a fairly standard response yesterday from a Tory MP commenting on the anguished protests that greeted leaked details of Sir David Calcutt’s report recommending new restrictions on the press. Editors had united in condemning the proposals, prophesying that it would spell the end of a free press. It was, said MPs, a clear case of the biter bit. To back their case they pointed to a catalogue of intrusive reporting, beginning with the telephoto pictures of a topless Duchess of York, taking in the Princess of Wales’s “Squidgy” tapes, the socalled “Camillagate” affair, David Mellor’s bugged telephone conversations and the luckless Norman Lamont’s unpaid Access account, and asked: “If that’s not intrusion, what is?” The argument between those who see the press as a law unto itself which must now be controlled by statute, and those who argue that the press is simply reporting on matters that interest the public, will continue up to and until the Prime Minister has considered Calcutt’s recommendations and decided whether he wishes to bring in legislation to give them force.

One key question, however, is this: will those proposals kill off the notion of a free inquiring press and thus, in the end, cover up matters of genuine public interest along with the gossip and scandal which so many voters apparently disapprove of but equally apparently continue reading about? Calcutt’s report, details of which have been leaked to newspapers in advance of publication, includes not only the revival of proposals to clamp down on trespass and electronic surveillance, but also a statutory code of practice and the establishment of a powerful complaints tribunal, whose members would be appointed by the Government.

It would have the power to fine newspapers for breach of privacy or inaccuracies.

And not only could it dictate the wording of apologies but also their position in the paper.

One London paper was even suggesting that it could interdict stories before they appeared in print.

Lord McGregor, chairman of the existing Press Complaints Commission, called it “a disaster for democracy”, and Sir Frank Rogers, chairman of the Newspaper Publishers Association, said it was the slippery slope to censorship and the tactics of Nazi Germany.

Editors based their defence on the claim that, however much embarrassment they caused, reports about Royal marital problems have been borne out by events.

If the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales had not been breaking down, if the Princess had not encouraged her friends to talk, or held intimate telephone conversations with male friends, none of the stories would have appeared.

The average reader might counter that there is little to fear for papers which report stories accurately, do not trespass on private property and do not bug private phone conversations.

But it is not, alas, as simple as that.

The Calcutt recommendations would almost certainly protect the guilty as well as the innocent.

They would curb not just tabloid prurience but genuine investigations of serious issues as well.

Some might well be strangled at birth, particularly on occasions when reporters uncover evidence that conflicts with official “facts.”

One example cited by Magnus Linklater, Editor of The Scotsman, was the shooting of IRA suspects in Gibraltar: “The Ministry of Defence denied categorically all the evidence from eyewitnesses which contradicted the official version. They said it was wrong and malicious. Now, it would have been very hard for a government appointed committee to reject evidence of this kind, and to accept instead the word of journalists based only on eyewitnesses and circumstantial evidence. Yet we now know that the journalists were right and the Government version was wrong.”

The official version was that the suspects appeared to be armed and looked like they were about to set off a bomb.

Another example was the thalidomide inquiry, generally regarded as being a model of journalistic persistence.

“There again,” says Linklater, who was with the Sunday Times at the time.

“You had allegations made against a major company which insisted that newspapers had got it wrong and produced powerful evidence to support their case.”

Arnold Kemp of the Herald suggests reporting of the Fettesgate affair the theft of documents from Lothian and Borders Police HQ would also have fallen victim to the new rules.

Documents ended up in the hands of journalists and were clearly obtained by trespass.

Criminal charges were brought against one journalist, under existing legislation, and Kemp argues that the Calcutt regulations would be just another stick with which to beat the press.

“The press is surrounded by a battery of restrictions already,” says Kemp, pointing to defamation and contempt of court legislation.

“This is just another deterrent to suppress investigative journalism.”

Andrew Jaspan, of Scotland on Sunday, agrees, adding there is no way government appointees can determine public interest.

He believes the proposals reflect the breakdown of the consensus between the Tories and the traditionally Tory English press.

The Guardian goes further than other papers in suggesting yesterday that the Calcutt proposals will include a provision to halt publication of a story even before it appears.

Editor Peter Preston says this is informed speculation, based on the thinking behind Calcutt’s last report.

Individuals already have the right to apply for an interdict or injunction to stop publication of a story that is defamatory or inaccurate.

Paddy Ashdown obtained a court order against English papers after incriminating papers were stolen from his solicitor’s office.

Ewen Stewart, the controversial north of Scotland sheriff, got an interdict to stop a TV programme on the grounds that he was misquoted, only to find he had to back down when the reporter revealed that he had secretly taped his comments.

Preston says that in future individuals may find it even easier to stop publication simply by going “in confidence” to a private hearing of the tribunal.

“It will then be for the newspaper, as I understand it, to prove that what they are doing is in the public interest, though there is a heavy element of prior restraint to all of this anyway.”

Both Preston and Linklater make the point that when Calcutt embarked on his initial inquiry, the underlying philosophy was the protection of the privacy of the ordinary citizen.

“We are now into Royal marriages,” says Preston, “and the Queen is critical, and David Mellor is out of office, and Norman Lamont is not best pleased.”

Linklater says: “I don’t think it’s helping the person it’s supposed to help, which is the ordinary citizen harassed by journalists, or the ordinary citizen who has been misreported. I think it helps the conman, it helps the politician, it helps royalty. But they are not really the people who need help. They can look after themselves.”

The Herald
, January 12th, 1993
Chris Holme, ‘Scope of ‘magic circle’ inquiry explained’

ONE of the lawyers conducting the “magic circle” inquiry on behalf of the Lord Advocate did not seek permission to give interviews to journalists, Scottish Home Affairs Minister Lord James Douglas-Hamilton said yesterday.

He was responding to written questions from Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell about the inquiry by William Nimmo-Smith, QC, and Strathclyde procurator-fiscal James Friel into allegations of a gay legal conspiracy.

Mr Dalyell raised the issue after reports last month that Mr Nimmo-Smith had been duped into giving an interview to a bogus journalist claiming to be from the Daily Telegraph.

“The remit of the Lord Advocate to Mr Nimmo-Smith and Mr Friel was that they should exercise the fullest possible independence of judgment in conducting their investigation. Authority to speak to journalists was not, therefore, sought by them,” Lord James said.

He said the Lord Advocate had given guidelines to chief constables and procurators-fiscal in 1983 on dealings with the press. They covered what might be said a various stages of criminal inquiries and were kept under review.

Lord James denied a suggestion from Mr Dalyell that the inquiry’s conclusions had been disclosed prematurely. It was intended to publish them before the end of this month.

The Scotsman, January 15th, 1993
John Robertson, ‘Judges ban TV report on Fettes break in’

THREE High Court judges last night banned the broadcasting of a Channel 4 programme about the break in at Lothian and Borders police headquarters.

The order was made only 35 minutes before the planned transmission of the first in a current affairs series Close to Home.

The programme had been billed as a report on the socalled Fettesgate scandal and its links with Edinburgh’s gay community.

It was to explain how the Fettes headquarters were broken into last year and why.

Last night Channel 4 said it was now unlikely that the programme would be broadcast before Easter.

Lord Hope, the Lord JusticeGeneral, sitting with Lords McCluskey and Weir at the High Court in Edinburgh, was given a transcript of the programme during a hastily arranged hearing which lasted about two hours.

The petition seeking to have the ban imposed was presented by an Edinburgh man, Derek Donaldson.

Temporary restrictions on full reporting last night’s hearing were imposed by the judges.

David Lloyd, Channel 4’s senior commissioning editor for news and current affiars, said: “Channel 4 regarded this programme as legitimately in the public interest. We regret we are unable to transmit it.”

The Herald
, January 15th, 1993
Bruce McKain, ‘Fettesgate ban for Channel 4’

CHANNEL 4 was banned last night from broadcasting a documentary programme on the Fettesgate affair. The programme, by investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, was to be the first in a new series entitled Close to Home.

The move to ban the programme, dealing with the now notorious break-in at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes last July and its links with Edinburgh’s gay community, was made at the High Court in Edinburgh by Mr Derek Donaldson.

Lord Hope, the Lord Justice General, Lord McCluskey, and Lord Weir, were provided with a transcript of the programme, then heard legal arguments for two hours before deciding to grant Mr Donaldson’s petition.

The Guardian
, January 15th, 1993
Lawrence Donegan, ‘Court Halts TV Programme on Scottish Legal ‘Gay Conspiracy”

A CHANNEL 4 programme investigating allegations of a gay conspiracy within the Scottish legal community to pervert the course of justice was postponed last night after a court ruling.

Three judges at the High Court in Edinburgh banned the half-hour programme, Close To Home, 35 minutes before it was due to be shown.

The petition seeking to have the ban imposed was presented by Derek Donaldson, of Edinburgh.

The programme was made by journalist Duncan Campbell [not the Guardian crime correspondent] and examined the fall-out of a burglary at Lothian Police headquarters last year known as the Fettesgate Affair. It is now unlikely to be shown before Easter.

Channnel 4 instead screened the second programme of the series – about water meters.

David Lloyd, senior commissioning editor, said last night: “We regarded this programme as legitimately in the public interest. We will continue to resist attempts to prevent transmission of programmes.”

Two senior lawyers appointed by the Crown to investigate the Fettesgate affair are expected to report soon.

Scotland on Sunday
, January 17th, 1993
Kenny Farquharson, ‘Paying the penalty of a war against secrecy;
 Court Action Against His Magic Circle Documentary Was Just The Latest Problem To Have Confronted Duncan Campbell In His Career’

BEING beaten up and banned from the telly in the space of a fortnight is not the most pleasant way for an investigative journalist to start the new year.

Duncan Campbell, who made his name as a scourge of Official Secrets and is now a documentary filmmaker based in Edinburgh, is unlikely to forget the start of 1993 in a hurry.

On January 2 he was attacked while walking through Holyrood Park, suffering injuries to his face and having teeth broken.

Two men have since been charged with assault.

Then, last Thursday, three High Court judges in Edinburgh banned the broadcasting of a Channel 4 television documentary made by IPTV, Campbell’s production company, about the Fettesgate affair and the allegations of a gay conspiracy the socalled Magic Circle in the Scottish legal establishment.

Seeking the ban was an Edinburgh man called Derek Donaldson, who believed he was featured in the programme.

Legal restrictions imposed at the hastily arranged hearing on Thursday evening prevent SoS from describing why Donaldson wanted the programme stopped.

Conscious of legal restraints, Campbell has to choose his words carefully when describing his reaction to the banning of the programme, which may not now appear on our screens until Easter.

“I very much regret that some people may be able to manipulate the legal system so as to prevent the people of Scotland finding out how some people have been undermining that legal system,” he said.

Delving into the intrigue of the Magic Circle saga was, he says, enormous fun, taking him “from the finest drawing rooms of the New Town to the dingiest rooms of Edinburgh’s less attractive estates.”

Campbell is gay, and some cynics in the Scottish news media unthinkingly expected his documentary to be a predictable broadside at rampant homophobia.

Not so, he says.

Among the main targets of the banned documentary are the homosexual crooks at the centre of the affair, who he says have been “undermining and abusing” Scotland’s gay community.

Ian Dunn, executive member of Outright formerly the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group says Campbell’s approach to the Magic Circle story is typical of the man.

“Duncan has done two very difficult things in his life. First, his coming out as gay, which might have closed some doors in military secrets circles. Second, his taking up against wrongdoing in the gay community. He is brave.”

The scars of one run in with fellow gays his libel action against the Pink Paper for its vilification of Campbell’s stories about a bizarre alternative treatment for Aids are still with him.

The Pink Paper’s highly vindictive and personal campaign led to him being physically attacked, and shunned by some sections of London’s gay community.

Campbell fought back hard.

Last May the paper was ordered to pay Campbell #20,000 damages and meet costs.

Campbell’s case was castiron, but the determination with which he pursued the magazine was seen by some activists as somehow disloyal.

An earlier libel action, in 1990 against the BBC, netted him #50,000 after the corporation admitted some features of an unpleasant character in a fictional drama too closely resembled Campbell.

Friends find it hard to explain why he has so many enemies.

“He says things to provoke and tease, and he does it to everyone,” said one.

“Some people react badly to it.”

Publicity about the libel cases has threatened to obscure Campbell’s track record as arguably the foremost investigative journalist of his generation.

He was educated at Dundee High School, where senior staff still sniffily refuse to be impressed by his subsequent career.

At Brasenose, Oxford, he was prosecuted for some jiggery pokery with the college’s telephones, and won a first in physics.

While still at university he revealed the purpose of the electronic surveillance equipment at GCHQ in Cheltenham, and the following year was in the dock of the Old Bailey after interviewing a former signals intelligence officer.

Subjects since, notably during a stint with the New Statesman, have included phonetapping, US military installations in the UK, and the government’s nuclear civil defence plans.

It is his methodical, scientific approach unusual in the often sloppy world of journalism that is the key to his success as an investigator.

A former colleague says: “His way of operating is quite slow, methodical, pernickity and thoughtful not news houndish at all. Above all it is very determined.”

Some former colleagues say, however, that his self belief is sometimes close to arrogance.

Campbell becomes coy and hard to get when asked his age he is either 39 or 40.

Current problems aside, he seems glad to be back working in Scotland.

“In me there is an essentially Scottish spirit of someone who wants the truth to be told and right to be done not in the sense of some super hero crusader, but in the sense that it is morally right to do so.”

The Scotsman
, January 22nd, 1993
Alan Hutchison, ‘Key fraud trial witness admits perjury’

THE key witness in a fraud trial in 1986 which ended with two men being jailed for a total of 11 years has now confessed to committing perjury.

He claims he did so under pressure from the Crown and the police.

The startling confession by Ernest Vincent, 49, has been made in the form of an affidavit before an Edinburgh solicitor, Robbie Burnett.

Mr Vincent said he had been able to give some of his evidence at the High Court trial of the businessmen Grant Sutherland and John Dickson only because of information passed to him by the Crown.

He said he had committed perjury “in concert and under threat from the Crown and police.”

He declared: “I was forced to take the deal they were offering me. It was like the Godfather film. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I now know I was totally wrong.”

Mr Burnett said the purpose of the affidavit was to allow Sutherland and Dickson to present a petition to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Scotsman can also reveal today how Sutherland’s fight to clear his name drew him into the Fettesgate scandal which has hit Scotland’s police and legal circles over the past six months.

The Scotsman
, January 22nd, 1993
Alan Hutchison, ”Peter’ and the Fettesgate link’

GRANT Sutherland was known to me only as “Peter” when I first met him.

It was July last year and Lothian and Borders Police were in turmoil.

A thief had had the audacity to break into their headquarters in Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh, and make off with a batch of highly sensitive files.

The police embarrassment, when the news leaked out, was almost palpable.

Getting the files back was given top priority.

A call from a contact simply told me that a man, using the name Peter as a precaution, could throw some light on this remarkable story.

He wanted to meet me.

He would be waiting in a city centre hotel.

I would have little trouble recognising him.

A commanding 6ft 3in strapping figure of a man with fair hair wearing a blue jacket should be easy to spot.

Peter was anxiously pacing a corridor when I arrived.

He had information which he freely admitted he wanted to use for one reason only to try to clear his name.

His desperation to get an official inquiry into a conviction for fraud which had sent him to jail for five years in 1986 totally consumed him.

Peter wanted to offer a deal and he asked me, through this newspaper, to try to set it up.

It was quite simple, but at the same time sensational if true: he was in a position to arrange the return of the documents which had been stolen from Lothian and Borders police headquarters but he would do so only if the Secretary of State for Scotland would authorise an investigation into his case.

We agreed to process his request and his terms were conveyed to the Scottish Secretary’s office.

Peter knew the police would automatically be informed.

He had provided proof that his information was genuine: he gave the names of some of the individuals mentioned in the police files.

The official response was lukewarm.

It was a matter for the Crown Office and the police if the man had a complaint to air.

There was no question of the Secretary of State doing a deal on Peter’s terms.

That was unacceptable to Peter which was hardly surprising, as a main thrust of his claim of a miscarriage of justice involved allegations against police and the Crown.

Deep down, Peter who had met the man believed to have carried out the Fettes raid while in jail and who had his authority to use the documents as a bargaining tool could not have been surprised at the reaction.

The outcome, however, was that the files remained hidden.

They were to surface soon afterwards as a result of a controversial immunity deal granted by police to the raider’s solicitor.

In the fall out which followed The Scotsman’s full disclosure of the deal last year, one senior officer decided to retire and another detective involved was moved into uniform.

The irony for them is that, had Peter’s offer been taken up, the deal which blew open the Fettesgate affair would have been unnecessary.

The Herald
, January 22nd, 1993
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Police are given Fettesgate dossier’

POLICE have been handed a dossier by journalist Mr Duncan Campbell containing the fruits of his investigation into the Fettesgate affair for an unscreened Channel Four documentary.

The plug was pulled minutes before transmission a week ago after High Court Judges banned the programme at the request of an Edinburgh man, Mr Derek Donaldson.

Yesterday, Mr Campbell revealed that he had passed on to the police materials relating to his research for the documentary, which examined the break-in at the force headquarters last summer.

He said that he had always intended to do this once the film had been broadcast, but he had decided to go ahead even although it cannot now be screened.

“It was felt that since the police were extremely keen to pursue as a matter of urgency any other lines of inquiry, the channel’s duty was to co-operate with the police,” said Mr Campbell.

“It wasn’t the fault of the police or the channel that we lost the programme. On hearing that it was the intention of the police to bring all matters to bear on this investigation, we decided to offer them the material.”

A police spokesman said last night: “Material was handed over to Lothian and Borders Police by the individual concerned.”

The Guardian
, January 23rd, 1993
Peter Hetherington, ‘OUT OF THE SHADOWS INTO THE MIST; Despite an inquiry by the Crown Office, controversy lingers over an affair involving allegations of corruption and plotting among some high-ranking officials in Scotland’s judiciary. The beleaguered Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders police, Sir William Sutherland, insists that claims of homophobia within his force must be seen in perspective. Peter Hetherington reports on the break-in that sparked Fettesgate – and why it refuses to go away’

THE plot is worthy of a lurid crime thriller. A man breaks into Lothian and Borders police headquarters and steals 20 sensitive files, including details of phone-tapping, informers and people with alleged terrorist connections.

Unknown to a beleaguered Chief Constable, senior detectives reach what is claimed to be an immunity deal with the man’s solicitor for the return of the documents. Most of them are later “found” in bushes behind the Edinburgh headquarters and a few miles away near a refuse tip. The head of CID soon retires. His boss asks an officer from another area to investigate the deal amid talk of a “force within a force”. A journalist is initially charged with receiving stolen documents, and another is beaten up and robbed by two men while investigating what has become known as theFettesgate Affair. And that’s just for starters.

For the past six months, Scotland’s normally cloistered legal establishment, and the country’s second largest police force, has been rocked by a bizarre chain of events which began with the break-in last July. Yet the roots stretch back several years to what some claim is the murky world of undercover policing and disaffected suspects emerging from the shadows to settle the odd score.

Fact and fiction has been shaken and stirred in a potent conspiratorial cocktail which has provoked MPs’ questions and demands for a judicial inquiry into a second and earlier affair, tenuously related, involving a leaked police report claiming that high-ranking homosexuals in the Scottish legal profession may have hindered the course of justice. Next week Parliament is expected to receive the result of a Crown Office (Scottish DPP) investigation into the leaked allegations conducted by a leading Scottish QC, William Nimmo Smith, and a senior prosecutor, James Friel. It is an investigation which has fallen short of the full inquiry demanded by some. Insiders feel it could criticise homophobic elements in the force, while dismissing the leaked police report as nothing more than innuendo and rumour. Some have even suggested that Ian Lang, the urbane and cautious Secretary of State for Scotland, will add his weight to the inquiry with an attack on the fairytale world of Fettesgate, which takes its name from the police headquarters, all 1960s brutalist concrete and glass, in the capital’s Fettes Avenue under the towering shadow of Scotland’s Eton – the famous public school of the same name.

FETTESGATE can be divided into two affairs, loosely linked, one starting with the break-in, the other relating to the leaked police report claiming that homosexuals in the legal profession may have hindered the course of justice.

Affair number one began in July when an intruder spent three hours in a downstairs office of Fettes Avenue, occupied by the Scottish Crime Squad. He sifted through files after hopping in through an unlocked window. With a spray can he painted the letters ALF on a wall, but police soon realised that the Animal Liberation Front was a cover for a raid which could have been designed to embarrass detectives. The burglar made off with three holdalls stuffed with 20 files.Some suggested that one target could have been the police report, subsequently leaked, detailing alleged links between gay criminals, lawyers and even the judiciary.

Then events took a comical turn. A reporter from Scotland on Sunday who wrote about the break-in was arrested following a dawn raid at his girlfriend’s house in Kent, hauled back to Edinburgh, and appeared in court charged with receiving stolen documents. Editors complained loudly about the threat to press freedom. A reporter from the Scottish edition of the Sun, which originally broke the story, was also taken in for questioning. The Crown Office later dropped all charges.

Worse was to come, with intrigue piled on to the affair. By October, Edinburgh solicitor Nigel Beaumont – himself a former procurator fiscal (prosecutor) – revealed an apparent immunity deal for the return of the stolen documents, which were found at two pick-up points 17 days after the raid. He claimed in the Scotsman that detectives could be reneging on what he alleged was an agreement not to prosecute the raider – although the city’s procurator fiscal said police had no power to make such an arrangement.

The Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, was deeply embarrassed; he had already assured his police committee that no such deal had been done. He asked a deputy chief from a neighbouring force to investigate. But worse was to come in affair number two . . .

FOR several years, a “magic circle” theory involving lawyers, the odd junior judge and homosexual rent boys has been doing the rounds of Edinburgh’s police force and chattering classes. Fuelled by police frustration over a failure to gain convictions in several areas, some claim that it gained credibility two years ago when serious questions were raised after 47 of the 57 charges brought by a rent boy investigation were surprisingly withdrawn shortly before the trial was due to begin.

“Nothing sinister in that,” asserted one former senior crown prosecutor. “There is a great deal of difference between the sufficiency and the quality of the evidence and the police don’t seem to realise that – they get an idea into their heads and nothing can move them.”

But the Edinburgh Evening News was so concerned that it wrote to Scotland’s then chief law officer, the Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie – now Minister of State at the Scottish Office – asking why the Crown had taken such action when it had previously increased the number of charges.

“The answer we received simply stated that the matter was one for the Crown,” reported the paper scornfully.

Detectives grumbled about other cases. Whether they elevated heresay from criminals and informers into hard fact is a matter of conjecture, but there appears to be little doubt that some officers thought their criticisms deserved to be taken more seriously by authority. So, did someone decide to blow the lid on what they regarded as a cosy Edinburgh and Lothian establishment?

In November 1991, a constituent complained about the course of justice in the region to Tam Dalyell, MP for Linlithgow, during a session at his surgery. Dalyell, whose father-in-law was the late Lord Wheatley, a former Lord Advocate and one of Scotland’s most senior judges, was occupied with the Lockerbie bombing. The constituent, whose identity the MP refuses to disclose, talked of a potential scandal on his doorstep and Dalyell felt convinced he was on to something big.

“He took the line ‘look, you are deeply interested in the Crown Office attitude to Lockerbie – do you not think you should be interested in something else closer to home?’,” recalls the MP.

“I wrote to the Chief Constable expressing deep anxiety. In December he replies, says he is deeply concerned and calls for a report, which eventually came into my hands from a concerned party.”

The 11-page police document, which claimed that homosexual relationships may have influenced prominent officials in the justiciary, remained secret until it was leaked last September – only two months after the Fettes Avenue break-in. Then Sir William was forced to issue a statement saying he had no lack of confidence in the Crown Office, before launching his own inquiry into the leak. He says a few officers have been disloyal. “We were badly let down on the leaking of the document. One or two did not behave in the way I would expect of police officers.”

But the report’s conclusion momentarily rocked the legal establishment. It spoke of a “well-established circle of homosexual persons in Edinburgh with influence in the justiciary who may, or may not have exercised that influence, but who have formed associations which in themselves lay them open to threats or blackmail . . . homosexuality may well have been used as a means to seriously interfere with the administration of justice.” Add a sprinkling of prominent homosexuals well known to police, two prominent lawyers and one sheriff, shake it up under the headline “Gay Threat to Justice”, and a tabloid field day was guaranteed.

ALASTAIR Darling, MP for Edinburgh Central and a member of the Scottish bar who initially asked for a judicial inquiry into the affair, says: “Many people say it’s a bit like the royal family, with a fresh allegation each week.But I’m coming to the conclusion that a substantial amount of it is fiction – it’s not in anyone’s interest to pursue, unless he is homophobic or wants to undermine confidence in the system.”

In the small Scottish bar, some talked of deep embarrassment, then anger towards the police. “It’s a sort of public school atmosphere round here,” said one advocate. “There’s always gossip about the sexual leanings of members, but no one here takes the allegations seriously. Everyone you speak to thinks it’s all rubbish.”

