Person interviewed: Michael John Smith
Place of interview: Paddington Green Police Station
Date of interview: 11th August 1992
Time commenced: 22:20 Time concluded: 22:48
Other persons present: Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod
Detective Sergeant Stephen John Beels
Richard Jefferies (Duty Solicitor)
Beels: This interview is being tape recorded. I am Detective Sergeant Stephen Beels, New Scotland Yard attached to Special Branch. The other officer present is ...
MacLeod: I am Detective Superintendent Malcolm McLeod Special Branch, New Scotland Yard.
Beels: And you are Sir?
Smith: Mr Michael Smith.
Beels: And you are Sir?
Jefferies: Richard Jefferies, solicitor from Tuckers Solicitors.
Beels: We are in Interview Room No. 2 at Paddington Green Police Station. At the end of this interview, Mr Smith, Iíll give you a form explaining your rights of access to a copy of the tape. The date is the 11th August 1992 and the time is 10:20 pm. Mr Smith, you do not have to say anything unless you wish to do so, but what you say may be given in evidence. Do you understand?
Smith: Yes I do.
Beels: Do you agree that the tapes were unsealed in your presence?
Beels: And you understand the reason for your continued detention under the Official Secrets Act?
Smith: Yes I do.
Beels: Ok, Sir.
MacLeod: Mr Smith, in the previous interview you saw the quantity of documents and material that had been taken from your vehicle?
Smith: Yes I do.
MacLeod: Yeah. Was that material that you removed from GEC Hirst Research, prior to your leaving the company?
Smith: Thatís true.
MacLeod: Some of that material falls within the provisions of the Official Secrets Act. Are you aware of that?
Smith: I was not aware of that.
MacLeod: You did sign, in fact you read here just a short time ago, the Official Secrets Act declaration that you signed back in 1985, and you read out for me the first 2 paragraphs, which makes it an offence to obtain, communicate information.
Smith: I was not aware that that information fell into that category.
MacLeod: You agree that you sold company information to a man named Harry?
Smith: Thatís true.
MacLeod: That man Harry you met by chance, not by chance, that man Harry you met as a result of a telephone call to you at your place of work?
MacLeod: Youíre sticking to that story?
MacLeod: You donít know the full identity of Harry?
Smith: I do not.
MacLeod: And you never thought it necessary to ask him for his full identity?
Smith: I did ask him for his full identity, but he refused to elaborate.
MacLeod: And in spite of that, you went ahead and provided him at regular intervals with information concerning GEC Hirst Research.
Smith: I did, but based on a judgement of my own that there was no significant risk to the company.
MacLeod: I did make the point earlier, over a period of 2 years you received something in the region of between £10-12,000 in cash payments from this man Harry, for information that you obtained from GEC Hirst Research. Is that correct?
Smith: Thatís correct.
MacLeod: And it didnít occur to you that some of that information might be of a sensitive nature.
Smith: I reiterate. I used my judgement in this matter, that the information was old or not current, not particularly useful, but seemed to satisfy Harryís interest.
MacLeod: Seemed to satisfy Harryís interest. Or you mean the people that Harry represented.
Smith: Well, I think that must be the same thing. He mentioned a client, who must have considered it of some interest in the beginning. I, the fact that the relationship deteriorated, I think proves that they eventually realised that the information was not as useful as they originally felt it would be.
MacLeod: But that doesnít quite square with the fact, that they paid you large sums of money.
Smith: No, they paid me larger sums of money at the beginning. It gradually dwindled as they realised that the information was not of the nature they thought it would be.
MacLeod: You say you ceased any contact with this man Harry, back in April of this year.
Smith: April of this year.
MacLeod: You had no further contact?
Smith: No, because we, we mutually decided that the contact was not useful to either of us, beyond that time.
MacLeod: How much did you get in your last payment?
Smith: It was something over £2,000.
Smith: £2,200, something of that nature.
MacLeod: That was the final payment.
MacLeod: Does that not occur to you as being a lot of money, to be paid as a pay off, if the quality of information youíre providing is of little value?
Smith: I think it was partly, perhaps, for my continuing silence in the matter, and as maybe a thank you for helping the man Harry at all.
MacLeod: I put it to Ö
Smith: I donít, I donít know why.
MacLeod: I put it to you, that that was probably intended as a retainer.
Smith: That was not mentioned.
MacLeod: Would it not strike you as being such?
Smith: No, because as I repeat, mutually it was agreed that there wouldnít be any further contact.
MacLeod: So the meetings that you had with Harry, and the information that you provided him, he was paying you cash, on average, to what sums?
Smith: There was no average sum. It started off in the region of somewhat just under £4,000.
MacLeod: What, a time, a session?
Smith: The first payment was about that value, yes.
MacLeod: What £4,000?
MacLeod: What one single payment?
Smith: Yes, but that was at the start, that was to encourage me.
MacLeod: And how much did you get paid at the intervening intervals?
Smith: I didnít keep a record. I remember counting at the time. But I bundled the money together as it was coming in, and I didnít particularly keep a record of everything I Ö
MacLeod: Roughly, what were the sort of these intermediate payments, how much?
Smith: Around £3,000.
MacLeod: What a time, £3,000?
Smith: Well, as I say, it dwindled. The first payment was the biggest. All I was satisfied was at the end, was the initial arrangement of £10,000 was met, and I was happy.
MacLeod: Well, does it not strike you unusual, that they would pay that kind of money for worthless information?
Smith: Well, I donít think it was worthless, I didnít say that. I said it was old, obsolete, not of very high value.
MacLeod: Whoíd want to pay that kind of money for obsolete information?
Smith: I donít know.
MacLeod: Well, I donít know.
Smith: I think, maybe what it was, was that the client was interested in: is GEC ahead of us, or behind us, more than of any real intrinsic value in the documentation itself.
MacLeod: But if they were paying you that kind of money, for information concerning GECís research projects, and you only had limited access, as you agreed earlier.
MacLeod: Why would they pay that kind of money, for information of moderate classification and it would appear of obsolete value?
Smith: I donít, the question of classification doesnít come into this, I feel, it was of commercial interest only.
MacLeod: No, but the point Iím making, the point Iím making is that they are paying you, or rather they paid you, large sums of money at fairly regular intervals for information, now can I finish ...
MacLeod: Ö and you at that time, or at any time, did not have full access to all the sensitive material contained within GEC. Do you accept that?
Smith: Thatís right , the question ...
MacLeod: So why would they pay you that money for worthless information?
Smith: I didnít say it was worthless. The question of classification didnít come into this at all, it was that they were not looking for sensitive secret information on military, or whatever, projects, that was not the nature of the arrangement I had with Harry. In fact, I did make it quite clear that I wouldnít do that, that it was purely a question of company information that would be useful for his client,
and obviously Harry had more sense than to get involved in something which had more significant implications than commercial matters.
MacLeod: So are you telling me then, so I can get it clear in my own mind, that that information, correction, those documents that we recovered from your car ...
MacLeod: Ö were not intended for Harry?
Smith: No, I explained, Harry and I parted company this April ...
MacLeod: Yes, I understand that.
Smith: Ö and I think youíll find that this information is either very old, or something I was using for my own work, up to the time I left Hirst.
MacLeod: But why take it away from the company?
Smith: I explained to you before, the reason it was in my possession was that Iíd left the company in somewhat of a hurry, because of the nature of my final day at the company. It was put into a bag quickly, with personal possessions that I had like books, and things of that nature, that were my own property, and I took it home. I was, had my hands full, with about 4 bags and a briefcase as I left the company, and I sorted it out when I got home.
Thatís why I separated all that information out, and I intended to destroy it, because I had no further use for it. I didnít see any point in going back to GEC, and saying I took this away, as it didnít seem relevant to me. But they had no interest in that information, because it was, it would probably have been destroyed anyway, when the company moves to Borehamwood shortly. Most of that information will be destroyed, I expect, so they wouldnít have any further use for it.
MacLeod: Right. Ok. Perhaps we can accept that, some of the information contained in that bundle of correspondence may be out of date. So, if it was out of date, why take it with you?
Smith: I explained, it was, there was a pile of documentation, which I had literally minutes to sort it out. I was up to the end, the last thing I did before I left, I said goodbye to my boss about 6 oíclock, or half past 5 I think, finished some final corrections to the computer data which I used for my audit programme, for whoever takes that job on. I had a number of outstanding reports that I hadnít written, partly because Iíve been going for interviews, I was losing motivation to do the work, and at the final time of leaving I couldnít, my professional attitude was such that I couldnít leave paperwork undone. I stayed behind until 7 oíclock to finish reports, which I left on my desk, and that will be confirmed by my supervisor, that I left paperwork to show this is how Iíd left the job. And then so the very final time before I left was
well, I, letís get all the stuff together to take because Iím not coming back. It all got bundled into some plastic bags, shopping bags, and into my briefcase, and I rushed off to my car before they locked the gates.
MacLeod: So, at the time of your removing these papers from the office ...
MacLeod: Ö was this late at night?
Smith: It was approximately 7 oíclock.
MacLeod: When everybody else had gone?
Smith: Everybody else had gone, yes.
MacLeod: So nobody would have seen you taking these documents away?
MacLeod: So you went unchallenged?
Smith: Thatís right, but I actually went to the security gate and said to the man, ďIím being made redundant today, I expect you want my pass backĒ, and I gave him my pass, and we had a conversation of about 10 minutes about the problems of redundancy, and the nature of the economy, and he might remember that, and I
then walked off with the paperwork, my possessions, or everything I was carrying, took it to the car and took it home.
MacLeod: Right, so, can you tell me when you were first informed that you were going to be made redundant by GEC?
Smith: I was informed informally, I believe it was the 14th May, it was the middle of May.
MacLeod: Iím not under-estimating the shock it must be, for anybody being told they had been made redundant. In that respect I can sympathise with your predicament. You were with the company 7 years?
MacLeod: I beg, 6½ years, you were told you had been made redundant. Youíve just told us that your level of motivation was low?
Smith: Was low, yes. In fact, it had been low for some year or two before that. I wouldnít like to say it was low just at that point.
MacLeod: What was it that made you, I mean, your motivation was low. Was that because of lack of acknowledgement by your line managers, for the work you were doing?
Smith: No it was not that. It was, I think, more the nature of the company decline, the fact that there was less interesting work there. The possibilities were less, the promotion prospects were low, the salary increases had been frozen this April, so nobody got a pay rise. Things had declined to the extent that people were all worried about their jobs, and the motivation generally was low.
MacLeod: I see, and just remind me how much your annual salary was again?
Smith: It was £18,200.
MacLeod: I mean, thatís not a lot of money for somebody with your qualifications, I would suggest.
Smith: I should be capable of maybe £22 to £25,000, if I was in a suitable company.
MacLeod: Yes, I would think that would probably be right. So, when Harry came along offering this little extra bit of business, I mean, it must have sounded quite appealing?
Smith: I think thatís, it was the financial incentive that made me accept his offer.
MacLeod: And perhaps, maybe disillusionment, with the way things were going within GEC?
Smith: I think thatís true to say.
MacLeod: A combination of both. So I am still at a bit of a loss, if youíd broken contact with Harry, why you should continue to take all that information out?
Smith: I explained, it was nothing to do with that previous business with Harry, it was purely a problem I had in sorting out my business, tailing off the business on the final day. I had too much to do, too many people to say goodbye to, I had final reports to draft out. I wrote a letter to a man in Manchester, which took me a bit of time to type, and it was all too late. I mean, I had no time, I didnít want to come back as a visitor to try and sort out what I should have done that week, anyway. As I said, the motivation was there, it was because I am a bit of a last minute manager. I got to the end of the week, and I thought, well, Iíve just got to do it now, itís, Iím leaving, and it was a last minute panic to throw everything into the bag and get away.
MacLeod: Right. Ok. Well, I hear all of what you have to say. Well, frankly Iím not satisfied with what youíve told me. I think youíve been lying all the way through these interviews, over the last number of days. Whether you admit it or not, you were working for the KGB, you were a KGB agent, you were recruited by the KGB. You were recruited specifically by Victor Oshchenko, you were directed to find employment in a
company carrying out government contracts. And you started off with EMI.
Smith: Thatís not true.
MacLeod: You passed on sensitive and classified information to the Russians.
Smith: Thatís not true.
MacLeod: Concerning the British nuclear bomb fuze.
Smith: I did not.
MacLeod: So you are saying that Oshchenko is lying?
Smith: Iím saying this man Oshchenko is giving you a story which is not true. I donít know if ...
MacLeod: You continued.
Smith: Ö may be he has, or this information has been received on that bomb fuze project, but I was not the one who gave it.
MacLeod: He directed you and recruited you, he told you to change your lifestyle. To give up any contacts or links with the CPGB. To distance yourself from trade union activities.
Smith: None of that is true.
MacLeod: To become conservative with a small c.
Smith: Iíve never been conservative.
MacLeod: To take up tennis.
Smith: I did not take up tennis, I never really played tennis.
MacLeod: He bought you a tennis racket.
Smith: I bought a tennis racket.
MacLeod: He tells us, he tells us he bought you a tennis racket.
Smith: Heís lying, heís lying.
MacLeod: We recovered at your home address 4 tennis rackets.
Smith: Well, Iím surprised, because I would have guessed there were only 2 to my knowledge.
MacLeod: Does your wife play tennis?
Smith: My wife plays tennis yes, but it would be wrong to say we played tennis. We have played tennis on very few occasions in the past, when we first met.
MacLeod: The reference in that cryptic note to Louís tennis locations?
Smith: Lou, as I explained, is a, was a friend of ours, he has since broken friendship with my wife, and we no longer see each other, but ...
MacLeod: So youíre saying you did play tennis?
Smith: Ö but the link with tennis had nothing to do with my link with Lou. My link with Lou is purely through the flamenco interest.
MacLeod: So you didnít play tennis, except ...
Smith: Iíve played tennis over a very short period. I played tennis briefly with the tennis club at EMI Electronics, because a friend of mine, in the department where I was, said why donít we go and play tennis, because it was a nice summer. And I played tennis I think on 3 or 4 occasions, thatís all.
MacLeod: On 3 or 4 occasions, and that was following the directions ...
Smith: No, it was not following anybodyís directions, because I remember it was a man named John Evans, at EMI Electronics, who suggested that perhaps we could, because there was a notice on the board, the social club activities, with one of them as being a tennis association or society at a nearby tennis court, and being summer and the weather being good, we decided to join it, but I quickly realised that I wasnít very good at tennis, and apart from playing
it with my wife on 2 or 3 occasions ...
MacLeod: Where did you get the tennis rackets from? Thereís 4 at your address, 2 of which are quite old.
Smith: I remember buying one, I think one I got with a gallon of oil from a petrol station.
MacLeod: And how about ...
Smith: I think my wife had her own tennis racket.
MacLeod: And how about Victor?
MacLeod: Did he give you one?
Smith: I explained, I do not know this Victor.
MacLeod: Ok. You donít know a Victor. Well, I am suggesting that you do know Victor, and you knew him quite well. In fact, you became quite good friends over the years, the time that he was in London. And when he moved on he handed you over to Victor Lazin, Iím not sure what sort of relationship you enjoyed with him, and whether it was as friendly as it was with Victor, but after he was expelled in 1981 you were taken over by an Anatoliy Chernyayev. We discussed him in a previous, previous interview did we not. And he too was expelled in í83, and then you were taken over by Oleg Krasakov. Until he too was declared PNG in September 1985. There may well have been a time
when you were, when you didnít have any contact with the KGB, but that contact was soon re-established, I am suggesting.
Smith: Well, I would like to state ...
MacLeod: In 19, in 19, 1990, September 1990. There was a letter sent to you by the name, man named Williams, that we spoke about yesterday.
Smith: I donít ...
MacLeod: Clearly re-establish, contact had been re-established by what means only you know, but contact had been re-established with the KGB by somebody using a pseudonym of Williams. And the places that you would meet would be the recreation area, there was recreation mentioned in that letter wasnít there?
Smith: Well we read it together I ...
MacLeod: Of course there was, and you Ö
Smith: Ö I, I did not know the nature of the ...
MacLeod: Ö and I think you know where that refers to, so that was the re-establishing of the contact with the KGB. Now you tell us about that time that you met a man called Harry, I find that an interesting coincidence.
Smith: Well no, I think youíre talking about different times now, I mentioned Harry, I met Harry early in 1990, not September you say.
MacLeod: Ok. What Iím saying is that in September 1990 you had a letter, which refers to a contact having been established clearly.
Smith: I told you that that letter was from a person I didnít know. It was a confusing letter to me I didnít understand the content I could see the address was wrong I donít know why I even kept the letter because it had no significance to me, but I do remember that I picked it up from the mat on the way to work and it ended up in my filing cabinet at work, thatís why, when I brought it home with all the papers on the last Friday I was at Hirst, it was there. I, thatís the only reason.
MacLeod: And then throughout 1991, last year, there was a wee bit of a problem wasnít there. Iím not sure whether you had a difficult relationship with your controller, there was a bit of a problem.
Smith: I have no controller, I donít know why you keep saying this.
MacLeod: Well I use it in the terms, in the espionage terms.
Smith: Well, Iím not involved in espionage, the nature youíre talking about.
MacLeod: Well I suggest you are, and I suggest that these notes that were found, those cryptic notes that were found in the drawer of your bedroom, together with the £2,000 in brand new £50 bank notes, these were your instructions on how to make contact, and what to do in the event of something going wrong.
Smith: There was nothing to go wrong, because I have no contact.
MacLeod: That was the reason that you were at Harrow on the Hill last Thursday, when it went pear-shaped for you.
Smith: No, I donít understand how you can make ...
MacLeod: You were due to go back the next day, but you couldnít, because you had a domestic commitment.
Smith: Thatís, itís, itís that is your assumption.
MacLeod: You were due to meet your KGB man to hand over to him all the material that was found in the boot of your car.
Smith: Thatís not true.
MacLeod: You were anxious to get rid of it.
Smith: Thatís not true.
MacLeod: That was the reason you responded so quickly, so rapidly to the telephone call from George last Saturday. You wanted to get shot of it, to put ...
Smith: I had no reason to keep that information, and I would have destroyed it, not given it to somebody.
MacLeod: Of course you had no reason to keep it, because it was something you wanted to get rid of.
Smith: Yes, but to destroy, not to ...
MacLeod: You had the motivation, you had the motivation for passing onto the Russians any information you could lay your hands on.
Smith: Thatís not true.
MacLeod: Well what the, that barrel load of documents that I have just presented here?
Smith: But most of them are rubbish.
MacLeod: But did one of the notes not say obtain old projects, plans and old projects, did it not say that, and itemise ...
Smith: You are referring, no you are referring to some notes, I must have made a few notes, just to say, to remind me to do something at work. I just jot things down, I mean, it was like a notebook.
MacLeod: Iím telling you that was a direction an instruction for you to obtain as much material concerning old projects as possible. And thatís why you hoovered up as much information in the last few weeks that you were at GEC.
Smith: Thatís not true.
MacLeod: You even tried to access some of the sensitive areas, didnít you, and you couldnít get through?
Smith: No I did not. My access to the sensitive areas, I said before, was very limited and of no interest to anybody outside anyway.
MacLeod: And that was the reason on Saturday morning that you reacted the way you did, out of panic.
Smith: It was not out of panic.
MacLeod: Out of sheer panic.
Smith: I did not panic then. Iím not panicking now. I have nothing to hide. I responded to that phone call in the way that I would respond to many things, as a curious individual trying to get to the bottom of something I donít understand.
MacLeod: Mr Smith, Iím going to bring this to an end now. I would agree with you in the sense that you certainly are a curious individual, and I think itís pointless me wasting my time asking any more questions of you.
Beels: I am concluding this interview now, is there anything else you wish to add or clarify?
Smith: No, Iím quite happy.
Beels: At the end of this interview Iíll be asking you to sign the seal on the master tape, will you do so.
Beels: I have a form here which Iíll give you explaining your rights of access to the tape. The time is now 10:48 pm, and I am switching off the machine.
END OF INTERVIEWS