Brittan named in sex scandal rumours (27.06.84)

The Guardian, 27th June 1984


  1. Troyhand said:

    [Colin] “Wallace worked in Ulster alongside Michael Bettany, later convicted under the Officials Secrets Act and he knew Wright, whose exposes subsequently have rocked the authorities.”,100614
    The Glasgow Herald – Feb 1, 1990
    Lifting lid on ‘lie machine’
    By Russell Edmunds

    It is a story that has all the ingredients of tabloid sensationalism. Sex, scandal and political intrigue.

    The scene is Belfast in the early 1970s, a city torn with sectarian violence. Enter a British Army information officer, Colin Wallace, a mild-mannered native of Northern Ireland charged with a mission. To tell lies.

    The scene switches to a gaunt, detached house in Protestant East Belfast. Inside are orphan boys, for years at the mercy of scandalous sex abuse. In charge of them is William McGrath, a beast of a man with strong loyalist extremist connections.

    The years have passed, but this afternoon in the House of Commons the shadow of Colin Wallace and the awful happenings behind the closed doors of the Kincora Boys’ Home will be cast yet again.

    The Minister of Defence, Tom King, will make a statement in the light of the Government’s sudden and surprising decision this week to agree to an inquiry into the long-standing “dirty tricks” allegations of Colin Wallace. Once again, the Kincora Affair, which some believe could be Ulster’s Watergate, is under the microscope.

    If even half of what Colin Wallace says is true, this is a sensational story that embroils leading political figures in Britain and Ulster, the Army, loyalist extremists, the innocent inmates of Kincora and high echelons in the Secret Service.

    Aged 30 in 1973, he spent much of his time manufacturing make-believe stories to discredit extremist groups such as Sinn Fein and the Protestant loyalist militants.

    Under the headline “Danger in those frilly panties” the Sunday Mirror reported one of his more bizarre stories. That knickers worn by IRA female couriers generated static electricity which detonated bombs prematurely.

    The News of the World ran another story showing a picture of a Russian submarine, apparently gun-running off the Irish coast. It was another Wallace invention. The submarine, he admits now, was probably pictured off Finland.

    Incredible or not, the stories kept flowing from his imagination with the full approval of the Army’s counter-intelligence force, MI5. Then they became more sinister and personalised. Not only was Wallace out to discredit the hardline militants, it was now time to turn his attention on mainstream politicians.

    From Ian Paisley and minority leader John Hume to the Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his Ulster Secretary of State, Merlyn Rees, the smear campaign deepened.

    At this point Wallace’s story verges on the world of Spycatcher, Peter Wright. Wallace was employed in the same dirty undercover war, an operation codenamed Clockwork Orange in Ulster stretching its fangs to the very top of British and Northern Ireland political life.

    Wallace worked in Ulster alongside Michael Bettany, later convicted under the Officials Secrets Act and he knew Wright, whose exposes subsequently have rocked the authorities.

    The target for both men was the Labour Government of Harold Wilson. Wallace claims he drafted a 67-page document for Clockwork Orange which defined his operations against political and paramilitary figures.

    A number of Labour MPs and ministers including Merlyn Rees and Stan Orme were targeted. The aim was to paint them, along with Wilson, as fifth columnists tied up with Irish Republicans and communists.

    But the most explosive of all Wallace’s operations centres on the Kincora Boys’ Home which stood on Belfast’s Upper Newtonards Road. He claims that he knew as early as 1973 that boys were being sexually abused at the home even though the scandal was only revealed publicly in 1980.

    The implication of Wallace’s claims is that he was engaged along with MI5 in a major cover-up of what was going on in the home run by William McGrath, a one-time member of Mr Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church.

    Only after the scandal broke, did McGrath and others face the law and jail sentences for their appalling abuse of the boys at the home. But many questions remain unanswered. Who were the figures who frequented the home? Did British intelligence use Kincora to obtain information about the loyalist extremists and other figures who went there and sexually abused the inmates?

    Colin Wallace says he knew about the background of McGrath, the leader of an obscure Protestant group called Tara.

    As house father in the boys’ home, McGrath was alleged to be also an intelligence informer gathering incriminating details on prominent Ulster figures who went there. Wallace maintains that the authorities knew what was happening for years, but chose deliberately to do nothing about it.

    Eventually, he, himself, fell foul of his superiors. After he had leaked a document to Robert Fisk, then the Irish correspondent of The Times, he was judged to have broken the official Secrets code. He was first moved from his post but soon left the Army for a job on the Duke of Norfolk’s estate at Arundel in Sussex.