Whatever the truth, the “magic circle” affair was seen as a symptom of the deep mistrust between elements in the police and a judiciary regarded as soft, liberal and over-permissive. The Government machine in Scotland and the Crown Office initially decided to ride out the storm, but under pressure from the Opposition the new Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry QC, it eventually asked William Nimmo Smith, a leading QC and senior procurator fiscal, and James Friel to review the cases mentioned in the report. Meanwhile, the Crown Office dismissed the document as nothing more than “rumours, speculation and innuendo”.

Next week the Nimmo Smith investigation, which will go before the Commons to take advantage of parliamentary privilege, is expected to criticise homophobic elements in Lothian police.

The inquiry will certainly not satisfy critics who argue that the small, powerful Edinburgh legal establishment has simply investigated itself – and, to no one’s surprise, found little wanting.

Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell, a leading Scottish QC, who favoured a more wide-ranging investigation, still professes unease about the inquiry process: “It would appear that he [Nimmo Smith] has not found any evidence to support a conspiracy theory. But I still believe it would have been better to enlist the services of a recently retired High Court judge to give the public total confidence in the inquiry’s independence and impartiality.”

Thanks to the Scottish edition of the Sun, Nimmo Smith’s views are already well known. Late in December, a man with a criminal background who was briefly detained after the break-in, conned his way into the QC’s home in Edinburgh’s New Town, a Georgian enclave, all cobbled streets and private parks, sloping down to the Forth from the city centre and home for judges, senior lawyers and much of the establishment.

Posing as a Daily Telegraph reporter, he taped an interview with the investigator – and sold it to the tabloid, which carried its exclusive report under the headline “Nimmo the Dimmo”. Nimmo Smith, a “deeply emotional man” according to colleagues, considered stepping down, but was apparently persuaded to stay by Lord Rodger.

Bracing himself for criticism in next week’s parliamentary report, the Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, a softly-spoken Invernesian and hardly the stereotype of a tough, abrasive police chief, is philosophical. He says allegations of a homophobic core must be seen in perspective.

“I don’t believe there is [a core] but I would have to say that the force does reflect society as a whole – there may be some officers who feel that way, but I don’t think it’s a fair criticism of the force as a whole.”

With the retirement of the head of CID, Chief Supt William Hiddleston, and a CID shake-up involving the removal of five senior detectives to the uniform branch, Sir William has already moved to answer critics. “The fact that one or two officers may have done their own thing does not indicate that the whole of the CID feels that way,” he says quietly and emphatically – only raising his voice slightly when a comparison is made between his detectives and discredited serious crime squads in the South.

His CID is highly professional and disciplined, helping to push crime steadily down against the national trend. “We have been badly let down by a small number . . .” he repeats.

But Sir William had to endure further embarrassment in October when his deputy, Hector Clark, was forced to apologise publicly to the former Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser, over some alleged remarks by Clark. Lord Fraser had threatened legal action.

When Sir William appeared before his police committee last month, uncritical councillors were presented with a list of five investigations, from the Nimmo Smith inquiry to the break-in at force headquarters in Fettes Avenue last July. Although the Crown Office is not currently considering a prosecution over the break-in, Kenneth Maciver, Edinburgh’s assistant procurator fiscal, stressed that no person had immunity and that there was still a likelihood of prosecution “if evidence becomes available”.

Sir William says the break-in has to be seen in perspective. “Up and down the country, many police stations are broken into, just as other premises are. It’s a fact of life. At about the same time, Buckingham Palace was broken into and the publicity for that lasted a week . . . the break-in started off a series of events which led to complaints about the way our officers had behaved . . . then the leaked document, which had probably nothing to do with the break-in but came very shortly afterwards . . .”

THE controversy refuses to die. On January 2, while investigating Fettesgate and allegations of a “magic circle” for a Channel 4 documentary, journalist Duncan Campbell was beaten up while walking through Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. In custody awaiting trial for assault and robbery are two men, Derek Donaldson and William Langa. Last week, in a petition presented by an Edinburgh man, three High Court judges banned the programme only 35 minutes before its planned transmission as the first in a current affairs series, Close to Home.

Campbell is said to be extremely angry that the legal system has been manipulated to prevent viewers finding out how some people have been undermining the system.

With parliamentary privilege providing MPs with an opportunity to resurrect the affair, some are bracing themselves for fresh allegations over the next few weeks as CID reorganisation continues apace in a recently fortified headquarters, where closed-circuit television and “enhanced intruder alarm protection” is being installed and civilian security guards employed. The plot, it seems, could be thickening.

The Guardian
, January 23rd, 1993

– July 19, 1992: Highly sensitive files stolen in break-in at the offices of the Scottish Crime Squad in Lothian and Borders police headquarters. Caller to the Scottish Sun claims the Animal Liberation Front was responsible, although police say this is a cover for a raid which could have been designed to embarrass detectives.

– August 5: Two holdalls of documents recovered after a deal between an Edinburgh lawyer and police apparently involving immunity for the raider. The chief constable unaware of the deal, calls in the deputy chief constable of Tayside to investigate.

– September 11: Fresh embarrassment for Lothian police when a CID report, outlining allegations of a legal conspiracy, is leaked. Disaffected officers suspected. The Crown Office, which overseas criminal prosecutions, eventually asks a top QC to investigate.

– October 24: Det Chief Supt William Hiddleston, head of Lothian CID quits. .

– December 1: Five Lothian CID officers, including a detective chief inspector, are abruptly returned to uniform.

– January 14, 1993: High Court judges in Edinburgh ban the broadcasting of a Channel 4 documentary about the affair. Legal restrictions prevent disclosure of why the film was stopped.

The Scotsman
, January 27th, 1993
Allan Mclean, ”Treacherous’ leak damaged force, says chief constable’

THE leaking of the confidential briefing paper which sparked off the “Magic Circle” inquiry was a treacherous act, Sir William Sutherland, chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, declared last night The leak had damaged the reputation of the force and several innocent people.

But he admitted that the police had failed to identify whoever was responsible.

At a press conference at police headquarters at Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh, Sir William welcomed the findings of the inquiry that there was no homosexual conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The leak of the paper followed earlier embarrassment for Sir William over the “Fettesgate” affair, when confidential documents were stolen in a break in at force headquarters.

“The Lord Advocate’s inquiry, and my own internal investigations, have indicated that the professional conduct of a small number of police officers has fallen short of the very high standard which we demand. In each case internal disciplinary measures have been taken and I regard that aspect as closed,” he said.

He said that an internal inquiry into the leaking of the police briefing document written to help him answer a letter from Tam Dalyell, MP, in November 1991 had failed to produce sufficient evidence to identify whoever was responsible.

Sir William described that as disappointing.

He regarded the leak as “a treacherous act which has caused unnecessary damage to the reputation of the force and to a number of innocent individuals.”

He went on: “Whilst I believe that I gave clear directions to prevent this breach of confidentiality, I nevertheless regret that any member of my organisation should have been guilty of such behaviour.”

Sir William said the briefing document was intended to cover all the circumstances, not just known facts.

There were occasions when such a briefing had to contain disputed allegations, background suspicions and even unsubstantiated rumours.

He had ruled that that document be prepared by a security typist and that there should be only one copy.

“Regrettably, copies were made of the briefing report before it reached my office and this subsequently came into the possession of a local newspaper which chose to publicise the content. At that time I took the opportunity to publicly affirm my confidence in the Crown Office and I am happy to do so again.”

He and his executive officers concluded that the document did not indicate the existence of any evidence which would justify further action or inquiry, though that was not the view of its writer, Chief Inspector (then Detective Inspector) Roger Orr.

Sir William said he fully accepted the conclusions of the Nimmo Smith Friel inquiry.

“In particular I welcome the finding that there is no evidence to support claims of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice within legal circles in Edinburgh. The inquiry’s conclusions fully concur with my early and continued assessment of the facts and circumstances surrounding these cases.”

Sir William said: “In order to remove all doubt, I will emphasise again that neither myself nor Lothian and Borders Police as an organisation have made any allegations of conspiracy against the legal establishment in Edinburgh.”

It had been suggested that an apparent anti homosexual attitude had affected the judgment of a few officers.

But the force continued its longstanding policy of providing a professional and unbiased service to all members of the community, irrespective of race, religion or lifestyle.

Morale had been dented but the force which he described as 3,500 people doing a very good job should not be judged by the actions of a few who had overreacted to feelings of frustration and disappointment.

Formal links had been established with representatives of homosexual groups “in an effort to ensure that everything possible is being done to extend the full protection of the law to all sections of society”.

The Scotsman
, January 27th, 1993
Alan Hutchison,‘Where the ‘Magic Circle’ Scandal had its Origins; The Tangled Story Of A Legal Controversy That Fed And Thrived On Gossip And Innuendo’

The allegations struck at the very heart of Scottish justice.

A secret police report, claiming that a “magic circle” of gay lawyers had conspired to pervert the course of justice was leaked to the press.

Scotland had never witnessed such a legal sensation.

For three years, rumours had abounded about judges and rent boys, but here in the autumn of last year was a police document apparently giving credibility to a major conspiracy.

Yesterday, after a three month investigation by a senior QC, William Nimmo Smith, and a regional procurator fiscal, James Friel, the claims were dismissed.

But the publication of their detailed 101 page report also created some new sensations, with the detailed disclosure that one judge, Lord Dervaird, had resigned for homosexual reasons and the naming for the first time of a sheriff, Douglas Allan who was falsely alleged to have danced in a gay bar.

The drama began in December 1989 at a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh of a solicitor, Arthur Colin Tucker.

He had been charged with embezzling money from clients of the firm of Burnett Walker.

As the Nimmo Smith Friel report shows there was a number of consultations at which Tucker discussed his forthcoming trial with his counsel, Robert Henderson QC, and solicitor, David BlairWilson.

The list Mr Henderson asked Tucker to write a potted life story.

The report says that it was written on 16 leaves of A4 paper.

Tucker wrote on both sides of the paper .

Rumours that this was a “list” of prominent members of the legal profession who were said to be active homosexuals were born and with them, the beginnings of a scandal which yesterday’s report now hopes to lay to rest.

The report declares: “Apart from the allegation relating to Lord Dervaird there is no allegation in the statement directly or by implication of homosexual behaviour by any prominent member of the Scottish legal establishment. In particular there is no such allegation in the case of any judge, any sheriff, any law officer, any advocate depute, any member of the permanent staff of the Crown Office, any regional procurator fiscal or any other senior member of the fiscal service. “In short, there is nothing in the statement, which, if published, would ‘blow the lid’ off the Scottish legal establishment, as we have heard it put.”

The Nimmo Smith Friel report says that the rumours about Tucker’s list after Lord Dervaird’s resignation were associated with rumours to the effect that a number of other Court of Session judges were similarly compromised by homosexual behaviour.

Revealing that Mr Henderson gave a copy of Tucker’s statement to a police officer without Tucker’s authority, they declare: “We cannot avoid the conclusion that Robert Henderson has been one of the main instigators and perpetuators of the belief that there was a document, whether or not in the form of a ‘list’ containing information relating to persons other than Lord Dervaird and, in particular, other judges. Even after our inquiry began he made statements to journalists which did nothing to dispel such a belief.”

They add: “The Lord President, Lord Hope considered and where appropriate investigated these rumours and was satisfied that they were all unfounded.”

The judges And the report declares: “We have spoken to no judge who would, if he believed a fellow judge to be compromised do anything other than leave him to face the consequences. Indeed we are sure that if a judge believed a fellow judge had engaged in such unambiguous behaviour as sodomising a teenage rent boy, he would not hesitate to report his belief to the appropriate authorities. “Our inquiry has disclosed no evidence of homosexual behaviour which might be capable of compromising any judge in his holding of judicial office.

We are confident in the conclusion that no serving judge has been compromised.”

The New Club incident Nimmo Smith and Friel say that in addition to rumours about judges they had to consider rumours about the present Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry QC.

The rumours related to an alleged incident in the New Club in Edinburgh when Robert Henderson was said to have threatened Lord Rodger.

The report says: “We have investigated the story and found it to be entirely untrue.”

But the authors add: “We would have been content to let the matter rest at that if it were not for further statements to us. At interview with Robert Henderson, we took up with him the alleged incident in the New Club. He denied that any such incident had taken place. He then, however, went on to say that shortly after 23 October, 1991, Peter Watson of Levy and Macrae, solicitors, Glasgow, told him that Scottish Television had damaging information relating to Alan Rodger (he Lord Advocate) “David Blair Wilson told us at interview that Robert Henderson had made a similar statement to him.

When we spoke to Peter Watson he denied that he had said anything of the sort to Robert Henderson.

Indeed he has since confirmed to us on behalf of STV that the Lord Advocate has never featured as part of any investigation by them, which is why he could not have said to Robert Henderson what Robert Henderson alleged he had said.

We cannot thus trace the story beyond Robert Henderson.”

The report goes on: “There is no evidence whatever that Lord Rodger is or ever has been in any way compromised, either as Solicitor General or as Lord Advocate. We questioned him about the rumours we had heard and it was clear that they had never previously come to his notice.”

The police The police report which led to the unprecedented Nimmo Smith Friel investigation was initiated by the chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, Sir William Sutherland, to help him reply to a letter from the Labour MP, Tam Dalyell.

Mr Dalyell had raised what he believed to be genuine public concern about Crown Office decisions on a number of cases investigated by the force.

The Nimmo Smith Friel report discloses that Sir William discussed the matter with his deputy, Hector Clark.

He regarded what Mr Dalyell was saying as very serious and he did not want to deal with it in the normal way.

They decided to call for a report from a senior officer, prepared in secret.

Mr Clark spoke to Detective Chief Superintendent William Hiddleston who was then head of the CID.

He in turn decided that Detective Inspector (now Chief Inspector) Roger Orr was the officer best suited to take on the task.

The report says: “Hiddleston called Orr to police headquarters and briefed him. He was to be given a room to work from alone. His typing was to be done by a Special Branch typist and thereafter the tape was to be destroyed. The report was to be a unique document and Orr was not to keep a copy. “According to Orr, he decided that it was a good opportunity to put together in one document rumours that had been circulating for years.”

Mr Orr told the Nimmo Smith Friel inquiry that his remit did not allow him to take the matter outside the police.

He could only go to the case officers.

The rumours A number of these officers, particularly some in the fraud squad, are criticised in the Nimmo Smith Friel report.

They say: “Perhaps because of the nature of their work, some fraud squad officers appear to have been prepared to give as much credence to rumour as to actual evidence and to believe in conspiracy theories whether or not supported by evidence. Detective Inspector (now Inspector) Michael Souter and Detective Sergeant (now Sergeant) Peter Brown had a close working relationship and they both appeared to us to be officers who would seize on any rumour which would tend to support a conspiracy theory. “We also formed a distinct impression, that Brown has a particular animosity against suspects who are professionally qualified (he described Tucker as a ‘bogus workman in a suit’) and also an animosity against homosexuals.

Souter’s thinking was similar to Brown’s to the extent that he gave credence to the existence of a ‘list’ made by Tucker and to allegations against Douglas Allan.”

The Nimmo Smith/Friel report says that if there was a unifying theme in the police report it was the suggestion that Robert Henderson, by reason of his possession of Tucker’s “list”, was in effect able to blackmail the Crown and ensure that there were either no prosecutions or no successful prosecutions of himself and others he sought to favour.

The report says: “Yet no disclosure is made of the fact that police officers were in possession of copies of Tucker’s statement, being the only known document which could be identified as the so called list.”

The Nimmo Smith Friel report reveals that Mr Orr agreed that he had deliberately suppressed the knowledge that he and other police officers had of Tucker’s statement.

“According to him,” says the report, “he did so at the request of Souter and Brown.”

The report says: “While we have some sympathy with Orr because the task he was given was an unenviable one, we also regard him as being a victim of his own working methods.”

The leak “There is no evidence in the Orr report which would support an inference that there exists a ‘circle’ of homosexual persons in Edinburgh who have influence in the judiciary. Orr was unable to give us any satisfactory account of the thought processes which led to his writing this sentence,” And the report asserts.

“Whoever leaked the (police) report must presumably have been someone who disagreed with the views of senior officers. His leaking of the report was not only an act of deliberate disloyalty which was calculated to undermine the authority of his superior officers, it must also intentionally have been done with a view to undermining public confidence in the integrity of the Scottish legal system by allowing credence to be given to rumours and allegations which had the apparent stamp of authority by being set out in a report signed by a senior police officer. “The chief constable has publicly described the leaking of the report as ‘an act of wickedness’.”

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel conclude: “All the report achieved was to recycle rumours. The combination of this muddled thinking and the leaking of the report has made it possible for it to be claimed that there must be something in the rumours if there is a police report on them. The chief constable’s instruction to shred the Orr report serves as an eloquent demonstration of its true value.”

The Scotsman
, January 27th 1993
Marcello Mega, ‘Henderson cleared, but accused of fuelling speculation over list’

THE FLAMBOYANT bon viveur Bob Henderson, a leading Queen’s Counsel in Edinburgh, last night welcomed the Crown Office report although it established him as a key player in perpetuating belief that there was a list of gay senior legal figures, including judges.

The report says: “We cannot avoid the conclusion that Robert Henderson has been one of the main instigators and perpetuators of the belief that there was a document, whether or not in the form of a ‘list’, containing information relating to persons other than Lord Devaird and, in particular, to other judges.”

It adds that even after the inquiry began, he made statements to journalists, including a group of Scotsman reporters, saying that he had a file which “would rock the establishment.”

Later, however, in a chapter devoted entirely to Mr Henderson, which deals mainly with an investigation into his business affairs, the report says: “Not only was Robert Henderson not in a position effectively to blackmail the Crown, he had no influence whatever on the investigation into his business transactions.”

Yesterday began in sombre fashion for Mr Henderson when he attended the funeral of a colleague, Lawrence Nisbet, at Edinburgh’s Dean Cemetery.

It ended on a decidedly more agreeable note when he learned that the inquiry had dismissed the numerous allegations made against him since his affairs first provoked the Crown’s interest seven years ago.

His role as defence agent in several controversial cases involving homosexual accused and his success in thwarting the Crown on those occasions, when the odds had appeared to be stacked against him, had prompted further speculation that he was involved in a gay circle which had power over senior members of the judiciary.

The cases included his defence of a gay solicitor, Colin Tucker, in a fraud case, and his role in the high profile trial involving rent boys in Edinburgh in which most of the charges were dropped.

Last night, Mr Henderson declined to be interviewed by The Scotsman, but he told Scottish Television that he welcomed the outcome of the inquiry and said it had cleared his name.

He said: “This report shows that the allegations that there was a gay ‘magic circle’, of which I was part, which conspired to pervert the course of justice, is without foundation and totally baseless. It’s a correct conclusion which is very satisfactory to me.”

Mr Henderson was scathing in his comments about the police who he clearly felt had acted irresponsibly in alleging a gay conspiracy and in leaking a confidential report to the press.

He said: “When things go against them, most police officers are perfectly phlegmatic. They leave court and get on with the next case. But these particular cases, in all of which I appeared as counsel, led to a suggestion within certain sections of the force that this could not all be due to me. “The police felt there must be some ulterior factor.

They said to themselves that he must be part of this ‘magic circle’ and he must have a hold over the judges and the prosecution service.

The report has shown that this is absolute nonsense.”

He added that he feared that a similar thing could happen again.

“Leaks from the police force are endemic. You have only to open your papers every day to see that confidential and sensitive information is given that could only have come from police officers. “If you did that kind of thing in business, you would be kicked out on your backside.

What has happened to these police officers? They have all been demoted or pushed sideways, but they all still have their jobs, their salaries, their pensions.

In industry, they would be out on their backsides.”

The chapter headed “Robert Henderson, QC” deals for the most part with the business transactions which Kenneth Pritchard, secretary of the Law Society of Scotland, first brought to the attention of the then Lord Advocate, Lord Cameron of Lochbroom, on 5 December, 1985.

The report goes on to outline the various stages of the investigation into Mr Henderson’s affairs, tracing it through the police and the Crown Office Fraud Unit.

Although it does not specify this, The Scotsman revealed in September that the investigations centred on a number of property deals.

The process was a slow one and in May 1990, the report says, that there was evidence of “illinformed discontent” within the police about the attitude of the Crown to the case.

In July of that year, Norman McFadyen, senior procurator fiscal depute in the fraud unit, reported to Crown Counsel, concluding with a recommendation that there should be no proceedings against Mr Henderson.

Towards the end of the month, the Lord Advocate, by that time Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, instructed that no further investigation be carried out.

The report says: “He also instructed that there was no need to intimate the decision to anyone. He did not go as far as to instruct that there were to be no proceedings against Robert Henderson. This instruction left open the possibility that further evidence might, in theory at least, emerge which would enable the decision not to prosecute to be reconsidered.”

Only towards the end of the chapter is there a reference to Mr Henderson’s alleged connection to a magic circle, and his supposed possession of a ‘list’ which was actually the statement of Colin Tucker and which, the report says in an earlier chapter, Mr Henderson handed to the police without his client’s consent.

The chapter on Mr Henderson quotes from a police document, the Orr Report: “It is difficult to pinpoint any definite reason for the non prosecution of Henderson other than the official Crown Office reason. “The rumour in circulation however, is that Henderson is in possession of ‘the list’, or a copy of same originally referred to in the Tucker embezzlement inquiries of 1989 …

and as such is in a position to threaten to expose prominent figures and by such means influence the course of justice.”

But Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel conclude: “We have discovered ample evidence that the decision not to prosecute Robert Henderson was taken after an exceptionally thorough investigation and after anxious consideration, by all the most senior people in the prosecution system, of the evidence produced by that investigation.”

Herald Sun
, January 27th, 1993
Inquiry clears ‘gay’ judges

LONDON – Police allegations that a “magic circle” of homosexual lawyers and judges had infiltrated the Scottish legal system were untrue, an inquiry found today.

The inquiry was ordered last September by the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s chief law officer, after a leaked police report alleged decisions in five criminal cases were fixed to prevent the identification of certain legal figures as homosexual.

“It (the report) concludes that the decisions in each of thec$five cases were taken on a proper basis,” Lord Rodger, the Lord Advocate, told the House of Lords.

“In particular it finds that there is no evidence of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.”

In the House of Commons, Scottish Secretary Ian Lang attacked members of the Lothian and Borders police force for propagating rumors about a homosexual conspiracy among members of the Scottish legal profession.

He said detectives in the force, which serves Edinburgh and south-east Scotland, had been demoted and a new head of the local detective force had been appointed.

Mr Lang, the Cabinet minister with responsibility for Scottish affairs, indicated some officers were angered when judgements in court cases had gone against the police.

He told the Commons: “Officers may misunderstand the decisions properly taken by . . . prosecution authorities in particular cases.” For several years rumors have been rife in Scotland’s legal profession about a “magic circle” of homosexuals.

The rumors gathered pace last year after a series of events which became known as “Fettesgate“.

The Herald
, January 27th 1993
Derek Douglas, ‘Magic Circle’ allegations thrown out’

THE four-month investigation into allegations that a “Magic Circle” of homosexual Judges, lawyers, advocates, and criminals conspired to pervert the course of justice has concluded that there is not a shred of evidence to support the conspiracy theory.

The official report by senior advocate Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, and North Strathclyde procurator-fiscal James Friel comes to the same conclusions reached by an investigation by The Herald last September.

The report, which has 101 pages, was laid before both Houses of Parliament yesterday by the Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr Ian Lang MP.

Lord Rodger ordered the independent inquiry last September after widespread rumours that a conspiracy existed and after the leaking to a newspaper of an internal Lothian and Borders Police report which implied that homosexual Judges and lawyers had used their influence to affect the outcome of five apparently unrelated court cases and police investigations.

The report contains damning criticism of individual police officers. Two officers in particular are said to have seized on any rumour which would have tended to support a conspiracy theory.

Last night, the Lothian and Borders Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, said that he fully accepted the report’s conclusions and he described the leaking of the internal police report as “a treacherous act which has caused unnecessary damage to the reputation of the force and to a number of innocent individuals”.

In the course of their inquiry, Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel interviewed more than 90 named witnesses, including Judges, policemen, journalists, criminals, and even the Lord Advocate, the man who had ordered the investigation.

In addition to condemnation of police conduct, the report also criticises senior defence counsel Mr Robert Henderson, QC.

A central theme of the conspiracy theory centred upon the alleged existence of a so-called “list” naming homosexual legal figures, including Judges. The leaked police report implied that it was the existence of the “list”, and the threat that homosexual Judges would be named, which had facilitated not guilty verdicts or decisions to shelve criminal investigations.

The “list” was said to have come into the possession of Mr Henderson while he was preparing the defence in the case of Edinburgh solicitor Colin Tucker who was ultimately found not guilty of embezzlement from the law firm of which he was a partner.

The Nimmo Smith-Friel report declares that the “list” was in fact a statement which Mr Henderson had asked Mr Tucker to compile. In reality, it referred only to the homosexuality of the High Court Judge Lord Dervaird.

However, says the report, Mr Henderson had experienced such consternation on reading the statement that he had been unable to keep to himself what he had read about Lord Dervaird.

The report declares that Mr Henderson’s “loose talk” was what had given rise to rumours about the existence of a list of names containing names other than that of Lord Dervaird.

It goes on to state that, during consultation with Mr Tucker in connection with then forthcoming Law Society disciplinary hearings, Mr Henderson “while purporting to speak for the Sun newspaper had stated that that newspaper would be willing to pay a six-figure sum, i.e. at least £100,000 for his ‘story’ “.

The report also declares that, in spite of rules of client confidentiality, Mr Henderson had given a copy of the so-called “list” to two police officers after a lunch at an Edinburgh restaurant. They had gone to his house in Gullane following the lunch and, during this meeting, one of the officers had fallen asleep.

On Mr Henderson’s part in the affair, the report concludes: “We cannot avoid the conclusion that Robert Henderson has been one of the main instigators and perpetuators of the belief that there was a document, whether or not in the form of a list, containing information relating to persons other than Lord Dervaird and, in particular, other Judges.”

It adds: “Our conclusion must therefore be that Robert Henderson has chosen to let it be believed that he is in possession of information of a kind which he does not possess.”

Mr Henderson declined to speak to the press last night but granted an interview to Scottish Television.

He said: “This report shows, as I understand it on a brief reading, that the allegation that there was a gay ‘Magic Circle’ of which I was part, which conspired to pervert the course of justice, was totally baseless.

“I think that is a correct conclusion if I may say so and one which is totally satisfactory to me.”

Last night, Mr Alan Johnston QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said in a statement: “Insofar as the report may touch upon the actions of individual members of faculty, I will consider such references at length before deciding what action, if any, may be required.”

* As a result of The Herald investigation of the affair, Mr Henderson has raised a £750,000 defamation action against the newspaper and its journalists Derek Douglas, Bruce McKain, and Margaret Vaughan. The action is being contested.

The Herald
, January 27th, 1993
Derek Douglas, ‘Man at the eye of storm’

THE central figure in the affair was senior defence counsel Robert Henderson QC. Mr William Nimmo Smith and Mr James Friel make damning criticism of his professional conduct.

Mr Henderson features in one of the most bizarre episodes recounted in the report: an allegation that he threatened Lord Rodger, the Lord Advocate, at the New Club in Edinburgh.

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel interviewed a Sunday Times journalist, who told them of a “general theory” that Mr Henderson had in some way acquired compromising material relating to the Lord Advocate, and had used it to protect himself from criminal investigation. It was alleged that during a meeting at the New Club, a favoured haunt of Judges and advocates, Mr Henderson had brandished a folder of compromising material in the club foyer.

The report concludes, however: “We have investigated the story and have found it to be entirely untrue.”

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel say they would have let the matter rest at that had it not been for an interview with Mr Henderson at which the alleged New Club incident was discussed.

“He denied that any such incident had taken place. He then, however, went on to say that Peter Watson of Levy and Macrae, solicitors, Glasgow, told him that Scottish Television had damaging information relating to Alan Rodger (Lord Rodger).

“Peter Watson advises them (Scottish Television) on the legal implications of matters they have in mind to broadcast. When we spoke to him he denied that he had said anything of the sort to Robert Henderson.

“Indeed, he has since confirmed to us on behalf of STV that the Lord Advocate has never featured as part of any investigation by them which is why he could not have said to Robert Henderson what Henderson alleged he had said. We cannot trace the story beyond Robert Henderson.”

Mr Henderson also figures in the report in connection with an investigation into his financial affairs which was triggered in December 1985 by a letter from the Law Society to the Lord Advocate of the day, Lord Cameron.

The investigation was carried out by Detective Inspector William Crookston in consultation with the Crown Office fraud unit. Mr Henderson was interviewed at police headquarters in February 1987.

In July, 1990, Mr Norman McFadyen, senior fiscal in the fraud unit sent the papers to Crown counsel with the recommendation that there should be no proceedings against Mr Henderson.

Crown counsel was Mr George Penrose QC, also a qualified chartered acountant, and now Lord Penrose, a Court of Session Judge. He agreed with Mr McFadyen’s view on the quality and sufficiency of the evidence, stating: “The most one can do is form the rather negative view that that there is not enough evidence of such cogency and reliability as would justify the very serious allegations that would be involved in the case.”

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel reject any suggestion that this decision was taken for any improper reasons, or that Mr Henderson was in any position to influence the Crown.

“Not only was Robert Henderson not in a position effectively to blackmail the Crown, he had no influence whatever on the investigation into his business transactions.

“A thorough investigation was carried out by the Crown Office fraud unit in accordance with the instructions of Crown counsel, well after Robert Henderson was supposedly in possession of a ‘list’.

“Any improperly motivated conspiracy not to prosecute Robert Henderson would have had to extend at least to the Lord Advocate, the Solicitor- General, the Home Advocate-Depute and Norman MacFadyen, and probably also the Crown Agent and the Deputy Crown Agent.

“We have discovered no evidence whatever which would support an allegation that there was such a conspiracy. On the contrary we have discovered ample evidence that the decision not to prosecute Robert Henderson was taken after an exceptionally thorough investigation and after anxious consideration by all the most senior people in the prosecution system of the evidence produced by that investigation.”

In a television interview yesterday evening, Mr Henderson chose to concentrate on those aspects of the report which dealt with police conduct as well as claiming it represented a satisfactory outcome.

He said: “When things go against them most police officers are perfectly phlegmatic about that. They leave the court and say, well, we’ll go on to the next case.

“But I think in these particular cases which were the subject of the report, in all of which I appeared as counsel, this led to a suggestion within certain sections of the police force that this couldn’t all be due just to me, that there must be something else, some ulterior factor which contributed to these men being acquitted, and at the end of the day they really put it down to me and said he must be one of this gay Magic Circle and he must have a hold over the Judges and the prosecution service. Now the report has shown that this is baseless nonsense.”

However, Mr Henderson went on: “I am quite sure it could happen again. Leaks from the police force are endemic. You only have to open your paper every day to see that confidential and sensitive information is given in the papers which could only have come from police officers.

“No, I am not satisfied with the matters at all. If you did this kind of thing in business you would be kicked out on your backside. What has happened to these police officers? They’ve all been demoted or put sideways but they all still have their jobs, their salaries and their pensions.”

Professor Robert Black of the chair of Scots Law at Edinburgh University said last night: “I think that the specific rumours have been shown to be false. They have been investigated and it has been shown there is no evidence to support them, so if people are interested in evidence, if people are interested in facts, then they have got them. If they are interested in innuendo and speculation, then that may very well continue.”

He said of relations between the police and the Crown Office: “They can only improve, and the chief constable has done a great deal to ensure that that improvement takes place.

“The chief constable has recognised the constitutional position of the police, their job to investigate; the prosecutor’s job is to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to go ahead. That division of responsibilities, which is fundamental, has been clearly recognised.”

The same point was made by the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties, who pointed out that the need for better communication between the police and independent prosecutors was highlighted four years ago by the National Audit Office. The SCCL called for better training and briefings for the police, as a matter of urgency.

It also said it was a matter of regret that the Lord Advocate’s review of prosecution policy regarding gay sex between consenting males aged 16-20 had not led to a published conclusion.

Of the Magic Circle saga, the SCCL said: ”We firmly believe that such accusations would never have arisen had society a clear legal and principled commitment to treat everyone equally regardless of sexual orientation.”

The Herald, January 27th, 1993
‘Judge resigned over homosexual liaison’

THE former High Court Judge, Lord Dervaird, who resigned in unprecedented and unexplained circumstances on December 23, 1989, did so because he had been carrying on a secret and indiscreet homosexual relationship.

The details surrounding Lord Dervaird’s decision to leave office are revealed for the first time in the Magic Circle report.

According to the report, his resignation coincided with rumours relating to his alleged homosexual activities. He was interviewed by Scotland’s senior Judge, Lord Hope, when the specific rumour that he had used “certain premises for certain purposes” was put to him.

Lord Dervaird had denied that this was the case but went on to say that it would “not be untrue to say that he had had homosexual relations”.

In the course of the Magic Circle inquiry, Lord Dervaird was also interviewed by Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel.

The report states: “He told us that in particular he informed the Lord President that he had been indiscreet in that he had, in the period since his elevation to the bench, carried on a homosexual relationship with a certain person, secretly but in such a way that they had been seen together in certain places in London.

“There were further meetings between the Lord President and Lord Dervaird . . . at the last of which Lord Dervaird tendered his resignation.”

There followed a meeting involving Lord Hope, the then Scottish Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, the then Lord Advocate Lord Fraser, and the then Solicitor -General Alan Rodger.

The report continues: “There was discussion of the behaviour which Lord Dervaird had admitted to the Lord President. On the basis of these admissions it was concluded that his behaviour was incompatible with his continued tenure of judicial office and that accordingly his resignation should be accepted.

“This was duly done, and there was extensive publicity . . . No reason for the resignation was announced in order not to inflict further humilation on Lord Dervaird or distress on his family.

“We would not wish it to be thought that Lord Dervaird’s admissions . . . constituted admissions of criminal conduct . . . He would assert, and we have no reason to dispute, that his conduct did not expose him to the risk of blackmail.

“We have no reason to believe, nor would we wish it to be thought, that Lord Dervaird’s official conduct as a Judge had in any way been affected by the matters which led to his resignation. The features of secrecy and indiscretion which he has mentioned to us are what led to his tendering his resignation.”

Lord Dervaird is now Dickson Minto professor of company and commercial law at Edinburgh University.

The Herald
, January 27th 1993
Derek Douglas, ‘Cases that led to investigations’

THE five cases which figured in the leaked Lothian and Borders Police report and which led disgruntled police officers to the mistaken belief that a homosexual conspiracy existed, were:

* The trial of Edinburgh solicitor Colin Tucker who was found not guilty in December 1989 of embezzlement from his legal firm, Burnett Walker.

* The Teague Homes (Scotland) trial at the High Court, Dunfermline, in May, 1991, when Mr Tucker, who acted as company secretary, and co-accused, Teague Homes financial director Gordon May were found not guilty of a £219,000 embezzlement.

* A police investigation into the business affairs of Mr Robert Henderson, QC.

* The Operation Planet investigation into a homosexual vice-ring involving under-age youths.

* The alleged and now discredited homosexual links between jailed gay fraudster Stephen Conroy and Lanark Sheriff Douglas Allan.

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel conclude that there was no link between any of the cases apart from the coincidental involvement of the same defence lawyers, none of whom was in a position to use, or did use, improper means to influence their outcome.

The report declares: “There is no evidence that there has been a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in Scotland, that the course of justice has been perverted, or that the alleged motive for such a conspiracy has ever existed.”

It states that no prominent member of the Scottish legal establishment, apart from Lord Dervaird, is or has . . . been compromised because of homosexuality or homosexual behaviour.

Referring to the leaked police report, Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel declare: “The chief constable’s instruction to shred the report serves as an eloquent demonstration of its true value.”

The discredited police report had its origins in a letter from Radio Forth news editor David Johnston to Linlithgow Labour MP Tam Dalyell. Mr Johnston had mentioned “what I think is a major scandal in Scots life”.

Mr Dalyell had taken the affair up with Lothian and Borders Police Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland, who had instructed that a confidential report should be prepared to allow him to write a reply to the MP.

The report was prepared by Detective Inspector Roger Orr who saw it as a good opportunity to put into one document rumours that had been circulating for years.

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel state: “Perhaps because of the nature of their work, some fraud squad officers appear to have been prepared to give as much credence to rumour as to actual evidence and to believe in conspiracy theories whether or not supported by evidence.”

The inquiry team also formed the distinct impression that at least one of the police officers involved in the affair had a particular animosity towards homosexuals, particularly professionally qualified homosexuals.

The police officer described the lawyer Colin Tucker as “a bogus workman in a suit”.

The report adds: “If there is a unifying theme it is the suggestion that Robert Henderson, QC, by reason of his possession of Tucker’s ‘list’ was, in effect, able to blackmail the Crown and secure that there were either no prosecutions or no successful prosecutions of himself and others whom he sought to favour.

“Yet no disclosure is made in the (police) report of the fact that police officers were in possession of copies of Tucker’s statement, the only known document which could be identified as the so-called list.”

The Herald
, January 27th 1993
‘Day Tam Dalyell received a letter’

LABOUR MP Tam Dalyell received a letter from journalist David Johnston of Radio Forth, referring to the acquittal of Colin Tucker and other cases.

Mr Dalyell wrote to Lothian chief constable Sir William Sutherland, who asked a senior officer to prepare an internal police report.

Detective Inspector Roger Orr was given the task.

Those who contributed to the report included Detective Inspector Michael Souter and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown, who both struck the inquiry as “officers who would seize on any rumour which would tend to support a conspiracy theory”.

Mr Orr was given the “unenviable” task of collating the allegations and known facts to allow an accurate assessment.

But his report, detailing five cases, contained a number of factual errors and omissions, the inquiry said.

Its claim that the Crown was “sinisterly” motivated in taking some decisions was not backed by any evidence and not attributed to identifiable informants, the inquiry said.

But the report added: “If he had sought information from more sources than the four officers to whom, in his interviews with us, he has attributed the information contained in his report, and if he had been more rigorous and less uncritical in the testing of rumours against available evidence, he would not have found himself in his present position.”

The Scottish Police Federation last night said it had been contacted by several officers involved in the inquiry.

“We are advised by these officers that they have done nothing other than act in the proper course of their duty,” said general secretary Douglas Keil.

“They totally reject any suggestions that they are homophobic. The federation will have more to say when they have read the report in full.”

The Herald,
 January 27th 1993
‘Allegations against sheriff described as ‘fantasies’’

THE report completely rejects two grave allegations levelled against Sheriff Douglas Allan: that he was compromised by reason of homosexual behaviour and that, as regional procurator-fiscal in Edinburgh, he obstructed a fraud inquiry.

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel conclude: “We have found not a shred of evidence to support any allegations against Douglas Allan.”

Sheriff Allan expressed his delight with the outcome of the inquiry and the report’s conclusions “which are, of course, what he had all along expected”.

In a statement issued through his solicitor, the sheriff said the allegations “were scandalous as well as untruthful”, and caused much hurt and distress to both him and his family.

“Sheriff Allan was pleased to be able to co-operate fully with the inquiry and to provide Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel with any information requested,” the statement said.

“He now regards the matter as at an end and would expect the allegations to be the subject of no further reaction or comment,” it added.

No further statement would be made and no interviews given.

The allegations against the sheriff are contained in two chapters, the first based on statements by Stephen Conroy, currently serving a six-year sentence for fraud.

The Magic Circle report states: “Conroy appears to us, from the papers we have read, from information we have received from others, and from our own experience of interviewing him in prison, to be a man who is not only prepared to be deliberately dishonest, but also to have an imagination over which he has only intermittent control.

“We found that when he makes an effort and remains calm, he can give truthful answers to questions. But he easily loses control of his imagination and becomes voluble.

“At such times he pours out his fantasies, particularly about people he claims are homosexuals in positions of influence. The word ‘photograph’ readily acts as a trigger for the outpouring of his fantasies. In addition to these characteristics he is correctly described by others who have had dealings with him as being devious and manipulative. In all, it is hard to see how his allegations ever came to be taken seriously.”

Allegations that Conroy had seen “compromising” photographs of Douglas Allan “with a young gay” first came to the attention of police in December 1990. He was also alleged to have frequented gay bars in Edinburgh, such as the Laughing Duck and the Blue Oyster.

In May 1991, a story appeared in the Sunday Scot newspaper entitled The Gay Boy and the Sheriff, which repeated Conroy’s allegations but did not name the sheriff.

However, Conroy’s story changed dramatically in September 1992, when he telephoned Lothian and Borders Police and asked to speak to officers about his earlier allegations against Mr Allan. He admitted that he had told a number of “untruths” about Sheriff Allan.

In October he wrote to Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel stating his desire finally to tell the truth and was interviewed in Saughton Prison.

He told Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel that he did not know Sheriff Allan personally, had never spoken to him, had never seen him in the Blue Oyster Club, had never been in his company, and had never seen a compromising picture of him.

Of his allegations against Sheriff Allan, Conroy said: “I have been dishonest before. It is time to be honest. It was blatant dishonesty, I’d like to apologise.”

The report states that Conroy tried to make out at some length that he had made the allegations against Sheriff Allan because he had been put under pressure by police (Detective Inspector Mike Souter and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown), who indicated that if he helped them with their “Magic Circle” inquiries they could “hinder” investigation into his criminal activities.

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel add: “We have, of course, discussed all these matters with Sheriff Allan. He assured us that he has never been in the Laughing Duck or the Blue Oyster, does not know Conroy, and knows nothing of compromising photographs.”

“He generally spends Friday evenings at home with his wife. He is very circumspect in his social life and careful about the kind of place in which he might be seen. Above all, he is aware of having done nothing which would have compromised him in the performance of his duties as a regional procurator -fiscal, or for that matter, a sheriff.

“We entirely accept what Sheriff Allan said to us. Quite apart from the fact that Conroy’s original allegations against him were incapabale of substantiation, Conroy has now expressly withdrawn those allegations in their entirety.

“It is impossible to understand fully why Conroy should have chosen to make such damaging allegations against Sheriff Allan. In the end the only answer may be that prominent persons are exposed to the occupational hazard of featuring in the fantasies of disturbed people such as Conroy.”

Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel also investigated claims by a man called Michael Glen, a man with an extensive record for crimes of dishonesty, that compromising pictures of Sheriff Allan were in existence.

The report concludes that Glen appears to be a liar, and adds: “Our inquiry failed to bring any such photographs to light. We have no reason to believe that they ever existed.

“We are sure that if such photographs ever had existed they would have been sold to a newspaper long ago.”

The report also rejects any suggestion that as regional fiscal in Edinburgh, Sheriff Allan acted in any way improperly in the early stages of the investigation which finally led to the prosecution (and acquittal) of Mr Colin Tucker on embezzlement charges.

Police wished to search the Edinburgh legal office of Mr Tucker’s former partner, Mr Ian Walker, after documents were found in the boot of Mr Tucker’s car.

The report concludes that Sheriff Allan decided that he did not require such a search to be carried out.

It takes the view that this decision made sense in view of the fact

The Herald
, January 27th 1993
Derek Douglas, ‘Major and minor players in the unfolding investigation’

Ian Walker: Wealthy senior partner with Edinburgh solicitors Burnett Walker WS. Took his own life by hanging in June, 1988, after Law Society investigation into the firm’s accounts. Leaked police report linked him with Edinburgh gay community.

Colin Tucker: Partner with Burnett Walker WS. As a result of Law Society and police inquiries, he was charged with embezzling client funds. Trial took place at High Court in Edinburgh, December 1989. Found not guilty after defence claimed that Walker had forced his compliance by threatening to expose him as a homosexual. Struck off the solicitors’ register in 1990. Now a footman with the Lord Mayor of London. Defended at trial by Robert Henderson QC. Rumours begin suggesting existence of a “list” giving identities of high-placed and judicial homosexuals.

Lord Dervaird: Appointed a High Court Judge in 1988 but resigned without explanation two days before Christmas, 1989 and three days after the Tucker acquittal. His departure followed a meeting attended by the then Scottish Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, the then Lord Advocate Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, and Scotland’s most senior judge the Lord President, Lord Hope. Resignation highlighted in leaked police report as coming three days after Colin Tucker’s acquittal, with suggestion that the acquittal had been facilitated by means of a secret list of homosexual Judges.

Robert Henderson QC: One of Scotland’s leading defence counsel and among the most flamboyant figures at the Bar. Educated at Glasgow University and admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1963. Took Silk in 1982. Police maintained that, during Tucker trial, Mr Henderson came into possession of the “list” containing the names of homosexual legal figures. Business transactions of his were also the subject of a fraud inquiry but the Crown Office decided that he should not be prosecuted.

Lord Penrose: Now a High Court Judge but, as George Penrose, QC, the most senior Advocate-depute, recommended to the Lord Advocate that proceedings should not be taken against Mr Henderson because the evidence against him did not justify the allegations which would be involved in the case.

Gordon May: Former financial director with builders Teague Homes (Scotland) Ltd. Burnett Walker WS and Colin Tucker acted as company secretaries. May was accused, along with Tucker, of embezzling company funds. Trial at High Court in Dunfermline collapsed after six days and both were found not guilty. Defence conducted by Robert Henderson QC. Leaked police report, erroneously, credited Mr Henderson with defence of Mr Tucker in this particular trial. May now operating at Boys, Boys, Boys, a homosexual club in Thailand, along with James Lumsden, another former secretary of Teague Homes.

Neil Duncan: Jailed for four years for his procurement role in the Operation Planet homosexual rent-boy case. Leaked police document claimed that one of the rent boys would accuse a High Court Judge of illegal sexual practices. Case which followed a four-month police investigation involved 57 charges against 10 men. Crown Office instituted policy of no prosecution in cases of consensual homosexual conduct involving youths over 18. By the time the Operation Planet investigation came to court in February 1991, only 10 charges remained and five men had not guilty pleas accepted by the court. Only one case, involving a solicitor, went to trial and the jury returned a not proven verdict.

Tom Dawson QC: Now Solicitor- General, Scotland’s second most senior law officer. As an Advocate-depute, prosecuted the Operation Planet case. Arrived at Bar in 1973 and took Silk in 1986.

Tam Paton: Former manager of the 70s pop group the Bay City Rollers. His Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, house was alleged by police to be at the hub of the Operation Planet homosexual network.

Stephen Conroy: Jailed for six years in 1992 after being found guilty of a £280,000 mortgage fraud. Former lover claimed Conroy had a homosexual relationship with Lanark sheriff Douglas Allan. Later denied by Conroy and subsequently rejected in yesterday’s report. Conroy was originally represented by Robert Henderson QC but, because of pressure of work, Mr Henderson did not represent him at his trial.

Sheriff Douglas Allan: Appointed to the sheriffdom of south Strathclyde, Dumfries, and Galloway at Lanark in August, 1988. Aged 50, he joined the procurator-fiscal service in 1967 and, before becoming a sheriff, was regional procurator-fiscal of Lothian and Borders.

Tam Dalyell MP: Labour Member of Parliament for Linlithgow. Relentless parliamentary campaigner on issues as diverse as the sinking of the Argentinian cruiser Belgrano, the Westland affair, and the bombing of Libya. He was indirectly responsible for the leaked report which highlighted police conspiracy concerns. The MP had raised the issue in a letter to Lothian and Borders Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland and the leaked report, intended only as an internal memorandum, had been prepared to allow Sir William to frame a reply. Mr Dalyell refused to give evidence to the inquiry.

David Johnston: Radio Forth news editor with first-class Edinburgh police contacts who presents a popular Sunday morning phone-in programme. A Magic Circle agnostic, he alerted Tam Dalyell to the apparent homosexual links in a number of court cases and associated events.

Michael Glenn: Convicted fraudster and police informer who shared cell on remand with Stephen Conroy. Loretto-educated, son of a military family, gay, he began touting story of conspiracy round newspapers before Magic Circle report was leaked.

The Herald
, January 27th 1993
‘The origins stretch back to the autumn of 87’


AUTUMN: Internal inquiries begin into financial irregularities discovered by directors of builders Teague Homes: finance director Gordon May and company secretary, lawyer Colin Tucker, of Burnett Walker, WS, implicated.


APRIL: Law Society begins investigation into law firm Burnett Walker and finds clients’ funds missing. Regional procurator-fiscal Douglas Allan orders police inquiry.

JUNE 4: Burnett Walker senior partner Ian Walker hangs himself.


DECEMBER 20 Burnett Walker partner Colin Tucker cleared by jury of embezzling £46,000 at High Court trial before Lord McCluskey.

DECEMBER 23 High Court Judge Lord Dervaird resigns.


JANUARY: Detective Inspector Peter Robertson and Detective Sergeant Charlie Orr investigate gay vice ring in Operation Planet.

FEBRUARY: Six men appear in private at Edinburgh Sheriff Court facing charges arising from Operation Planet.

MARCH: Four more men appear in court charged with indecency in above case.

APRIL: Crown Office instructs police to investigate misappropriation of funds by May and Tucker from Teague Homes.

DECEMBER 5: Gay hairdresser Kevin Crawford gives fraud squad information on his former partner Stephen Conroy, 22, alleging mortgage fraud and that Conroy had relationship with a sheriff.


JANUARY: Crown counsel, following discussions with defence counsel, drop 47 of original 57 charges in Operation Planet. Five men freed.

Edinburgh lawyer, involved in Operation Planet, appears on charges of having sex with teenage boy. Jury finds charges not proven.

