Secret Operations Led to Downfall of Thatcher Government


by Trowbridge H. Ford


Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was so alarmed, and furious over Captain Simon Hayward’s draft manuscript, Under Fire: My Own Story, scheduled for publication in September 1989, that she went berserk. It was just the kind of official expose´ by a British operator of most sensitive operations that its intelligence system had been specifically designed to prevent, and now it was appearing despite all the checks by officials, and sanctions by law, especially the Official Secrets Acts. As usual, when such an unexpected crisis occurs, Downing Street so overreacted that it put its very existence in jeopardy. It was a classic example of Lord Acton’s aphorism – “every thing secret degenerates.”

Thatcher had worked tirelessly since attaining power in 1979 to have an administration she could completely trust – one that was leakproof. Along the way, her biggest problems were with Foreign Secretary Francis Pym who – like his American counterpart Al Haig – thought that the crisis with the Argentine junta over the Falklands could somehow be settled peacefully after Lord Carrington had resigned, and with Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine who was not convinced that all claims by the Right-wing Freedom Association about subversives abounding, especially in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, were worthy of MI5 investigations.

Of course, this just incited more Thatcher suspicions of disloyalty – what ultimately led, according to Michel Gratton and Mike Frost in Spyworld, to her tasking in 1983 Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, its equivalent of GCHQ, to check apparently on their loyalty. The Canadian establishment, with its antiquated equipment, was desperate for work. The Prime Minister had selected it because she did not trust the Security Service that much either despite efforts by DGSS John Jones to catch threats to national security. The GCHQ had declined to do the intercepts because of the consequences involved, if discovered, but invited the Canadians to come to Britain to do it with their own equipment, and without any other authority.

Whatever the Canadians determined about the ministers’ real loyalties, British success against the Argentines in the Falklands permitted the sacking of Pym in 1983, and Heseltine resigned two years later when the Prime Minister overruled his rescue plan for Westland Helicopters. Thatcher loyalists Geoffrey Howe, and George Younger replaced them. In the meantime, Anthony Duff had taken over MI5 in the wake of the Michael Bettaney spying scandal, the Prime Minister insisting that senior management not be protected from criticism by the Security Commission. (“Sir John Jones: Gravity-shift at MI5,” The Guardian, March 12, 1998, p. 20)

Bettaney was ready to tell any of Britain’s enemies, starting with the Soviets and ending with the Provisional IRA, all about the dirty war in Northern Ireland. Duff had already headed the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), making the product from the intelligence services more useful to the government, and was sent to Gower Street to clean up the public image of the Security Service – what the threatened publication of former Assistant Director Peter Wright’s Spycatcher made all the more paramount.

Howe did yeoman-like work at the Foreign Office for the Thatcher government. When the Prime Minister was looking for grounds for taking counter measures against the Soviets, the Foreign Secretary made the most of what defector Oleg Gordievsky told MI6 about the Kremlin’s alleged active measures against Britain, especially those by the KGB’s Department V of Vladimir Kryuchkov’s First Chief Directorate.

In fact, Gordievsky’s reports were so effective that Howe approved a complicated SIS plan to rescue him from Moscow when the KGB apparently was closing in on the Colonel’s spying for London in July 1985. (Mark Urban, UK Eyes Alpha, p. 14) Then, on September 12, 1985, the Foreign Office expelled 25 Soviet diplomats for spying, setting the scene for dramatic action against Moscow.

Gordievsky’s counter measures, though, especially the shooting of Swedish statsminister Olof Palme to trigger a showdown at sea with the Soviets, did not prove all that successful despite assistance from Younger at the MoD, thanks to the spying by Soviet double-agents Aldrich “Rick” Ames at CIA, Robert Hanssen at the Bureau, and Vitali Yurchenko back in Moscow.

They closed down American double agents Sergei Motorin, Valeri Martynov, Boris Yuzhin, and others who conspired in the USSR to make Soviet nuclear submarines on station sitting ducks, ready for slaughter by US Navy attack submarines in the Barents Sea, when they reacted to the surprise. Only Palme bit the dust, thanks to an assassin’s bullet from, it seems, Guards Captain Simon Hayward’s .357 Magnum revolver.

Then American Atlantic Fleet Commander Carlisle Trost refused to commit his carrier battle groups to Navy Secretary John Lehman’s plan to attack the Kola peninsula across Norway, obliging SOD Younger to cancel NATO’s Anchor Express Exercise, in which 16 Norwegian engineers had already been killed because of avalanches, in support of the absent American Task Force Eagle.