    There this amazing story takes yet another twist. Wallace was arrested in 1980, charged and subsequently convicted of the manslaughter of a friend.

    Now free again, after six years in jail, he claims that he did not commit the crime and a recent book, Who Framed Colin Wallace?, by Paul Foot, supports his argument.

    When an inquiry was ordered into Kincora, Wallace was in jail and not given clearance under the Official Secrets Act to give evidence. The Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, wrote at the time: “It remains Mr Wallace’s duty not to disclose to those conducting the investigations, confidential information obtained by him in the course of his employment in the Ministry of Defence which is unrelated or irrevelant to the investigation.”

    The question remains. Is that so? Or does the seamy tale of sexual abuse at Kincora and of Colin Wallace’s “dirty tricks” war in Ulster hide more shocking secrets? The strong suspicion among many in Belfast is that the full story is yet to be told.

  2. Troyhand said:

    At Wandsworth Prison, Patrick Magee was being held after his arrest in Glasgow for the Brighton bombing.

    “In the prison chapel, Magee was approached by Michael Bettany, an MI5 agent who had handled Carlin’s information in the 70s. Bettany had later been jailed for spying for the Russians. Bettany, who detested the British Government, told Magee that he once ran an agent called Willie who spied on the top echelons of Sinn Fein in Derry. Through his sister, Magee passed the information to the IRA.”…-a076378144
    Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland) – July 8, 2001
    The harrowing story of the Army spy on the run from Scotland after penetrating the highest ranks of Sinn Fein.

    WILLIE CARLIN remembers Joanne Mathers waving to him as she walked up the road to collect census forms.

    Joanne was out earning pin money to support her two-year-old baby. She arrived at Willie’s house, sobbing, after wandering into a republican area by mistake.

    He sent the young mum on her way, carefully pointing out houses where she could safely collect the forms in the solidly republican streets of Gobnascale, Londonderry.

    An IRA gunman followed her up the path to another house and shot her in the head.

    It was a defining moment for Carlin.

    A spy for the British Army, he had spent years infiltrating Sinn Fein and the IRA. Yet he had been increasingly seduced by the republican cause. He was a close aide to Martin McGuinness, then leader of the IRA in Derry. After being beaten senseless by a British Army patrol, he was even beginning to accept the IRA’s armed campaign against so-called Crown targets – including his former fellow British soldiers.

    But Joanne’s death ensured that the Government would continue to receive his vital information about the workings of the Sinn Fein and Provo machine.

    Joanne’s ‘crime’, in the eyes of the IRA, was to carry Crown papers – Government-issued census forms.

    Even IRA sympathisers in Derry were stunned by the murder. McGuinness’s local Provos tried to wriggle out of it. But everyone knew who was responsible. The gun used to kill Joanne had earlier been used in IRA punishment shootings.

    Days earlier, the IRA had claimed the 1981 census was Britain’s way of hunting down republicans. They warned that anyone carrying the Crown papers would be a “legitimate” target. Protestant Joanne Mathers, 25, a farmer’s wife from Strabane, and mum of two-year-old son Shane, was one such “legitimate” target. She was making pin money by collecting census forms.

    Carlin, his eyes watering, recalls her death vividly. He said: “I was at my mother’s house when we saw a girl walking up the road, crying her eyes out.

    “She had a clipboard and we realised she was a census-taker. My mother took her in and I told her I was a Sinn Fein election agent and that she shouldn’t be there because it was dangerous.

    “She had been given all the wrong directions and was trying to get census forms from republican homes, getting doors slammed in her face and worse.

    “I told her that she would have to be very careful and told her what houses she shouldn’t go to in the street. But we calmed her and I gave her another few houses where I knew there were more moderate people who would give her the forms.

    “She left and went to one house down the street which I had suggested. I saw her looking back a few minutes later and she waved at me, waving the census form with a smile on her face.

    “She was then going to another door when a gunman walked up behind her and shot her in the back of the head.

    “I ran up the road but she was already dead. I was shattered. I felt as though I had sent her to her death. I was furious with the IRA. It was disgusting.

    “That incident kept my perspective. I believed in the politics, but that was how the solution had to come – through political negotiation, not the murder of innocent people.”

    The memory of Joanne’s death is painful for Carlin. He recently returned to Ulster for a brief clandestine visit and made a pilgrimage to Joanne’s grave in Strabane.