FEBRUARY: Male prostitute Neil Duncan jailed for four years for corruption of teenage runaway. Three co-accused have sentence deferred, eventually freed.

MARCH: Stephen Conroy interviewed by Fraud Squad officers Detective Inspector Mike Souter and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown about his knowledge of a gay conspiracy amongst senior legal figures. He strings them along to buy time.

MAY: Teague Homes trial of Colin Tucker and Gordon May at High Court in Dunfermline before Lord Milligan: collapses after six days. Both accused found not guilty. Robert Henderson, QC, appears for May, Maria Maguire for Tucker.

OCTOBER: Crown Office fraud unit writes to chief constable to say no further proceedings to be taken against Robert Henderson QC following two police investigations going back to 1987 regarding mortgage transactions. Senior Advocate-depute George Penrose QC concluded that the evidence available would not justify prosecution.

NOVEMBER: MP Tam Dalyell writes to chief constable after being approached by Radio Forth journalist David Johnston.

DECEMBER: Detective Inspector Roger Orr, under supervision of CID chief Bill Hiddleston, assigned to compile report to allow chief constable to respond to Mr Dalyell’s letter.


APRIL: Stephen Conroy arrested by fraud squad officers Souter and Brown on mortgage fraud charges. Remanded at Saughton prison where shares cell with gay fraudster and police informer Michael Glenn.

JUNE: Glenn sentenced to community service. On release from prison begins touting story of Conroy’s alleged gay legal contacts round newspapers offices.

JULY 19: Break-in at Scottish Crime Squad office at Fettes HQ of Lothian and Borders Police. Newspaper told in telephone call Animal Liberation Front responsible.

JULY 20: Lothian and Borders deputy Hector Clark to head investigation into Fettesgate break-in.

Stephen Conroy jailed for six years by Lord Horsburgh at High Court on mortgage fraud charges totalling £280,000.

JULY 28: Scotland on Sunday journalist Ron McKay arrested in dawn raid after article appears claiming Animal Liberationists staged Fettesgate break-in and that he had seen documents.

AUGUST 3: Call to Herald tells how gay criminal employed two professional criminals to carry out Fettesgate raid.

AUGUST 4: Police say ALF claim is smokescreen and concentrate inquiries on Edinburgh’s gay criminals.

AUGUST 5: Two holdalls of stolen documents recovered after Edinburgh lawyer meets Detective Chief Superintendent Bill Hiddleston and Detective Sergeant Peter Brown to offer deal. Later claimed immunity deal was struck with police.

SEPTEMBER 11: Fresh police embarrassment as Magic Circle report is leaked to Edinburgh Evening News.

SEPTEMBER 14: Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, announces official Magic Circle inquiry.

SEPTEMBER 20: Herald investigation of report concludes there is no Magic Circle, finds report is flawed, inaccurate, and based on unsubstantiated rumour fuelled by disgruntled police officers angry at outcome of number of fraud cases and Operation Planet.

OCTOBER 5: Deputy Chief Constable Hector Clark apologises to former Lord Advocate now Scottish Office Minister Lord Peter Fraser over alleged remarks made in football boardroom.

OCTOBER 15: Edinburgh lawyer claims police are reneging on immunity deal struck over Fettesgate break-in.

OCTOBER 23: Sir William Sutherland announces Bill Hiddleston retiring early. Fraud Squad Detective Sergent Peter Brown moved to uniform duties.

OCTOBER 24: Chief Constable admits belief that group of detectives leaked Magic Circle report.

NOVEMBER 27: After internal inquiry fails to find culprit who leaked Magic Circle report, detectives moved to uniform duties. Shake-up involves author of report, DI Roger Orr, deputy head of Fraud Squad DI Mike Souter, DS Charlie Orr, of Operation Planet, and Peter Brown who moved in October.

The Herald
, January 27th, 1993
‘A failure to communicate’

MR NIMMO SMITH and Mr Friel appear to have done their job with impressive thoroughness. The standard of the report provides the answer to those who claim that its authors were not sufficiently qualified for, or otherwise unsuited to, the task. Everyone who has read it seems ready to attest to its competence and integrity. Its clear conclusion (which is in line with our own report some time ago) is that there is no substance whatever to the police report alleging a “Magic Circle” conspiracy of high-ranking homosexuals to pervert the course of Scottish justice. Or as it is more vividly phrased in the inquiry, the chief constable’s instruction to shred the police report was an eloquent demonstration of its true value. Given that the object of the report was to determine whether there might be grounds for prosecution, and that none has been found, that should be the end of the matter. As Mr Clarke, Shadow Scottish Secretary, said in reply to Mr Lang’s statement: “Unless anyone has any evidence to the contrary, the report should be accepted and nothing is served by continued speculation in the absence of any fresh evidence.”

Yet in one respect it is not the end of the story. A number of police officers in the Lothian and Borders Police are strongly criticised in the report. The Lord Advocate has described the criticisms as “matters for the chief constable and not for me” but they are also matters which the public will expect to be dealt with effectively. The officers concerned do no justice to a modern Scottish police force whose standards are being improved as a newer breed works its way into more senior posts. But the notion that supposed criminals should be brought to book regardless of the evidence is unfortunately not yet a thing of the past, and doubtless animosities flourish, particularly in a small world like the Edinburgh legal scene.

The Lord Advocate also raises the question of the relations between the police, or some police officers, and the Crown Office. He speaks of the failure of certain officers to understand the role of the independent prosecution authorities in Scotland and suggests that officers may misunderstand the decisions properly taken by those prosecution authorities in particular cases. The report mentions misunderstandings and failures of communication between the two. This is a sensitive area, in that close co-operation between the two would endanger the vital principle of an independent prosecution service, but at least something can and should be done to prevent future misunderstandings on that score.

The Herald
, January 27th, 1993
‘Chief constable attacks leak as treacherous act’

THE leak of the Magic Circle report was a treacherous act which had caused unnecessary damage to the reputation of the police force and to innocent people, according to Sir William Sutherland, chief constable of Lothian and Borders.

Sir William insisted that internal disciplinary action had already been taken against officers criticised in the report. They had been transferred to “other duties”. He regarded that as the end of the matter.

In November last year, after internal police investigations, the four officers named in the report were transferred from detective rank to uniform duties.

At a news conference at Fettes HQ, the chief constable said he fully accepted the conclusions of the investigation and welcomed the finding that there was no conspiracy to pervert the course of justice within legal circles in Edinburgh. The conclusions concurred with his original assessment.

He conceded that the inquiry and his own internal investigations indicated that the professional conduct of “a small number of police officers” had fallen short of the very high standard which he demanded.

“It is undeniable that a small number of police officers have over-reacted to feelings of frustration and disappointment arising from the cases in question.”

There had been insufficient evidence to point to the culprit who leaked the report, which had been a disappointment, the chief constable said.

Asked whether he had considered resigning, he said: “Why should I? We operate a very good police force, well organised, with good senior officers.”

The leaked report, which cast grave doubt on the integrity of Scotland’s judicial system, was initiated by Sir William in response to MP Tam Dalyell’s letter outlining concerns about Crown Office decisions and seeking his views.

Because of the sensitivity of the issues raised in the MP’s letter, Sir William decided that the briefing should be treated as strictly confidential. Only one copy of the report was to be made.

“The decision which I took then, and the view which I still hold, is that there is no evidence which supports any allegations of conspiracy,” Sir William said.

Despite his explicit instructions, copies were made of the report before it reached his office. A copy was leaked to a local newspaper.

“I regard the leaking of the report as a treacherous act which has caused unnecessary damage to the reputation of the force and to a number of innocent individuals,” he said.

The chief constable accepted that damage had been done, by the leaking of the report, to relationships with the Crown Office. “There will be damage, there has to be as a result of this. But I don’t believe it will be lasting damage.”

Sir William said he knew that the Lord Advocate intended to discuss with him means by which the good relationship between the police and the prosecution service could be strengthened. He was happy with that.

He was anxious to dispel the notion that homophobia was rife in the force. Sir William said the force offered a service to all members of the comunity.

“We have established formal links with those representing homosexual groups in an effort to ensure that everything possible is being done to extend the full protection of the law to all sections of society.”

Sir William, speaking to The Herald after the news conference, said his priority now was to restore public confidence in the force.

He believed he had dealt with the officers criticised by the investigators fairly: “I have to take account of their record, the service they have given to the force over many years, and the fact that they have been dedicated police officers. I think that, whatever I do, I have to be just.

“I have been just and I have to give them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and get on with life in the force.”

He had already taken action through changes in executive responsibility, improving the organisation of CID and line management, and the tenure of office policy.

“There will be a lot of disappointment amongst officers and staff who have to read the reports and find out what the inquiry has to say about us. But I hope that will be shortlived and that in the course of the the following days they would be able to get back down to the job.”

The Guardian
, January 27th 1993


Allegations of a homosexual ring undermining Scottish justice, stretching up to the judiciary itself, have been rejected in a report by an advocate and a senior crown prosecutor, who criticised the action of some senior detectives and a leading barrister. Peter Hetherington reports

The report’s conclusions

– No prominent member of the Scottish legal establishment has been compromised by reason of homosexuality.

– Allegations that a sheriff, who was formerly a senior procurator fiscal, has been compromised by homosexuality are “untrue” and expressly withdrawn by the person concerned.

– Complaints that no action was taken after allegations of a QC’s business transactions – with a view to possible prosecution – ruled invalid. “The decision not to prosecute him was taken at the highest level of evidential grounds.”

– Allegations of a “magic circle” of senior members of the legal establishment undermining the course of justice – made in a leaked police report – dismissed out of hand. “Assertions that the Crown was sinisterly motivated in the taking of the relevant decisions are not only unsupported but are not attributed . . . to identifiable informants.

– Further allegations about members of the judiciary were “motivated by malice of the most evil kind . . . We are confident in the conclusion that no serving judge had been compromised.”

ALLEGATIONS of a homosexual ring undermining Scottish justice, stretching up to the judiciary itself, were rejected yesterday in a report prepared for the Government by a leading advocate and a senior crown prosecutor.

The 100-page report, presented to Parliament by Scotland’s senior law officer, the Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry QC, and the Scottish Secretary, Ian Lang, found that no prominent member of the legal establishment – apart from a former Scottish judge, Lord Dervaird – had run the risk of being compromised by homosexuality.

But it raised serious questions about the actions of several senior detectives and a leading Scottish QC, Robert Henderson, who was accused of leaking a statement containing a list of allegations about prominent people to the police.

The report, by William Nimmo Smith QC and James Friel, a senior procurator fiscal (crown prosecutor), gives an account of allegations about a sheriff, the business transactions of a senior QC, and an investigation into a rent-boy affair – mingled with rumours about members of the Scottish legal establishment.

Even Lord Rodger does not escape the allegations, although the investigators say there is no evidence to suggest he was compromised.

In a statement to the Commons and to the Lords, Mr Lang and Lord Rodger stress that there is no evidence of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and there will be no criminal proceedings.

They say that criticism in the report of the Lothian and Borders police is a matter for the chief constable, Sir William Sutherland. In a statement last night Sir William said a member of his force believed to have been responsible for leaking a copy of an internal police report on allegations of a homosexual ring, had been guilty of a “treacherous act”. He said he had no intention of resigning.

Lord Rodger added in his statement: “I intend to pursue with the chief constable what can be done, having regard to the principles which guide the relationship between police and prosecution authorities in Scotland.”

The report begins with the trial of an Edinburgh solicitor, Colin Tucker, on charges of embezzling money from a collapsed firm in which he was a partner – he was acquitted and his partner committed suicide – and allegations arising from a list of names provided at the request of Mr Henderson. This list eventually found its way to police investigating allegations of a “magic circle” conspiracy involving prominent members of the legal profession.

The report notes that in the weeks following Mr Tucker’s acquittal and after Lord Dervaird’s resignation, rumour and speculation became rife.

Police launched an investigation into the magic circle allegations, and two senior detectives met Mr Henderson at his house, where Mr Tucker’s statement was handed over. “When we told Mr Tucker what his senior counsel (Henderson) had done, he was appalled,” the report said.

By November 1991, the Linlithgow MP, Tam Dalyell, had been approached by Mr Johnston, who told him about what he considered to be a “major scandal in Scots life”. The MP wrote to Mr Sutherland, and the chief constable began another investigation under conditions of great secrecy.

The report says: “If there is a unifying theme . . . it is the suggestion that Robert Henderson . . . was in effect able to blackmail the crown and secure that there were either no prosecutions, or no successful prosecutions, of himself and others from whom he sought favour”.

The business transactions involving Mr Henderson had also been investigated, although the report says that any improperly-motivated conspiracy not to prosecute him would have had to extend to senior law officers.

“We have discovered no evidence . . . that there was such a conspiracy.”

Some of the most scathing criticism is directed at allegations surrounding Sheriff Douglas Allan, a former senior procurator fiscal who was appointed sheriff of Lanark in 1988. Claims by Stephen Conroy, a former solicitor’s court runner jailed for fraud, were dismissed as a figment of the imagination. Mr Conroy later apologised.

Turning to the police report, prepared after Mr Dalyell’s approach to the chief constable, the Nimmo Smith inquiry speaks of a significant number of factual mistakes and omissions.

“The assertions that the crown was sinisterly motivated in the taking of the relevant decisions are not only unsupported by any evidence but are not attributed . . . to identifiable informants.”

The Guardian
, January 27th, 1993

SIR William Sutherland, Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders police since 1983, a native of Inverness who has served with Cheshire, Surrey, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire constabularies, has the reputation as a liberal community policeman who works well with Labour members of his police authority. Quietly spoken and hardly the stereotype of the tough police chief, he says he has been let down badly by a small core of senior detectives.

Tam Dalyell, Lothian MP since 1962 and now member for Linlithgow, raised allegations of a magic circle conspiracy with Sir William in November 1991 after being approached by David Johnston, news editor of Radio Forth. Mr Dalyell’s father-in-law was Lord Wheatley, a former Lord Advocate and one of Scotland’s most senior judges.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, QC, the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s chief law officer, since 1992 and formerly Scotland’s Solicitor General, is well respected but was relatively unknown and apolitical until taking senior office to replace Lord Fraser of Carmylle, the former Lord Advocate and now Minister of State at the Scottish Office.

Robert Henderson, a QC since 1982, was admitted to the Scottish Bar 30 years ago after Glasgow University. A former temporary sheriff, his business affairs have attracted publicity. He is taking legal action against the Glasgow Herald.

Lord Dervaird, formerly John Murray, QC, was elevated to the bench at Scotland’s Court of Session in 1988. He resigned a year later in an unprecedented move in recent Scottish legal history, according to yesterday’s report. Scotland’s senior judge, the Lord President Lord Hope, said at the time that Lord Dervaird had been “indiscreet” in that he had, during the period since his elevation to the bench, carried on a homosexual relationship secretly. But it is said that conduct did not expose him to the risk of blackmail or constitute admissions of criminal conduct. He is now professor of company and commercial law at the University of Edinburgh.

The Scotsman
, January 28th 1993
John Robertson, ‘Top QC faces disciplinary action over gay list’

ROBERT Henderson, the senior QC who was heavily criticised in the “magic circle” report, is facing disciplinary action by the Faculty of Advocates, it was announced last night The leader of the Scottish bar, Alan Johnston, QC, said the move followed a finding in the report that Mr Henderson had revealed confidential information without a client’s consent.

The information in question was what became known as the “list” in the inquiry into claims that gay lawyers had attempted to pervert the course of justice.

Under the faculty’s disciplinary code, an advocate could suffer anything from a rap over the knuckles to expulsion, depending on the gravity of the offence.

In their report published on Tuesday, William Nimmo Smith, QC, and James Friel said that while he was senior counsel for Colin Tucker, a gay solicitor who stood trial on charges of embezzling clients’ money, Mr Henderson obtained from the accused a “potted life story.”

The statement contained many names and was referred to as the “list.”

However, apart from mention of Lord Dervaird, the judge who resigned because of a secret homosexual relationship, there was no allegation against any prominent member of the Scottish legal establishment.

“It should be stated that counsel who receive information from their clients owe a duty of confidentiality to their clients in respect of that information,” the report stated.

“They may not properly disclose such information to or discuss it with any person … except with the permission of the client. “It appears, however, that on reading Tucker’s statement Robert Henderson experienced such consternation that he was unable to keep to himself what he had read about Lord Dervaird.

“He said to us: ‘There’s clearly been a leak. I’m prepared to take responsibility for it’. “We cannot avoid the conclusion that Robert Henderson has been one of the main instigators and perpetuators of the belief that there was a document, whether or not in the form of a ‘list’, containing information relating to persons other than Lord Dervaird and, in particular, other judges.”

Mr Henderson had given a copy of the list to a friend in the police, who was investigating the socalled Edinburgh rent boy case.

The report said: “He had no authority from Tucker to do so.”

Mr Johnston, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said he expected to initiate disciplinary proceedings within the next few days by writing to Mr Henderson to ask if he agreed with the breach of confidence allegation.

The dean stressed that at this stage he was not prejudging the issue.

In some disciplinary cases, the dean himself could “convict” and admonish, reprimand or impose fines.

The most serious breaches of professional duty, such as criminal conduct, would go to the faculty’s disciplinary tribunal, which has powers to fine, suspend or expel an advocate.

Mr Henderson last night denied that he had given anyone the impression that he had a gay list of top names.

In an interview with Scottish Television he dismissed the Nimmo Smith Friel report’s suggestion that he was a main instigator of rumours about such a list.

“That is absolute rubbish … What I want to know is, what is the evidence for that?”

The Herald
, January 28th 1993
Bruce McKain, ‘Row Goes on for QC’

THE leading QC at the heart of the Magic Circle report is facing disciplinary action by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, it emerged last night.

Although Mr Alan Johnston, QC, is being careful not to prejudge the issue against Mr Robert Henderson, QC, he feels action is necessary because of the public and specific nature of the allegation made against Mr Henderson.

The inquiry, by Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, and Strathclyde fiscal James Friel, dismissed allegations that prominent members of the legal establishment in Scotland had formed a gay conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The report, which was published on Tuesday, said Mr Henderson handed over to police confidential information provided by a client, without the client’s consent.

The allegation concerns a former solicitor, Mr Colin Tucker, who stood trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in December 1989 on charges of embezzling money from clients of the Edinburgh legal firm of which he was a partner.

He was represented by Mr Henderson, one of Scotland’s leading counsel. According to the Magic Circle report, at one stage he asked Mr Tucker to write a “potted life story” of his time with the legal firm.

Mention was made in Mr Tucker’s statement of Lord Dervaird, who resigned as a Court of Session Judge shortly after Mr Tucker’s trial, but the report makes it clear that no other prominent member of the legal establishment is named.

After the trial, in which Mr Tucker was cleared, Mr Henderson retained the statement and in 1990 gave it to a detective inspector involved in Operation Planet, an investigation into a rent boy network in Edinburgh.

The report states: “He had no authority from Tucker to do so. In Robert Henderson’s words, what he did ‘can’t be reconciled with my duties to Tucker’. When we told Tucker what his senior counsel had done he was appalled.”

Mr Henderson explained that he had handed over the statement to prove to police that Judges were not involved in the rent boys case, but Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel say they did not find this convincing.

“We are forced to the conclusion that Robert Henderson handed it over because he perceived that by doing so he might gave rise to rumours prior to Tucker’s trial that a ‘list’ existed which could compromise prominent legal names.”

Mr Johnston said last night: “I am considering what steps I should take by way of disciplinary procedure in respect of the allegation against Mr Henderson in the report that he handed over confidential information to a third party obtained by him (Henderson) as counsel without the consent of the client.”

Mr Johnston said he expected to initiate disciplinary proceedings within the next few days.

He accepts that he has no alternative but to hold an inquiry given the fact that an allegation has been made in a public document that a member of faculty has breached a professional duty.

If he so decides he can deal with the case himself and has powers to admonish, reprimand, or censure the counsel concerned, order repayment of fees, or impose a fine of up to £5000.

In the most serious cases, for example involving criminal conduct, a case can be remitted to the faculty’s disciplinary tribunal, currently headed by the retired High Court Judge, Lord Kincraig. The tribunal, which so far has not sat since it was set up eight years ago, has powers to impose a fine of up to £10,000, suspend an advocate, or impose the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the Bar.

The Dean also made it clear that the decision on Mr Henderson will be made public. He takes the view that since the faculty is a public body, the public has a right to know how it deals with any breach of the high standard of conduct expected of members.

Mr Henderson, meanwhile, has reiterated his claim in a Scottish Television interview that the inquiry had completely vindicated him. He said he found criticism of himself “rather astonishing”.

The Herald
, January 29th, 1993
‘Where the buck should have stopped’

THE report by Messrs Nimmo Smith and Friel into the Edinburgh “Magic Circle” affair is intended to be the last word on the subject. That is a pity.

Lawyers and Judges, homosexual or otherwise, were not at fault. But officers of Lothian and Borders Police were. Justice for them, as far as the gay community is concerned, was plainly a concept of some elasticity and they stretched it until it snapped.

Their investigation — a matter of hearsay and homophobia — was worse than inept. It proceeded by discarding any presumption of innocence and did so simply because of the alleged sexual orientation of those said to have been involved. Gays, it went without saying, would conspire to protect one another whatever the facts suggested.

Sir William Sutherland, having shuffled his officers around, regards the matter as closed. I’ll bet he does. He also asks why he should ever have considered resigning.

Let us count the reasons. There was the leaking of the police report to the Edinburgh Evening News. Unhappily, Lothian and Borders have failed to find the culprit. Ironically, he or she may have done us a good turn. Had the report not been leaked the activities of the force might never have been exposed to scrutiny.

Yet Sir William calls it treacherous. He should think instead of his own loss of authority. He instructed that only one copy of the report be made, yet several were produced and one was handed to a newspaper. Later, his own deputy was forced to apologise for remarks he made about a former Lord Advocate. Still the chief constable wonders why he should resign.

It is argued, correctly, that Bill Sutherland is a decent, honest policeman. To force him to resign would make him a scapegoat, it is said, for the actions of others. Lothian and Borders can ill afford to lose him. Nevertheless, the chief constable should at least have offered his resignation. The convention that public servants take responsibility for their subordinates is too often honoured in the breach rather than the observance. If Sir William is not responsible for his officers, who is?

Those officers are not unusual. They are part of the pattern that says homosexuality is a deviance, that gay Aids victims have only themselves to blame, that gays are unfit to serve in the armed forces, that such rights as they have won should be taken from them, that justice is too good for them.

NO-ONE is more enthusiastic in the persecution of gays, of course, than the born-again Right of the United States. In Colorado, as the BBC’s Charles Wheeler was pointing out the other night, they have even attempted (so far unsuccessfully) to remove all legal protection from homosexuals. If the Christians there had their way it would no longer be a crime, far less a sin, to discriminate against gays.

According to one of the reverend creeps interviewed by Wheeler, there is a distinction to be made between “biblical” Christians and “cultural” Christians; the latter clearly inferior to the former; the former being of the school of theology that says even Mother Theresa would not merit heaven lest she was born again.

The distinction is of anthropological interest only. They are all manifestations of an obnoxious atavism for whom electro-shock would be a waste of good privatised power. Whenever they speak I am reminded of John Cleese leaping up and down and screaming that there’s to be absolutely no stoning until he blows his whistle. Can’t think why.

They irritate me most, these deity junkies, with their attempts to monopolise the word “family”, the better to get at the young. Billy Graham was saying as much this week in a live satellite link to a flock gathered in Stirling. He called on them to “focus” on the young.

The aged divine (who must be due the shock of his life any time now) should have a word with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools. Of all the things they have found to worry about in primary education, according to a survey they published this week, religious education and accommodation stood out.

The RE, it seems, just isn’t good enough. Yet religion is the only subject — the only subject — schools are obliged by law to teach. It matters not if you harbour profound moral objections to the practice or that you are of the vast majority who would only attend church in a pine box. Your child must have his or her indoctrination and there is nothing you can do about it.

Freedom from worship is as much a right, it seems to me, as freedom of worship. Still, if the inspectors are really worried about religion and school accommodation, perhaps they could instruct our children to pray for better classrooms.

LORD McGREGOR and his Press Complaints Commission “deplore” (it’s what they do best) the publications of transcripts of Charles Windsor’s intimate telephone calls. Perhaps they might also like to deplore the fact that no effort is being made to discover who pulled off such a highly-professional surveillance job. Or would that be an intrusion on some spook’s privacy?

The Guardian
, January 29th 1993
Peter Hetherington, ‘Scottish QC faces inquiry’

A SENIOR Scottish advocate criticised in a report on allegations of a homosexual conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in Scotland is facing disciplinary proceedings by his professional body.

Robert Henderson, QC, was named this week as a key figure in the “magic circle” affair by two senior Crown investigators, William Nimmo Smith, QC, and James Friel, a regional procurator fiscal (prosecutor).

In their 100-page report to Parliament, which dismissed the allegations out of hand, Mr Henderson was accused of leaking a statement to police which contained a list of allegations about prominent legal figures.

The list was compiled by Colin Tucker, a gay solicitor defended by Mr Henderson, who was acquitted on charges of embezzling clients’ money. The report noted that Mr Tucker was appalled by the leak.

The Faculty of Advocates, which represents the 300 lawyers at the Scottish bar, is to investigate Mr Henderson’s role in the affair in allegedly disclosing confidential information without a client’s consent.

Alan Johnston, QC, dean of the faculty, said he would write to Mr Henderson, an advocate for 30 years, asking if he agreed with the breach of confidence allegation, although the faculty was not prejudging the issue.

Since no complaint has officially been made against Mr Henderson, who took silk in 1982, the dean is likely to investigate the allegations informally, rather than through a disciplinary tribunal, although he can establish an investigation panel. In the past, a spokesman for the faculty said, advocates had been censured, fined or told to remit their fees.

Mr Henderson’s business affairs also figured in this week’s report. They were first brought to the attention of the former Lord Advocate, Lord Cameron of Lochbroom, in 1985 by the secretary of the Law Society of Scotland.

The report traced the investigation into Mr Henderson’s affairs through the police and the Crown Office fraud unit in Edinburgh. In 1990, a senior procurator fiscal in the unit recommended that there should be no criminal proceedings against the QC. Later, the next Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, now minister of state at the Scottish Office, decided that investigations should end.

Interviewed on Scottish Television this week, Mr Henderson said the inquiry report had cleared his name. “This report shows that the allegations that there was a gay ‘magic circle’ of which I was part, which conspired to pervert the course of justice, is without foundation and totally baseless.”

The Herald
, January 30th, 1993
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Lord Fraser hits at advocates over Magic Circle row’

THE former Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, has strongly criticised police and advocates following the report into the “Magic Circle” allegations.

Lord Fraser, who says he is dismayed at the damage done to the Scottish legal system, claims lawyers have peddled reprehensible rumours more fitted to the sewers, and adds police misconduct revealed in the report by Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, and Strathclyde fiscal James Friel may force the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police to consider further disciplinary action.

Lord Fraser is now Scottish Home Affairs Minister, but was Lord Advocate at the time of many of the allegations about a gay conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

His criticisms are made in an interview to be broadcast this evening on BBC’s Scottish Lobby programme.

Suggestions that the Scottish legal system was rotten to the core implied that, as Lord Advocate, he was in some way implicated, said Lord Fraser, who said people would be dumbfounded by the way rumours were allowed to be perpetuated. “I’m bound to say I do regard the whole matter though, still, with a sense of dismay,” he said, adding that it will take time for memories to fade.

“People who ought to have known better, and I mean among that both policemen and laywers, allowed such rumours just to carry on and on. Nobody came near me with hard evidence of any misdoing. If there had been any such evidence given to me it would have been rigorously investigated, but it was like punching at porridge.”

Of Mr Robert Henderson, QC, Lord Fraser said he was baffled that he was prepared to hand over a defence document to the police without his client’s permission. “Certainly there are very real issues of professional responsibility that flow from that action,” he said.

Of other lawyers, he said: “I don’t think the Faculty of Advocates come out of this long, rather sorry saga with too great a glory. That was perfectly clear to me that some of these rumours which I consider to be quite reprehensible, these rumours were being peddled by members of the Faculty of Advocates quite as much as anyone else who might like to walk around the sewers of Edinburgh.

“I say with regret that there were individual members of the faculty who engaged in the peddling of rumours and they did great disservice not only to the Faculty of Advocates, but more importantly to the administration of justice in Scotland.”

He argued that any criticism of the appointment of Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel “must entirely be blown away” by the quality of the report. He then turned to Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland.

“He will want to consider very carefully whether the action he has already taken is sufficient or whether, given the revelation of the involvement of some of those police officers, if public confidence in his force is to be restored, if he needs to take yet further action.”

The Guardian
, January 30th, 1993
Peter Hetherington, ‘Law ‘rumour-mongers’ denounced’

SCOTLAND’S former chief law officer will tonight launch a fierce attack on unnamed lawyers for peddling reprehensible rumours.

In his response to this week’s Crown report on allegations of a homosexual conspiracy perverting Scottish justice, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the Lord Advocate until last May, accuses
elements in the legal profession of fuelling controversy.

He also says that the Faculty or Advocates, representing 300 lawyers at the Scottish Bar, has not emerged from a “sorry saga” with “too great glory”. In an interview on BBC-2’s Scottish Lobby programme tonight, Lord Fraser, now Minister of State at the Scottish Office says: “Some of these rumours. which I consider to be quite reprehensible . . . were being pedalled by members or the Faculty of Advocates quite as much as anyone else who might like to walk around the sewers of Edinburgh.”

He adds: “I say with regret that there were individual members of the faculty who engaged in the peddling of rumours. They did great disservice not only to the faculty but more importantly to the administration of justice.”

After publication of this week’s 100-page report, which dismissed the conspiracy allegations
out of hand, the leader of the faculty announced that a key figure in the “magic circle” affair – Robert Henderson, QC, – was to face disciplinary proceedings.

In the report to Parliament, Mr Henderson was accused of leaking a statement to police which contained a list of allegations about prominent legal figures. The list was compiled by Colin Tucker, a gay solicitor defended by Mr Henderson, who was acquitted on charges of embezzling clients’ money.

Lord Fraser now appears to take the issue further, implicitly accusing other faculty members of unprofessional conduct. Last year Lothian’s deputy chief constable, Hector Clark, was forced to apologise publicly to Lord Fraser over alleged remarks by him. The former Lord Advocate had threatened legal action.

In his interview, Lord Fraser says that allegations in the Crown report centred on five cases – four during his time as Lord Advocate. “So when there was mention in rather vague terms of being rotten to the core at the highest levels, it seemed to me to be pretty obvious for anyone who knew anything about it what logically followed, that I was in some way implicated.”

Lord Fraser said that when people read the report, they would be dumbfounded by the way some rumours were allowed to be perpetuated “and how there were those who positively added fuel to these rumours”. When this aspect was understood. it would be clear there was no conspiracy; however, the whole affair left him with “a sense of dismay”.

The Sunday Times
, January 31st, 1993
Mark Leishman, ‘Advocate with a relaxed line in self-defence’

IF Scotland is a village, its proud legal profession constitutes a small housing estate where most of the main players know each other well but at some point have probably crossed swords.

So it is with Robert Henderson, queen’s counsel, and William Nimmo Smith, also a senior QC, and co-author of the report on the so-called ”magic circle” of gay lawyers published last week. The two have clashed in a civil case in which a building society, represented by Nimmo Smith, was pursuing Henderson for money. Henderson emerged the winner. Now the two are at odds again, but this time it is Henderson who has come off worst.

Sitting in a bulging leather chair in the small but cosy surroundings of his Old Town flat in Edinburgh, Henderson appears remarkably relaxed as he defends himself against criticisms in the report. He has admitted giving a document to a third party, the police, which had originally come from a client, thereby breaching client confidentiality. The Faculty of Advocates could reprimand, fine or suspend him, or, in extremis, he could be thrown out.

Of all the myths that appear to have been spawned by the ”magic circle” allegations, the suggestion that this document was a list of gay lawyers involved in the circle is the most important. It was in fact a potted history of one of his clients, Colin Tucker, an Edinburgh homosexual lawyer he successfully defended on an embezzlement charge in 1989. It contained only one reference to the judiciary Lord Dervaird, who resigned from the Scottish bench the same year.

On the basis of the document, the investigators said they were driven to the belief that much of the credibility attached to the existence of a list of gay lawyers could be traced back to Henderson.

That he refutes totally: ”I have never talked about a list, I never talked about anything and the only time I started saying anything about anything to do with this was after the police report was leaked.”

Henderson said he handed the document, in the strictest confidence, to policemen who he trusted and who he expected to destroy it. The police were investigating wild allegations about senior public figures involved with rent boys in Edinburgh and Henderson thought they should see it ”in the interests of justice”.

”They regarded Tucker as a key figure in this whole thing and if Tucker didn’t have knowledge of it the chances were that it was just rumour and gossip,” said Henderson.

Shortly afterwards, however, the senior officer died and, as his desk was being emptied, the document came to light. That, according to Henderson, gave rise to wild gossip that he had encouraged belief in the existence of a list.

Henderson said he had told Nimmo Smith that ”it was two years after the case and it was handed over for the purpose of disproving theories which otherwise they might have thought had some substance”.

Henderson believes that the report by Nimmo Smith and James Friel, a regional procurator fiscal, has wasted time needlessly investigating rumour and counter-rumour. ”My view very strongly is that this was an inquiry into nothing. If you actually read the report it is very short on hard facts and very long on investigating gossip.”

He described his surprise when, having been asked by Nimmo Smith last September to ”give us a hand” in the inquiry, he was subjected to a 15-minute lecture on his duties as a QC.

”Nimmo Smith then impressed upon me tremendously how secret this inquiry was,” said Henderson. ”They had no shorthand writer, they changed rooms every day, never sat in the same room two days running. All the papers were locked up in the most enormous safe.”

The inquiry used the names of the wives of Henry VIII to protect the identity of women questioned in the inquiry.

Henderson praised Sir William Sutherland, the chief constable of Lothian and Borders police which investigated the charges, but said: ”I think public confidence will have to be restored in the police because there is a section which has been out of control. The supervision has not been good.”

Henderson has been described variously as ”flamboyant” and a ”bon viveur”. When pressed on this he will admit to driving a Renault, being a member of the Honourable Company at Muirfield golf course, and fishing on the Spey a few times a year.

Whether that is flamboyant or not, such a reputation helps to explain some of the wilder stories that have grown up around him. One such, which the report knocked down, was the allegation that Henderson threatened the Lord Advocate in an Edinburgh club.

”There I had been witnessed threatening the Lord Advocate by holding him by the collar against the wall and waving a file of confidential information and shouting at him that if he ever tried to do anything to me I would sink him with the information in the file.

”When this allegation was made to me I was absolutely poleaxed, because I have a very good relationship with the Lord Advocate. I couldn’t remember having lunch with him in the New Club, I really couldn’t and Nimmo Smith was very cross.”

The Scotsman
, February 4th, 1993
Gary Duncan, ‘I was a scapegoat, claims Dervaird’

LORD Dervaird, the former High Court judge caught up in the fallout from the Fettesgate scandal, has spoken for the first time about the affair and claimed he has been made a “scapegoat.”

Last week, the homosexual indiscretions which led to Lord Dervaird’s 1989 resignation were publicly exposed for the first time in the Nimmo Smith/Friel report on allegations of a gay conspiracy in Scotland’s legal establishment.

Now, the former judge, who lectures in commercial law at Edinburgh University as Professor John Murray, has broken his silence to claim he has “paid the penalty of being honest.”

The full facts about Lord Dervaird’s resignation emerged in the Nimmo Smith/Friel report which scotched persistent allegations and rumours of a homosexual conspiracy among senior legal figures to pervert the course of justice.

The inquiry was ordered as a result of the Fettesgate affair in which a confidential police report on the allegations was leaked to the press.

The report explains that Lord Dervaird resigned in the wake of persistent rumours about alleged homosexual activity, including suggestions that a newspaper was about to print a story about him, alleging the use of “certain premises for certain purposes.”

While the report makes clear a rumour that a newspaper was about to print a story about Lord Dervaird alleging the use of “certain premises for certain purposes” was untrue, it came to the attention of Scotland’s senior judge, the Lord President, Lord Hope.

At a meeting with the Lord President, Lord Dervaird denied the truth of claims being made about him but admitted he had been indiscreet in conducting a homosexual relationship with a man in London. “secretly but in such a way that they had been seen together in certain places” in the capital.

The report’s authors make clear “they would not wish it to be thought that Lord Dervaird’s admissions constituted admissions of criminal conduct.”

and that “his conduct did not expose him to the risk of blackmail.”

However, within a day of his initial meeting with the Lord President, Lord Dervaird’s resignation was accepted on the grounds that his behaviour was “incompatible with his continued tenure in judicial office.”

Until last week the reasons for Lord Dervaird’s resignation remained a carefully guarded secret.

But the protection given to the exjudge by his former colleagues on the bench was ended by publication of the Nimmo Smith/Friel report.

In an interview with the Edinburgh University newspaper, Student, Lord Dervaird has spoken bitterly about his resignation and the publicity it has now received.

And in comments which appear to imply criticism of the Nimmo Smith/Friel inquiry he is reported as saying: “I do think that to some extent I have been sought to be made a scapegoat of.”

Lord Dervaird reportedly continued: “The whole getup of Fettesgate turned out to be a nothing. My whole connection with Fettesgate, as even the police admitted, turned out to be zero.”

The judge is then quoted as adding angrily: “I have paid the penalty of being honest.”

Contacted by The Scotsman yesterday, Lord Dervaird would neither confirm nor deny the comments quoted in Student.

He did confirm that he had spoken to the paper on an off the record basis but would not be drawn further.

“I have no intention of making comments to the press publicly certainly not at the present time,” he said.

“Most of what has been said about me in the past has been inaccurate.”

‘I do think that to some extent I have been made a scapegoat.’ Lord Dervaird

The Herald
, February 10th, 1993
Bruce McKain, ‘Six-year sentence for fraud is upheld’

A YOUNG businessman, who featured prominently in the recent “magic circle” report into allegations of a gay conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in Scotland, yesterday lost his appeal against a six-year prison sentence.

The interrogation and subsequent arrest of Stephen Conroy, 23, by fraud squad officers of the Lothian and Borders force was at the root of police allegations of a gay legal conspiracy.

It transpired that Conroy’s identification of a procurator-fiscal as someone involved in homosexual behaviour was mistaken. A subsequent investigation by Mr William Nimmo Smith QC and North Strathclyde’s procurator-fiscal, Mr James Friel, cleared the fiscal, now a sheriff, and stated in categorical terms that there was not a shred of evidence to support any allegations made against him.

Conroy was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh last July after admitting five charges of fraud and one of attempted fraud, involving £280,000.

Temporary Judge John Horsburgh was told at the time that the money was defrauded from various banks after Conroy, formerly of Canon Street, Edinburgh, posed as Mr X to instruct solicitors to buy properties which were to be sold at a profit.

He then posed as Mr Y to instruct other lawyers to buy the premises and, posing as Mr X, approached banks to obtain bridging finance. The Crown described the transactions as a series of “ingenious and impertinent frauds”.

Yesterday, Mr Neil Murray QC asked the Court of Criminal Appeal to reduce the sentence on the grounds that it was excessive.

He asked the court to take into account the fact that Conroy was aged 20 to 21 when the offences took place over a 17-month period. He also pointed out that Conroy had been under the influence of an older man, a manager of the TSB, who had made £187,000 out of the frauds.

He had used Conroy as a front man, providing him with credit guarantees and giving him the names of bank managers who would not be as “inquisitive” as others.

Conroy had become involved because businesses he was running at the time encountered severe financial difficulties.

Lord Cowie, who heard the appeal with Lords Murray and Kincraig, said Mr Murray had properly conceded that there was no question that a custodial sentence was appropriate in this case.

The Judges agreed that six years was a severe sentence, but could see no reason to disagree with the conclusions that the temporary Judge had reached or any reason to interfere with the sentence he had imposed.

The Scotsman
, March 9th 1993
Marcello Mega, ‘Leading QC faces disciplinary action’

A LEADING QC is to face a disciplinary tribunal as a result of criticism made of him in the recently published report into the so-called Magic Circle affair.

The Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Alan Johnston, said last night that he had initiated the move because “Robert Henderson broke the rules by failing to respect the confidentiality of a client.”

The report, which dismissed allegations that a gay conspiracy among the judiciary had led to miscarriages of justice, criticised Mr Henderson for handing to the police a confidential file provided by a client.

The report’s authors, William Nimmo Smith, QC, and James Friel, Strathclyde’s procurator fiscal, said Mr Henderson had had no authority to pass on the information.

The file belonged to Colin Tucker, a homosexual solicitor, successfully defended by Mr Henderson against charges of embezzling money from clients of the firm in which he was a partner.

Mr Johnston said that the tribunal would sit in about three weeks’ time and would be chaired by Lord Kincraig, a retired High Court judge.

“It will be a private hearing,” he added, “not to protect anybody’s reputation but be cause of the confidentiality of the issue to be discussed.

The tribunal’s verdict will be published later.”

Mr Henderson could not be contacted last night

The Herald
, March 9th 1993
Margaret Vaughan, ‘QC faces disciplinary tribunal over Magic Circle report’

A DISCIPLINARY tribunal headed by a retired High Court Judge will sit this month for the first time to hear a complaint against leading QC Robert Henderson, who was criticised in the Magic Circle report.

The disciplinary action was instigated by the dean of the faculty following publication in January of the result of the investigation which dismissed allegations that prominent members of the legal establishment had formed a gay conspiracy to subvert justice.

The report by Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, and Strathclyde fiscal James Friel concluded that Mr Henderson handed over to police confidential information provided by a client. The report states that Mr Henderson had no authority from his client to do so.

The tribunal will be chaired by Lord Kincraig, who has the authority to appoint members of the faculty and lay people to sit with him. There are expected to be five appointees. The hearing will be held in private, but the outcome is expected to be made public.

The Magic Circle report recounted how Mr Henderson had successfully defended former solicitor Mr Colin Tucker, a homosexual, at his High Court trial on charges of embezzling money from clients of the Edinburgh legal firm of which he was a partner.

Before the trial, he had asked his client to write a “potted life story” of his time with the legal firm.

Mr Henderson had explained to the investigators that he handed over Mr Tucker’s statement to prove to police that Judges were not involved in a case involving rent boys, but Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel said they did not find this convincing.

“We are forced to the conclusion that Robert Henderson handed it over because he perceived that, by doing so, he might gain some personal advantage.”

It concluded that Mr Henderson had been one of the main instigators and perpetuators of the belief of the existence of a document containing information relating to persons, in particular Judges.

Following publication of the report, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Mr Alan Johnston, said that a disciplinary hearing was appropriate because of the public and specific nature of the allegation made against Mr Henderson. The allegation of breaching a client’s confidentiality had been made in a public document.

While careful not to prejudge the issue against Mr Henderson, he said that, in general terms, any breach of confidentiality struck at the heart of the relationship between counsel and client.

Likening the relationship between advocate and client to that which exists between doctor and patient, he said that, if a client cannot trust counsel to retain private information, then the relationship breaks down.

The disciplinary tribunal — which has not sat since it was set up in 1985 — has powers to impose a fine of up to £10,000, suspend an advocate, or recommend the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the Bar.

The hearing, at which the advocate can be legally represented, will determine whether Mr Henderson handed the document to the police, breaking the code of confidentiality, and, if so, whether that was justified.

The disciplinary code, which was rewritten eight years ago, operates on three levels. A complaint against a member may be heard by the dean. If the facts are not in dispute, the matter can be dealt with summarily. The dean has powers to impose a fine of up to £5000 and can instruct the advocate to remit fees, or both.

If the facts are in dispute, the dean may set up a small tribunal to determine the facts of the matter and report back to him. On the basis of that report, he can deal with the case.

The third tier is the establishment of the independent disciplinary tribunal chaired by Lord Kincraig. That is the course the dean has chosen to deal with the complaint against Mr Henderson.

Following publication of the Magic Circle report, Mr Henderson stated in a Scottish Television interview that the inquiry had completely vindicated him.

The Herald
, March 19th, 1993
Bruce McKain, ‘Magic Circle sex offender back in jail’

A SEX offender who featured in the Magic Circle investigation into allegations of a homosexual conspiracy in the legal profession was back in prison yesterday after losing an appeal against an indecency conviction.

Walter “Terry” Smith was jailed for four years at the High Court in Edinburgh in July last year after a jury convicted him of indecently assaulting an 18 -year-old youth.

Lord Morton, the trial Judge, said he took a serious view of the incident in which the youth was detained in Smith’s flat in the Cowgate, Edinburgh, and humiliated in the presence of others.

Smith, 36, a former soldier, was granted interim liberation pending his appeal and alleged that he was the victim of a “deliberately manufactured miscarriage of justice”.

He told the Court of Criminal Appeal that a key Crown witness at his trial was the lover of the man who broke into the Lothian and Border Police HQ at Fettes. He alleged that the Fettesgate raider blamed him for a conviction and six-year sentence following a case in which Smith was a Crown witness.

During his freedom he gave evidence to the Nimmo Smith and Friel inquiry which rejected claims that prominent homosexual lawyers had used their influence to pervert the course of justice.

Smith made a number of allegations about a Scottish sheriff but the Nimmo Smith -Friel report described him as a liar adding: “We have no doubt that Smith’s untruthful claims were motivated by malice.”

Eventually, Smith’s appeal against conviction rested on the allegation that the 18-year-old youth and a witness, Mr Thomas Leighton, who claimed to have been in Smith’s flat when the indecent assault took place, committed perjury.

The appeal court heard the evidence of two witnesses whom Smith called to back up his claims.

Lord Hope, Lord Justice General, who presided at the appeal, said that as far as the first witness was concerned, the court did not think that his evidence would have led the jury to reject Mr Leighton’s account of what happened to the youth in Smith’s flat.

As for the second witness, the Judge said the court had reached the view, without much difficulty, that it would not have had a material bearing on the jury’s assessment of Mr Leighton’s credibility.

The Herald
, March 27th, 1993
Bruce McKain, ‘Magic Circle QC is fined £5000’

LEADING Queen’s Counsel Robert Henderson has been fined £5000 following severe criticism of him in the Magic Circle report which investigated claims of a gay conspiracy in the legal profession.

The fine by Mr Alan Johnston, QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, is the culmination of disciplinary proceedings which followed Mr Henderson’s action in handing to the police confidential information obtained from a client.

Mr Henderson admits handing over the information, but maintains he did so in the wider interests of justice.

Mr Johnston remitted the case to the faculty’s discipline tribunal, the first time it has sat since it was set up eight years ago. Mr Henderson appeared on his own behalf at the private tribunal hearing last weekend.

The disciplinary body, chaired by retired High Court Judge Lord Kincraig, recommended a fine of £10,000, the maximum available. It is understood that although Lord Kincraig and the four-strong tribunal felt a fine was appropriate, the £10,000 was decided on a 3-2 majority, with the chairman in the minority.

The penalty was then considered by the Dean of Faculty on Thursday and he decided that £10,000 was too high.

A statement issued on behalf of the faculty yesterday stated: “The discipline tribunal of the Faculty of Advocates met on March 20 to consider what penalty should be imposed on Mr R. E. Henderson, QC, in respect of a complaint against him at the instance of the Dean with regard to the disclosing of information obtained by him in his capacity as counsel to a third party without the consent of the client, which complaint Mr Henderson had accepted.

“The recommendation by the tribunal, by a bare majority, was to impose a fine of £10,000 which is the maximum within their powers as regards fines.

“Thereafter, in terms of the regulations, the Dean considered representations from and on behalf of Mr Henderson, and has determined that the recommendation of the tribunal is excessive, considering Mr Henderson’s exemplary professional record and that it is a first offence.

“The Dean has accordingly substituted a fine of £5000.”

The Herald understands that several members of the Bar approached the Dean to make it known they felt the £10,000 fine excessive. The £5000 is understood to be the highest fine imposed by the faculty on one of its members, marking the seriousness of the offence.

When he initiated disciplinary proceedings in January this year the Dean said that, in general terms, any breach of confidentiality struck at the heart of the relationship between counsel and client.

He compared the relationship to that of doctor and patient, adding that if a client could not trust counsel to retain private information, the relationship broke down.

The Magic Circle inquiry by Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, and Strathclyde fiscal Mr James Friel dismissed allegations that prominent members of the legal establishment in Scotland had formed a gay conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Their report stated that Mr Henderson handed over to police confidential information provided by a client, without the client’s consent.

The allegation concerned a gay former solicitor, Colin Tucker, who stood trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in December 1989 on charges of embezzling money from clients.

He was represented by Mr Henderson, and, according to the Magic Circle report, at one stage he asked Tucker to write a “potted life story” of his time with the legal firm.

After the trial Mr Henderson retained the statement, which did not compromise senior legal figures, and early in 1990 handed it over to a detective inspector involved in Operation Planet, an investigation into a rent boy network in Edinburgh.

Mr Henderson explained that he had handed over the statement to prove to police that Judges were not involved in the rent boys case, but Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel say they did not find this explanation convincing.

They concluded: “We are forced to the conclusion that Robert Henderson handed it over because he perceived that by doing so he might gain some personal advantage.”

The Scotsman
, March 27th, 1993
John Robertson, ‘Record fine for QC criticised in ‘gay conspiracy’ report’

A SENIOR QC severely criticised in January’s “magic circle” report into allegations of a gay conspiracy among the judiciary was yesterday fined a record £5,000 for professional misconduct.

The Faculty of Advocates’ discipline tribunal, which sat for the first time when deciding what penalty should be imposed on Robert Henderson, had recommended a maximum fine of £10,000.

However, the leader of the bar, Alan Johnston, QC, cut the sum in half, saying it was a first offence by someone with an “exemplary” record.

Mr Henderson accepted that he had been guilty of a breach of confidentiality by disclosing to the police, without permission, information received from a client.

The documents were central to the magic circle theory and were said to contain a list of prominent figures involved in the alleged conspiracy.

Mr Henderson said last night: “I have very strong views on this whole matter but I don’t think it would benefit anyone to state them at this stage. I would add that Alan Johnston has acted firmly and fairly in what must have been difficult circumstances.”

He added that he had found it difficult to cope over the last few months and he hoped he could now put the matter behind him.

“It has been most unpleasant.”

In January William Nimmo Smith, QC, and James Friel, regional procurator fiscal in North Strathclyde, dismissed the conspiracy theory but in their report had some harsh words for Mr Henderson.

It said he had been senior counsel for Colin Tucker, a gay solicitor who stood trial on charges of embezzling clients’ money.

Mr Tucker had written a “potted life story” and the statement contained many names.

After Mr Tucker’s acquittal, police in Edinburgh were investigating an alleged rent boy network.

Mr Henderson handed over a copy of the “list” to a friend, a detective involved in the case.

The report said Mr Tucker had been “appalled” when he heard what his QC had done.

Mr Henderson told the inquiry team that he had been acting in the “wider interests.”

The police told him that judges might be involved in the rent boy case and he wanted to show it was not so.

The report said the explanation was not convincing and concluded that he had acted because he perceived he might gain personal advantage.

Following its publication, Mr Johnston, the dean of the Faculty of Advocates, initiated disciplinary proceedings.

The five strong tribunal chaired by Lord Kincraig, a retired judge met in private last weekend.

Its options ranged from a rap over the knuckles to suspension or even expulsion.

It was the first time the tribunal had sat since it was established in 1985 and by a 32 vote it was decided to recommend the maximum fine available, £10,000.

The dean, as elected leader, finally decides on the punishment and Mr Johnston considered submissions by Mr Henderson and by others on his behalf before making yesterday’s announcement.

A prepared statement read: “The dean has determined that the recommendation of the tribunal is excessive, considering Mr Henderson’s exemplary professional record and that it is a first offence.”

The fine is understood to be the highest levied on an advocate for a breach of discipline.

Robert Henderson: man with an “exemplary record”

The Scotsman
, April 16th, 1993
Gary Duncan, ‘Force avoids Fettes fallout’

THE long running Fettesgate affair that enmeshed Lothian and Borders police last year has no implications for the efficiency of the force.

That is the view of the journalist and broadcaster Robert Kernohan who, in an initiative under the Government’s Citizen’s Charter, joined Scotland’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Colin Sampson, as the first ever lay inspector to inspect the Lothian and Borders force.

The inspection by Mr Sampson and Mr Kernohan took place after the socalled Fettesgate affair in which the Lothian and Borders force was greatly embarrassed by a break in at its headquarters and the leaking of a sensitive internal report on allegations of a gay conspiracy in the judiciary allegations later dismissed by a Scottish Office inquiry.

However, the inspection report contains few references to the scandal, which dominated the headlines throughout much of last year, concentrating instead on other issues within the force.

In his introduction, Mr Sampson says that in view of other inquiries into the affairs “the inspection did not require to consider these matters afresh.”

Mr Kernohan, in his own chapter of the report, says he believes “these matters have been adequately dealt with elsewhere” and says he does not believe they have affected the force’s efficiency.

He does, however, record concern about morale in part of the force’s CID as a result of Fettesgate.

Mr Kernohan also makes a number of points which imply strong criticism of the media’s role in the affair.

He says: “I recognised frustrations (within the force), not least with certain media attitudes, especially over ‘Fettesgate’ … There are occasions when the media are accused of overreaction and rightly so.”

Mr Kernohan says police officers “must also recognise that what provokes most media excitement in police matters does not always reflect the wider public’s concerns and priorities.”

In his conclusions to a report which generally presents a positive picture of the Lothian force, Mr Sampson makes several recommendations for improvements.

In particular, he says greater staffing is required in areas including the Fraud Squad and the Forensic Science Laboratory.

He also expresses concern at a fall in the detection rate for housebreaking in 1991.

Concern over a 64.7 per cent rise in complaints against Central Scotland Police is expressed by Mr Sampson in an report on his intermediate inspection of the force.

The Herald
, May 21st, 1993
Tom Mcconnell, ”Fettesgate’ criminal jailed for assault. TV journalist attacked after seeking interview’

PETTY criminal and self-publicist Derek Donaldson, whose name was linked with the Fettesgate break-in, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment yesterday for assaulting television journalist Duncan Campbell and stealing a video camera and other items from him.

The assault took place on January 2 following several unsuccessful attempts by Mr Campbell to interview Donaldson for a Channel 4 documentary onFettesgate, and at the end of a period in which Donaldson had been the subject of much media attention.

During the hearing a video film was shown to Sheriff Roger Craik of events earlier that day outside Donaldson’s home in Double Hedges Road, Edinburgh, when Mr Campbell and a television crew made persistent efforts to gain an interview, eventually being moved on by the police.

The sheriff, in passing sentence, agreed Donaldson, described as a 32-year-old company director, had been subjected to a high degree of provocation from Mr Campbell, but he also suggested Donaldson might be “the author of the inordinate interest” in himself.

Donaldson’s lawyer, Mr John Carroll, alleged Mr Campbell had been “in consort, collusion with certain individuals in the police,” a claim denied last night by Lothian and Borders police.

He also claimed that he personally had been subjected to unprecedented obstruction and threats in his efforts to interview witnesses.

Donaldson, who had been in custody since January 5, admitted assaulting Mr Campbell by punching him in the face, breaking his nose in two places, and removing a front tooth.

He also admitted stealing Mr Campbell’s video camera and other equipment, which was later retrieved from a rubbish bin in Edinburgh after Donaldson had telephoned the BBC in Glasgow.

Mr Kenneth Maciver, the fiscal, recalled that the Scottish media had shown a great deal of interest in the break-in at the Lothian and Borders headquarters at Fettes when documents were stolen, and also in an inquiry being carried out on behalf of the Lord Advocate.

He added: “The accused’s name was being used in these newspaper articles and the press was extremely interested in him, and it is fair to say he in them as the passage of information was two-way. Very much of the publicity was instigated by himself.”

As far back as November last year Mr Campbell had attempted to arrange an interview for the documentary he was preparing but Donaldson had declined.

Further attempts to interview him were made in December when Mr Campbell called at the home of Donaldson’s mother. A disagreement arose when Donaldson accused Mr Campbell of harassment.

Mr Campbell then discovered Donaldson lived in Double Hedges Road and on January 2 made another attempt to interview him.

When Mr Campbell refused to leave, Donaldson made a complaint of harassment to the police at whose request he left the premises.

The assault took place later that night while Mr Campbell was erecting a security camera at his premises. He was approached by Donaldson who said: “We’ll get you now, Campbell.”

As he attempted to pass, Donaldson punched him on the mouth and several times in the face. He had the impression there were three or four people behind him.

They held him down while further assaults took place. His nose was broken, his tooth knocked out, and his spectacles broken. Mr Campbell was later treated at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Donaldson left home but was arrested when he returned three days later. Newspaper reporters and photographers had been tipped off and witnessed the arrest.

Donaldson said: “It is interesting to note police are co-operating and working with Mr Campbell to get me off the streets.”

Mr Carroll said Donaldson, although not a paranoid schizophrenic, had a history which suggested he had an unstable personality. If pushed he was bound to react in some way.

Mr Campbell had put Donaldson’s mother in a state of fear and distress and had angered and harassed him.

Although he asked Mr Campbell to stop and complained to the police the harassment continued and he became desperate.

Mr Carroll said his client had “snapped” as a result of becoming depressed, angry, and confused by Mr Campbell’s tactics.

His friends tried to dissuade him from the assault, but in the end he had gone along and had become involved.

He claimed that after the assault Mr Campbell had said: “I want Tom Wood (Lothian and Borders Assistant Chief Constable) and Inspector Daly.”

Donaldson originally faced eight charges but pled guilty to a reduced charge and his plea of not guilty to the others was accepted.

Mr William Langa, also of Double Hedges Road, was freed when his pleas of not guilty to involvement in the assault were accepted.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said they had been notified filming was to take place and, realising there could be a problem, two officers were sent to the locality as a precautionary measure.

They dealt with a complaint that the film company was causing annoyance in the appropriate way. The police had been involved in the complaint which resulted in the court hearing.

“This is never considered working in consort or in collusion with individuals,” he added.

The Herald
, May 21st, 1993
Duncan Campbell, ‘Tangled web that distracts attention from real BLACK MAGIC CIRCLE’

Duncan Campbell uncovers the sordid background to the man behind last year’s notorious “Fettesgate” robbery — and reveals how he has spent more than a decade playing journalists, gays, policemen, and criminals against each other.

THERE are few Scottish police officers who have served much of their time in Edinburgh who have not had to deal with Derek William Donaldson, the homosexual 32-year-old crook and self-acclaimed “Fettesgate raider” who was imprisoned for 18 months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for assault and robbery.

Apart from his central role in the Fettes robbery, Donaldson was also one of a network of gay crooks who has assiduously encouraged detectives and journalists to believe in the fictitious notion of a homosexual “magic circle” conspiracy among senior lawyers and the Scottish judiciary. These widely-reported rumours have until recently served as an effective distraction from their own criminal activities — which openly gay advocate Derek Ogg has dubbed the real “black magic circle.” Only the slightest hint of this activity emerged in court yesterday.

Since 1976, when as a teenager at Portobello High School he was first convicted for housebreaking and theft, Donaldson has amassed convictions for almost 50 offences of fraud, theft, violence, and sexual offences against young people of both sexes.

More striking than that is the list of confidence tricks for which Donaldson has not — so far — faced either trial or punishment. These include conning the Security Service, MI5, into believing that he was a useful counter -intelligence agent, and TV journalists into making a documentary in which a civil servant and former Portobello schoolmate, Brian Gentleman, was falsely portrayed as a Czech spy.

They also include a visit last year to William Nimmo-Smith, the QC asked by the Lord Advocate to investigate the alleged gay “Magic Circle” among Scottish lawyers and the judiciary. Posing as reporter “Allan MacDonald” of the Daily Telegraph, Donaldson tried to get the advocate to be indiscreet about the likely conclusions of his report, published two months later.

Donaldson secretly recorded the meeting, and then offered his tapes for sale to newspapers. The Scottish Sun were the only takers. From their Glasgow offices, they agreed a £10,000 deal with Donaldson. The terms Donaldson demanded included undertakings by the Sun not to tell their readers about his lengthy and unattractive criminal record, nor to show his photograph.

The Sun also agreed to pass money to Donaldson by an unusual and complex route. On Friday December 18, the day the report was published — under the banner headline “FETTES THIEF CONS GAY JUDGES PROBE QC” — News International Ltd. deposited £6500 in the clients’ account of Edinburgh solicitors Cochrane and Blair Paterson, of Abercromby Place, to be passed on to Donaldson.

The next day, the Sun published a second report on Donaldson’s hoax, entitled “NIMMO THE DIMMO.” That evening, an intensely distressed Mr Nimmo-Smith sought psychiatric treatement at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

The theft from the Fettes offices of the Scottish Crime Squad (SCS) in July last year of many sensitive criminal intelligence files was the high point of Donaldson’s criminal career. This is the event now known throughout Scotland as “Fettesgate.” The documents he then stole included SCS’s dossiers on himself and a group of criminal acquaintances, and on such highly-sensitive police operations as “Operation Burnt Bush,” a Scotland-wide intelligence investigation into the activities of the Animal Liberation Front.

After details of some of the stolen documents were published, the police raided Donaldson’s mother’s house at Stenhouse, Edinburgh. They also raided a cover address in Dundee used by Donaldson for many of his fraudulent activities. This was the Queensway Guest House at 127 Broughty Ferry Road, which was then a DSS hostel for young men run by a close friend of Donaldson’s, Norman Lilburn. (It has since been closed). Lilburn, like Donaldson, is a criminal, with convictions for fraud, fire-raising, and sexual offences against young men.

But no documents were found at either site. Then Donaldson’s solicitor at the time, Nigel Beaumont, bartered with Lothian and Borders CID officers for “immunity” for Donaldson in exchange for the return of the original files. Before they were returned, however, Donaldson made copies.

These and other copies remain hidden at several addresses around Edinburgh. However, in an unpublicised police raid several weeks ago, many of the copies were recovered from the Midlothian home of a retired businessman, who has since died.

Donaldson has always taken particular pleasure in using the media to tweak the tail of the police and other authorities, and in playing journalists, policemen, gays, and his criminal acquaintances against each other.

Last autumn the Scotsman printed a series of unchallenged “exclusives” from him and his solicitor, Mr Beaumont, about how the Fettesgate break-in took place, together with other allegations against the police. Delighted with this, Donaldson took to referring to his contact, the paper’s chief reporter, Alan Hutchison, as “Fido.”

Ironically, after leaving school, Donaldson had applied to join the police. When his application was rejected, he became a “police groupie”. He then used radio monitoring equipment to learn about police operations, staff, and command and control systems. Then he used this information to interfere with and disrupt police activities.

By 1984, he had been convicted of more than 40 charges of fraud, theft, reset, criminal damage, and offences against the person and the Companies Acts. Then, while on the run from the police in London, he moved on to hoaxing MI5.

That summer, Donaldson met Security Service counter-intelligence staff in a secret Whitehall basement called “Room 055” and made allegations about former Portobello schoolmate Brian Gentleman. When both MI5 and the Czech intelligence service realised that they were being deceived, Donaldson took the tale to journalists instead.

The Scotsman
, May 25th, 1993
Gary Duncan, ‘Fettesgate key player faces more charges’

DEREK DONALDSON, the key Fettesgate figure jailed last week for 18 months for assault, is likely to face further criminal charges, Ken Maciver, Lothians’ assistant procuratorfiscal, has confirmed.

“I have some matters which remain outstanding which will be looked at in the very near future,” Mr Maciver said.

The fresh charges, if brought, would emphasise how Donaldson’s luck has changed dramatically for the worse since he pulled off a series of audacious stunts at the centre of the Fettesgate affair.

After successfully setting up a deal with Lothian and Borders Police to return documents stolen in the raid on the force’s headquarters, he went on to hoax a leading QC, William Nimmo Smith, during his investigation of a gay conspiracy in Scotland’s judiciary.

At last Friday’s trial, Donaldson was finally jailed after he admitted an assault on the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell.

Yesterday, Donaldson failed to win bail pending an appeal against his 18 month sentence for striking Mr Campbell.

An appeal against the sentence imposed by Sheriff Roger Craik, QC, was announced immediately and yesterday Donaldson sought bail until the case could be considered by the appeal court.

However, after a short hearing in private at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Mayfield refused the application for interim liberation.

Donaldson could challenge the decision before a bench of three judges.

The Herald
, May 25th, 1993
‘Bail plea rejected’

THE man jailed for 18 months last week for assaulting investigative journalist Duncan Campbell was yesterday refused bail pending an appeal against his sentence.

Derek Donaldson’s plea for interim liberation was refused by Lord Mayfield at a private hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Donaldson, 32, was a leading figure in what became known as Fettesgate, the break-in at the Lothian and Borders police headquarters at Fettes in July last year.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week Donaldson admitted that while acting with others on January 2 this year he assaulted Mr Campbell in Queens Park Avenue, Edinburgh, punched him repeatedly on the head, struck him repeatedly on the head with a camera tripod, knocked him to the ground and repeatedly kicked him on the head and body to his severe injury.

The Scotsman
, June 16th, 1993
John Robertson, ‘Donaldson protests at prison visit rules’

A KEY figure in the Fettesgate affair claimed yesterday that conditions imposed on prison visits were hampering the preparation of an appeal against his 18 month sentence for attacking an investigative journalist.

Derek Donaldson had to speak to visitors through a grille in a screen and was flanked by prison officers at all times, a court heard.

Donaldson, 32, who has been described as a leading character in events surrounding last year’s break in at the Lothian and Borders Police headquarters, was jailed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month after admitting an assault on Duncan Campbell.

The journalist had been making a television programme about Fettesgate.

Yesterday, at the Court of Session, Donaldson lodged a petition seeking judicial review of a decision of the governor of Saughton Prison to impose “closed conditions” on visits.

He said those meant that prisoner and visitor were divided by a transparent screen and had to talk through a grille.

Two prison officers sat beside the inmate throughout the visit.

Donaldson maintained that the conditions were unnecessary in his case.

He had conducted himself properly in prison and a visit could take place within the sight and hearing of an officer without a screen or two members of staff remaining at his side.

The conditions were prejudicial to him in the preparation of an appeal against the 18 month sentence, due to be heard on 29 June.

Those visiting him were carrying out research and inquiries in relation to the appeal.

“The petitioner is fettered in his discussions by the presence of persons who are servants of the Crown,” it was submitted.

Donaldson wants the governor’s decision set aside as unreasonable, unfair and contrary to natural justice.

A full hearing of the case is expected within the next few days.

The Herald
, June 23rd, 1993
Bruce McKain, ‘Businessman loses plea over ‘closed’ prison visits’

THE gay businessman jailed for 18 months for assaulting investigative journalist Duncan Campbell yesterday failed to persuade a court that preparations for his appeal were being hampered by “restrictive” prison visiting conditions.

Derek Donaldson, 32, was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month after he admitted attacking Mr Campbell, who was making a television programme about the break-in at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes last July.

Donaldson played a central role in the break-in, which has since become known as Fettesgate.

His appeal against the 18-month sentence is due to be heard next week. Donaldson went to the Court of Session to ask Lord Murray to set aside a decision by the governor of Saughton prison to impose “closed” conditions on visits by people said to be carrying out research and inquiries on his behalf.

Donaldson claimed that having to speak through a grille in a transparent screen with a prison officer close by was hampering preparations for the appeal.

Miss Susan O’Brien, appearing for Scottish Secretary Ian Lang, who is responsible for the prison service, said it was significant that Donaldson was not complaining about visits by friends or family, or about private meetings with his legal advisers.

The complaint was over visits by people helping in the preparation of his appeal, and the prison rules stated that visits of that kind had to be within the sight and hearing of a prison officer. Donaldson was being treated no differently from any other prisoner.

Miss O’Brien also wondered what inquiries had to be made about the appeal, since Donaldson had admitted the assault, and the appeal was against sentence only.

Lord Murray dismissed Donaldson’s petition for a judicial review of the governor’s decision. The Judge said he was not satisfied that Donaldson had set out allegations that were specific enough to support his claim that his appeal was being prejudiced.

The Scotsman
, June 30th, 1993
John Robertson, ‘Judges refuse to cut sentence in Fettesgate case’

THREE appeal judges yesterday criticised the “appalling” conduct of the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell but refused to cut an 18 month sentence imposed on a man who attacked him.

Derek Donaldson, a key figure in the Fettesgate affair, had been harassed for weeks for an interview about the break in at the Lothian and Borders Police headquarters, it was claimed.

The pressure would have been difficult for anyone to tolerate but Donaldson had a history of psychiatric problems and could not cope and “somewhat lost the place”, his counsel, Graham Bell, QC, told the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Last month, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Donaldson, 32, admitted assaulting Mr Campbell to his severe injury by repeatedly punching and kicking him on 2 January, in Queen’s Park Avenue, Edinburgh.

He also plead guilty to stealing a video camera from the journalist, who had been working on a television programme about Fettesgate.

Sheriff Roger Craik, QC, jailed Donaldson for 12 months for the assault and added six months for the theft.

Mr Bell submitted to Lords Cowie, Clyde and Brand that the sentence was excessive.

He said Mr Campbell had subjected the accused to continuous harassment over a number of weeks after he refused repeated requests for an interview.

Cameras had been set up outside Donaldson’s home and that of his mother in an attempt to film those inside.

Once, when Donaldson was on the phone, a microphone had been put through the letter box in an attempt to tape the conversation.

Mr Bell described Mr campbell’s conduct as an unwarranted intrusion of privacy.

The press had a duty to investigate matters but he had gone too far.

It would have been difficult for anyone to tolerate such behaviour but in Donaldson’s case, he had a history of psychiatric problems and it would have been extremely difficult for him to cope.

A recently obtained medical report said Donaldson was bordering on mental illness and might have persecution mania.

Clearly, he was a very disturbed person.

Lord Cowie said Mr Campbell’s behaviour over a number of weeks had been quite intolerable and must have put considerable pressure on Donaldson which seemed likely to have affected his behaviour.

The psychiatric report had not been available to the sheriff but the appeal judges were not convinced that even with it, he would have been persuaded that a lesser sentence was appropriate.

“After all, there is no doubt that this was a serious, deliberate and concerted attack on Campbell notwithstanding his appalling conduct which led to it,” said Lord Cowie.

“With some hesitation we have decided that the sentence imposed by the sheriff cannot be said to be excessive.”

The Herald
, June 30th, 1993
Bruce McKain, ‘Judges hit at Duncan Campbell’

THREE appeal court Judges yesterday attacked the conduct of journalist Duncan Campbell in “harassing” the gay businessman who played a key role in the Fettesgate affair.

They described it as “appalling” and “intolerable”. However, the Court of Criminal Appeal decided not to cut the 18-month sentence imposed on Derek Donaldson after he assaulted Mr Campbell.

The court also heard that Donaldson, who tricked his way into the home of the QC investigating allegations of a gay conspiracy in the legal profession, by posing as a journalist, was now a very disturbed person, bordering on a state of mental illness.

In May this year Donaldson, 32, admitted assaulting Mr Campbell to his severe injury by repeatedly kicking and punching him in Edinburgh on January 2. He also admitted stealing a video camera.

Sheriff Roger Craik jailed him for 12 months for the assault and a further six months for the theft.

At the appeal court yesterday, Mr Graham Bell, QC, for Donaldson, said the sentences were too high.

He told the court Mr Campbell had made numerous requests for an interview.

Mr Campbell was making a programme for Channel Four about the break-in at Lothian and Borders police headquarters at Fettes in July 1992 and Donaldson’s role in the affair which became known as Fettesgate.

Mr Bell explained that Donaldson refused an interview but was subjected to six weeks of harassment at his own home and his mother’s home. Cameras were set up to try to film people in the houses and on one occasion, while Donaldson was on the phone, a microphone was put through the letterbox in an attempt to tape the conversation.

Mr Bell argued that the journalist’s conduct was an unwarranted intrusion into Donaldson’s privacy. The press had a duty to investigate, but Mr Campbell had gone too far.

It would have been difficult for anyone to tolerate such behaviour but Donaldson had a history of psychiatric problems which made it very difficult for him to cope.

A recent psychiatric report described Donaldson as bordering on mental illness and someone who might have persecution mania.

Lord Cowie, who heard the appeal with Lords Clyde and Brand, said it was quite clear from what they had been told that Mr Campbell’s behaviour over a number of weeks had been quite intolerable and must have put considerable pressure on Donaldson.

However, the sheriff had taken that into account and the only possible ground for interfering with the sentences was that he had not seen the psychiatric report now produced for the appeal court.

Lord Cowie added: “We are not convinced that even if the sheriff had that report before him, it would have persuaded him that a lesser sentence was appropriate. After all, there is no doubt that this was a serious, deliberate and concerted attack on Campbell, notwithstanding his appalling conduct which led to it.”

The Herald
, August 28th, 1993
Fettesgate’ lawyer re-appointed’

A SENIOR lawyer who investigated what became known as the Fettesgate affair was yesterday re-appointed as a part-time member of the Scottish Law Commission. Mr William Nimmo Smith, QC, 50, was a member of a two-man inquiry team which investigated an allegation of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The five-year appointment to the commission will begin when his present term of office expires on August 31.

The Herald
, September 29th, 1993
Robbie Dinwoodie, ‘Magic Circle affair prompts services’ training reforms’

PROSECUTORS and police are going through retraining to eliminate mutual suspicion in the wake of the Magic Circle affair, according to the second annual report of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The report also gives for the first time an insight into the way fiscals use their discretion to decide whether or not to prosecute.

It also reveals that Crown prosecution cost £41.9m in Scotland last year, almost £4m up on the previous year, in spite of a drop of 6% in the number of reports received by fiscals. This was explained by the 6% increase in the amount of serious crime handled — a workload which represents only 1% of cases but 35% of the workload.

Referring to the Fettes police headquarters break-in in Edinburgh and the links it says were wrongly made with allegations of a gay conspiracy in senior legal circles, the report says that no lasting damage was done.

However, it says of the inquiry into the Fettesgate and Magic Circle affairs: “There was, on the one hand, a surprising lack of understanding by certain police officers of the role of the Crown Office and, on the other, perhaps a certain failure by the prosecution to keep the police informed of the decisions which had been taken.

“Both services are accordingly taking steps to reform their training so that in future the nature of the relationship between the police and the public prosecutor is thoroughly understood by both.”

The report gives the first public insight into the way in which fiscals excercise their discretion on whether or not to prosecute a case. Some are obvious, but others disclose more subtle application of public policy, such as the victim’s view, alternatives to prosecution, the accused’s excuse or mitigating circumstances, the alternative of civil action, local factors, and whether it was a racial offence.

Insufficient admissible evidence and the triviality of the alleged offence both account for 29% of decisions not to proceed, while the existence of a civil remedy (9%) and mitigating circumstances (8%) were the other main reasons.

A regional breakdown of alternative disposals to prosecution throws up such intriguing figures as the leap in warnings given in Tayside, Central and Fife to 3882 last year from 2477 the previous year, and the drop in fines in Lothian and Borders from 2191 to 1714 over that period.

The report outlines the pilot projects being carried out to ease the plight of witnesses — a Paisley experiment in which the normal practice of police statements being given to the defence was extended to civilian statements, with their consent.

Press Association
, October 21st 1993
Mike Taylor, ‘Libel Damages for Judge’

Former Scottish High Court judge Lord Dervaird was today given a public apology and undisclosed libel damages over a newspaper report on an inquiry into an alleged gay legal ring. The High Court in London heard that the September 1992 article in The Sun, which was repeated in part the following December, stated that Lord Dervaird had stepped down as Scotland’s top civil court judge and fled to Cyprus to escape publicity. It said that after the trial of a gay solicitor, Colin Tucker, the judge resigned amid allegations about his private life. Lord Dervaird’s solicitor, Peter Carter-Ruck, told Mr Justice French the report was published in good faith and based on information the newspaper had no reason to doubt at the time. When The Sun learned the report was without foundation it expressed its regret and published an apology in March. News Group Newspapers and editor Kelvin MacKenzie unreservedly accepted that Lord Dervaird, who resigned from the bench in January 1990 and is now professor of company and commercial law at Edinburgh University, did not flee the country. His arrangement to go to Cyprus with his wife on holiday was wholly unconnected with his retirement and he returned to Scotland afterwards. They also recognised he was in no way connected with the trial of Mr Tucker. The newspaper agreed to pay Lord Dervaird “appropriate” compensation for the distress caused to him and his family, together with his legal costs.

The Scotsman
, October 22nd 1993
Sarah Wilson, ‘Apology, damages for Lord Dervaird’

THE former Scottish High Court judge Lord Dervaird was yesterday given a public apology and undisclosed libel damages over a newspaper report on an inquiry into an alleged conspiracy of gay members of the Scottish legal profession.

The High Court in London heard that the September 1992 article in the Sun, which was repeated in part the following December, stated that Lord Dervaird had stepped down as Scotland’s top civil court judge and fled to Cyprus to escape publicity.

It said that after the trial of a gay solicitor, Colin Tucker, the judge resigned amid allegations about his private life.

Lord Dervaird’s solicitor, Peter Carter-Ruck, told Mr Justice French the report was published in good faith and based on information the newspaper had no reason to doubt at the time.

When the Sun learned the report was without foundation it expressed its regret and published an apology in March.

News Group Newspapers and editor Kelvin MacKenzie unreservedly accepted that Lord Dervaird, who resigned from the bench in January 1990, did not flee the country.

His arrangement to go to Cyprus with his wife on holiday was wholly unconnected with his retirement and he returned to Scotland afterwards.

They also recognised he was in no way connected with the trial of Mr Tucker.

The newspaper agreed to pay Lord Dervaird appropriate compensation for the distress caused to him and his family, together with his legal costs.

Bob Bird, the Scottish editor of the Sun said: “At the time we wrote the story it was 99 per cent accurate.”

He did not regret printing the article, he said, although: “The manner in which it was worded was a little unfortunate. But the bit we got wrong was a small part of a major story.”

He admitted that Lord Dervaird had not fled the country, but the fact that the police believed there was a conspiracy of gay judges intent on perverting the course of justice was accurate.

[Articles from after 1993 can be read here in Part 2]

The documents in the Andrew Faulds archives on Greville Janner

WARNING: Contains reproductions of anti-semitic material.

A major new report in today’s Mail  (Guy Adams, ‘Child sex claims, a police ‘cover-up’ and troubling questions for a Labour peer: This special report reveals the full extent of the deeply disturbing allegations against ex-MP Greville Janner’, Daily Mail, October 4th, 2014) contains details of two very sensitive documents filed within the archives of late Labour MP Andrew Faulds. These concerned allegations against the then-MP for Leicester West, Greville Janner, who retired from the House of Commons in 1997 and now sits in the House of Lords as Baron Janner of Braunstone. Janner was named in the 1991 trial of Frank Beck by one witness as having abused him; Janner was not himself on trial and did not testify, and he was widely believed (including by many MPs) to have been unfairly smeared here.

I have previously posted a large collection of press reports from during the Beck trial and its aftermath, including many of the reactions of other politicians upon Janner’s return to Parliament. Various other reports relating to Janner have emerged during the course of the last year. Janner’s house was searched in December 2013, which was widely reported (See Sonia Elks, ‘Lord Janner’s home searched over historic child sex allegations’, The Times, December 20th, 2013, reproduced below; Lizzie Parry, ‘Police raid home of Labour Lord as part of historic sex abuse probe and spend two days searching his £600,000 apartment’, Daily Mail, December 20th, 2013; Paul Peachey, ‘Police investigating child abuse search peer Greville Janner’s home’, The Independent, December 20th, 2013; ‘Lord Greville Janner’s home searched as part of child sex investigations, say police’, Telegraph, December 20th, 2013). The Leicester Mercury reported in early May that the Crown Prosecution Service were considering evidence against Janner (‘Leicester peer Greville Janner in child abuse inquiry’, Leicester Mercury, May 3rd, 2014), then in June it was reported that Janner’s offices in the House of Lords had been searched as part of police investigations (‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’, The Times, June 23rd, 2014, reproduced below; Rebecca Camber, ‘Police raid offices in Parliament of Labour peer Lord Janner as part of inquiry in historic sex abuse claims’, Daily Mail, June 23rd, 2014).

Then in July, a report in the Mirror spoke of over 20 allegations of historic child sex abuse being made against an unnamed peer (including one by a man who was aged seven at the time), many relating to offences which took place in children’s homes, but reporting that the peer in question would not be interviewed or arrested as he had been declared unfit by two doctors (Tom Pettifor and Nick Sommerlad, ‘Labour peer escapes probe over 20 child sex claims because he is ‘suffering dementia”, Daily Mirror, July 9th, 2014). The peer in question was reported to have entertained the young people with magic tricks. These doctors should be identified and their reports made public. In August, Sean O’Neill in The Times revealed that there had been orders in 1991 not to arrest Janner, only interview him by appointment in his home (Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’, The Times, August 8th, 2014, reproduced below) – on this, see my earlier post on the subject, with details of David Gandy, who was the temporary Director of Public Prosecutions at the time, after Sir Allan Green had been arrested after being discovered kerb-crawling. Then in September, Chief Constable of Derbyshire Mike Creedon spoke of having been forbidden to arrest Janner after allegations first surfaced in 1989 (before the Beck trial, when Creedon was a Detective Sergeant) (Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest’, The Times, September 25th, 2014, reproduced below; Chris Greenwood, ‘Police ‘told to limit abuse probe into MP”, Daily Mail, September 26th, 2014)

Here I am reproducing the two documents in the Faulds archives. I would urge much caution with these, as they clearly emerge from some far right sources and include various vicious anti-semitic claims. I stress here that I am in no sense endorsing their contents, and find the anti-semitic remarks (and such things as the red eyes on the cover of the booklet) obscene, and again urge scepticism because of their contents (it has been plausibly suggested to me that the picture of Janner with the ‘Scouting for Boys’ book has been doctored); however, as Faulds thought they were important enough to keep and file, then I think they should be made available. I have erased the name of the individual who made the allegations against Janner.

I am about to leave to join a vigil at 114 Grosvenor Avenue, Islington (beginning 1:45 pm) to commemorate the many who were abused within the Islington care system as a result of careless, foolish and incompetent policies during the time when Margaret Hodge, now Labour MP for Barking, was leader of Islington council. Amongst the speakers there will be Liz Davies, former social worker in Islington who blew the whistle on the abuse. We have heard much, rightly, about abuse and its cover-up from members of the Conservative Party, including major allegations against late former MPs Peter Morrison, Nicholas Fairbairn, Rhodes Boyson, and others, and wider allegations relating to the sinister events at Elm Guest House; also against former Liberal MP Cyril Smith, about whom pioneering Labour MP and campaigner Simon Danczuk wrote a book together with Matt Baker. But Labour have their own questions to answer as well: about Islington Council under Hodge’s tenure; about the relationship of current Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Minister for Policing Jack Dromey MP, and former MP Patricia Hewitt during their time at the National Council for Civil Liberties when one section of this group’s activities were strongly influenced by the Paedophile Information Exchange, which seems to have been easily tolerated by these people (see also here and here) – there is definitely much more information to be revealed about this; about former MP and leadership contender Bryan Gould’s expression of support for PIE’s aims; about allegations of a Blair minister being involved in serious abuse in Lambeth and also (perhaps another minister) who was investigated as part of Operation Ore; about the activities of former Labour MP and Speaker of the House George Thomas aka Lord Tonypandy; about the role of local Labour politicians in allowing grooming gangs to abuse over 1400 girls in Rotherham (and perhaps in various other localities as well); and more generally about the extent to which many members of the liberal left tolerated, even encouraged, leading paedophile figures such as Peter Righton so long as they clothed their activities in the language of gay rights. Only when Ed Miliband and the Labour front bench declare their readiness to co-operate absolutely and look honestly and unflinchingly about what was known and what was covered up, will the Labour Party have any real credibility on this issue; otherwise they appear like a party prepared to look the other way in the face of some forms of abuse, only paying attention to those for which they can gain party political advantage.

Faulds Janner-1

Faulds Janner-2

Faulds Janner-3

Faulds Janner-4

Janner 1

Janner 2

Janner 3

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Janner 5


























The Times
, December 20th, 2013
Sonia Elks, ‘Lord Janner’s home searched over historic child sex allegations’

The home of Labour peer Lord Greville Janner has been searched by police investigating allegations of historic child sex offences.

Officers from Leicester police spent two days searching the 85-year-old former barrister’s £600,000 North London flat on Monday and Tuesday as part of a continuing investigation.

Lord Janner has not been arrested by police, who declined to confirm what was seized or the reason for the search.

However, it is understood that the swoop was part of a historic child sex investigation dating back many years.

A spokesman said: “Leicestershire Police can confirm its officers executed a search warrant of a property in Barnet, London as part of an ongoing criminal inquiry.

“No arrests have been made at this stage.”

Lord Janner, who was made a life peer as Baron Janner of Braunstone in Leicester in 1997, is well known as the former chairman of British Jews and a prominent speaker on Jewish rights, who has been hailed for his efforts to see Holocaust victims receive compensation.

Builders working on a renovation next door to his home saw a number of police cars and officers at the address on Monday and Tuesday.

One said: “There were loads of police cars here on Monday and Tuesday.

“They were coming and going all day.

“I don’t know what happened, but they’ve been back quite often ever since.”

Lord Janner declined to speak to reporters about the search when approached at the Hampstead flat.

A young man, who identified himself as “Jameson” and claimed he was the peer’s personal spiritual healer said: “The Lord won’t come to the door.

“He is exhausted with all the stress of dealing with the police.

“He’s old and needs his rest. I don’t want to say any more.”

A spokesman for the peer said: “Lord Janner has not been arrested but has been assisting the police with their enquiries. We are not able to make any further comment at this time.”

It is not the first time Lord Janner has sparked controversy. In 2006, he was struck by fellow Lord Bramall, a former head of the Armed Forces, during a furious row over the Lebanon conflict.

He served as an MP for 27 years for Leicester North West and then Leicester West until his retirement in 1997, when he was made a life peer.

The widowed peer says on his official website that his hobbies include autograph collections, glass and other antiquities, swimming, speaking his nine languages and his family.

It also says he is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

The Times
, June 23rd, 2014
‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’

Police have searched the Westminster office of Lord Janner of Braunstone, the Labour peer, in connection with historical child sex abuse allegations. Leicestershire police confirmed that its officers had searched part of the House of Lords in March. They added that the former MP, 85, had not been arrested.

A spokeswoman said: “Leicestershire police can confirm that in March 2014 its officers carried out a search of part of the House of Lords in connection with an ongoing inquiry into non-recent child sexual abuse.

“A search warrant was obtained in advance from a crown court judge and the search was conducted in accordance with established House of Lords procedures, and monitored by senior officials from the House of www.Lords.No arrests or charges have been made, and inquiries continue.”

The search follows a raid of the peer’s home in north London, last year.

Greville Janner was an MP for 27 years, originally for Leicester North West and then Leicester West, until he retired in 1997. He was made a life peer that year.

The father of three is a former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and has been active in efforts to get compensation for Holocaust victims. On his website, Lord Janner says that he speaks nine languages and is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

The Times
, August 8th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’

Detectives investigating a Labour MP over child abuse allegations more than 20 years ago were stopped from arresting him, The Times has learnt.

Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, was interviewed by appointment in the company of his solicitor as part of a major investigation into the abuse of boys at homes in Leicestershire in 1991.

A number of sources with knowledge of the case have confirmed that officers had wanted to arrest the Leicester West MP, which would have given them the power to search his home and offices.

Legal advice was sought on taking the rare step of arresting an MP and it is understood that the advice from senior counsel was that it was an appropriate course of action. At the last minute the planned arrest was blocked.

Arrangements were made instead for Lord Janner to attend a police station by appointment with his solicitor, Sir David Napley.

The decision-making process is being re-examined by Leicestershire police as part of Operation Enamel, which is looking into allegations against Lord Janner and others.

Kelvyn Ashby, the retired officer who was senior investigator on the original case, confirmed that he was in contact with the Operation Enamel team but declined to comment further.

Police executed search warrants at Lord Janner’s home in Golders Green, north London, in December and at his office at the House of Lords in March. A partial file of evidence has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is providing the police with “investigative advice”.

The peer, now 86 and said by friends to be in very poor health, has not been arrested. He has strongly denied the allegations against him in the past.

The new investigation into Lord Janner and others is one of dozens of historic abuse inquiries which come under the umbrella of Operation Hydrant, a nationwide steering group headed by senior police officers and set up to ensure consistent approaches to cases involving “persons of public prominence”.

A Leicestershire police spokesman said that the force was “investigating several complaints in relation to Operation Enamel – it is an inquiry into allegations of criminal conduct and all appropriate lines of inquiry will be progressed”.

Asked if the decision not to arrest Lord Janner was part of the new investigation, the spokesman said: “This is an operational matter, no further details will be disclosed.”

Lord Janner’s current solicitor did not respond to requests for comment, but in 1991 the MP for Leicester West told the House of Commons that there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations made against him.

The Times
, September 25th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest”

An investigation into child abuse allegations against a prominent politician 25 years ago was blocked, one of the country’s most senior police officers has revealed.

Mick Creedon, chief constable of Derbyshire, told The Times that he was a detective sergeant in 1989 when he was ordered to limit his inquiries into Greville Janner, a leading Labour backbench MP. Mr Creedon said there was “credible evidence” against the MP, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC, that warranted further investigation, but he was given orders forbidding an arrest or a search of his home or offices.

“The decision was a clear one – he will be interviewed by appointment and there won’t be a search of his home address or his constituency office or his office in the House of Commons,” Mr Creedon said.

The order was “conveyed” by a superintendent but Mr Creedon believes it came from chief officers. He added: “It was a decision made by people more senior than me.”

The allegations against Lord Janner, 86, who was a senior Labour backbencher and president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, surfaced during the police investigation into Frank Beck, the manager of Leicester children’s homes who died in jail after being convicted of abusing boys in his care.

A former resident of one home alleged that he had had a two-year sexual relationship with the MP when he was a teenager in the 1970s. The alleged victim later aired the allegations in public when he gave evidence at Beck’s trial in 1991.

However, Mr Creedon said there were concerns about the credibility of the evidence against Lord Janner, notably that the key witness was in thrall to Beck despite being the victim of abuse.

The alleged victim also gave evidence for Beck. None of the other hundreds of residents interviewed made any allegations against the MP.

The witness had produced affectionate letters that were allegedly from the MP, some on House of Commons notepaper, and provided a detailed description of the inside of the MP’s Hampstead home. Mr Creedon said: “I look at this now, as a chief constable, as a senior investigating officer, in the light of many inquiries before and since – and one of the lines of inquiry could have been to search the house.

“My view has always been that the allegations were very serious, there was enough evidence to put a file before the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service], and as investigating officers our job was to search out as much evidence as possible to prove or disprove the offence. My interpretation of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act would be that under the circumstances it would have been justified to search the house [and] offices.”

He said he did not know who made the decision to limit the investigation.
The 1989-91 inquiry was limited to an interview at Leicestershire police headquarters during which Lord Janner gave “no comment” answers to detectives’ questions. A file was sent to the CPS, which decided there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

When the allegations became public during Beck’s trial in 1991, the jury was told they were a “red herring” and not relevant to the case. Lord Janner later said there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations against him.

Those allegations are central to a new police investigation into Lord Janner and others, called Operation Enamel, which has led to warrants being obtained to search the peer’s home in north London and his office in the House of Lords.
The peer, who is in poor health, has never been arrested and has not been interviewed by detectives from the new investigation. His lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

Fiona Woolf, Leon Brittan and William Hague – conflicts of interest

On Friday, September 5th, 2014, the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, was appointed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to be chair of the forthcoming inquiry into child abuse. Within a few hours of the announcement, Twitter was full of information concerning Woolf’s closeness to former home secretary Leon Brittan (now Lord Brittan), in particular the fact that the two worked closely together for the lobbying organisation TheCityUK, for which Woolf is the President of the Advisory Council, on which Brittan sits (here I wish to give credit to Daniel De Simone, who was I believe the first person to find this connection, which was subsequently tweeted by various people), and also the fact that she is one of just five patrons of the Association of Women Solicitors, another of whom is Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman.

Both of these individuals are extremely important in terms of potential areas of investigation for the inquiry: Brittan was a Home Office Minister of State from 1979 to 1981, during which time the Paedophile Information Exchange were running their operation from the Home Office and receiving funding from them (see also the article in the Mail by Guy Adams from July on this subject), and was Home Secretary from 1983 to 1985, during which time he received a series of dossiers from Tory MP relating to networks of high profile abusers and others. These have mysteriously gone missing (amid suspicions that they may have been destroyed) and an inquiry is underway run by Peter Wanless, chair of the NSPCC, as to what happened to them (see here for the statement by Theresa May on July 7th, and also here and here . As regards Harman, she was legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties during a period when they were affiliated to the Paedophile Information Exchange, had a PIE member as their gay rights officer, and even advertised in PIE’s journal Magpie (there are many more articles which have been published on this subject during the course of the year, easily found through Googling – especially important are those by Guy Adams and Martin Beckford; see also the index of my various pieces of documentary evidence on NCCL and PIE).

The Times detailed the connection between Woolf and Brittan on Saturday, September 6th (not available online, reproduced below), then on Sunday, September 7th, an article by Martin Beckford and Simon Murphy in the Mail on Sunday provided further information, including that Woolf judges an annual City award scheme alongside Lord Brittan’s wife Diana, that she gave a £50 donation to Brittan’s wife for a charity fun-run, and is a neighbour of Lord and Lady Brittan in the same street.

Following a smattering of other articles questioning all of this, an important piece was published in The Guardian on Tuesday September 9th by the Labour MP for Rochdale Simon Danczuk, who has been at the forefront of the campaign for an inquiry and whose appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee on July 1st, 2014 was a major catalyst for greater public awareness of the Dickens dossiers handed to Brittan and wider claims of a cover-up, leading to widespread media coverage and the announcement of the inquiry (the further appearance at HASC on July 8th by Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill made clear that there were many questions to be asked, and that a previous internal investigation had been far from satisfactory).

Danczuk’s article was sharply critical about the choice of May’s judgement; he clarified that he had spoken to the Home Secretary before the appointment was announced, but could now see that ‘even the most basic of checks would have revealed glaring problems with Woolf that were always going to cause difficulties and ensure victims had no confidence in the process’. Today (Thursday September 11th, 2014), Danczuk tweeted to make clear that he had asked the Leader of the House, William Hague, for a debate about links between Woolf and Brittan. The full Parliamentary question and Hague’s answer can be read here and viewed here at 10:55:28. Danczuk went further than previously in saying that Brittan is ‘alleged to be at the heart of the paedophile scandal and cover-up surrounding Westminster‘. However, Hague merely replied that Woolf ‘is a very distinguished person, well able to conduct this inquiry with the very highest standards of integrity’, etc, so it looks like no such debate is likely to be forthcoming. Woolf herself is currently away on a 10-day lobbying trip to Southern Africa, and has not responded to any of the issues raised about her connections.

This selection process has revealed much about how close-knit are many members of the British establishment, and how questionable it is that some individuals could not be seen to have major conflicts of interest (as with the previous appointment of Baroness Butler-Sloss, whose brother Michael Havers was alleged to have been involved in covering up other investigations in the 1980s).

But it is worth considering who is making the decision not to allow even a debate on this: William Hague. Hague was Brittan’s successor as MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, in 1989, following Brittan’s appointment as a European commissioner. An article from June 15th, 1997, in the Sunday Times (reproduced below) makes clear that Hague was himself appointed as a part-time speechwriter for Geoffrey Howe after having been recommended by Brittan (then working as Chief Secretary to the Treasury when Howe was Chancellor), who had spotted him at a visit to the Oxford Union. Recently released documents from the National Archives make clear that it was only because of Thatcher’s intervention that Hague did not get the job fulltime, as Howe and Brittan wanted. The 1989 article from The Times printed below makes clear, Hague lived in Brittan’s country home in the run up to the Richmond by-election. As a column by Nigel Dempster reproduced below makes clear, Hague also liked to go hill-walking with Brittan. Furthermore, former MP and leader of the Welsh Tories Rod Richard has claimed that the late MP Peter Morrison (PPS to Margaret Thatcher), who was known by several other colleagues to be a ‘pederast’, was involved in the abuse of children in North Wales, and as Welsh Secretary at the time the inquiry was called in 1996, Hague ‘should have seen the evidence’, though this was denied by Hague’s office. Former Tory Party Chairman Norman Tebbit (now Lord Tebbit) has admitted that he heard rumours about Morrison (who was his deputy for a period); Tebbit, to his credit, is one of the few senior Tories who has admitted there likely was a cover-up of high level abuse during the 1980s. A new edition of the diaries of former MP and Morrison’s successor in the constituency of Chester, Gyles Brandreth, Breaking the Cover, is due out on September 18th, and apparently promises more information on Morrison.

Is Hague an impartial judge on this? For there to be faith in the inquiry, there must be no glaring conflicts of interest. And any such conflicts of interest need to be able to be debated openly in Parliament.

[My further thanks to Daniel De Simone for locating and sending the Times and Sunday Times articles, and his amazing work in locating information in general]

The Times
, January 10th, 1989
Peter Davenport, ‘Tory rising star aims for Brittan country’

Mr William Hague the one-time teenage hope of the Conservative Party and now the aspiring successor to Sir Leon Brittan as MP for the rural constituency of Richmond (Yorks), was, literally and politically, making himself at home at the weekend.

He is living at Sir Leon’s country home in Spennithorne, near by, while Britain’s new EEC Commissioner settles into a town house in Brussels. On Saturday Mr Hague, who was selected as prospective parliamentary candidate from 363 applicants, took constituency surgeries.

Was it not being over-confident, even with a 19,567 majority bequeathed by Sir Leon who represented Richmond for five years?

“I am not being presumptuous or taking anything for granted. I just wanted to be as helpful as I can to constituents.”

Mr Hague, whose family runs a soft drinks company in South Yorkshire, is aged 27. He has a schoolboy fresh face and fine blond hair but a liking for “country” sports jackets and cavalry twills a “young fogey”, someone said.

He has been a political “name” for some time. Eleven years ago, at the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool and aged only 16, he delivered a barnstorming speech that had the faithful, including Mrs Margaret Thatcher, on their feet. Here, she enthused, was the future of the party.

Such praise, Mr Hague reflected, could be a double-edge sword. “It has its assets and disadvantages. It was all 11 years ago and I thought then, as I do now, that it was all blown out of proportion.”

He contested a Labour seat in South Yorkshire at the last general election and took some pride in increasing the Conservative vote.

Mr Hague emphasizes that he is taking nothing for granted and will fight the seat as if he had a majority of one.

So far candidates have been selected by Labour, the Democrats, SDP and the Greens.

General election: Mr Leon Brittan (C) 34,995; Mr David Lloyd-Williams (L/All) 15,419; Mr Frank Robson (Lab) 6,737. Majority: 19,576.

Daily Mail
, August 8th, 1995
Nigel Dempster, ‘Hague brings back the Birch’

JUST as cynics were beginning to despair that not very Welsh Secretary William Hague would ever find a woman to share his elation at becoming the youngest Cabinet member, an old flame has re-appeared on the scene.

Wonderboy William (whose idea of fun is to go hillwalking with Sir Leon Brittan) has been stepping out with an old schoolfriend from Wath-upon-Dearne Comprehensive in Yorkshire called Kim Birch.

At 34 she is the same age as the MP for Richmond.

‘William and Kim have had an on-off relationship for the past ten years,’ says a chum. ‘She recently went with him for a short tour of America and some of us did wonder if they would return engaged. But they didn’t.’

When William dated his last girlfriend, Barbara Kyriakou, four years ago (the relationship lasted a year) some sceptics wondered if the liaison could be cannily political – she was, after all, PA to John Major’s then PPS, Sir Graham Bright. Kim, however, has absolutely nothing to do with politics: she is a secretary in a firm of accountants. In which case it must be love.

The Sunday Times
, June 15th, 1997
Michael Crick, ‘Just William?’

SundayTimes 150697 - Michael Crick on William Hague

The Times
, September 6th, 2014.
Frances Gibb and Laura Pitel, ‘London’s lord mayor to chair sex abuse inquiry’

The lord mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, is to be chairwoman of the government’s independent inquiry into historical child sex abuse.

The long-awaited appointment of Mrs Woolf, a leading corporate lawyer, comes after Baroness Butler-Sloss stepped down in July following concerns over potential conflicts of interest arising from the fact that her brother, Lord Havers, was attorney-general at the time of some of the events to be investigated.

Mrs Woolf, a former president of the Law Society and only the second woman mayor of the City of London, is widely liked and respected. However there are concerns about her lack of experience in family or criminal law — although that will be mitigated by the knowledge members of her team have.

It also emerged that she is the President of TheCityUK’s Advisory Council and Lord Brittan, the former home secretary who is likely to be investigated as part of the inquiry, is a member of that council.

Lord Brittan is at the centre of a furore about the way the Home Office handled a dossier on child sex abuse by senior politicians when he was in charge of the department. The dossier was subsequently lost.

A Whitehall source said that the Home Office had approached a series of other candidates with more experience than Mrs Woolf but many had been deterred by the level of public scrutiny faced by Lady Butler-Sloss before her resignation.

Professor Alexis Jay, author of the recent report into abuse in Rotherham, will act as an expert adviser to the panel, said the Home Office, and Ben Emmerson, the leading criminal and human rights QC, will serve as counsel to the inquiry.

Also on Mrs Woolf’s team is Graham Wilmer, a child sexual abuse victim and founder of the Lantern Project, and Barbara Hearn, the former deputy head of the National Children’s Bureau.

The inquiry will examine how the country’s institutions handled their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse over a period of decades.

Abuse in Lambeth, Operation Ore, and the Blair Minister(s) – Press Reports so far [Updated November 2014]

In amidst the reporting of the scandals involving Elm Guest House and the VIP ring alleged to have attended there, less has been widely known about a distinct series of events alleged to involve a senior Labour minister, or perhaps more than one. Here I present a wide range of articles dealing with two areas: organised child abuse in Lambeth, and Operation Ore, which identified numerous prominent people as involved in the purchase of images of child abuse – including a Blair cabinet minister. I first give the range of articles mostly from the 1980s and 1990s on Lambeth, leading to Operation Middleton, then those from the early 2000s on Operation Ore (including a significant piece from Counterpunch magazine) and one looking back on this, then finally a series of recent articles mostly from the Mirror from 2013 and this year by crime correspondent Tom Pettifor, which also suggest the involvement of a Blair cabinet minister in a ring operating in Lambeth homes. First of all it is important to note that all the ministers who have been identified by investigators may be entirely innocent, also that Operations Middleton and Ore might be dealing with entirely different alleged ministers (in which case there is the possibility of a whole three Blair cabinet ministers having been under suspicion for sexual offences involving children). But there may also be overlaps. I provide this material for reference purposes for others looking into these events.

Profound thanks are due to Charlotte Russell for her help in collating together articles for this post, and of course to Murun of the Spotlight blog , who first located and copied most of the scanned clippings used below.


From ‘How Margaret Hodge’s policies allowed paedophiles to infiltrate Islington children’s homes’, Spotlight, April 30th, 2013

[….] The gay liberation movement had been infiltrated by paedophiles as early as 1975. There were paedophiles posing as gay men and hiding behind the gay rights banner to avoid detection. The largest and most influential organisation in the gay rights movement was the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). At their national conference in Sheffield in 1975 they voted to give paedophiles a bigger role in the gay rights movement. CHE were affilated to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), who campaigned for the age of consent to be reduced to 4, which would effectively legalise paedophilia. Copies of PIE’s manifesto were sold at CHE conferences.

This association between the gay rights movement and paedophiles carried on for years, and was still going strong in 1983 when Margaret Hodge decided to proactively hire gays (and therefore paedophiles) to work with children at Islington Council. In September 1983, Capital Gay reported that CHE had “stepped up support for the Paedophile Information Exchange”.

It’s hard to believe that Margaret Hodge wasn’t aware that the gay rights movement had been infiltrated by paedophiles, and that many ostensibly ‘gay’ men were in fact paedophiles. Her late husband, Henry Hodge, was chairman of the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL) since 1974, and the NCCL were affiliated to the Paedophile Information Exchange. In 1978, the Protection of Children Bill was put before Parliament, and the NCCL’s official response stated that images of child abuse should only be considered ‘indecent’ if it could be proved that the child had suffered harm. The document was signed by the NCCL’s legal officer, Harriet Harman, who along with her husband Jack Dromey (also an NCCL official), were close friends of the Hodges.

The council’s policy also stated that any gay man (and therefore also a paedophile who claimed he was gay) would be protected from harassment. This meant that staff members who made allegations of child abuse against gay (or paedophile) members of staff would be accused of harassment, and any disciplinary action was dropped. This also meant that staff that should have been investigated had ‘clean’ ecords and were allowed to gon on and abuse children at other children’s homes after they left Islington.

From The White Report, 1995: “…it is apparent from this analysis that the London Borough of Islington did not in most cases undertake the standard investigative processes that should have been triggered when they occurred. It is possible, therefore that some staff now not in the employment of Islington could be working in the field of Social Services with a completely clean disciplinary record and yet have serious allegations still not investigated in their history.” The report went on to say that Islington Council was “paralysed by equal opportunity“, and “the policy of positive discrimination in Islington has had serious unintended consequences in allowing some staff to exploit children for their own purposes.”

Islington Council had adopted another policy the previous year which meant that any firms wanting a grant or loan from the council would have to “produce evidence of their commitment not to discriminate against gay staff”. This meant that companies associated with Islington’s children’s homes would also have difficulty reporting paedophiles without being accused of homophobia. This may explain how one of the staffing agencies used by Islington Council had also been infiltrated by paedophiles.

Islington was probably the first council to implement a policy that made it easier for paedophiles to work with children. In September 1983 it looked like Islington were influencing Lambeth Council to implement the same policy. Lambeth also went on to have a paedophile network operating in its children’s homes, over 200 children were believed to have been abused.

Daily Star, August 1st, 1983

Star 010883 - Mr Nasty

Capital Gay, September 30th, 1983

Capital Gay 030983 - Pressure mounts on Lambeth Council

News of the World, October 23rd, 1983

“In Lambeth, London, 124 youngsters have been separated from friends and moved to alternative homes as far away as North Wales“

Did Lambeth Council also send children to Bryn Alyn? Neighbouring council Southwark did – see Southwark Council and Bryn Alyn – and child sexual abuse was rife in both Lambeth and Southwark children’s homes at the time.

News of the World 231083 - Anguish of Care Kids

Social Work Today, November 11th, 1985

Social Work Today 111185 - New child care strategy

Daily Express, May 15th, 1986

Express 150586a - Guilty - Social worker in rent boy scandal

Express 150586b - Guilty - Social worker in rent boy scandal

Community Care, July 31st, 1986

Community Care 310786 - Inquiries into alleged sex assault on child in care

Daily Mail, September 1st, 1986

Daily Mail 010986 - Police quiz on child sex at council home

Evening Standard, September 1st, 1986

Evening Standard 010986 - Council home children 'abused'

Daily Mail, September 2nd, 1986

Daily Mail 020986 - Sex change shock at council home

The Guardian, September 2nd, 1986

Guardian 020986a - Children's home inquiry

South London Press, September 2nd, 1986

South London Press 020986 - Home probe

The Times, September 2nd, 1986

Scotland Yard is investigating claims of sexual abuse by staff on mentally handicapped children at a nursing home in south London.

The police said yesterday that an inquiry into the allegations had begun after a complaint by the mother of a boy aged 12 at the Monkton Street Nursing Home in Kennington.

Staff at the home, which is run by Lambeth council, are being interviewed by detectives.

Lambeth council, which is also carrying out its own investigations into the claims, said yesterday that the police were talking about attacks on at least six young people.

The boy at the centre of the allegations has a mental age of four.

But, according to his mother, he is able to speak coherently and could tell her how serious his injuries were and how they happened.

Officials from Lambeth council hope to present a report shortly to Mrs Phyllis Dunipace, head of Lambeth’s social service committee.

Social Work Today, September 8th, 1986

Social Work Today 080986 - Police check on sex abuse allegations

The Guardian, September 22nd, 1986

Guardian 220986 - Social work shake-up

South London Press, October 3rd, 1986

South London Press 031086a - Cops quiz man on sex assault

South London Press, November 25th, 1986

South London Press 251186 - No charges in kids' home sex row

News of the World, November 31st, 1986

News of the World 311186 - Boy rape beasts escape the law

Daily Mail, December 3rd, 1986

Daily Mail 031286 - Evil men in child sex case 'must not go free'

South London Press, December 5th, 1986

South London Press 051286b - Cops rapped in sex abuse row

(2)South London Press, December 5th, 1986

South London Press 051286c - Charter to abuse

South London Press, December 19th, 1986

South London Press 191286 - Council curb on help for police

Daily Mail, January 16th, 1987

Daily Mail 160187 - Murder probe block

South London Press, January 16th, 1987

South London Press 160187 - Council Rocked by Nursery Sex Row

Evening Standard, October 19th, 1992

South London Press 191092a - Search for 200 boys in Lambeth abuse probe

South London Press 191092b - Search for 200 boys in Lambeth abuse probe

South London Press, October 20th, 1992

South London Press 201092a - Scandal of vile child sex ring

South London Press 201092b - Scandal of vile child sex ring

South London Press, November 27th, 1992

South London Press 271192a - Third arrest in child sex probe

South London Press, December 4th, 1992

South London Press 041292a - Scandal of kids' home boss prompts outcry

South London Press 041292b - Scandal of kids' home boss prompts outcry

The Guardian, December 5th, 1992

Guardian 051292 - Convicted child abuser 'allowed to stay as children's home boss'

South London Press, December 8th, 1992

South London Press 081292a - Top level inquiry into kids' homes

South London Press 081292b - Top level inquiry into kids' homes

Community Care, December 10th, 1992

Community Care 101292 - Sex offence home head prompts Lambeth inquiry

South London Press, December 11th, 1992

South London Press 111292 - Guideline on kids' homes staff

Community Care, December 17th, 1992

Community Care 171292 - More Lambeth workers charged with alleged sex offences

South London Press, December 1992

South London Press 1292

[Bulic Forsythe, who worked as a manager at Clapham for Lambeth social services, and often wrote important policy documents relating to Health and Safety, was last seen alive on February 24th, 1993. His daughter was due in May. His body was found on February 26th, soaked with blood, his skull having been fractured with a heavy weapon, in a burning building. The dates given in the Mirror report from 21/5/14 (see at end of this post) do not coincide with those in the Crimewatch report, which I use here]

Crimewatch, June 1993
Report on the murder of Bulic Forsythe

The Guardian, August 4th, 1993

Guardian 040893 - Children's home manager with conviction kept in job by council

Community Care, January 13th, 1994

Community Care 130194 - Silence money

Care Weekly, February 10th, 1994

Care Weekly 100294 - Residential worker abused three boys in Lambeth home

South London Press, April 7th, 1995

South London Press 070495 - Porn terror gang is out to get me

South London Press, May 12th, 1995

South London Press 120595 - Child sex pervert's 6000 pay off

South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260595a - Porn ring report sensation

South London Press 260595b - Porn ring report sensation

South London Press 260595c - Porn ring report sensation

South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260596 - Violence threat to sleaze fighter

South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260595 - Was manager beaten to death for probing fraud

South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260595 - Stash of paedophile videos

South London Press 260595b - Stash of paedophile videos

South London Press, May 31st, 1995

South London Press 310595a - Under Fire

South London Press 310595b - Under Fire

South London Press 310595c - Under Fire

South London Press 310595d - Under Fire

South London Press 310595e - Under Fire

South London Press 310595f - Under Fire

South London Press, June 2nd, 1995

South London Press 020695 - Petrol attack to silence rape victim

South London Press 020695 - Godfather tried to block rape investigation

South London Press, June 9th, 1995

South London Press 090695a - A letter to member of staff

South London Press 090695b - A letter to member of staff

South London Press 090695c - A letter to member of staff

South London Press, June 13th, 1995

South London Press 130695a - Murder bid on porn witness

South London Press 130695b - Murder bid on porn witness

‘Paedophile on the run given job with children’
The Independent, August 2nd, 1996

A paedophile with convictions stretching back 41 years attacked two schoolboys after being employed by a local authority at an Astroturf football pitch, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

John Roberts, 63, who was on the run from prison when he was taken on by a London council, was told by Judge Alan Hitching that he was facing a life term.

An Old Bailey jury convicted him of sexually abusing two boys aged seven and 13. Both have been left traumatised by their ordeal, it was revealed.

Roberts went on the run from jail while on home leave from an eight-year sentence and took an assumed name of William Lane.

He went to an employment agency and applied for the job of groundsman for Kennington Astroturf football pitch in south London. Lambeth council gave him the job at the pitch, which is used by hundreds of youngsters in the borough.

The court was not told whether the council had made any police checks.

Police revealed afterwards that he was in the process of starting up several boys’ football teams when he was arrested.

Roberts, of Peckham, south London, was found guilty of buggering and indecent assault on the seven-year-old and indecency with the 13-year- old. He was cleared of one charge of indecency with the younger boy. The offences occurred in October last year.

Roberts cursed the jury and continually interrupted the proceedings after the guilty verdicts. He was ordered to sit down and keep quiet or face being taken to the cells.

The judge told him: “This is the ninth offence of this nature and his passion in this direction is showing no signs of abating. I have to consider a very long jail term or a life sentence for the protection of the public and young children.”

He adjourned the case for pre-sentence and probation reports to be prepared. The judge also extended legal aid to Roberts’ defence team so a top QC could be employed to argue his case as he is facing such a long penalty.

Roberts worked for Lambeth for four months using his position of trust as a means of getting close to children, the court heard.

Edmond Brown, prosecuting, said: “He used his influence and his age to take advantage of two boys and invite them into his house.”

The court heard that he enticed the boys with money and by taking them to hamburger restaurants. The boys, who were not allowed to have any counselling until after the trial, gave their evidence via a video link.

A father of one of the boys saw Roberts follow his son into bushes at the ground and later warned him off.

But Roberts continued his activities. He gave the 13-year-old boy £15 and showed him and his seven-year-old friend pornographic pictures of children.

He carried out the attacks at his flat and when police raided it they found a Polaroid camera, gay magazines and condoms. He was caught after one of the boys told his father.

Community Care c.1999

Community Care c. 1996

South London Press, November 1997

In November 1997 the South London Press ran a story about a ‘sex chamber’ hidden in the basement of Lambeth Police Station with bedding, a red light, and a manacle. Was Lambeth Police Station being used by the paedophile ring to abuse children and produce child abuse images?

South London Press 1197b

South London Press 1197a

Sophie Goodchild, ‘Hunt for abused children’
Independent on Sunday, February 7th, 1999

MORE THAN 3,000 children are to be traced as part of an investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a string of care homes.

The Metropolitan Police and social workers are already conducting an inquiry into claims that a paedophile ring was operating in Lambeth children’s homes over a 20-year period.

Now a special team of social workers has been drafted in to search council archives for details of children who could also have been victims of abuse at the homes between 1974 and 1994.

Sources close to the investigation, called Operation Middleton, say that it could uncover a paedophile network spanning the country. The officer leading the inquiry, which is expected to take several years to complete, is Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini. He is understood to be reporting directly to Sir Paul Condon, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The investigation was originally triggered by claims that a young boy was raped at the Angell Road children’s home in Brixton by a residential worker who later died of an Aids-related illness.

The abuser has been named as Steve Forrest, a residential social worker who died in 1992 after contracting HIV. He had contact with many other children, whom the council fears he may have also abused. Another man, John Carroll, the former head of the Angell Road home, has since been charged by Merseyside police in connection with 69 indecent assaults on boys in Lambeth and in the Wirral.

The Angell Road home has been closed down along with others in the area as part of a drive to place children in private and voluntary care homes as well as with foster parents.

The Metropolitan Police refuse to confirm the cost of the inquiry but it is estimated that the bill will eventually cost as much as £3m and lead to compensation claims by former residents of the homes.

Lambeth council and the Metropolitan Police have been criticised in the past for failing to investigate thoroughly previous allegations of child abuse. However, the Met says it is working closely with Merseyside Police to ensure that all those who may have been affected are contacted and that evidence is gathered to secure prosecutions of any offenders.

Databases have been set up to provide information on all children and staff who lived and worked in Lambeth homes, and files and other sources of material have been placed in secure storage. A special building has been designated for the investigation team, consisting of 20 people, to ensure that detectives and social workers are able to liaise with each other.

The Met has also announced that it will be offering a counselling and support service both to the victims of the alleged crimes, and to their families.

The report into the allegations of abuse in the homes is expected to be made public once it has been completed.

Local Government Chronicle, May 21st, 1999

Pennie Pennie, assistant director of the children and families division of Lambeth LBC social services, has been suspended while an independent inquiry investigates allegations of child abuse at children’s homes in the borough in the 1980s, reports the South London Press (p7).The inquiry is running in conjunction with a Metropolitan Police and social services investigation called Operation Middleton, which is aiming to trace the 3,000 children who lived in council-run children’s homes in Lambeth in the 1980s.

Daily Mail, July 6th, 1999

Daily Mail 060799 - He was a convicted pervert

Kim Sengupta, ‘Care worker had paedophile record’
The Independent, July 6th, 1999

A SOCIAL worker who carried out dozens of sex attacks was allowed to keep his job as the head of a children’s home, despite the fact that local authority officials knew he had been convicted of a paedophile offence.

The decision by Lambeth Council in south London not to dismiss Michael Carroll after learning about his indecent assault on a 12-year-old boy emerged yesterday as he pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to 35 charges of child sex abuse over 20 years.

The council found out about Carroll’s conviction in l986 when he was running a children’s home in the borough, and issued him with a written warning. He was dismissed five years later after an investigation into financial irregularities.

Heather Rabbatts, Lambeth’s chief executive, admitted last night that the decision not to sack Carroll was a “serious error” which would not happen under today’s regulations. “Knowing what we know today about the nature of these offences and the nature of those who commit them, it was a mistake not to have dismissed this man. However, different legislation applied at that time and Carroll was allowed to continue in his post,” she said.

Ms Rabbatts, who was not in charge while Carroll was employed, said restrictions imposed by police and social services inquiries into alleged child abuses meant no further details about his actions as a council employee could be disclosed.

Scotland Yard has amassed a database of 14,500 names of children in the borough’s care between l974 and l995. Lambeth closed all its homes for children in care in l995 in response to concern about abuse.

Yesterday, Carroll, 50, of Oswestry, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to 24 indecent assaults, five cases of buggery and five of attempted buggery, and one act of gross indecency against 12 boys. All the offences took place while he was working in residential care in Merseyside and London between l966-86.

Carroll was originally charged with 76 offences. The Recorder let the remaining indictments lie on file. Sentencing will take place on 30 July.

Carroll, who was born in Liverpool and grew up in care, studied child care and obtained qualifications at Liverpool and Salford universities and the Mabel Fletcher College, Liverpool. He got a job at St Edmund’s Orphanage in Bebington, Merseyside, in the mid-Sixties and in l978 became deputy officer at a children’s home in Lambeth, taking charge in l980.

He was convicted of indecent assault against a 12-year-old in l966 when he was at St Edmund’s Orphanage. He failed to declare this conviction when he took up the post in Lambeth, but it came to light in l986 through police checks when he applied to foster two children from another borough.

Following a written warning, Carroll continued in his post until his dismissal over allegations of financial malpractice in l991. He moved to Chirk, Clwyd, and bought a hotel business. In l997 he came under suspicion during a major investigation into child abuse launched by Merseyside Police. He was arrested shortly afterwards.

Local Government Chronicle, July 15th, 1999

A former Lambeth care home manager has admitted 35 counts of child abuse over 18 years.Michael John Carroll pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to charges which included buggery of three boys, the youngest aged eight.Nine of the victims lived in a Wirral orphanage where Carroll worked and three lived at a children’s home in Lambeth where he was deputy officer in charge.Lambeth LBC and the Metropolitan Police have launched a joint investigation, called Operation Middleton, into paedophile activity in children’s homes in the borough between 1974 and 1998.Lambeth member and social services and health secretary Julie Brodie said: ‘We are now sadder and wiser about paedophile activities, and the resources and techniques now available to investigators make for a much higher detection rate.’

The Guardian, October 1st, 1999

Guardian 011099 - 'Shocking' lapses by council in abuse case

Local Government Chronicle, October 19th, 1999

Lambeth LBC has resolved not to go ahead with plans to outsource areas of social services involving children after Unison distributed a letter addressed to Heather Rabbatts, the chief executive, to Labour members.The South London Press (p10) reported that the Labour-run council had planned to externalise the fostering and adoption section of the social services department. But after a party group meeting, it was resolved not to go ahead with the plan.In the letter to Ms Rabbatts, Lambeth branch secretary Jon Rogers says: ‘Unison is concerned that the council may be on the brink of hasty and ill-advised action in relation to the current concerns about child protection work in Lambeth.’He continues: ‘We have expressed our concerns about the current circumstances in which our members are striving to protect children and young people directly to investigators from ‘Chile’ – the child team [part of Operation Middleton, the police and social services joint investigation probing possible paedophile activity in Lambeth’s children’s homes during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.]’Unison is unhappy at the way staff are being probed by Chile. Mr Rogers says: ‘We want, as a trade union, to be able to encourage our members to provide the fullest support in any investigation into the possibility of abuse of children and young people for whom the council has had a responsibility.’Our ability to do this and the confidence of our members in the investigation is hindered if there is any room for a perception that the investigators are being used to pursue selective investigation of particular issues in order to justify existing decisions to suspend particular employees.’We are obliged to tell you that there is, at present, considerable room for such a perception, snd that is quite widely held.’

Daily Mail, February 18th, 2000

Daily Mail 180200a - Even Worse

Daily Mail 180200b - Even Worse

Justin Davenport, ’40 hunted in Lambeth paedophile gang probe’
The Evening Standard, February 18th, 2000

DETECTIVES investigating a paedophile ring which operated in Lambeth children’s homes over a 20-year period are focusing on around 40 key suspects who have yet to be traced.

The inquiry into the Lambeth homes was launched more than a year ago after a former care worker in the borough was jailed for 10 years for abusing 12 boys.
The social worker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, carried out a string of child sex attacks over two decades while working in residential care in Merseyside and London between 1966-86.

Today police renewed appeals for former residents of the children’s homes to contact them in an effort to trace suspects at the centre of the abuse scandal.

Detectives fear many could still be working in the care system. The move comes as the Department of Health said that all 28 missing suspects from the North Wales child abuse scandal had been tracked down. One was found to be still working with children in Stoke-on-Trent and she had been suspended.

Officers involved in the Lambeth investigation, codenamed Operation Middleton, are liaising with colleagues in north Wales and Merseyside and believe the jailed social worker was a member of a network of paedophiles nationwide.

Around 11,000 children were cared for in Lambeth homes during the period of the investigation between 1974 and 1995 but police say the number of victims is expected to be far less than that.

Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini said: “The scale of the problem is not yet known. We are still trying to find out where these people are. We are trying to trace offenders because clearly there is a community safety aspect.”

The investigation was originally triggered by claims that a young boy was raped at the Angell Road children’s home in Brixton by residential worker Steve Forrest, who died in 1992 from an Aids-related illness. Angell Road and other homes in the area have since been closed as part of a campaign to place children in private and voluntary care home