Another Secret Intelligence Service MI6 anonymous briefing to the Sunday Times:
From The Sunday Times
May 31, 2009
THE renegade former MI6 spy Richard Tomlinson has finally come in from the cold.
After more than a decade in exile, where he lived in fear of arrest and extradition to face trial in the UK, Tomlinson has at last buried the hatchet with Sir John Scarlett, chief of MI6.
Sir John Scarlett has now been in charge of SIS for just over 5 years, so is presumably due to retire very soon (both his predecessors were in place for 5 years as well).
Presumably his successor will be announced after the 100th birthday celebrations of SIS, according to the Rupert Murdoch owned sister paper of The Sunday Times, the New York based Wall Street Journal
The deal between the head of Britain's overseas spies and the whistleblower who claimed MI6 had a secret "licence to kill" follows a decision to send a mediator to negotiate with Tomlinson in Spain.
As a result, MI6 has agreed to let him return to Britain, unfreeze royalties from his book
The most interesting technical spy tradecraft tidbit revealed in that book (The Big Breach) was the claim that MI6 officers have used standard commercial (and therefore deniable) Pentel Rolling Writer rollerball pens, for their "offset Secret Writing" capability i.e. writing your message with the normal Pentel rollerball pen, onto a sheet of paper, with another sheet underneath. The water based ink tends to leak through and produce Secret Writing on the paper underneath, invisible to the naked eye, but easily developed with the appropriate (unnamed) chemical.
This probably does not work with the allegedly Non-Toxic water Gel based inks, which some newer models of Pentel pens (and those from other manufacturers) now use.
and drop the threat of charges. It has also apologised for its unfair treatment of him.
In return, the former spy who was sentenced to a year's jail for breaking the Official Secrets Act in 1997, has agreed not to speak to the media or make further damaging disclosures about the shadowy work of his former employer.
Quite a rapprochement, if true.
Can either side actually be trusted to keep to the terms of such a deal ?
Last week, Tomlinson was unavailable for comment. His father, David, declined to discuss the matter. Friends of the former spy say, however, that he has already been back to Britain. "He was determined not to give in to them . . . He'll probably feel at a bit of a loss now," said one.
We would have liked the Sunday Times / David Leppard to have asked the Whitehall briefers about whether or not the amendment to the Terrorism Act 2000, brought in by the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 section 76 Offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc. was instrumental in this rapprochment.
Terrorism Act 2000
58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc
(1) A person commits an offence who--
(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been--
(i) a member of Her Majesty's forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) publishes or communicates any such information.
There are no exceptions whatsoever in the wording of this stupid legislation, which came into force on February 16th 2009. It clearly applies to all current and former intelligence officers, including Richard Tomlinson, for the rest of their lives.
It even applies to defectors and double agents actually working for foreign intelligence agencies or criminals etc. !
It must also make the further chill the publication of any autobiographies or histories or investigative journalism, which attempts to research or publish any names or identifiable information about former military, intelligence or police people into a Serious Terrorist Criminal Offence,punishable by up to 10 years in prison (if convicted) , and blacklisting on terrorism watchlists and financial sanctions and criminal records employment checks databases worldwide, even if you are never charged or convicted.
The words "attempts to elicit" also catch unsuccessful queries for such information.
Therefore you could be risking 10 years in prison (a serious enough penalty to allow the UK authorities to demand your extradition from a foreign country) simply by asking Spy Blog to reveal Richard Tomlinson's address, something which we have no idea about.
Obviously this does not actually prevent foreign intelligence agencies, serious organised criminal gangs and terrorists from gathering such target intelligence on their individual opponents in the UK military, intelligence agencies or police forces.