Then – after the KGB set the scene for defusing the crisis by getting the Libyans to blow up a restaurant in West Berlin, killing a few, and injuring many American servicemen – Younger authorised the use of British bases by American planes for bombing Libya. (“Viscount Younger of Leckie,” The Daily Telegraph, January 27, 2003, p. 23)

The Secretary of Defence and Howe, according to Robin Renwick, Britain’s Ambassador to America during the Bush and Clinton administrations, had persuaded the Prime Minister to clarify the necessity, and legality of the attack with Washington. Three years later, when ‘wet’ supporters of the Thatcher administration became increasingly troubled by her leadership, Younger organized the campaign to defeat the stalking-horse challenge by Sir Anthony Meyer.

Conscientious policy-making, especially with a eye on intelligence input in the process, continued at the Foreign Office. When Nizar Hindawi tried to get his girl friend, Ann Murphy, to smuggle a bomb on an El Al airliner at Heathrow in April 1986, GCHQ at Cheltenham, and Duff’s Security Service proved most effective in catching the culprit. MI5 managed to bug the Syrian ambassador’s office, permitting GCHQ interception of conversations with Damascus in which he recommended Hindawi’s services to Syrian Air Force Intelligence. (Urban, p. 42)

This could also have been part of the deception plan to keep people guessing about who was really behind the still, unsolved Stockholm shooting – setting up Hindawi to do something obviously foolish, and then making sure that nothing happened by alerting an El Al security guard that the pregnant lady also had a bomb in her bag. In any case, Howe, along with Washington, used Hindawi’s conviction in October to justify breaking off diplomatic relations with Syria.

Actually, Peter Wright’s revelations about MI5 proved somewhat of a fillip to Thatcher’s government, but by this time the Prime Minister had become so paranoid about leaks that she failed to see it. She believed that any disclosures of covert operations, even false and fanciful ones, were detrimental to government performance. She was determined to go to any length to prevent their appearance – for example, seeing to the 1987 banning of Duncan Campbell’s BBC TV series Secret Society for fear of what it might divulge about buggings, and ‘dirty tricks’ in Northern Ireland – and to punish possible perpetrators.

While Duff had gone to unprecedented lengths for her to prevent publication of Wright’s claims – what he later regretted as misguided (Ibid., p. 66) – government calls for injunctions around the world against Spy Catcher’s appearance proved pointless by the time they reached the Lords. The book was readily available in shops.

Its revelations seriously called into question Wright’s own loyalty. His lectures to CIA in 1959 and 1961 about its responsibilities in conducting assassinations also gave the declining imperial power an alibi for any similar counter measures, what apparently Hayward had just successfully pulled off in Stockholm. Moreover, Wright’s disclosures of how MI5 had handled defector Anatoliy Golitsyn (Spycatcher, p. 314ff.) helped shield the Security Service from charges of complicity in the publication of the defector’s New Lies for Old in the Palme affair – what had called for his elimination. (p. 55ff.)

Wright even added that Prime Minister Thatcher ended his speculation that former DGSS Roger Hollis had been a KGB operative, Golitsyn’s candidate for another secret agent of influence.

In sum, by the time DGSS Anthony Duff retired in late 1987 – after Thatcher had won comfortable re-election the previous spring – it was thought that the government had a firm grip on unauthorized disclosures through a host of sanctions against prying reporters, brazen whistleblowers, spineless judges, and ignorant jurors. Responsibility for government actions rested solely with the ministers, and as long as they did their jobs carefully, there was little chance of anything awkward leaking out.

To make sure of the point regarding real operations, Attorney General Sir Patrick Mayhew declined shortly thereafter to prosecute those RUC officers implicated in the Stalker and Sampson Reports on the Shoot-to-Kill controversy for fear that their trials would raise questions about the activities of Hayward and leading Army double agent in the PIRA leadership (codename ‘Steak Knife’), particularly when their paths crossed, which would compromise the planned SAS cull of the Provisional volunteers at Gibraltar in March 1988.

Moreover, the Prime Minister had created an inner cabinet – Foreign Secretary Howe, Foreign Office Minister of State David Mellor, Permanent Under Secretaries of the top departments, especially the F. O.’s Tim Eggar, a small number of Whitehall and Cabinet Office officials, and Cabinet Secretary Robert Armstrong (Urban, p. 9) – to ensure that its covert actions were in harmony with what the Joint Intelligence Committee was suggesting from reports by GCHQ, MI6, MI5, and the Defence Intelligence Staff. It was the way that Mrs. Thatcher unprecedentedly ‘sexed it all up’, at the expense of the intelligence services, and the Cabinet, ‘by drawing a veil over everything.’ (Quoted from p. 183.)

The only trouble with these arrangements was that ministers and officials did not bring to their roles the kind of scope, experience, interest, and authority that the Prime Minister did to hers. She was absolutely addicted to special operations, and, consequently, had a need, and right to know secret information which went far beyond that of anyone else.

According to former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, another critic and victim of Thatcher’s covert ways, she was besotted with everything about intelligence, from Frederick Forsyth’s novels to the Force Research Unit’s Military Intelligence Source Reports (MISRs) in Northern Ireland. “Mrs. Thatcher was a devotee of intelligence,” Urban quoted a senior mandarin, sounding much like the F.O.’s Eggar. “She liked it, she respected it, she believed it gave her the truth as the Foreign Office Reports wouldn’t.” (pp. 9-10)

On the other hand, Eggar’s political bosses, Howe and Mellor, showed almost no interest in intelligence reports, especially the JIC’s Red Book. Mellor compared consuming its weekly offering as “…significantly less riveting than the novels would have you believe.” (Quoted from Michael Smith, New Cloak, Old Dagger, p. 32) The Foreign Secretary experienced the same sensation, comparing their ingestion as less appetizing than metal boxes marked, “eat after reading”. “It was the very blandness of this ‘assessed intelligence’,” Urban concluded, “that often led the small number of people who had access to raw GCHQ and SIS reports to consult them in search of a clearer picture.” (p. 9)

Of course, the problem would then be who was reading which reports to clarify what relations. The fact that Howe and Younger had failed the test was established when Urban concluded his book thus: “Litte wonder that someone appointed as Defence or Foreign Secretary may have little idea about the potential of MI6 or GCHQ, if the only intelligence they may have seen in their ministerial career up to that point are the sanitized essays contained in the weekly Red Book.” (p. 299)

The fact that Mellor never attained higher office is explained for the same reason. Thatcher’s inner circle in this regard had also been weakened by her estrangement from Ian Gow who gave up being her Private Secretary in August 1983, and resigned from the government in 1985 in protest over the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Alan Clark, in his Diaries, attributed Gow’s fall to pressure from the Foreign Office to placate America’s Irish-Americans. (pp. 116-7)

The raw reports especially relevant concerned special operations, especially in Northern Ireland, or against the Soviets, which involved several agencies in a most disjointed fashion, and required serious study to fathom all their pitfalls. The greatest difficulty was caused by using Army personnel, who had prevented ambushes by IRA Active Service Units, in operations to stop arms shipments from Soviet surrogates, especially Qaddafi’s Libya, particularly those on the Eksund in 1987. Bettaney had simplified the problem for the Provisionals by spilling his guts about operations in Ulster while on remand in Brixton prison.

This was particularly true in understanding Palme’s assassination – what was done, it seems, while Captain Hayward was ostensibly reassessing Swedish bodyguard performance of the statsminister while on leave from Northern Ireland as the ‘Det’s’ South Detachment’s Operations Officer, and what was to trigger the showdown with the Soviets.

While it did not trigger one, thanks to Soviet counterintelligence efforts, British problems still escalated when the Force Research Unit’s mole in the Provisionals’ Army Council who was to prevent the Eksund shipment from reaching Ireland for a PIRA ‘tet offensive’ took revenge upon Hayward when he learned of his participation in the operation while in Ibiza.

Other problems were that neither Howe nor Younger had been on the job as long as the Prime Minister, and they had massive departmental responsibilities. Neither of them apparently understood what a hot item Hayward was. Still, according to Downing Street, they had been alerted to the dangers Hayward presented when he was arrested outside Linköping, Sweden on March 13, 1987 with 50.5 kilos of cannabis hidden in the Jaguar he was driving, thanks to input supplied by ‘Steak Knife’ aka DOOK, Britain’s leading agent in the Provisionals’ Army Council, and the FRU’s Brian Nelson in the set up. Hayward had monitored ‘Steak Knife’s activities a few times to keep the 14 Intelligence Company informed of Libyan arms shipments to the Provisionsals while holidaying on his brother Christopher’s catamaran True Love in the Mediterranean.

The Sun, for example, published deceptive stories by Neil Wallis about what Britain should do to rescue the heroic leader of the 1985 IRA ambush at Strabane who was being silently railroaded to prison in the Swedish capital, though Hayward had not even been stationed in Northern Ireland at the time. Private Eye had “Drug News” stories in the same vein about Hayward, but they were soon overshadowed by “Spy News” revelations about activities by whistleblowers Wright, Captain Fred Holyroyd, and Colin Wallace a decade earlier in the province. The Guardian created the same impression by publishing Peter Murtagh’s stories from Stockholm on the trial next to Richard Norton-Taylor’s coverage of the appeal to the High Court for an injunction against Wright’s book. For good measure, questions in Parliament finally urged the Foreign Office to intervene in the case because Hayward might be suffering from some kind of incapacity, possibly even brain-washing. (The Times, May 8, 1987, p. 2)

Once Hayward was charged with drug smuggling, the Guards Captain found the Foreign Office completely hostile to his interests, and he wrote extensively about it while serving his sentence. Vice Counsul Jenny Cummings of the Stockholm Embassy was resigned to his being treated as if he were just another Swede suspected of criminal activities (p. 92), what Eggar, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, reinforced by refusing, on Howe’s behalf, to intervene so that Hayward was provided legal aid of his choice: “It was not Government policy,” Hayward explained sarcastically, “to intervene in the internal affairs of another state.” (p. 162)

Then another Vice Counsul, John White, added to Hayward’s frustration by helping make it seem that the Prime Minister was officially intervening to secure his release (p. 164ff., pp. 194-5, and p. 272), hopes which were cruelly dashed when the trial went ahead. SIS officers have traditionally been embassy Counsuls. White also raised the point that Hayward was quite right to think that Scot Forbes Mitchell, the principal prosecution witness, was a Swede, only to decline to testify in his defence on appeal: “White refused,” Hayward added, “on the grounds that as a British diplomat he could not be seen to be taking sides!” (p. 304) Hayward concluded his description of his ordeal by contrasting how Mellor intervened to protect Palestinians from the Israelis with his inaction in his case against the Swedes. (p. 449)

For good measure, Hayward concluded: “I have many regrets, but above all my Swedish experience has taught me never to trust. There are very few people to whom I would extend that privilege today. My confidence in a system I have been brought up to believe in and to support has received an almighty dent.” (p. 448) Given these sentiments, Hayward just added insult to injury when he declined to identify any politicians but MP John Gorst, and all civil servants involved in the case when he made his acknowledgements to his fellow officers for services rendered during his ordeal, though Military Attache´ in Stockholm Colonel Russell Wright was conspicuously absent from the listing.

Younger could have resolved the difficulty apparently by simply refusing to allow the manuscript to be published in the interest of national security but declined, apparently because of pressure from senior officers who thought Hayward had been harshly dealt with, and deserved to tell his side of the story. Moreover, Colonel Wright, another so-called ‘friendly face’, apparently never indicated to the MoD that it had anything to worry about when he visited Hayward. (p. 304) Younger’s failure resulted in subsequent works dealing with the subject, starting with Mark Urban’s Big Boys’ Rules (p. xxi), being subjected to D-Notice Committee scrutiny before publication.

Instead of the Prime Minister simply trying to make the best of an awkward situation – assuring Hayward behind-the-scenes that matters would somehow be rectified – she compounded it by sacking Howe (Alan Clark, Diaries, 24 July 1989, p. 248), shock treatment which led to Younger’s resignation. Thatcher, despite the constitutional convention, was opposed to taking responsibility for the most sensitive matters which might leak out.

John Major replaced Howe at the Foreign Office. The wildest rumours about the crisis had proven all too true, something that historians have been unable to deal with ever since. They act as if Howe were sacked because of differences with the P. M. over Europe, and it occurred when Major replaced Nigel Lawson as Chancellor of the Exchequer a few months later.

Thatcher then had MPJohn Gorst refocus Hayward’s complaints about his treatment, as best he could, solely on Sweden’s justice system in a Foreward, hastily written just five days before. Gorst maintained that Hayward’s only complaint with Britain was over the performance of the two officers of the National Drugs Intelligence Unit who relied upon hearsay evidence in helping achieve his conviction, something which would never happen in Britain, what still resulted in the Home Secretary issuing advice two years later to prevent any such recurrence! (p. 3)

Gorst dismissed DOOK’s role in railroading Hayward as mere fictions about “an enigmatic Irishman”, only to admit that a trial before the Salford Crown Court 18 months later proved that he was deeply involved in sending Hayward falsely to prison. (p. 5) Gorst even compared Sweden’s treatment of Hayward to the bungled investigation of the Palme assassination! Hayward then added an Afterword (p. 452) in praise of Sweden which took back most of Gorst’s criticism.

The Prime Minister further compounded these miscalculations by sending Peter Brooke to replace Tom King as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Brooke, though obviously a most decent man, was the last person to send to Belfast under the circumstances. The PIRA, thanks to ‘Steak Knife’s sense of betrayal after the Gibraltar cull, and the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, was in no mood to make peace with Britain. Ian Gow should have gotten the job, especially since he believed that the Provisionals were still trying to kill him despite the fact he had sidelined himself from the fray. Brooke was a character from one of L. P. Hartley’s novels, according to Alan Clark – too nice, too Balliol College, and too transparent. (p. 166)

‘Steak Knife’s Provisionals showed that they understood all too well the conciliatory nature of the change in Belfast by killing 10 Royal Marine bandsmen with a bomb at its loosely protected School of Music at Deal, Kent on September 22nd. This incredible atrocity, reminiscent of the nail bombs in Hyde Park which resulted in Hayward going to Ulster on the revenge mission in the first place, was after the FRU had deliberately assassinated the UVF’s Brian Robinson, a loyalist assassin of Francisco Notarantonio, Finucane, and others, three weeks before to show the Provisionals that Britain was serious about pursuing an even-handed counterterrorist strategy.

Just when Hayward was returning to Britain from prison, RUC Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesley appointed Cambridgeshire Deputy Chief Constable John Stevens to investigate the hue-and-cry which had followed the FRU/UDA assassination of Loughlin Maginn, what had been ordered to set up Robinson.

To make sure the new government, especially the ministers at the Horse Guards, and Stormont, worked in harmony with what Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey was trying to work out indirectly with Gerry Adams, MI5’s G Branch Director John Deverell made available to Brooke the undated, unsigned reply that Britain had just sent to the Sinn Fein leader to get the peace process going behind the PIRA’s back. (For its text, see Ed Moloney, A Secret History of the IRA, pp. 251-3.)

Deverell was going to Belfast as the Security Service’s DCI to make sure that the various intelligence agencies were on board – what cost him replacing Sir Patrick Walker after Duff as Director General. The reply was undated to show that Britain had been responsive to Adams’ arrogant questions in 1986 about Britain’s continued rule in Northern Ireland while ‘Steak Knife’ and Hayward had been causing difficulties, and it was unsigned to hide the fact that it had been issued without the approval of ministers. (Ibid., p. 250ff.)

On the first of November, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland shocked a press conference by stating that the British government was prepared to talk to the Provisionals, now that the Cold War was over, about the province’s future when they gave up their campaign of terror. With the MI5 reply to Adams in mind, Brooke repeated it before dumb-struck dinner guests of the British Association of Canned Food Importers and Distributors at London’s Whitbread Restaurant eight days later: “The British Government has no selfish strategic or economic interests in Northern Ireland; our role is to help, enable, and encourage. Britain’s purpose, as I have sought to describe it, is not to occupy, oppress or exploit but to ensure democratic debate and free democratic choice.” (The Irish Times, November 10, 1989)

The Provisionals were in no hurry to put down the Armalite, though, killing two British soldiers of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers at the Derryard checkpoint, Count Tyrone, with the latest weapons from Libya a month later. While Moloney has compared this flying-column assault to the Loughgall Massacre (Operation Judy) during which eight volunteers were cut down by the SAS (pp. 333-4), the results were far different.

Thanks to what ‘Freddie’ Scappaticci and John Joe Magee – British Army informants within the Provisionals in the Republic – were able to tell their handlers Major David Moyles and Edwin Bates about the impending attack, the column was repelled by a Wessex helicopter before it could detonate a 400-pound bomb outside the troops’ quarters. Besides, the bomb had been sabotaged – like the one on the Eksund which failed to explode when the French authorities were closing in on it off Brittany in late October 1987 – indicating that this operation too had been betrayed on the spot.

When the flying column realized that the attack could have been decimated, the PIRA called a three-day ceasefire over the Christmas holidays, what it had last done in anticipation of productive talks back in 1975. The column, apparently composed of Magee, Scappaticci, Danny Morrison, Dessie Grew, Martin McCaughey, several members of the PIRA’s East Tyrone Brigade, and possibly even ‘Steak Knife’ himself, was subjected to the most intense grilling by internal security chief Magee about what went wrong (For more about Magee, see Neil Mackay, “IRA torturer was in the Royal Marines,” Sunday Herald, Dec. 15, 2002.), and he decided, hardly surprisingly, that Sandy Lynch, an RUC Special Branch informer, was the source of the leak. Actually, it seems Scappaticci aka ‘Stake Knife’ was another source, and his purpose was to convince ‘Steak Knife’ of the need of returning to the FRU’s service. Lynch, while driving his taxi, was lured to a house in Andersonstown where he was captured, and subjected to brutal interrogation.

The significance of all this had not been lost on ‘Steak Knife’, apparently aka Padraic Wilson. The Derryard flying column could have been subjected to an ambush just like at Loughgall, indicating that the British Army had adopted a less proactive posture in preventing terrorism. ‘Steak Knife’ began to realize that a renewed effort to achieve peace with the British government was called for, especially since it offered him an opportunity to defect suspicions that he too had been a British spy.

In Magee’s investigation of why the Eksund operation had been betrayed, Joe Fenton, the real estate agent who allowed Belfast Brigade members to use properties up for sale for their trysts (Moloney, p. 30), soon was suspected of being the mole, and Wilson, the most regular user of Fenton’s facilities, apparently rushed his execution in February 1989 to prevent him from revealing more about failed operations. Wilson, as we know, was quite the ladies’ man. Fenton’s murder was Wilson’s answer to the FRU’s killing of Pat Finucane.

To prevent a repeat of the Fenton fiasco, Danny Morrison was appointed the Provisionals’ “Lord Chief Justice” to authenticate any charges of spying for the enemy. While Moloney has claimed that Morrison was always a loyal follower of Gerry Adams (pp. 334-5), he was actually a long-standing member of the Army Council, most opposed to settling the struggle for Northern Ireland simply by peaceful means. (For clarification of Morrison’s reference to the “Armalite and ballot box” which Moloney somehow missed, see Peter Taylor, Brits, pp. 262-3.)

If Adams was to make any headway with the Army Council in pursuing a peaceful course, Morrison had to be sidelined – what was achieved on January 8, 1990 when he arrived at the Andersonstown house to interrogate Lynch. Morrison was arrested by soldiers and RUC police officers, thanks apparently to a tipoff by ‘Stake Knife’, and was subsequently sentenced to eight years in prison. Scappaticci had admitted that he worked for the Provisionals at this time.

The British Army’s recovery of ‘Steak Knife’ as a mole was delayed by Hayward’s willingness to talk about its betrayal of him, revelations which just fueled Stevens’ investigation of Nelson and the FRU. No sooner was the UDA intelligence chief charged with possessing classified military documents, and conspiring to commit Finucane’s and other murders than the Thatcher government had the Queen award his handler, Sergeant Margaret Walshaw, with the British Empire Medal at Buckingham Palace. (Barry McCaffrey, “The Force Research Unit: Queen awarded medal to Nelson handler,” North Belfast News, 2001)

When Lt. Colonel Gordon Kerr, the FRU’s former commanding officer, came to Nelson’s defence, claiming that Nelson was “… a very courageous man whose mistakes were all very understandable” (Quoted from Tony Geraghty, The Irish War, p. 156) – testimony Kerr had been unwilling to provide the former Ops Officer for the South Detachment under more deserving circumstances in the Stockholm courtroom – Hayward told Mark Urban everything which served his purposes about misguided operations in Northern Ireland, inspiring his writing Big Boys’ Rules.

Thanks to Hayward’s disclosures about the lengths to which the FRU went to wipe out the earlier flying squad at Loughgall – especially allowing the murder of the UDR’s William Graham on April 25, 1987 to protect ‘Steak Knife’ as the unrivaled informer within the PIRA – Urban compared the massacre two weeks later to the revenge murders in South Armagh: “The Graham incident may be comparable to John Stalker’s discovery that the death of three police officers at the Kinnego embankment in 1982 was highly embarrassing to the RUC because the explosive used to kill them had been removed from a hayshed which was under surveillance at the time.” (pp. 225-6)

Until Hayward had left Northern Ireland in February 1987, he told Urban, military intelligence officers had deterred the East Tyrone ASUs engaged at Loughgall from attacking undermanned and deserted RUC police stations.

‘Steak Knife’s efforts, starting with the Mobile Reconnaissance Force in 1971, were dismissed as “a series of cock-ups”, Hayward explaining: “It ignored the nature of the nationalist community – notably its ability to win back the loyalty of IRA men who had changed sides.” (p. 37) Actually, ‘Steak Knife’ had been won back by the Provisionals because of the betrayals by Downing Street and Hayward himself.

As for Hayward being Urban’s main source, he left little doubt by gratuitously explaining that his research had had nothing to do with his own service in the Royal Tank Regiment (p. xx), also Hayward’s home outfit, and making it clear that his source had left the 14 Intelligence Company early in 1987. To hide the fact, though, as best he could, Urban stated that the Company always employed the most unobtrusive agents (p. 38), what was clearly untrue in Hayward’s case since he was missing the middle segments of his middle and ring fingers on his right hand because of an accident while on duty in Cyprus.

While the government successfully pressured the BBC to cancel Hayward’s interview on the Terry Wogan Show, and persuaded Richard Branson’s Virgin Books to buy publisher W. H. Allen so that circulation of his autobiography could be limited as much as possible (a veteran librarian at Yale University was unable to find references to it, much less a copy of it, in her searches – an unprecedented event in her career), he returned to his old haunts in Northern Ireland to defeat the FRU’s continuing campaign to exonerate itself at his expense.

With UVF’s assassin Brian Robinson conveniently disposed of after the killings of Loughlin Maginn and Patrick McKenna, the FRU was most anxious to minimize the difficulties facing Brian Nelson, its leading agent in the UDA who had made such assassinations possible, and had apparently helped in the set up of Hayward in Sweden.

On the day before Nelson was to be arrested by Stevens’ officers, Hayward infiltrated the FRU Covert Methods of Entry team from Ashford, apparently assisted by Ian Phoenix of the RUC’s Special Branch, which was to destroy the evidence against Nelson by burning down its premises. As Hayward, posing as ‘Martin Ingram’, told the BBC’s John Ware a decade later, he had overheard about the operation while visiting a bar outside Thiepval Barracks in January 1990.

No sooner did Hayward hear about it than he informed Nelson, as ‘Ingram’ explained most revealingly: “I knew Brian Nelson and met him the day before he was due to be arrested. That very night he fled to England because, we now know, he had been tipped off.” (“A sinister crime,” The Guardian, April 20, 2000, bold italic mine) The only way Hayward could have known Nelson was to have met him at Ibiza.

Nelson’s flight just added to his problems, especially since ‘Ingram’ had then told the Stevens team about the arson attack. It had taken the precaution of making copies of all its important documents, and safeguarding them back in Cambridge. Ultimately, it seems, ‘Ingram’ took advantage of the Castlereagh heist on St. Patrick’s Day, 2002, using Army files of August and December 1988 to imply that it was involved in the murders of James Pratt Craig, and Pat Fincuane, and to maintain the myth that he was working for the FRU at the time. (Actually, Hayward was locked up in Malmö’s maximum security prison in Sweden.)

The FRU’s slowly regaining control of ‘Steak Knife’, while losing what little influence it still had over Hayward, brought out the worst among the hardliners on both sides. To settle scores with those who escaped death at Derryard, particularly ‘Steak Knife’, after the Stevens investigation shut down Nelson’s operations, agents of the 14 Intelligence Company, while on a surveillance mission a week after Morrison’s arrest, shot dead three unarmed members of the “Hole in the Wall Gang” in a hail of gunfire after they robbed bookmaker Sean Graham’s shop on the Falls Road, thanks apparently to a tipoff by the mole ‘Stake Knife’ in the PIRA.

The security forces campaign against the PIRA peaked on the night of October 9th when they cut down Dessie Grew – the leader of ‘Steak Knife’s counter stroke, and brother of Seamus – and Martin McCaughey when they went to collect arms from a ‘hide’ in a mushroom shed outside Loughgall. It was retaliation for Derryard and the murder of Graham with a vengeance. (For details, see Taylor, pp. 303-4.)

The day after Morrison was arrested, the Provisionals went on a renewed shooting spree, killing off-duty UDR officer Oliver Kirkpatrick while he was working in his shop in Castlederg, County Tyrone. Thriteen days later, off-duty police inspector Derek Montheith was murdered in his Armagh kitchen. Three weeks later, despite the RUC’s Operation Leonora to prevent such assassinations, Thomas Jamison, an off-duty UDR sergeant, was shot dead after a genade stopped his lorry, and the ASU raked its cab with rifle fire.

The denouement of the destructive process occurred when Ian Gow was assassinated by a car bomb at the end of July at his home in Sussex, reminiscent of how the Provisionals had eliminated shadow spokesman for Northern Ireland Airey Neave as he was leaving the Commons carpark a decade earlier. Despite all Gow’s warnings and ASU attacks, Clark explained, “now they’ve got her two closest confidants.” (p. 320)

The Prime Minister was thrown into a complete tailspin because of the tragedy, first almost comatose, despite JIC Chariman Craddock’s warning minute and memo, in reaction to Saddam Hussein’s proposed attack on Quwait, and then after a vist to Washington, “ultra gung-ho”, according to the MoD minister, in London’s response. Gow’s funeral was marked by the attendance of the big winners, particularly Brooke, and losers, especially Howe, of the Cabinet reshuffle the previous year. While Clark railed against the police for not preventing the assassination, the self-tasking MI5 should have been blamed, and Home Secretary David Waddington, who was also present at the funeral, was responsible, thanks to the just passed Security Service Act.

By the time the Conservative Party elections of its leader came round, Thatcher’s fate was doomed despite all the hoopla about finally going to war against Iraq with the Americans. Howe had cast the fatal stone against the ‘Iron Lady’ by resigning as Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Commons, and Lord President of the Council the week before.

In a most bitter speech, Howe compared the Prime Minister’s betrayal to a game of cricket where England’s side had been sent in to bat, only to discover that its “…bats have been broken by the team captain.” (Quoted in Clark, p. 347) Howe had been consigned to keeping the House informed of the Prime Minister’s comings and goings, and the like. Clark attributed the former Foreign Secretary’s rancour to the maneurvering of a small clique whose actions started occurring just three years before (ibid.) – when Hayward’s appeal in Stockholm was hanging in the balance.

A week later, the party followed Howe’s lead, and the Prime Minister was forced to resign in order to head off the challenge by the untrustworthy Michael Heseltine.


We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed
In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion.

About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy
Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT.
Previous articleGilad Atzmon: Being in Time
Next articleWhere Does VA Stand Compared to Other Countries?
Trowbridge Ford (1929 - 2021) was the son of William Wallace Ford, the father of the US Army's Grasshoppers. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and Columbia University where he received a Ph.D. in political science after a stint in the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps as a draftee during the Korean War, and after being discharged, worked as the sports editor and a reporter for the now-defunct Raleigh Times. Thought academia was the thing for him.  He was quite satisfied teaching all kinds of courses about European and American politics while writing his dissertation about an under-appreciated British politician, Henry Brougham, who became the Lord Chancellor of the famous Reform Government (1830-34). At the same time, Trowbridge became most interested in the role that A. V. Dicey, a famous Oxford legal professor, played in settling the Irish question - another figure that historians didn't think did much about.   It was while he was doing research on the dissertation at the British Museum in London that President Kennedy was assassinated, and it slowly led him to take a dimmer view of academic life, especially when joined by campus protests over the growing Vietnam War.  He was fired by two institutions of higher learning because of his protests against the war. When the Vietnam War finally ended, he got involved in researching the Dallas assassination, and his first serious efforts about it appeared in Tom Valentine's The National Exchange in 1978 - what Fletcher Prouty thought was quite good, just urging him to go higher in the Agency and the political world for the main culprits. He slowly started doing this, ultimately deciding to retire early in 1986, planning on finishing his Brougham biography while living in Portugal. While he did this, he had made too many enemies with the White House not to be punished - first by attempts to establish that he maliciously tried to destroy Richard Nixon during Watergate by libeling him, and when he died, DCI George Tenet tried to have me killed by poisoning - what would make his death look like a suicide or a natural one. As a result of this, once he had finally determined the cause, he moved to Sweden to not only save his skin but also investigate and write about assassinations, covert operations, 'false flag' deceptions, preventive wars, weapons development, and their use, etc.  He passed away in 2021.