    In his pocket, he still carries a small piece of marble taken from her graveside. Carlin handles it constantly when nervous and the stone shines. Its edges are becoming worn smooth.

    He said: “I pray for her every day and I know she is with me. She gives me hope and I know if she is with my I will be safe.”

    Safety is now Carlin’s priority. More than 20 years after Joanne Mathers’ death, he is the one who must now fear the IRA’s guns.

    Carlin’s history has caught up with him. Now 50, he is being hunted by the IRA, who have so far sentenced him to death twice. He also fears that his former Government handlers want him silenced. Carlin has a lot to tell.

    He has no wish to compromise national security or the lives of others. He, and eight other Army spies he knows who served with the IRA, simply want recognition.

    Carlin’s own story is an example of the risks that the men took, and the razor-sharp line they walked between Government spy and terrorist killer.

    Born in Derry’s solidly nationalist Creggan estate to a Presbyterian mother from Ayrshire, Carlin was raised as a Catholic and joined the Army in 1965, before The Troubles.

    He was an acting sergeant in the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars when he was approached near the end of his service in 1974 by MI5.

    He was an ideal choice for the secret services. His own sister back in Derry and other family members and friends were heavily involved in republican activities. He was a clerk in the Army but would not attract the same suspicion as others leaving the force.

    With official discharge papers, he arrived back in Derry at the height of its violent uprising against the British Government.

    McGuinness led the Derry IRA and was one of the Provos’ most feared and calculating tacticians.

    But while other Army spies tried to infiltrate the IRA, Carlin focused on its political wing, Sinn Fein.

    Because of his family connections, he swept through a vetting process by local gunmen. Yet it would take years of patience and dedication before he was accepted into the fold. Then he rose rapidly, becoming a key aide to McGuinness and eventually treasurer of Sinn Fein in Derry, handling huge cash hauls from IRA bank robberies.

    He also controlled the fraud and embezzlement rackets which were a lifeblood to the Provos.

    A favourite IRA ruse saw Carlin set up local tenants’ associations and work groups – with money from the Northern Ireland Office.

    He said: “Of course the guys who were working on the sites or were part of the tenants’ associations were IRA. I gave a lot of jobs to IRA guys during that time and they were being paid by the Government.”

    But as the Provos and Sinn Fein put more and more trust in Carlin, he was passing back more information to his spymasters. In 1982, during elections to the Stormont Assembly, Carlin helped get McGuinness elected for Sinn Fein, even though he would not take his seat.

    Carlin said: “That was all part of the political process, taking the movement along two tracks – one the war against the British Crown, the other the struggle to make political gains.

    “By then, I was convinced that the war would end. We were making big strides politically and there was an inevitable political conclusion.”

    But in helping elect McGuinness, Carlin also helped expose how Sinn Fein exploited the ballot. He said: “We developed ways of stealing hundreds of votes for McGuinness.

    “We would go around collecting ballot papers off people and then impersonate them at polling stations.

    “We would also note when people hadn’t voted and someone would impersonate them, claiming to have left their polling card behind.

    “It worked. Without it, he wouldn’t have been elected.”

    Carlin claims one female Sinn Fein activist, now the holder of a prominent political office in Ulster, voted 69 times on the day McGuinness was elected, using disguises to impersonate voters.

    But after the vote, Carlin passed on Sinn Fein’s tactics to the Government and new laws were rapidly put in place, meaning all voters had to supply photographic identification.

    Carlin said: “That was down to me. I am still very proud of that. But in Britain you still use the same old system, which is open to abuse.

    “I could probably get William Hague elected using the methods we developed in Derry.”

    By the early ’80s, Carlin had been passed from MI5 to a new intelligence arm. Known as the Force Research Unit (FRU), the shadowy team was led by Gordon Kerr, an Aberdonian and a brigadier in the Gordon Highlanders.

    Compared to MI5, the FRU had learned from earlier mistakes. Carlin said: “In the early days, I remember my MI5 handler turning up outside McGuinness’s house wearing a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe.

    “Some of them really didn’t have a clue. They were way out of their depth. But these new guys had learned. They knew their stuff.”

    One of his handlers was Major Roy Pugh, known to him as Dessie. Pugh was later killed in the RAF Chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre.

    Despite Carlin’s growing sympathy with the Republican cause, Joanne Mathers’ murder had ensured that he continued to pass on information to the FRU, who were more sensitive to a potential political solution to the “war” and valued his information about the inner workings of Sinn Fein.

    All the time, he was living on his adrenaline. He said: “I was always scared. You didn’t know who was going to knock on the door at night. If it was the RUC, you were in trouble. If it was the Army, your house would be trashed. If it was the IRA, it was a bullet in the head.”

    His covert world finally collapsed on March 3, 1985.

    At Wandsworth Prison, Patrick Magee was being held after his arrest in Glasgow for the Brighton bombing.

    In the prison chapel, Magee was approached by Michael Bettany, an MI5 agent who had handled Carlin’s information in the 70s. Bettany had later been jailed for spying for the Russians. Bettany, who detested the British Government, told Magee that he once ran an agent called Willie who spied on the top echelons of Sinn Fein in Derry. Through his sister, Magee passed the information to the IRA.

    At first, McGuinness could not accept his trusted colleague was a spy. Instead of dispatching an IRA death squad, he tried to establish Carlin’s credentials with his own source, an MI5 man who was helping him to negotiate for peace with the British.

    The agent discovered Carlin’s real identity and stalled McGuinness, giving the security services vital hours to get their mole out.

    With his wife Mary and three young children, Carlin was smuggled out of Ulster that night on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s private jet.

    Carlin said: “I was gutted. Everything I had been building was gone. One minute I’m sitting in my house in Derry, the next I’m in England with nothing, not even a wedding picture.

    “I was convinced they had got it wrong and that I could go back. I was desperate to go back. But I later found out that, without that delay, the IRA would probably have got me. They think there was a team already on the way from Belfast. I would have been tortured and shot dead.”

    For the next few years, Carlin moved around Scotland, England and Wales, desperately trying to adapt to his new life outside Ulster and outside the secret service.

    At first there were people he could talk to, then the telephone numbers started to dry up.

    His wife Mary left him, taking the children. After a spell in Glasgow, he moved to Bishopbriggs in 1997, then Wick, before settling in Dunblane.

    By then, he had set himself up as a successful consultant, using the name Bill Gallagher. He specialised in finding work for jobless managers and had contracts with the Glasgow Development Agency. He said: “I was enjoying myself. It was fulfilling. Many people know me as Bill Gallagher. I suppose they might have a wry smile now, reading this.”

    In Dunblane, he set about writing a book about his work with MI5 and the FRU. A major publishing house asked for first rights.

    He also fell in love with a local girl called Toni, 20 years his junior. He was finally starting to exorcise his demons.

    Then there was another seismic shift in his troubled life. First, Toni fell pregnant. Her father was diagnosed with cancer and her grandmother died. Toni, distraught, had an abortion, a decision which appalled Carlin, a devout Catholic.

    He said: “I had been absolutely and utterly in love with her. But I disagreed with her decision. There was no way back for us. It tore us apart.”

    Carlin turned to drink to drown his personal anguish. One morning he woke up on the floor, still drunk. He had a cup of tea and threw up. He opened a can of lager.

    Then the phone rang. It was a close friend from Ulster. He had met a man who claimed to have been a British soldier who had been sent back to Northern Ireland to infiltrate the IRA. He had been working for the FRU.

    Carlin said: “I was astonished. I sobered myself up and got my things together. By the afternoon I was on a flight to Belfast. I had no idea there were others.”

    At a meeting in Belfast, followed by a nerve-wracking visit to South Armagh, the soldier’s home, both men were paranoid that they would be found out or were being set up by the other.

    Eventually, Carlin arranged for the FRU member to be smuggled out of Ulster. It was then Carlin decided to find out more about the FRU. He traced another seven members. All were secreted out of Ulster, all had the same story. Carlin said: “We were able to get four out through Scotland. It was a tremendous effort. I mean, these guys were coming from places like South Armagh.”

    The men had been Irishmen recruited from British Army regiments.

  3. Troyhand said:

    The hearing came midway through the trial of Michael Bettaney, a middle-ranking officer in MI5 counterespionage service who is accused of offering information to the Soviets.,4292935
    Gainesville Sun – Apr 13, 1984
    7 British servicemen are charged with spying

    LONDON – Seven British servicemen, flown to London from their base in Cyprus, were charged Friday with violating Britain’s anti-espionage Officials Secrets Act.

    Six of the servicemen were charged with communicating information “useful to an enemy” between Nov. 1 and Feb. 2. The seventh was charged with endangering the security of official information during a three-month period in mid-1982.

    The five airmen and two signal corps soldiers were flown from Britain’s Episkopi Royal Air Force base on the eastern Mediterranean island. They were charged at a two-minute hearing at London’s Bow Street Magistrate’s Court.

    Details of the alleged offenses were not disclosed. The hearing was continued until next Thursday, and the servicemen were ordered held in custody. There was no mention of bail.

    Charged with communicating information useful to an enemy were Signalman Paul Tuffy, 22, and Senior Aircraftsmen Geoffrey Raymond Jones, 20; Adam Lightowler, 21; Wayne Christopher Kriehn, 20; Christopher Michael Payne, 24; and Gwynfor Reginald Owen, 21.

    Signalman David Hardman, 26, was charged with endangering the security of official information.

    In another case, a serviceman based in Episkopi, 21-year-old Senior Aircraftsman Paul John Davies, is to stand trial in July on charges under the Official Secrets Act.

    The hearing came midway through the trial of Michael Bettaney, a middle-ranking officer in MI5 counterespionage service who is accused of offering information to the Soviets.

    Bettaney, 34, has pleaded innocent to 10 3espionage charges. Prosecutors allege that he made three approaches to a Soviet diplomat in London, offering and twice sending secret information, but was ignored each time. His case, tried almost entirely behind closed doors, is expected to go to the jury for a verdict. Monday.

    Britain has been buffeted by spy scandals since the 1950s, when diplomat Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean defected to Moscow, followed a few years later by Kim Philby, a senior intelligence officer who was a double agent.

  4. Troyhand said:,7535158
    The Sydney Morning Herald – Jun 12, 1985
    Homosexual orgies led to British spy ring, court told

    LONDON, Tuesday: In Britain’s latest homosexual spy scandal seven British servicemen went on trial at the Old Bailey yesterday accused under the Official Secrets Act of betraying their country for sex, drugs and money.

    The seven worked at a highly-sensitive signals base in Cyprus handling large amounts of information classified as secret and top secret. They did “incalculable damage” by channelling hundreds of secrets to foreign agents who had blackmailed them after taking part in “homosexual orgies”, the Old Bailey was told.

    The seven have pleaded not guilty to the offences alleged to have taken place between February, 1982, and February, 1984. An eighth serviceman was acquitted on the ground of insufficient evidence against him.

    The spying began, the prosecutor claimed, after senior aircraftsman Geoffrey Jones, 21, was lured by an Arab called John to an apartment in Lanarca, a seaside resort near the British base and Nine Signals Unit. Jones was said to have been depressed and short of money and was given some cannabis to smoke. He was subsequently seduced and photographed by a foreign agent in a homosexual act.

    The prosecution said: “Thereafter he was threatened with exposure unless he agreed to supply secret information”. He complied and later recruited other members of his unit choosing men with whom he had had homosexual relations.

    Three foreign agents were involved. A man named Alex, who said he was a major in the KGB, was apparently John’s controller and effectively the boss. Besides John the Arab there was a Cypriot named Papa Artine. Documents were regularly smuggled out of Nine Signals Unit to the agents.

    At the centre of the intrigue were the “homosexual orgies”, which included such practices as dressing up in women’s tights, mutual masturbation, oral sex and buggery. They took place on the balcony of a barrack block in which they all lived.

    One of the defendants, Christopher Payne, 24, returned to England in 1982 to marry, returning to Cyprus with his wife who was alleged also to have been present and to have taken part in the orgies.

    These activities and the betrayal of military secrets were discovered following Jones’ meeting with two Filipino cabaret girls with whom some of the men also had sexual relations. Jones’ infatuation with the girl named Josie was to lead to the arrest and charging of the men.

    Nine Signals Regiment is an unusual army formation since it contains within its ranks both military and civilian personnel and members of the army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. As a communications unit it handles very large amounts of classified information.

    The defendants, all but one of whom were special telegraphists, were privy to much of the top-secret information.

    The hearing continues today.

  5. Troyhand said:

    @ pippakin
    Britten was married to Diana Peterson in 1980

  6. Troyhand said:

    1980 was year said on Peerage website and some news articles.

    Margaret Thatcher’s records are more specific and say it was 5 January 1981.
    The Papers of Baroness Thatcher LG., OM., FRS.

    22 Briefing files for domestic official visits and engagements as Prime Minister, January 1981….
    …Leon Brittan’s marriage reception, 11 Downing Street, 5 January 1981;…

  7. Thankyou. Interesting timing.

  8. Marriage then was so heterosexual and respectable if you didn’t look too closely that is.

%d bloggers like this: