Attacks not mentioned at secret meeting.

A HIGH-ranking member of MI5/MI6 met a UVF delegation just weeks after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Secret papers reveal that four men from the loyalist paramilitary group met with senior intelligence officer Michael Oatley aafter it had detonated bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974, killing 33 people.


Senior British government official James Allan also attended the meeting on May 27 at a house in Hollywood, Co Down, known as Laneside. A long-serving MI6 operator, Mr Oatley had strong contacts with both republican and loyalist groups througout the Troubles and is beleived to have been instrumental in the process that ultimatley resulted in the Provisional IRA calling its 1994 ceasefire. The UVF delegation comprised West Belfast man Ken Gibson, beleived to have been the leader of the UVF in 1974, and three other men who are named in the recently uncovered document. Laneside was regulary used by British officils as a discreet location to meet and hold talks with both loyalists and nationalist representatives in the 1970’s. Staffed by various Northern Ireland Office and British government officials, it was also used by officers of MI6, the international arm of the British Secret Services. Documents recentiy uncovered by the Pat Finucance Centre in Derry reveal that MI6 officials meet the four-stong UVF delegation ovef two days. The meetings took place less than two weeks after three UVF bombs exploded in Dublin and one in Monaghan as the Ulster Workers Strike was nearing an end. Despite this, no mention of the atrocities was made during the minutes.

Instead, in a summary of the meeting prepared by James Allan, it has emerged he was keen to protect senior UVF men from arrest. ” The UVF’s relationship with us has become very stange,” he said. ” They are desperately in need of advice as to how to achieve their aims of ensuring working class, and above all UVF participation in politics and they seek this even though they know that there are basic differences between them and HMG on the strike. ” Further, they are clearly worried that their position may be undermined by arrest of UVF leaders. (I beleive we should think very carefully before action is taken vis a vis UVF politicals and I should be greatful to have the opportunity to comment on possible arrest lists).” Two days later, on May 29, Ken Gibson and a second UVF man returned to Laneside for more talks. During these discussions it emerged that the UVF leaders claimed both they and former first minister, then leader of the DUP, Ian Paisley, now Lord Bannside, were supportive of talks with republicans.

The government summary of the meeting said : ” Despite their rough words in public politicians, including Rev Ian Paisley, were in favour of conversations with the IRA.” It would be more than three decades before the DUP leader finally went into goverenment with Sinn Fein at the Stormont assembly. The UVF men also revealed their support for the Price sisters, Dolours and Marian, who at the time were on hungerstrike in an English jail.”ThePrice sisters should be returned to Ireland as should loyalist prisoners like Billy Campbell held in Scotland,” reported James Allan. ” Mr Gibson suggested the loyalist leaders would probably start a ccampaign for the return of all such prisoners. ” Part of their aim in doing so would show solidarity with republicans.” Margaret Irwin from Justice for the Forgotten, a group that represents the families of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, said she was concerned about the files. ” The thing that is very disturbing is that the British government were considering not arresting UVF leaders especially coming in the wake of the bombings,”  she said. ” It brings home the importance of the British government being up front in relation to undisclosed files.”

With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.

Uncovered: British reporters who are MI5 spooks

While it might be difficult to identify precisely the impact of the spooks (variously represented in the press as  ”intelligence”,  ”security”,  ”Whitehall” or  ”Home Office” sources) on mainstream politics and media, from the limited evidence it looks to be enormous.

As Roy Greenslade, media blogger at the Guardian, and editor of theMirror at the time of the Gulf crisis in 1991, commented:  ”Most tabloid newspapers  — or even newspapers in general  — are playthings of MI5″. Spy novelist John le Carré, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has even claimed that the British secret servicethen controlled large parts of the press  — just as they may do today.

Secret Intelligence Service

Investigative journalist David Leigh records a series of instances in which the secret services manipulated prominent journalists. He says reporters are routinely approached by intelligence agents:  ”I think the cause of honest journalism is best served by candour. We all ought to come clean about these approaches and devise some ethics to deal with them. In our vanity, we imagine that we control these sources. But the truth is that they are very deliberately seeking to control us.”

John Simpson, BBC world affairs editor, describes in his autobiography how he was once approached by a  ”man from MI5″. He said:  ”At some point they might make me broadcast something favourable to them. Or they might just ask me to carry a message to someone. You never knew,” he said. But Simpson adds:  ”It doesn’t do journalists any good to play footsie with MI5 or the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS); they get a bad reputation.”

Observer foreign correspondent Mark Frankland talks in his autobiography of his time in SIS in the late 1950s and comments:  ”Journalists working abroad were natural candidates for agents and particularly useful in places such as Africa where British intelligence was hurrying to establish itself.”

Jonathan Bloch and Patrick Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of  ”one of Britain’s most distinguished journals” as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in theGuardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists. Many journalists have admitted wanting actually to become spies: Taki, theSpectator’s  ”High Life” correspondent, has confessed he tried to become a CIA agent after he found out that his father had been one. The BBC Newsnightpresenter Jeremy Paxman approached a SIS recruiter at university but was turned down.

English: Sir Richard Billing Dearlove, KCMG, O...
English: Sir Richard Billing Dearlove, KCMG, OBE (born 23 January 1945) was head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1999 until 6 May 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of the most important research into the links between hacks and spooks has been conducted by Phillip Knightley, author of The First Casualty published in 2000, a seminal history of war correspondents, and The Second Oldest Profession(1987), a history of the intelligence services. He has even claimed that at least one intelligence agent is working on every Fleet Street newspaper.

In particular Knightley has highlighted the activities, immediately after the Second World War, of the Kemsley Imperial and Foreign Service, better known by its cable address, Mercury. It was part of the Kemsley and then the Thomson chain of newspapers, which provided foreign news and features to papers likeThe Sunday Times and the Empire News. The head of Mercury was Ian Fleming, celebrated author of the James Bond spy novels. Fleming, who had served in British naval intelligence during the war, controlled as head of Mercury a worldwide network of journalists many of whom had wartime intelligence backgrounds.

According to Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian security specialist, there is a category of people who are particularly attractive to intelligence agencies:  ”They may be informers, arms dealers, businessmen, even journalists. Their common value is their special access to groups or targets which the agencies have in their sights but cannot reach on their own. And if anything goes wrong, the agencies can always resort to the well-worn defence of  ’plausible deniability’.”

Thus during the later 1950s, MI6 began recruiting on a massive scale anyone (journalists, businessmen, academics) who might be useful on their travels to the Soviet bloc to gather intelligence  — and perhaps even help with introductions to Soviet official who might be  ”turned”.

Intelligence gathering during the miners’ strike of 1984-85 was helped by the fact that during the 1970s MI5′s F Branch had made a special effort to recruit industrial correspondents  — with great success, according to Stephen Dorril, author of a seminal history of MI6. Guardian journalist Seumas Milne claimed that three quarters of Fleet Street’s industrial correspondents were at that time agents for MI5 or for Scotland Yard’s Special Branch.

In 1991, just before his mysterious death, Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell was accused by the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in his book, The Sampson Option, of acting for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though Dorril suggests his links with MI6 were equally as strong. In particular, Maxwell was suspected of orchestrating the discrediting and exposure of Mordechai Vanunu after he revealed the existence of Israel’s nuclear programme, in The Sunday Times of October 5 1986.

Since September 11 2001, all of Fleet Street has been awash in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats. The former UN arms inspector, Scott Ritter, revealed in his book, Iraq Confidential, the existence of an MI6-run psychological warfare effort, known as Operation Mass Appeal. According to Ritter:  ”Mass Appeal served as a focal point for passing MI6 intelligence on Iraq to the media, both in the UK and around the world. The goal was to help shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD.” MI6 propaganda specialists, at the time, claimed they could spread the misinformation through  ”editors and writers who work with us from time to time”.

Thus from this evidence alone it is clear there has been a long history of links between hacks and spooks. But as the secret state grows in power, through massive resourcing, through a whole raft of legislation  — such as the Official Secrets Act, the anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and so on  — and as intelligence moves into the heart of ex-British leader Tony Blair and prime minister Gordon Brown’s ruling clique so these links are even more significant.

Richard Lance Keeble is professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln.

WITH THANKS TO : Independent Republican News

%d bloggers like this: