Sir Maurice Oldfield, MI6 And Kincora – And How MI5 Creates ‘False Files’ To Fool The Police

These are more intriguing excerpts from Judge Tony Hart’s inquiry into Kincora which may not have received the coverage they deserved at the time of his report’s publication in 2017:

Visits by officials to Kincora

603 At page 145 of his book The Kincora Scandal, Chris Moore refers to an account by a former Military Intelligence Officer he refers to as “Dennis” driving a civilian to Kincora “at the end of 1975 or early in 1976”. The Inquiry has been able to identify “Dennis”, and at the Inquiry’s request the MoD traced Dennis who provided a witness statement to the Inquiry. In it he described how he was instructed to drive an unnamed visitor to East Belfast. He collected his passenger at HQNI at night, he believes around 7pm. At his passenger’s direction he drove to a house in East Belfast that he now knows to be Kincora. His passenger entered the building where he remained for a period which Dennis describes as not being sufficiently longer or shorter than an hour, ie, approximately one hour. When his passenger emerged Dennis drove him back to HQNI.

604 His passenger did not identify himself, but Dennis said he formed the impression his passenger was most probably civilian rather than military, something he thought little of at the time Dennis described the man as, “aged approximately mid-40s with somewhat curly dark hair, about 5ft 7 inches in height, slim build, pointed features and wearing what appeared to be a suit under a fawn coloured raincoat”. This description of the episode conveys a remarkable grasp of detail of an other wise unremarkable event 40 years before, even allowing for the possibility that Dennis was able to refresh his memory from the account he gave to Chris Moore in the course of Mr Moore’s researches for The Kincora Scandal. It may be that there was a visit, but some of the detail may have been affected by the passage of time. If Dennis’s account is reliable, it suggests that the Army provided transport to and from Kincora, probably in early 1976, to a person who wished to visit what was by then known to several agencies to be McGrath’s place of work. That such an occasion occurred cannot be ruled out. There are two possible explanations for such a visit. The first is that there was a political, or security, intelligence purpose for the visit. Although Tara was believed to be of peripheral importance in early 1976, that does not mean it was necessarily of no importance. We cannot exclude the possibility that an official might wish to speak to McGrath about political matters, unlikely though that may appear to be in the light of all the references to which we have referred in which it is said that little was known of Tara in early 1976.

Sir Maurice Oldfield, thought to be the model for Le Carre’s ‘Smiley’ character

605 The other reason could be that it was for some form of sexual assignation or enquiry. Such a reason appears highly unlikely in view of all the evidence we examined in chapter 26 to the effect that none of the residents recall visitors by men coming to the building for such purposes.

606 If there was such a visitor, it cannot have been the occasion described by Richard Kerr. In chapter 26 we examined his description coming home early from school one day and entering a room with three men in it. Richard Kerr was at Kincora from July 1975 when he was fourteen and he reached the school leaving age of 16 in May 1977 when he was still living there. He was therefore a resident of Kincora during the winters of 1975 to 1976 and of 1976 to 1977. His account was that he came home early from school because it was snowing, so he must have returned in daylight hours The visit described by Dennis was at night, after 7pm when it was dark.

607 As we have explained, Richard Kerr has alleged that he was sexually abused by Sir Maurice Oldfield, but the description of his passenger given by Dennis makes it clear that the passenger was not Sir Maurice Oldfield. As can be seen from the photograph that accompanied his obituary in The Times of 12 March 1981 he was not slim, did not have dark curly hair, nor had he pointed features. By early 1976 he was 61 because he was born in November 1915.

Sir Maurice Oldfield

608 Apart from the allegation by Richard Kerr, allegations were made in the media after his death that Sir Maurice Oldfield visited Kincora, and/or had contact with McGrath. Sir Maurice Oldfield was a member of the SIS from 1947 and became Chief of the Service in 1973 and remained as Chief until he retired in January 1978. In October 1979 he was asked by the Prime Minister to take on the newly created post of Security Coordinator in Northern Ireland Because of the risk to his life that this post, and his previous history, created, he was assigned police officers in London who guarded his flat, and others who accompanied him when he left the flat. As the result of a casual conversation with the porter on the desk of the block of flats in which Sir Maurice lived that took place in November 1979, one of Sir Maurice’s protection officers was told that Sir Maurice was homosexual. The protection officer immediately reported this conversation to his superiors in the Metropolitan Police The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police reported this matter to the Home Secretary, who informed the Prime Minister. On 22 November 1979 the Secretary to the Cabinet wrote to the Permanent Undersecretary of the Home Office that the Prime Minister had decided that Sir Maurice’s appointment should not be extended, and should be brought to an end as soon as reasonably possible.

609 His appointment was terminated soon afterwards and Sir Maurice returned to private life in 1980. He soon became gravely ill and died aged 65 on 11 March 1981. Despite the necessity for dispensing with his services because of the revelation of his homosexuality, the Prime Minister wrote to him thanking him for his public service to which he replied on 25 June 1980

610 Because of the nature of his admissions and the concerns that these created that he may have been vulnerable to blackmail by foreign intelligence services there was considerable concern about the nature and extent of his homosexuality. In March 1980 he denied to the Secretary to the Cabinet that he was a practising homosexual, nevertheless a direction was given that a full review should be undertaken of his Positive Vetting clearance. An investigation was then carried out by MI5. The investigation included thirteen interviews of Sir Maurice between 25 April 1980 and 7 January 1981 during which his life since leaving school was thoroughly investigated.

611 The Director General of MI5 reported the outcome of the investigation to the Secretary of the Cabinet on 19 February 1981 In his letter to the Secretary of the Cabinet of 19 February 1981, Sir Howard Smith, the Director General of MI5, observed that whilst Sir Maurice: “revealed further details of his homosexual activities during the investigation, it is probable he did not admit the full extent of those activities It is clear that he was not very discreet in his homosexual relations and that he laid himself dangerously open to compromise [by foreign intelligence services] through his admitted homosexual relations with hotel stewards in the Far-East during the 1950s.

612 It is against that background of a possible, if not probable, failure by Sir Maurice Oldfield to disclose every aspect of the homosexual activities in which he had engaged that the Inquiry has examined the allegations that he may have visited Kincora, had dealings with McGrath, or may have had homosexual relations with residents of Kincora, whether as Head of the Secret Intelligence Service from 1973 until his retirement in January 1978, or during his subsequent period as Security Coordinator in Northern Ireland from October 1979.

613 One of the matters raised with him during an MI5 interview on 28 March 1980 was whether he had homosexual relations after he took up his position as Security Coordinator, to which he replied that it was quite impossible for him to have any such relations from the time he took up the “Irish appointment” and was placed under guard. Insofar as that remark may have included homosexual relations in London during his time as Security Coordinator that was almost certainly untrue as the circumstances which led to the discovery of his homosexuality suggest.

614 Nevertheless, so far as his time in Northern Ireland as Security Coordinator was concerned, while he was physically present in Northern Ireland Sir Maurice Oldfield was closely guarded for his own safety. His private secretary during his time as Security Coordinator explained to the RUC in 1982 that: “For security reasons Sir Maurice always travelled in Northern Ireland with a police escort and was accompanied by police officers whenever he left the Stormont Estate”. It would therefore have been extremely difficult for Sir Maurice Oldfield to have visited Kincora, or to have homosexual relations with anyone in Northern Ireland, without such a visit being known to his private secretary or the police officers who accompanied him, or without such relations being suspected.

615 SIS provided the Inquiry with a hand written note on a document created by another SIS Officer in 2001. The handwritten note reads:“MO was in N Ireland at the time”. This follows immediately after an entry which reads:“[redacted] Colin Wallace the Army Officer engaged in psyops in N Ireland in the 70s. He went to prison on a manslaughter conviction. On release he attempted to clear his name. It was a cause celebre”.

616 The Inquiry asked SIS to identify any material in SIS records that would enable the meaning of the comment, or what it referred to, to be understood SIS have told the Inquiry that the writer of the hand written paragraphs on the document is unknown, and the person who composed the type written note upon which these words were written left the Service in 2001, and efforts to contact the author had been unsuccessful. In 2001 someone in SIS appears to have believed that Sir Maurice Oldfield was in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, but the basis for that belief, and whether it was accurate or not, have not been established. If the SIS are correct, Sir Maurice would not have arrived in Northern Ireland until long after Colin Wallace left, in which case the unknown author of the note was mistaken. In their response to the Inquiry Warning Letter SIS suggested that it was more likely that the annotation was no more than a ‘flag’ for the writer or someone else to follow up at a later stage, and that there being nothing to pursue the matter required no further comment.

617 SIS Officer F worked in the IJS on behalf of SIS at HQNI from 1973 to 1975 His statement to the Inquiry suggests that Sir Maurice did not visit Northern Ireland in the early years of his period as Head of the SIS. However, Officer F’s statement does not assist in establishing whether Sir Maurice may have done so from 1975 to 1979 after Officer F’s service in Northern Ireland.

618 Whilst on balance the absence of any reference in the SIS records to Sir Maurice Oldfield being in Northern Ireland before he became Security Coordinator in 1979 is indicative that he was not, however, the absence of an explanation for the note to which we have referred means that we cannot put the matter any higher than that.

The 2011 SIS note

619 In 2011 SIS Officer G examined four ring binders with material relating to Sir Maurice Oldfield, including the 1980 MI5 investigation Officer G made the following comments at the start of his note “The relationship [Oldfield] had with the Kincora Boys’ Home (KBH) in Belfast and subsequent ‘rent boy sex scandal’ is, in my view the only remaining potential sensitivity in the papers. The sensitivity being that [Oldfield] may have a link to (by association through his friendship of the KBH Head) of the alleged crimes at the boys’ home. Given the current climate surrounding similar cases, it may at some point emerge as an issue”.

620 Paragraph five of the paper written by Officer G contains the following comment“More worryingly is the small collection of papers in file three which relate to the relationship [Oldfield] had with the Head of the Kincora Boys’ Home (KBH) in Belfast”.

621 The reference to a friendship with the Head of the KBH, obviously the Kincora Boys’ Home from the context, is potentially significant because, if correct, it is utterly at variance with the mass of evidence examined by the Inquiry suggesting that there could not have been any such relationship or friendship.

622 SIS Officer A has stated to the Inquiry that this was explored further with SIS Officer G in 2014 having reviewed his 2011 note, and the underlying material Officer G commented: “Having been given full access to the papers, though my focus was on volumes 1-3, I conclude that my original statement was imperfectly drafted. As it stands this particular sentence is at odds with that which immediately follows it “This institution became the focus of press allegations of a homosexual vice ring – [Oldfield] was never implicated” This appears to infer that when he drafted the 2011 note Officer G did not make it sufficiently clear in the opening sentences that what he was referring to were allegations relating to Sir Maurice Oldfield, and not to material from which it might be inferred, or confirmed, that the allegations might be true.

623 This was a highly contentious issue that had received a great deal of attention inside the SIS on occasions in the past, quite apart from equally detailed attention in other Government departments, as well as critical comments in Parliament and elsewhere. We were not impressed by the bland reference to the document being “imperfectly drafted”, and consider that the lack of care shown merits criticism. The Inquiry has examined all the material held by SIS relating to Sir Maurice Oldfield as described by SIS Officer A in his statement of 8 December 2016 and found nothing to indicate that Sir Maurice Oldfield ever visited Northern Ireland before he took up his appointment as Security Coordinator in October 1979.

625 Having reviewed all of the evidence we are satisfied that the allegations about Sir Maurice Oldfield’s connections with Kincora have no substance.

Allegations about other British Officials in the Northern Ireland Office

629 In early 1982 the then Political Correspondent of the BBC in Northern Ireland, the late W (Billy) D Flackes told Mr David Gilliland, who was the Director of Information Services for the Northern Ireland Office, that four former officials of the NIO had been concerned in homosexual activity, three of whom were believed to have been involved in homosexual offences against children. Mr Gilliland later told the police that Mr Flackes named the four officials as Peter England, Brian Watkins, Leslie Imrie and Peter Bell. It was also alleged to Mr Gilliland that the person who later became Sir Maurice Oldfield’s private secretary had been the subject of an attempted indecent assault by Peter England.

630 Mr Flackes was interviewed by D/Supt Caskey on 6 April 1982 about these allegations. He declined to make a written statement, but said that the information concerning the four officials was common gossip and had been for years. Mr Flackes said he had no knowledge of any criminal acts, and nothing to indicate a vice or prostitution ring.

631 Mr Hewitt who was Sir Maurice Oldfield’s private secretary while Sir Maurice was Security Coordinator in Northern Ireland, told the police that he had never been assaulted by Mr England. Mr England died on 24 August 1978/ Mr Bell was interviewed by D/Supt Caskey on 7 April 1982. He denied the allegations relating to him. Mr Imrie was interviewed on 26 April 1982 and provided a written statement dated 28 April 1982. He also denied the allegations and denied that he was homosexual. He referred to a report in Private Eye relating to his conviction in April 1979 for masturbating in a public place in London, saying that he denied the allegation and felt the outcome was unjust. He denied that he was homosexual, or having homosexual relationships while he was in Northern Ireland in 1972/197

632 Mr Flackes said these allegations were common gossip and had been circulating among journalists and others for years. The Inquiry has found no evidence to support the allegations that these individuals were involved with homosexual activity connected in any way with Kincora residents.

633 During the process of examination by the Inquiry of other files after the conclusion of the public hearings, Inquiry Counsel raised a number of issues with MI5, and their response to these issues was contained in a further witness statement by Witness 9004 dated 29 November 2016. We do not consider it necessary to refer to each of the matters raised therein; they can be seen in the statement which can be found at KIN4135 and following.

Reference by SIS Officer to an Agent ‘aware of sexual malpractice’

634 A reference by SIS Officer A in his witness statement of 27 May 2016 to “at least one agent who was aware of sexual malpractice at [Kincora] and who may have mentioned this to his SIS or Security Service Case officer” prompted Officer 9004 to deal with this. A Note for File dated 17 October 1989 which was written by MI5 Officer 1 contained a record of the meeting with the SIS Officer concerned. That note refers to a particular CHIS (Confidential Human Intelligence Source) whose identity is known to the Inquiry. MI5 Officer 1 expressed a view in that record that some of the information on the CHIS’s file could be “incorrectly interpreted”. In paragraph 9 of his witness statement Officer 9004 concluded:“Extensive reviews of its files enables MI5 to confirm that no MI5 CHIS produced intelligence about child abuse at Kincora prior to the media revelations of January 1980”.

Reference by ADCI to ‘false files’ in 1982

636 In a telex sent on 29/30 June 1982 by the MI5 Assistant Director and Coordinator of Intelligence (ADCI) he referred to the possibility of creating “false files” in anticipation of lines of enquiry which it was anticipated D/Supt Caskey would seek to follow in his Caskey Phase Three investigation into Kincora. The use of the expression “false files” demonstrates that a senior MI5 officer considered the possibility of creating a “false”, that is a misleading or untrue, file to show to the police. This reference could be interpreted to mean either (a) that such a file would be composed of fabricated documents, or (b) that genuine documents would be brought together from other files but placed in a single file in a manner that would conceal sensitive material. Whichever was in the officer’s mind when he used the expression, the use of the expression “false files” was at best unwise and at worst demonstrated a willingness to deceive the police.

637 The relevant portion of the telex relates to whether MI5 should disclose the identity of one of its agents to D/Supt Caskey because MI5 had not told the RUC Special Branch that the person was an MI5 source. The MI5 officer’s telex continued: “We will also ask HSB [Head of Special Branch]/DHSB [Deputy Head of Special Branch] about the status of this particular enquiry and what is likely to happen to any report that is produced. We assume Caskey is an astute police officer and we should be in difficulty if we attempt to deceive him and manufacture false files or deny the existence of real ones”.

638 The context of the telex makes it clear that the idea was only raised to be discarded by the officer concerned, and we are satisfied the suggestion was not pursued in this instance.

(My comment: so, were any false MI5 files given to Judge Hart’s inquiry?)

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