Person interviewed: Michael John Smith
Place of interview: Paddington Green Police Station
Date of interview: 9th August 1992
Time commenced: 16:15 Time concluded: 16:43
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, Special Branch. The other officer present is Ö
MacLeod: Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod, from Special Branch at New Scotland Yard.
Beels: And you are sir?
Smith: Mr Michael Smith.
Beels: And you are sir?
Jefferies: My name is Richard Jefferies, Duty Solicitor from Tuckers Solicitors.
Beels: We are in Interview Room number 2, at Paddington Green Police Station. At the end of this interview, I will give you a form explaining your rights of access to a copy of the tape. The date is the 9th August, and the time is 4:15 pm. I must caution you, 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?
Beels: Do you agree that the tapes were unsealed in your presence?
Beels: You are entitled to free legal advice, and your solicitor is present. Is that correct?
Smith: Thatís correct.
MacLeod: Mr Smith, did you ever discuss with your wife your past connections with the Communist Party?
Smith: Yes, I did.
MacLeod: Was she surprised to learn of your political views, or was she Ö?
Smith: She was surprised, because it came up at the time when I had left EMI Medical, and as weíd previously mentioned
on the last tape, I had problems in securing a job, at either EMI Electronics or other companies requiring security clearance. And I told her that, the day that it was told to me, what had happened, and she was rather upset, when I told her. I explained to her that it wasnít the way I felt now, it had been something that had happened in the past, a long time ago, and no way I hoped would affect our relationship, and I think the fact weíve stayed together all these years, is proof that it hasnít.
MacLeod: I mean, I donít underestimate that this has been a fairly traumatic experience for you and for your wife. I mean, she now understands fully the reason why youíre both detained here at the police station. How do you think this is going to affect her, and your future relationship?
Smith: Well, I think it might affect her, because I see my wife as somebody who needs protection, whoís rather a sensitive person, and thatís the reason why, when I was first brought here, my first consideration was that she shouldnít know, because I didnít want her to be upset.
MacLeod: So, when you received the phone call yesterday morning, from a man called George, did she make any comment about it?
Smith: I think she might have said, whoís that.
MacLeod: Did she sound surprised because of the heavily, heavily accented voice?
Smith: No, no she didnít, I donít think she was surprised. It was more, um, ďhe sounds foreignĒ or something. She didnít really sound surprised.
MacLeod: So, I mean, have you been used to receiving telephone calls from foreign accented men?
Smith: Yes, quite often. We have an Indian friend, we have a number of Spanish friends, um, itís not unusual, no.
MacLeod: When you joined the Communist Party in 1971, as I understand it, you were a member of the Kingís Heath branch?
MacLeod: Kingís Heath.
Smith: Whereís that?
MacLeod: Which later became amended to North Fields, is that right?
Smith: I donít know where that is, Iím sorry.
MacLeod: So are you denying then, that you Ö?
Smith: No, Iím not denying it, I just donít know where, which, where weíre talking about. Is it in London?
MacLeod: Or Surrey.
Smith: Sorry, can you mention the names again, because I Ö
MacLeod: Kingís Heath.
Smith: Kingís Heath? I donít know the name of that. I donít know that place.
MacLeod: So, when you were Ö
Smith: Can I make, just, er, clarify it, Iím not being difficult here. I just do not know the name.
MacLeod: Right, Ok. So if I put it this way then. Were you an active member in the Surrey District of the Communist Party.
Smith: No, I, I couldnít say I was an active member. I was a member, but it was more that I would just go along to functions, and be one of the herd. I wasnít active in actually organising anything myself.
MacLeod: But in addition to the Party itself, you were also involved with the Young Communist League.
Smith: That was where I played my main role.
MacLeod: And that was for, roughly, for 4 years between 1972 and í76?
Smith: I donít think it actually went as far as í76. It was the end of í75 maybe, autumn í75 Iíd say.
MacLeod: So what Ö
Smith: As I remember, I only played a very modest role after my trip to the Soviet Union, and it must have been about October or November, I stopped attending meetings. I canít be absolutely sure, it was a long time ago.
MacLeod: So, itís incorrect then to say that, on 30th November or thereabouts, 1975, itís incorrect to say that you were elected to the Surrey District committee of the YCL?
Smith: That may have been true. It may have just been that Iíd been elected, but wasnít active. I really canít remember, and thatís the honest truth. I really canít remember. All I know is, it was about that period when I stopped becoming active. All I did was just attend a few meetings, or a few functions, and it gradually got less. The only thing that kept me there, I think, was a few acquaintances
Iíd made, who I used to go and drink with.
MacLeod: But you did attend conferences, or a conference in October, the YCL. The YCL branches conference at South Bank Polytechnic. Did you attend that conference?
Smith: I attended one in, I think it was the Spring of í75, which would have been the National Congress conference. I donít remember attending anything in October, unless you can give me more information?
MacLeod: But, well, right, that may not be terribly accurate. But, I mean, in Ö
Smith: I donít remember it.
MacLeod: In November í75, itís still true to say that you were elected to the Surrey District committee.
Smith: If youíre aware of the politics of those sort of people, who joined the YCL and Communist Party, very often they elect people who are no longer members, who they just keep cards for, to show membership, which help to boost the membership. I mean, itís a well known fact. Now maybe I, my name was put forward and I was elected, but I donít remember attending any meetings after that date.
MacLeod: In September í75, did you use your flat at 65 St Albans Road?
Smith: Use it?
MacLeod: Oh, for meetings.
Smith: September? I donít believe so, no, the meetings were held at another memberís flat in Teddington. I think all the meetings were held there. No, I, we did have some meetings in my flat, thatís true, but they werenít as late as September. I think by that time Iíd already stopped that much interest.
MacLeod: So, are you saying it was, this change of heart came about as the result of your trip to the Soviet Union?
Smith: Mainly, yes. I mean, I wouldnít say it was totally. I was disillusioned with the way that the organisation was run. I joined it on the basis that it was a refreshing sort of approach to life, and to meet some more people, because I didnít know many people in the area where I lived. I had the possibility of, perhaps, making a few girlfriends, but it was no more than a pastime. It wasnít, I wasnít actually doing anybody any harm, I felt.
MacLeod: Iím not suggesting for one minute that there was any harm associated with membership, or even affiliation to, any of these organisations.
Smith: No, I donít, I donít consider that ...
MacLeod: Thereís no harm at all.
Smith: Öa harmful organisation in the context of Britain.
MacLeod: But, itís indicative of your political persuasion at that time.
Smith: Yes, I was politically left wing. I wouldnít like to say I was an out and out lefty, I took it all rather philosophically.
Beels: You say you were a communist? At that time, would youíd have described yourself?
Smith: I was embarrassed to say I was a communist. I mean, I used to feel it was interesting to think of socialist ways of organising production, but it was all based on what Iíd read. I mean, on what people told me. I mean, itís only seeing it for yourself, when you go and visit a country like the Soviet Union, it makes you realise how it really comes out in practice.
MacLeod: Who were the main sort of the people that you were associated with, you know, within your little group in the CP in those days, and the YCL. Who were your main sort of ...?
Smith: Are you going to use this against them, because I donít like ...
Smith: These people. I Ö
MacLeod: No, certainly not, I just want you to tell me ...
Smith: I can tell you, because Iím sure theyíre well known. There was a man called Colin Jones, he was a secretary, I think, of the Young Communist League. A chap called Fred Rooks, he was involved in our Kingston Branch for a time, and then, I think, he moved to South London. There was a chap called Phil Cutler, who actually lived in my flat for a while.
Beels: When was that?
Smith: That was in Ö
Smith: I think í74, we lived in one flat, one house, and then we moved, it would have been the end of í74, to St Albans Road. And he left within, I donít know, weeks of us getting there. He found some other house that he was going to rent,
which turned out to be a purchase eventually. He was quite happy to move out and leave us sharing the rent, which we werenít very happy with. But there were other people I knew, a chap called Bob Ede. They were all well known, they were people who were sitting on the Surrey District Committee of the YCL.
MacLeod: I mean, I keep harping back to this point, about you saying, having severed links on your return to this country, having been to ...
Smith: I didnít say Iíd severed links, it was over a period of weeks, or a couple of months, it wasnít immediate. It still wasnít, I mean, actually into í76 I was still seeing a few people I knew in pubs, and ...
MacLeod: But you were politically active, from the time you came back?
Smith: No, I was looking at them with a different light. I mean, there was a man, who I am sure is well known, called Ken White. He was actually on the District Committee of the Communist Party of Surrey. Quite influential in some ways, but not very active I would have said, he was more of an armchair man. But we had common interests in music, and the arts, and hi-fi, and we discussed a few things. I used to see him in the pub a couple of times a month, I suppose, and I think he was the last person I actually kept in contact with, until, actually after Iíd joined EMI Electronics, but by that time I
wasnít really, we werenít really talking the same language any more. I mean, it was increasingly the people Iíd known, still on this very hard line sort of ďsocialismís bestĒ, and I couldnít really see myself in that circle any more. And it got to the point where I just, it was I said, drifting apart, and it wasnít what youíd said - severed - it was over a good 2 to 3 months in the initial period, and then, as I said, I kept these few contacts until well into í76. But it was no longer an active participation in politics, it was more a social chat with the lads in the pub. There was another chap called Dave Gollop, who is well known in Kingston as being an active, I think, IRA fanatic, and he used to also come to this pub very occasionally, but I think heíd split up with his wife, he drifted away. Those were the people, who locally seemed to be people I knew. There were a few others, but I canít remember all their names, to be honest.
MacLeod: So, as a result of this visit to the Soviet Union, you returned to this country with a totally fresh, and new sort of attitude towards communism?
Smith: Well, letís not say such, I mean, it was a dawning of something Iíd suspected for a long time.
MacLeod: So you visited the Soviet Union around, sort of, August did we say, the summer of í75, or there abouts?
Smith: I think it might have been either the first 2 weeks, or the middle 2 weeks, in August. It was something about that time. It was shortly after Shostakovich died, because I had a few records by him, and I remember it being on TV, I think, the week before we went. Thatís how I remember it.
MacLeod: I mean, you Ö
Smith: As I say, this was a dawning of what Iíd realised. The mistake Iíd made in going for this, as being a thing I should be involved in over a period of time, because there were things on the TV, and things in the newspapers, about what was going on in the Soviet Union - the treatment of Jews - and there was just so much of it around I tended to think, well, maybe this is propaganda, but having actually been to the Soviet Union, and seeing what it really is like - the militaristic sort of lifestyle, you see soldiers up and down the streets all the time.
MacLeod: Would you just Ö
Smith: It wasnít the sort of culture, I felt, was what I wanted to see in Britain.
MacLeod: Would you describe yourself as having been an active member of the Communist Party?
Smith: Not of the Communist Party, the YCL.
MacLeod: Or the YCL?
Smith: I wouldnít say, not as active as some of the people there. I was one of the herd, I just, I used to go along to the meetings.
Beels: What sort of positions did you hold in within the organisation?
Smith: I was the branch secretary of the Kingston Branch. It was about 5 or 6 members there. It was trivial really, I mean, we didnít do anything, we just talked.
Beels: Any other positions you Ö
Smith: In the YCL?
Beels: The YCL.
Smith: I was on the District Committee as a, one of the members. You know, I wasnít, I didnít hold any formal position like the Chairman, or anything like that. I was just one of the number. And that was just a formality, because I was Secretary of the Kingston Branch, that was purely what it was all about. Iíd like to say, that it did teach me a hell of a lot about committee work, and the sort of things that I found useful in later life.
I wouldnít knock it for that. What I would knock it for is that itís ideologically on the wrong foot.
MacLeod: Right, Ok. Were you a delegate at the, a delegate of the Chessington Branch at the Surrey District Congress in í72?
Smith: Surrey District Congress of what?
MacLeod: In 1972, the Communist Party Congress.
Smith: Where was that held?
MacLeod: In November 1972.
Smith: No, but where, I mean, I Ö?
MacLeod: You canít remember?
Smith: I canít remember. I do remember going to something like that, but I canít remember the dates or where it was.
MacLeod: And did you ever represent Kingston Branch at the Congress?
Smith: Of the Communist Party?
Smith: I donít think so.
MacLeod: In 1975, February í75?
Smith: In the Communist Party, I played a very small role in the Communist Party.
MacLeod: Or did the YCL have a Congress, or was it something separate from the Communist Party?
Smith: Whatís the date again?
MacLeod: 1975, February.
Smith: February 1975. Well, I think they used to hold them every couple of years. You know, I would like to, I seriously would like to answer your question, but itís so long ago. I mean, if youíre thinking back 17/18 years. I mean, the mind is not there anymore. I canít Ö
MacLeod: Right. I mean, you can remember the occasion having visited the Soviet Union. That being a sort of Ö
Smith: These are, these are landmarks.
MacLeod: Indeed, and what you are saying is, you came back to this country, and you became disillusioned with communism.
And you, sort of, drifted apart from them. But we know that, in November 1975, you were not only elected to the Surrey District Committee of the Young Communist League, but you were also a member of the Industrial Sub-Committee.
Smith: Industrial Sub-Committee?
MacLeod: The Industrial Sub-Committee.
Smith: If you can imagine what that might mean. I mean, I knew there was a committee like that, that I had been a member of at some time, and it was a fiasco. I mean, people used to talk about what we are going to do in industry, and organising union groups, and, I mean, it was just a farce. But I could see the sort of situation it was going on with.
MacLeod: But the point I am making ...
Smith: Maybe I was elected to it, but I didnít play a role in it. Maybe I attended a meeting.
MacLeod: It is not consistent with what you are saying. Youíre telling me that you severed your links, or rather you drifted apart from the Communist Party in í75, and yet as a matter of record ...
Smith: No, no, I was trying to describe to you, I was drifting away from them, but the fact I might have still gone to a few meetings was just the way it was, I mean Ö
MacLeod: It was a bit more than that though, wasnít it?
Smith: I was reinforcing what I was seeing in the Soviet Union, with what I was seeing here. I mean, actually putting it to people about what life was like over there.
MacLeod: How well did you know Sid French?
Smith: Not very well. I met him a few times. Heíd been in a pub when I, Iíd been there a few times. He had been on a trip up to Scarborough, we had a conference up there in, it must have been í73.
MacLeod: Did you Ö
Smith: He was on that bus. I remember him cracking a few jokes, or something like that. I donít Ö
MacLeod: Did you share his political sort of convictions?
Smith: He was a very persuasive man. I wouldnít say I shared them. I admired the manís ...
MacLeod: Were you a supporter of that tendency?
Smith: In the early days I was, yes, but that was because that was the way the Surrey District organised itself, and it didnít have much else to claim to fame, because Surreyís rather a stockbroker sort of area. So, by being very pro-Soviet, which was abhorred by everybody else in, I think, the YCL
and the Communist Party, it was an outcast virtually. It was an interesting, to actually be in that part of the world, and see what it was like, but it was a joke. I used to go sometimes to deliver leaflets for, when they had elections, I think, Sid French stood for at least one election, I remember, and I delivered some leaflets. I remember reading it, and it was all things about, well, you know, the price of bus tickets hadnít changed for 50 years in the Soviet Union, this sort of crap, you know, and I really couldnít see it as being relevant to the people in that area, you know. They are not interested in whatís going on in another country, I mean, they are interested in whatís happening on their own doorstep. And thatís the way I was tending to feel, that this is all about something thatís got nothing to do with us.
MacLeod: When you drifted away from the YCL, what sort of explanation did you give to your former sort of associates, or comrades, for actually leaving the YCL?
Smith: If I gave them any explanation, I donít think I needed to, but I might have said to people I was a bit cheesed off with it all, a waste of time. I donít know if I discussed it in any depth with anybody. In fact, I would have felt a bit embarrassed about it, I think, to, because they would have said, ďOh, youíve got to come and be one of the ladsĒ, you know, ďYouíve got to support usĒ.
Itís a very self perpetuating organisation, I think, very inward looking, very incestuous, and I felt it was a relief to be out of it. I felt much more freedom, to get on with more interesting pursuits.
Beels: At the time you dropped these pursuits, as you describe them, would that have coincided with the time you were considering, or applying to join, EMI Electronics? Would it be around that time?
Smith: It was after, I think. I mean, it wasnít until I saw this advert that I applied, and that was, must have been June, I think, in 1976. Some time afterwards.
MacLeod: So it was after you joined EMI, that you drifted away from the YCL. Is that what you are saying?
Smith: After I joined. No, no, before.
Smith: Much before. I certainly wasnít active at all when I joined EMI.
Beels: Were you still a member as such?
Smith: Well I donít think so, I am sure I handed my card back, posted it, I canít remember what I did. Iíd certainly given it back because I wanted to make it clear that I had left.
MacLeod: I find it interesting that you left the YCL, you left the YCL, the month before you started at EMI.
Smith: That is not true. It was no later than the turn of the year. I, I canít remember the month, but it wasnít that late, because I just know it wasnít. I canít give you a definite date, because I canít remember. But it wasnít that close, I would have remembered it being that close, to joining EMI, Iím sure.
MacLeod: I put it to you, the reason you left the YCL, and the reason that you sort of severed any links with your trade union colleagues ...
Smith: We havenít talked about the trade union yet.
MacLeod: No, weíll come back to that in a minute, but you were quite active in the trade union were you not?
MacLeod: Yes, but Ö
Smith: Not extremely.
MacLeod: And you were a friend of Andy Wilson?
Smith: Andy Wilson. Nearly everyone knew Andy Wilson.
MacLeod: You didnít know Andy Wilson?
Smith: Everybody seemed to know him.
MacLeod: Oh sorry, I beg your pardon. Right. Ok. So you disassociated yourself from the YCL, you sort of took little to do with trade union
affairs. All about the time that you joined EMI?
Smith: No, itís not true. I did, in the union I was playing quite an active role, almost up to the time I joined EMI Electronics.
MacLeod: Were you active in the trade union, and within the Ö
Smith: Probably more so. I, some of it seemed more relevant to life. But not, not so much that I was infatuated with it. I mean, it wasnít, Ö if you sit in a smelly room, with people smoking and sweaty armpits, I mean, itís not really the sort of environment I wanted to be in, um, and, as I say, there was a very good point about it all, which I realised while it was happening, afterwards, was it gave me a very good insight into committee work, how to chair meetings, how to write minutes, all those sort of things, were very interesting to me. Which I hadnít really experienced anywhere before. And I think that was of great assistance to me, it helped me to understand people and how people work, and much more came out of it, I think, than what I lost. I gained a lot of insight into things, which I probably wouldnít have had otherwise. Maybe, if I had joined the Young Conservatives, or Young Liberals, I might have got the same thing, but I think the way they organised things in the YCL was quite dogmatic, and that gave me a good insight into that way of dealing with a ...
MacLeod: So you were, if I can just then talk about the trade union very, very briefly. I mean, you were a member, presumably, of the AUEW?
Smith: It might have been the overall union I was with, but I was in the Technical & Supervisory Section, and I didnít really consider myself one of the, you know, the sort of craftsman engineers who comprised the rest of it.
MacLeod: Were you involved politically within the union?
Smith: I was for a time. I wasnít very happy with that, because I donít think I particularly found the people all that interesting. And there was a chap called Dick Woolf. Dick Woolf, I think his name was, Richard Woolf, if you know the name. He was the organiser, the, what they call District Organiser of the, how would you call it, the District Council I think it was called. And he was quite a pleasant sort of man, but he was, he was a member of the Communist Party, I found out. And he used to organise something in his flat, once every month or two, and I think I attended twice on that, but that was the only political involvement I had, that you could have said was strictly as a sort of group within the group.
MacLeod: And when was that, when was that up to. What period are we talking about?
Smith: It could have been í74 or í75. I canít be, it didnít really stand out in my mind. I remember it, but I canít really remember Ö
MacLeod: Did you have a committee position within the union, um, or within any of the sub-groups?
Smith: I was a chairman of the - only for a short time, it wasnít very long Ė but I was the Chairman of the Kingston branch of TASS.
Beels: Ok. At this stage I am going to switch off the machine in order to change the tapes. The time by my watch is 4:43 pm.
Person interviewed: Michael John Smith
Place of interview: Paddington Green Police Station
Date of interview: 9th August 1992
Time commenced: 16:45 Time concluded: 17:13
Other persons present: Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod
Detective Sergeant Stephen John Beels
Richard Jefferies (Duty Solicitor)
Beels: We are continuing the interview of Mr Michael Smith. The time is 4:45 pm. I must remind you, Mr Smith, that you are still under caution, and you still do not have to say anything unless you wish to do so, but what you do say may be given in evidence. Do you understand that?
Smith: Yes, I understand that.
MacLeod: Mr Smith, Iím just finally trying to wind up, on this particular point, concerning your political involvement, not only in the YCL, but also in the trade union. You, you were associated, in fact involved, which you admit, with the trade union for a while. Youíve told me earlier on, that you gave up all sort of links with the YCL, and took little part in the trade union activities, and yet, in 1975, in November 1975, you were the Secretary of the Political Sub-Committee of the AUEW.
Smith: No, no.
MacLeod: Technical & Supervisory Section.
Smith: No, no, I think thatís a misconception anyway. What it was, I think, it was called Political and Educational
Sub-Committee, and it was mainly, er, to deal with things concerning outside bodies, like the Labour Party, and it wasnít political in the sense that it was actively promoting communist infiltration into the union, or anything like that, it was, it was just dealing with outside bodies. I took the minutes - they were deadly boring again - I took the minutes and published them, so I suppose my name appeared on them, but the, the thing that I achieved, I thought, which I was quite proud of, was to organise a course, a seminar. I canít remember what they called them now, but there was, there was, once a year they organise something, a sort of training session, or, um, you, you get my drift? I canít quite remember what they called it. It was a sort of, um, an educational meeting for people in the area, and I organised something in the Star & Garter Hotel in Richmond, which was said to be the most successful theyíd ever had, and I felt quite proud of that. That was the last thing I did, and because it was, it did more or less happened at the time I joined EMI Electronics, and as I would have had to have changed my branch anyway, I used that as an excuse to just drop out of it, because, I thought at that time, I really wanted to be free of all these sort of other interests, and it wasnít, it wasnít what I wanted to do any more. It was a convenient point to leave on a high point, like, um, Daley Thompson should have done.
MacLeod: So, right. During those, um, sort of day, or those years that you were involved with the trade union, I mean, it was quite
a lively time politically. There was a lot going on, there was Britainís membership, or applied membership, of the EEC. Were you part of the campaign, um, within the Kingston Branch of your union, um, that was set up, um, to oppose British membership of the EEC?
Smith: I didnít know there was such a body. I was aware there was something going on at the time, and I think some leaflets were produced, and I think a couple of public meetings, but I donít remember what. I remember delivering some leaflets, thatís, I do remember that.
MacLeod: Do you remember, do you remember attending one such meeting, in a bar in Kingston?
Smith: A bar in Kingston, which barís that?
MacLeod: Well, I donít know, I havenít got the details. A bar in Kingston.
Smith: A meeting. Do you, you mean a meeting?
MacLeod: A meeting, a trade union meeting, which had been called to, to discuss British membership of the EEC.
Smith: I donít remember that sort. There was a public meeting, I remember, which was in the Surbiton Assembly Rooms, which I wasnít, I didnít do anything, I just sat and listened, and er, there were a couple of speakers.
MacLeod: No, Iím thinking of, Iím thinking of a meeting in a pub.
Smith: I donít remember that. A meeting in a pub. Iím sorry, if you can give me the name of pub.
MacLeod: Now that surprises me, because I thought you might.
Smith: No, you, remember, Iím going back a long time now. Iím, Iím really trying to answer your questions. If you can give me the name of the pub, I might be able to connect?
MacLeod: I donít think the name of the pub is particularly material, but what is important is that it was about that time, and I would suggest at that meeting, that you first were introduced to some Russian people.
Smith: I donít remember that.
MacLeod: You donít remember it because itís convenient or Ö?
Smith: No. Iím, not, Iím seriously trying to ... I donít remember a meeting in a pub, or a bar, you say? About, um, ÖThat doesnít connect. A bar. A bar is like a wine bar, isnít it?
MacLeod: Letís not be pedantic.
Smith: No, no, I want Ö
MacLeod: There was, there was a meeting at a public house in Kingston, which you attended, which had been organised by the trade union to discuss Britainís membership of the EEC. At that meeting you were introduced to a Russian. Am I right, or am I wrong?
Smith: I, I, I really want to answer this question, but I canít remember this, this particular occasion. I canít remember the pub. If, if you can give me the pub name, perhaps?
MacLeod: If you canít remember the name of the man who ran you for a number of years, Victor Oshchenko, I canít see that the name of the pub is going to be very material.
Smith: No, I think weíve, weíve missed the point here. Look, I, I want to answer a question about a meeting in a pub. Now, I, I do want to answer this question. I want to, to give you some facts if I can, but I canít think of the name of the pub.
MacLeod: I donít think the name of the pub was that important.
Smith: Where is, where is the pub?
MacLeod: You would remember making, making an acquaintance of some Russian delegates.
Smith: Look, Iíll, Iíll tell you where I did meet a Russian, if you want, if weíre getting down to brass tacks, right? There was a meeting, and it was in the Surbiton Assembly Rooms. It wasnít this
public meeting to do with the, um, Common Market thing. It was a, sort of social event, at which I remember there being a lot of trade union people there. Andy Wilson was there, I remember, and some people from either my TASS branch. It was a, sort of, general, for the area. I donít remember what the occasion was, but I remember I picked up a girl there, thatís why I remember it. There, there was a Russian guy there, who I think was with Andy Wilson, and, er, er, I donít know if he introduced me, or, but I was rather shy, and I didnít, I didnít say anything to him. I just might have nodded at him. But I remember there being a Russian there. I mean, er, now who that Russian was, I donít know. I remember him being, he had receding hair I think, thatís all I can remember about him. But I donít know who he was, or what connection he had, why he was there. But that wasnít to do with the Common Market, I know that.
MacLeod: Whatever the subject Ö
Smith: It, it was something to do, there was a man there from Vietnam, and if that can connect perhaps Ö.
MacLeod: Now letís talk about the Russian, the Russian Ö
Smith: Well the Russian. The Russian. Thatís the Russian I met, or was introduced to, or Ö?
MacLeod: And what was his position, was he a diplomat?
Smith: I donít know. I, I really donít know. I, he was introduced, well, I donít know if he was introduced to me, but he was there in this group, and itís, like, people were nodding at him, and saying hello, you know. It wasnít, there was no discussion going on. So I, I, I donít know the guyís name. Well, if I, if they said his name, I certainly wouldnít have remembered it. But that, that definitely, he, he, was a Russian. Yes, I knew it.
MacLeod: And did you meet any other Russians after that time, or around that time?
Smith: There was a social in, um Ö
Beels: What sort of social?
Smith: One, one, one of these wine and cheese sort of things, in, er, it was North of the river, god knows where. It was, it was, a, a polytechnic building of some sort. I, I really donít know, but there was, er, it was I think a YCL social thing, and there were some Russian women and men, with their children. They were sitting in a group, like. Iíd, Iíd, Iíd like to tell you, but, but I really donít know what, what it was now. I mean, itís so long ago. I actually remember it, because I remember these, these big fat Russian women and their children sitting in this corner, but they werenít talking to anybody else, and likewise with the English people.
MacLeod: And who organised that function?
Smith: I think it was the YCL, and it was in, it was somewhere North of the river in Central London, and it might have been a London University building, or something like that, but ...
MacLeod: And did you get friendly with any of the Russians?
Smith: I didnít speak to any of them. I donít think they spoke English, actually. They looked, er, thatís why I think they were sitting on their own.
MacLeod: What other Russians have you met?
Smith: Well, obviously, I talked to, er, some Russians in, er, on this trip, when I went to the Soviet Union. I mean, the guide was one of them.
MacLeod: Yes, well, I mean Ö
Smith: No need to criticise me because Ö
MacLeod: Weíll come back to the Soviet Union trip, just in a minute. If we can just concentrate on that period, when you first met some Russian people over here, in this country. Firstly, at that function you described in Surrey, and, and this other function that was run by the YCL. Was that around the same time?
Smith: I, I do remember Well, it would have been, I canít be exact, because I, I, it would have been í73 to í74, something about that time, I think.
Smith: I did, there was another Russian I met, who was somebody who defected, or married an Englishman, that was what it was. I did, for about 2 terms, I did a course in First Year Russian in the local Kingston Adult Education Centre. But it wasnít very successful, so I dropped out after, after about half the year. But there was a Russian woman, who married an English businessman, I think he was. Came over to this country, and, er, she came on the last, one of the last days I was, it was before Christmas, she came the day before, the week before Christmas, and talked a little bit about what her life had been like there. And, um, then she cooked some things. We went round to somebodyís house in, er, it was in Kingston. I canít remember the name of the road, Elm Road, I think it was. A house in Elm Road that, that this woman lived in. We, er, we went there, had a few drinks, and this, this Russian lady had made some sweets and things to eat. I, I might have talked to her casually about things, but it wasnít, she certainly wasnít a political person, and I, I wouldnít think she...
MacLeod: And how did you, sorry, how did you get to know her again?
Smith: Because she, she was a friend of the woman who was running the course, it was a First Year Russian course.
Smith: I had some sort of aspirations, I was going to learn another language, because Iíve never been very good at languages, and, er,
the, er, friend I was sharing the flat with, er, wanted to do French. I said, ďwell, Iím, Iím going to do RussianĒ. It wasnít really because of the Russian interest at all, it was more, because I thought, it was a challenge.
MacLeod: So, it was the woman who was running the course, was it Kingston Poly, did you say?
Smith: It was an Adult Education Centre. It was, um, the school thatís now gone, um Ö
MacLeod: It was that one Ö
Smith: Villiers Road, it was the end of Villiers Road in Kingston.
MacLeod: Right. So, you, you, did you complete that course?
Smith: No. I, I, I think I left about half way through the second term. I, I, I think because there was a lot of reading up and studying to do, to try and understand the words and the vocabulary. I just couldnít ...
MacLeod: You say that you hadnít, um, you hadnít learnt any other language?
Smith: I speak nothing, really. I, I know a little bit of Spanish, because we have a Spanish ...
MacLeod: Um. But why choose Russian, probably one of the Ö?
Smith: Well, well I think it was connected with the fact, I thought, well maybe Iíll go there someday for a holiday.
MacLeod: But itís a very difficult language to learn?
Smith: It is, and thatís why I dropped out. I couldnít, er Ö
MacLeod: But, I mean, why, if youíre going to take up a foreign language, and given the infrequency that one might expect to, to have visits to the Soviet Union ...?
Smith: I remember now, why I chose Russian. Um, going back even further, it must have been in 1969, the end of í69, there was a friend of mine who I, I was sharing, um, a, a room with in Walton-on-Thames, by the name was Vuk Nenadovic.
MacLeod: Whatís the name. Iím sorry?
Smith: V U K. Iíll try and work this out: N E N A D O V I C.
Beels: Nenardovik is it?
Smith: Now he, er, I think lives in this country now. But he was really, I suppose, the person responsible for me becoming interested in left-wing politics, and, um, it was just because he was quite a persuasive sort of chap, you know, he was rather, um, Ö
MacLeod: Of what nationality was he, did you say?
Smith: He was Yugoslav. He used to ring the praises of Yugoslavia before itís downfall.
Smith: And I, I didnít particularly, um, like what he had to say, but he did make me think about politics. I think thatís probably why I got involved. But he wanted to learn Russian, while we were sharing this flat, this house, this room in, this room in this house. Well, I thought, well, you know ďif heís going to learn it, perhaps Iíll learn itĒ, and, and we photocopied the Linguaphone book - he got it from the local library - and I suppose I went through about 2 or 3 of the lessons, but I never really got to grips with it. But when I saw this, this local course in Russian, I thought, well, perhaps, ďIíll have another crack at itĒ. Because it was, it was the first language Iíd tried to learn, so I think that was why it was naturally the one I picked. I thought, ďI know a little bit of it, I know the alphabet, and I know a few wordsĒ, but ...
MacLeod: I just find it curious, that you should wish to take up a language as difficult as Russian. As I said earlier, itís not the kind of place that people go on their summer holidays?
Smith: Thatís right.
MacLeod: So why take Russian, as in preference to Spanish. I mean, you are quite a, youíre keen on flamenco dancing?
Smith: Well, that wasnít the case when I, er, in this time. I mean, at that time, I, I didnít really have a flamenco interest.
MacLeod: Can you speak Spanish?
Smith: A little bit. Iím, Iím not sort of Ö
MacLeod: Have you taken lessons?
Smith: My wife and I did a yearís course in Spanish. You know, in the mid í80s, I think. I donít remember, í84, something like that.
MacLeod: So, in case Iím missing the point here, if you can just make clear to me why it was, it was you chose to learn Russian, at that particular time. You shared a flat with this man, this Yugoslav?
Smith: Yugoslav, yes.
MacLeod: Yeah, um, and it was as a result of your, sort of, association with him, yeah?
Smith: Um, yes.
MacLeod: Yeah, that you became interested in communism. He, he, was he the man Ö?
Smith: Well, I wouldnít put it as strongly as that. He made me think a little bit about things. I mean, no country is ideal, and I donít, donít think anybody would be so naive to say that life in Britain is perfect. And, er, I think he had a lot of good points he made about things, anomalies in this country, and, er, perhaps it just made me think a little bit, and I thought, er, maybe, er, Iíd always been sold the line that ďBritainís bestĒ and ďBritish made products are bestĒ, and all that
sort of thing. I think he knocked my faith in Britain a little bit, at that time, and, er, he put the line, well, ďin Yugoslavia we do things differently, and weíve got cheap buses, and all this sort of thingĒ. But he made me think a bit, about the organisation of things, and, er, what the priorities might be, you know, jobs and housing, that sort of thing.
Beels: Was he involved in politics, and in this country?
Smith: Well, I donít think so, no. I think he might have been in Yugoslavia, but I think his father was in UNESCO, or something like that, it was part of the United Nations, and he had worked for a while as an engineer - not UNESCO - something to do with engineering, because he was working on the pyramids projects in Egypt, and had quite a good job, I think. I canít really say much more about him than that, because I didnít, I didnít know him that well.
MacLeod: But suffice it to say, I mean, he was the one that sort, um, of aroused your interest in politics.
Smith: I think thatís true to say. I, I donít believe, um, I can go back any further, and say there was anything else that would have triggered it off.
MacLeod: I mean, you are a very intelligent man. Youíre a, I would say quite a strong willed man, um, how come you allowed somebody like this to persuade you, um, to the virtues of communism?
Smith: Well, you know, I donít think it was just, itís not, what you say, communism in, er, in a, you know, global sort of sense. It was a, a few arguments that he used, that I found
difficult to answer. And I think when you canít answer something you look for reasons or ways of resolving it, and I, at that time. Itís difficult, I canít put any one thing on, er, down, and say that was what caused this, that, and the other to happen. It was a sequence of events, and this was probably the thing that sparked it off.
MacLeod: Right. How long did that association with this man continue. How long did you know him?
Smith: I, I, he was on my course at university, so I knew him for about 4 years in all, but we, we only shared this room for about 6 months. Maybe less, because, I think, we, we took the flat, this room, in about October or November. I canít be more specific, October, November, that time. It was late autumn, and he moved out about May, because he lost his job.
MacLeod: And what year was that, when you first met him?
Smith: Er, that was 1969 to 1970, it was that, that winter.
MacLeod: Would you describe this man as an ardent communism, or a committed communism, er, a committed communist?
Smith: Well, I, I found it difficult to understand him, because, um, he used to say, because there had been a thing in Yugoslavia about the threat from the Soviet Union, and, er, he was rather, er, I think his politics were rather mixed, you know. He, he, on the one hand he was saying, very much, that Tito was the great god, and there was, er, a big thing about being Yugoslav, you know, and, and on the other hand he was saying, oh... Oh Cuba was
his main ticket, I think. I mean, he used to rave about Che Guevara, and revolution in the jungle. So, I, I think, it was very much, er, a, a romantic vision with him.
MacLeod: So he was a Yugoslav, who, um, by the sounds of it, he was, um, a supporter of the Yugoslav form of communism.
Smith: I think that must have been what it was based on. I, I never really got to the root of it, I must admit.
MacLeod: So, by definition, one wouldnít expect him to be terribly aligned to the, to the sort of Russian style of communism. Why should he learn the language?
Smith: He used, he used, he used to talk about it, um, in more global terms, like, you know, weíre all part of this great movement, and, um, I, I donít think he, he said it was all bad, he just said they, they do some funny things there, you know, itís a bit of a strange, er, lifestyle.
MacLeod: Well, I would suggest, that probably around that time, you were probably committed to the communist ideology in any event, and all you found in this Yugoslav friend was, if you like, a fellow traveller who agreed with your views?
Smith: Ah, no, I canít agree with that.
MacLeod: Not that he persuaded you, but you were already 9/10ths of the way there yourself.
Smith: No, no. Honestly, I was, I think, I was the one who was perhaps looking for something. He seemed, he seemed quite firm about what he believed in. I mean, he might have been a bit confused as to exactly where he came down, but in arguments he was quite a convincing talker.
MacLeod: So, you reckon then, that that was the point of your, sort of, baptism into the, er, communist Ö?
Smith: Well, what Iím trying to say, it wasnít, it wasnít just him. I think it was, it was a combination of things at that time. When you look back, and you think, as you were just saying, quite rightly, that there was a lot of turmoil in the early í70s, and it, it coincided with the time when I was perhaps looking for something, er, that was an alternative to what existed. Ok, I look back, and I say that that was misconceived at the time, but I, I canít say I would have done it any differently if I lived it again. It was, it was just the way it was. I mean, I did all sorts of stupid things.
MacLeod: Right, when did you last see this Nenadovic?
Smith: I saw him, I, I think it was í73. After we left university, we all went off and did different things. He was working for a company, I canít, I canít be sure what the company name
was. It might have been British Aerospace. He was working for this company, and, er, I think he wrote me a letter, or rang me up. He contacted me in someway, and said ďlook, weíre getting a, a few of our friends from class, are getting them back togetherĒ. We met in a, a restaurant, I think, it was, it was an Indian restaurant in Rathbone Place, off Oxford Street, and I think we just wandered around the West End for a short time and then we went our own ways, and there was nothing, er, sinister. He, he, I think, he actually, he, he changed his mind quite a lot after, er, I knew him at that time.
MacLeod: Can we go back and talk about this Russian woman, who ran the, the Russian language courses.
Smith: No, no. Sorry, thatís, thatís wrong. The woman who ran the course was, in fact, um, I think she was Norwegian, or Swedish. Er, god, what was her name?
Smith: She had a name that sounded Norwegian, it was, um ...
MacLeod: She was non-Russian?
Smith: She was certainly non-Russian, but yeah, she had, she had been on a course, on a course in Russia, to learn Russian from native speakers.
MacLeod: Did you discuss politics with her. I mean, do you Ö?
Smith: No, no. It was never discussed. I mean, it was all very much with learning Russian, because it was a good language to learn.
MacLeod: So, wouldnít it be true to say, that the, um, communism, um, might have held some sort of attraction, some kind of appeal for you in those days?
Smith: Well, in the earlyí70s, I think it did.
MacLeod: To the extent that you were prepared to learn the language of the country?
Smith: No, no. As I say, I donít think that was the reason I was learning it. Iím trying to be very, um, er, I wish I could come Ö Iím a bit tired, I canít think of the words. Iíd, Iíd like to be a bit more eloquent, in the way Iím presenting this, but the, the, the reason I was, I think I was interested in Russian as the sound of the language mainly. I mean, Iím very much an aural person, I like the sound of things, music, and thereís a certain beauty of the sound of Russian, which I think attracted me, like French does to some people, and it could be probably that Iím, Iím more keen, I think, on the, on that side of it.
Smith: Iím a very keen fan of Doctor Zhivago. The film, and that sort of vision of, of Russia as being the great, sort of country, and the snow. Thatís what appealed to me, more than the politics.
MacLeod: So, a romantic appeal?
Smith: Yes, more, more than the politics. For, for learning Russian, thatís what weíre talking about.
MacLeod: But communism, as an ideal, must have had, um, some appeal to you, for you to become involved with the, um, YCL?
Smith: Yes, it had an appeal, but I think it was more of a thought out, um, pattern of thinking. It was, it was much more, less romantic, more machine like, more mathematical, in saying this is the way we should organise things, and it was all very much, tying every nut and bolt down, to say lifeís got to be all, all sewn up, you know. Maybe at that time I felt I wanted to see a concrete reason why everything was there, but, you know, I realise lifeís not like that, itís much more fluid, and Ö
MacLeod: So can we talk about, we have spoken about the, the Russians you have met. Can we just go back over that again. Did you meet any other Russians during the time that you were involved with the trade unions, or the YCL?
Smith: Well, there werenít many around. I mean, I donít remember. I think though, other people met more Russians, because I
remember people saying about it. Um, I heard a story, I donít know if itís true, from my friend Ken White, my previous friend Ken White, when we were talking in the pub one day. He said, ďdo you know Sid French has been over to somewhere in Russia, he got on a plane, and he was sort of spirited out of the country, and went on a helicopter ride somewhere into, somewhere in Southern Russia. People there were talking to him about the Communist Party in this country, and, um, how it can be organised betterĒ. And it was, it was like, infiltration of Russian ideas through Sid French, and I, I, that seriously made me think, ďwhatís going on hereĒ, you know. It didnít sound like the organisation I thought Iíd joined.
MacLeod: So were you surprised, or shocked, that Sid French ...
Smith: Well, Iím shocked, because I, I didnít think that that sort of thing went on. I, I thought the British, er, Communist Party was a self contained unit.
MacLeod: That was naïve, a bit naive was it not?
Smith: Well, well you know, in those days, perhaps, I was a bit naive. I mean, I donít, people donít grow up in, in 5 seconds. You know, it takes a while for these things to happen.
MacLeod: But, I mean, you werenít a naive person Mr Smith.
Smith: Well I was young.
MacLeod: You were an intelligent man, a university graduate, youíre not talking about some wet behind the ears youth.
MacLeod: I donít, Iím not trying to, to say anything to alleviate myself, as a, you know, I did stupid things or whatever. When, when that time was, when I was in that, that period, I, I might have been intelligent, I might have had a lot of qualifications and training, but I lacked experience, and I think thatís what I was looking for.
Beels: Well, the tape is coming to an end, so Iím going to switch the machine off, at 5:13 pm.
Person interviewed: Michael John Smith
Place of interview: Paddington Green Police Station
Date of interview: 9th August 1992
Time commenced: 17:14 Time concluded: 17:42
Other persons present: Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod
Detective Sergeant Stephen John Beels
Richard Jefferies (Duty Solicitor)
Beels: The time is 5:14 pm, the 9th August, this is a continuation of the interview of Michael Smith. Mr Smith, I must still remind you that you are under caution. Do you understand?
Smith: Yes, I do.
Beels: Ok sir.
MacLeod: Right, weíll go back to this period when you first became interested in communism. I suggest that that was the period that Victor Oshchenko was introduced to you, at one of the meetings?
Smith: I donít really, if that was the man that I mentioned to you before, in this sort of social thing in the Assembly Rooms, er, maybe that was him, but I donít, from the picture that you showed me, I donít think it was the same man. I mean, I would like to say it was, if it would help, but I really donít believe that
was the same man. I think he had receding hair.
MacLeod: How often did you see that man?
Smith: I only saw him the once, that ... I, I didnít see many Russians, because there werenít many about. I do know Andy Wilson used to, I think he had a few acquaintances at the Russian Embassy, because I think he used to get involved in discussions, or social gatherings, at the Russian Embassy. He regarded that as a bit of a perk, I think.
MacLeod: So the Russian that you were introduced to Ö?
Smith: He may have been a friend of Andyís. I think he was a friend of Andy Wilsonís, as far as I know.
MacLeod: So, he was quite likely to have been somebody from the Russian Embassy?
Smith: Maybe, I am not going to speculate. I suppose most of the Russians were, because I donít think, they didnít really have many outlets in this country for business.
Beels: Did anything in conversation give you any hint, that he might be connected with the Embassy in any way?
Smith: No, because I think he was just one of these people, who were just walking around socially, having a chat, and I didnít talk to him, as I said. All I, if I did anything, it was just a nod to acknowledge that he was there.
Beels: Have other people spoken about him to you, at any time?
Smith: Not to me, no. I mean, he was introduced, he was like a guest of honour there. I think, perhaps, Andy had brought him along, I donít know.
Beels: Was he given any certain status?
Smith: No. I think it, probably what it was, Andy wanted to show off, ďthis is what we do in our areaĒ. I think thatís probably what it was, and he might have seen this guy at the Russian Embassy and said, ďwell, come along, and see what we are doingĒ, I am speculating, because I donít know. All, I can think, he must have come along with Andy, because I donít see who else would have invited him.
MacLeod: I am putting it to you, that that man was Victor Oshchenko. The man who recruited you for the KGB.
Smith: Thatís not true. I was not recruited by the KGB. That man, unless this man youíve showed me, that photograph is wrong, if itís just old or whatever, maybe thatís, maybe he has lost his hair, I donít know. But he certainly had receding hair, and thatís what I do remember.
MacLeod: You can remember that far back?
Smith: Well, thatís the only thing that I can remember about him, that was significant.
MacLeod: You are talking about 21 years ago?
Smith: Well, Iím remembering a lot of the details. I canít remember everything.
MacLeod: Thatís a lot of detail to remember. I mean, Ö
Smith: Itís not a lot. I mean, if somebody had fair hair or dark hair, I mean, itís not a serious matter, surely.
MacLeod: Did he make an impression on you?
Smith: I didnít talk to him. He made no impression at all on me, apart from, I saw him standing, he was walking around and talking to people. There was no, there was no real politics being discussed, as far as I could see. I think he was just having a chat and a drink.
MacLeod: He was introduced to you, or Ö?
Smith: No, he wasnít introduced.
MacLeod: To your company, to your company Ö?
Smith: No. He was in the vicinity, where I was drinking and talking with other friends. Whether Andy introduced him, or whether he just walked over and nodded, or, I, I had the impression perhaps he couldnít speak English, because thatís why Iím very hesitant about trying to enter into any discussion in a language I donít know.
MacLeod: That was Victor Oshchenko.
Smith: Was it? I donít know.
MacLeod: Well, you know as well as I do, it was Victor Oshchenko.
Smith: I donít know. You are saying.
MacLeod: You are lying.
Smith: No. Letís get this straight, I am talking about a meeting. You were talking about something, you are talking about a bar, you said, and it was something to do with the ...
MacLeod: You met Victor Oshchenko during one of those trade union meetings.
Smith: It was not a trade union meeting, it was a social gathering.
MacLeod: Or, even a social gathering. I am prepared to be corrected on that. But you met Victor Oshchenko at a function in Kingston on Thames.
Smith: Iím sure it wasnít.
MacLeod: In a bar at Kingston on Thames.
Smith: I donít think thatís true.
MacLeod: You donít think itís true. Is that because you canít recollect?
Smith: If the meeting was the same one as you describe, and this man was there. I mean, I have no way of, maybe he was also in the vicinity, and I didnít see him. But I cannot recollect the face that you put in front of me yesterday.
MacLeod: I am sorry to labour the point, but it is necessary for me to go over this again. He has told us that he met you in a bar in Kingston on Thames.
Smith: Well, this was not a bar.
MacLeod: And that was the start. Well, whatever bar.
Smith: This was not a bar, this is a public hall.
MacLeod: Or even a public hall.
Smith: No. Thereís a lot of difference here.
MacLeod: There may be, it may be, that some of the detail is maybe not quite accurate, but the substance of it is correct, that he met you in Kingston.
Smith: No, I am sorry, this is too hypothetical for me to agree to.
MacLeod: Itís not hypothetical.
Smith: Thereís a serious difference of opinion here. You say that it was something to do with the campaign against the Common Market, and this certainly was not about that, I know that for a fact.
MacLeod: Can I just correct myself then. You, probably, during one of those meetings, trade union meetings, were introduced to a Russian.
MacLeod: Whether it was, or he was in your company, or he became aware of you, but at whatever function Ö
Smith: Well, look, I Ö
MacLeod: And I am prepared to be corrected, at some subsequent stage.
Smith: I want to get to the bottom of this. I donít want to feel that you, youíve got some doubt about if I met this guy or not. I mean, Iíve seriouslyÖ
MacLeod: Iím in no doubt that you met him.
Smith: Well I certainly am in doubt, because I think that the information that you are giving me doesnít tie up with what I remember. Now, if you say I met him in a bar, and it was something to do with the Common Market, I donít remember that situation.
MacLeod: Listen. We are disputing the irrelevant details here, the important Ö
Smith: Well, the details are important, I am sorry.
MacLeod: The important detail, is the fact that you met a Russian, a Russian by the name of Victor Aleksovitch Oshchenko.
Smith: (Laughs) Look Ö
MacLeod: And he was at that time Third Secretary, Economic, at the Embassy. And he later became Second Secretary.
Smith: Well, I donít know any secretaries at the Ö
MacLeod: Well you did, because he has told us.
Smith: Well then, when did I meet him.
MacLeod: Why should I tell you this.
Smith: If heís, I am not doubting what he might have told you. What I doubt is his recollection of if he met me, or he met somebody else.
MacLeod: But itís not just meeting you. Heís fully identified you. He has told us that you worked for them, from the time that you were first acquainted, and it was he who directed you into Thorn EMI, or EMI as it was then.
Smith: Nobody. Look, letís get to Ö
MacLeod: And you worked for them, and he was your controller.
Smith: Let us get this Ö Look, this is not true. Let me get to the point about Thorn EMI. I told you why
I went there. No, perhaps I didnít. The reason I went, because I want to be quite open about all this now, this has gone far enough. The reason I went to Thorn EMI was partly a pay rise, it was partly a career move, because my work at Rediffusion I felt was, had come to an end. There was no future in that company for me. I had actually been to my boss, and his name is Geoff Goldsmith, heíll confirm this, if he is still alive. Geoff Goldsmith worked at - heís G.G. Goldsmith - he would not give me a pay rise at the time, and I said, look, if you donít give me a pay rise, I am off, you know. And it just coincided with that job advert coming up, they gave me an interview. I was not offered the job I went for, actually, I, they said, well, ďwould you be interested in Quality AssuranceĒ. At the time, I said I wasnít, but I was interviewed by Phil Beauchamp, who is the, or was the Deputy Quality Manager, I think he was at that time, and Phil Beauchamp said ďIíll offer you a jobĒ. And I thought, well, this is a golden opportunity to leave the company I am bored with, and get a pay rise, and actually get some more experience, and do something different. I was quite keen, I mean, it had nothing to do with anybody telling me to go and do it, I did it on my own back.
MacLeod: So, if I can just pick up that point. You went to Thorn EMI, correction, you went to EMI, as the company was known in those days, because you were going to get more money, basically?
Smith: That wasnít the only reason, I donít want ...
MacLeod: But it was a reason?
Smith: Money is a part of the reason. The main reason, I would say, the main reason was a career move. I felt I didnít have anywhere to go in Rediffusion. I wanted to move into a different field. I was getting bored with TV manufacture, which is what Rediffusion is all about.
MacLeod: But I suggest you were put there, you were planted in there.
Smith: If this man has told you that, then I donít see how he can possibly justify that, because I have not been directed to go anywhere in my life. I decided, it looked like a good move, and I did it. And I donít care what this man says, he had no influence on me at all, because I didnít know him.
MacLeod: So, you took, you changed your job, and you got extra money. How much, can you recall just how much more you got for that, in salary terms, substantial, or modest increase?
Smith: It would have been, remember that salaries were very small then. It would have been, I think, 3,1 or 3,2 thousand per annum, and I think I was earning 2,8 or 2,9 in the old job. I canít be sure. It wasnít a huge increase, but it was enough to be worth the move. But it wasnít the reason I was going. Money was only part of it. The reason was a career move, I was going to get much more job satisfaction, and that probably was more important than the money.
MacLeod: You took a pay cut.
Smith: It was not a pay cut.
MacLeod: You took a pay cut, and they paid you ...
Smith: And whoís told you I took a pay cut, because I donít believe that?
MacLeod: Well, put it this way, if I can establish that your salary ...
Smith: You canít establish, Iíve got my pay slips at home, and Iíll dig them out for you.
MacLeod: Well, we are already doing that, and weíll find them for ourselves. My information is that you took a pay cut when you went to EMI.
Smith: Where did you get that information from?
MacLeod: From your old friend Victor.
Smith: Then my old friend Victor is lying, because I donít know an old friend Victor, and how he could possibly know that information, God only knows?
MacLeod: Because they had recruited you, and they had directed you into a company that was carrying out Ö
MacLeod: Ö Government contract work, and in order to compensate you for the loss in salary.
Smith: (Laughs) Nobody compensated me for a loss in salary.
MacLeod: You had a payment of something in the region of £1,000.
Smith: Thatís nonsense. I did not take a pay cut.
MacLeod: I Ö
Smith: Well, I donít know what he said, because I donít know the guy, and I donít know how heís got this information. But the facts of the case are, I took a pay increase. Now, I donít see how he could possibly know I took a pay cut, when itís not true. I canít see how you can dwell on this point, when itís just factual.
I mean, itís in black and white.
MacLeod: So what youíre saying is that Ö
Smith: I can tell you Ö
MacLeod: ... that what this man Victor Oshchenko is telling us Ö
Smith: Look, listen to me Ö
MacLeod: Ö is a load of lies.
Smith: I think he must be.
MacLeod: But why should he?
Smith: The one time I have taken a pay cut is when I went to Evershed & Vignoles, and that was because I had a job to go to, and Iíd rather be working than not. Thatís the only reason I took a pay cut at that time. But thatís the only time Iíve taken a pay cut, in the whole of my working life. I am not an idiot, I donít go for pay cuts, and if this man has told you that, then I am sorry, heís got the wrong information. Why should I lie about it, itís in black and white on my pay slips.
MacLeod: Mr Smith, you know as well as I do, we are wasting each otherís time here.
Smith: No I donít.
MacLeod: Because I know Ö
Smith: We are, if you Ö
MacLeod: and you know that you were working for the KGB, for a number of years.
Smith: I was not working for the KGB.
MacLeod: For a long time. Look me in the eye, and tell me that you were not working for the KGB.
Smith: Ok. Iíll look you in the directly in the eye, and Iíll say I was not working for the KGB.
MacLeod: And youíre lying.
Smith: At any time.
MacLeod: You are lying.
Smith: What we are trying to get to is the evidence, that youíve put on the table, that says this happened. And I have not seen one jot of evidence.
MacLeod: Are you saying that itís not true?
Smith: Of course, I am saying itís not true.
MacLeod: Are you saying that, after Victor Oshchenko left, that you werenít handed over to another KGB Officer, and I am now going to present you with another photograph.
Smith: Oh God.
MacLeod: Another Victor. (Smith laughs) Yes, you may well laugh.
Smith: How many Victors are there in this cock and bull story.
MacLeod: Victor Lazin, who became your controller after Victor Oshchenko. Have a good look at him.
Smith: He looks like ex-Mafia to me. I mean, this man wouldnít be seen dead on the streets, as far as I am concerned.
MacLeod: Why should he say that - and this could only be within your knowledge, or within his knowledge - that when you went to collect a message from a DLB, and you know what a DLB is, because you got training in it.
Smith: You said it was something ...?
MacLeod: Yes, you know precisely what I am talking about. On one occasion, when you were under his control, you went to a DLB, and the kids had removed the message from the telephone box. That knowledge is unique to him, and itís unique to you.
Smith: What telephone box are we talking about? Where is this place?
MacLeod: Iím telling you what ...
Smith: Has he said this?
Beels: I must say, at this stage, that Superintendent McLeod has presented a photograph which we will exhibit as MM/2.
Jefferies: Can I just clarify. This man Victor Lazin, you call him?
MacLeod: L A Z I N.
Jefferies: You are saying that he has told you. Is that what you are saying?
MacLeod: What I am saying, no. What I am saying is, our information is that this man controlled Mr Smith, in the period
after Victor Oshchenko left the London Embassy, the Russian Embassy.
Smith: And why did he leave the Russian Embassy?
MacLeod: Victor Niklevitch Lazin, and he was at that time the secretary at the Science and Technology Department at the Embassy. Now, are you telling me you never met that man?
Smith: I donít think Iíd want to be seen dead with a man like that. Look at the face on him. How could I possibly not forget a face like that?
MacLeod: Well I want you to take a good hard look at him, because you know ...
Smith: Are you saying that this is the same Victor as the one before?
MacLeod: This is not the same Victor, and you well know itís not the same Victor. He is the man that, the first Victor, Victor Oshchenko introduced you to when Oshchenko left the Russian Embassy in London.
Smith: No, you didnít establish that he came from the Russian Embassy before. Are you saying this man worked for the Russian Embassy?
MacLeod: I am telling you they both worked for the Russian Embassy, under diplomatic cover. They were KGB Officers, and they were your controllers.
Smith: Iíve already said, nobody controls me, and Iím not going to be controlled by anybody. I donít intend to Ö
MacLeod: Well, the terminology is, as you well know, is terminology, itís used in that context. Put it this way, they were the men who were dealing with you. They were the men that you were reporting to. Am I right, or am I wrong?
Smith: Youíre wrong.
MacLeod: You know, you know as well as I do, that I am right, and I only say these things if I am absolutely confident.
Smith: You might be confident, based on what this man has said. Is it this man, or the other man, I donít ...?
MacLeod: And I know who the other handlers were, after Victor Lazin moved on.
Smith: Well, when am I supposed to have met these people, because you are coming up with photographs and accusations. I, you have given me no concrete evidence of where I am supposed to have met them, or when, or under what circumstances.
MacLeod: Look, I am giving you the opportunity, to tell me what your dealings were with these 2 Russian KGB Officers?
Smith: Am I supposed to have met them in the street, or casually ...?
MacLeod: You know, I am not going to go back over this again. I said to you, and Iíll say only once again, you met Victor Oshchenko in some social function, either in connection with your trade union activities, or in connection with your Communist Party activities, or YCL.
Smith: Well, letís go back to this so-called meeting that, I think, we are actually talking about different occasions. You say I met this Victor Oshchenko at a bar, and Iím disputing that, because I donít think I went to a meeting in a bar where they were discussing the ...
MacLeod: I am not saying that Victor Oshchenko necessarily met you in a bar.
Smith: But you seem to be saying to me, that thatís the time when I met this Victor.
MacLeod: You were introduced to the Russians in a bar, or at some social function in Kingston on Thames.
Smith: Ok then, letís say you are right, letís say Iíve met this guy. I donít know him from Adam, but he was introduced to me, and Iíve forgotten it. I certainly wouldnít forget it, if he was going to be seeing me on a regular basis.
MacLeod: Well, of course you wouldnít forget, thatís why I know that you ...
Smith: This is why Iím disputing that that was the man that I actually met. Because I think that, surely, I would have known him. What you are putting to me, is on the basis of one meeting, that I remember this man, and I donít.
MacLeod: I canít see how you canít remember Oshchenko, considering that he was your contact, your KGB contact, between well, from the time that he first made your acquaintance, on or around 1974, 1975, whatever time.
Smith: Well, I think itís very important, the time.
MacLeod: It was around Ö
Smith: Youíre coming up with a definite occasion, like Iíve mentioned a definite occasion.
Smith: I donít think that those are the same time and place.
MacLeod: He, he was the man that you had dealings with. He knew you, as Mick. You knew him as Vic. And you met regularly in the Richmond, Kingston upon Thames area.
Smith: Nobody calls me Mick.
MacLeod: Mike, beg your pardon, Mike. You were known to him as Mike, and you referred to him, addressed him as Vic.
Smith: I have already explained Ö
MacLeod: Now Ö
Smith: Vic is not a term Iíve used to anybody.
MacLeod: That was how he was addressed, and he has told us that thatís how he was ...
Smith: I did not call anybody Vic.
MacLeod: Letís not go into the forms of address, because I donít think thatís as important as trying to establish your relationship with Oshchenko and Lazin. And Iíll deal first of all with Oshchenko, because he was the man that recruited you, he was the man that advised you to cut any associations with the trade union movement. He was the man that advised you Ö
Smith: No, he did not advise me, because I did it on my own back, I explained to you before exactly what happened. I decided to, not immediately, but over a period of time, I just dropped out of active politics. I wasnít interested any more, and the only reason ...
MacLeod: You are lying, because you were directed by the KGB to give up any links with the Communist Party of Great Britain, because that would obviously draw attention to you. In fact, they were suspicious of you, because of your CPGB, or YCL connections. It wasnít really the most favourable recruiting ground for a KGB agent, anybody who might be involved with the CPGB.
Smith: Youíve said it yourselves, thatís a perfect reason why itís not ...
MacLeod: And thatís the reason they asked you to sever your links. That is the reason you went to Vienna in 1979, and you remember what happened there, didnít you?
Smith: Ok then, weíll come on to Vienna. Iíll explain now why I went to Vienna.
MacLeod: Right, please carry on.
Smith: I was getting married that Autumn, Iím more or less sure about. I wanted to go on a trip on my own, free from association with my wife, because I just wanted to be alone and think things over.
Smith: Vienna is a place Iíd never been. Iíd nearly been there in 1970, when I had been hitch-hiking around Europe, and I very much wanted to go there for a holiday, and I saw a cheap long-weekend trip advertised, which I booked up. I went sight-seeing in Vienna, I went up the ...
MacLeod: On your own?
Smith: I went on my own, yes. As I said, I wanted to be away from my wife, she was my fiancée.
MacLeod: Is that something that one would normally do. I mean, one would have thought that you would have taken her.
Smith: I donít suppose it is, but I Ö
MacLeod: You would have taken Ö
Smith: Weíd had a bit of a tumultuous early relationship, and I thought just to get away for a few days, because it was a bit claustrophobic, if you like, not being able to think things through. I was making a momentous decision, I thought should I marry my wife or not.
MacLeod: The only momentous decision that you had to make, on that occasion, was whether you should or shouldnít undertake a loyalty test.
Smith: A loyalty test?
MacLeod: Yes. You were given a polygraph.
Smith: A polygraph? But thatís a lie detector.
MacLeod: Thatís absolutely spot on.
Smith: But I would know if I had a lie detector on, nobody put any lie detectors on me at all.
MacLeod: And needless to say, you were probably delighted, as the Russians were, when you passed it.
Smith: I, this is, look Ö
MacLeod: Because, up to then, they suspected you of being a British Security Service plant. They still werenít sure whether or not to trust you.
Smith: I am amazed that, this is the crap this man has been talking about.
MacLeod: You knew Ö
Smith: I was in Vienna Ö
MacLeod: But you know it is right.
MacLeod: You lied to me.
Smith: I am expecting you to hear me. I went on a sightseeing tour round Vienna. I went out for a few meals, got a bit drunk, I bought a few souvenirs, and thatís all that I did. I just had a rest, and it was quite an enjoyable experience.
Beels: Why were you so reluctant earlier, when we interviewed you before, to mention or to even discuss in any way Vienna?
Smith: Right, Iíll tell you exactly why, because I wanted to get onto the serious matters that we were here to discuss, and I felt that you were just detracting from that.
MacLeod: Why, if it was such an innocent occasion, why didnít you just tell us that you went out there for a long weekend away?
Smith: Because itís a waste of my time, to discuss things that have got no relevance to what I want to get ...
MacLeod: But you quite candidly admitted having visited the Soviet Union?
Smith: Because that was a critical point in the discussion. You were trying to say what happened over a period of time. That brought us up to the point where I was going into ...
MacLeod: Yes, but we are now arriving at a situation that we should have been at several hours ago. I was trying to establish Ö
Smith: Well, it was your way of questioning that put us in that position, sorry. I mean, Ö
MacLeod: Right, I mean, all I asked you, was have you ever visited Vienna. Because I knew youíd visited Vienna.
Smith: Iím not making a secret of it.
Smith: I just didnít want to discuss it at that point, and I was trying to make that clear.
MacLeod: But that suggests to me, that youíve got something to hide.
Smith: Now, youíve put something a bit more concrete on the table. Itís still not backed up by anything, that I can see as serious evidence.
MacLeod: If you expect me to put all my cards on the table, youíre sadly mistaken, you are sadly mistaken. I donít want you to be under illusion about this at all.
Smith: Then weíll have to carry on.
MacLeod: We will carry on. I am going to ask you again about Victor Oshchenko, the man that recruited you for the KGB. The man that you almost became a personal friend with.
Smith: Iíve not become a personal friend with anybody from the Russian Embassy.
MacLeod: He became virtually a personal friend. He and you ...
Smith: Has he told you that?
MacLeod: Ö he and you used to go for meals round Hampton Court, and various other locations. You were very keen on Spanish restaurants, were you not?
Smith: No, I donít particularly like Spanish restaurants, to be honest. Spanish food is not as good as French or Italian.
MacLeod: You were recruited by Victor Oshchenko, who was a KGB agent working out of the Russian Embassy in the early í70s. He was the man that recruited you through your
association with the trade union or YCL, whatever. You were in a situation where you were ripe for recruitment, and he did precisely that, in the classic ...
Smith: Are you sure it wasnít that, that he was Ö youíre saying that he had something in Kingston, and I might have been present at some meeting. Isnít it very likely that this man has been talking to other people I used to associate with, like Andy Wilson and such like, and targeting me for a case that he has built up himself, as to what my involvement with him is.
MacLeod: Well, explain to me the logic of that?
Smith: I donít know, maybe he wants to tell you a lot of things, to convince you that heís a good agent, or whatever, but what on earth has it got to do with me. I mean, if this man has got evidence, that he has given you on me, then he has not got it from me, he has got it from some other source.
MacLeod: He has got it from you.
Beels: Now, at that point, as the tape is coming to an end, I am going to switch off the machine. The time is 5:42 pm.
Person interviewed: Michael John Smith
Place of interview: Paddington Green Police Station
Date of interview: 9th August 1992
Time commenced: 17:44 Time concluded: 18:12
Other persons present: Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod
Detective Sergeant Stephen John Beels
Richard Jefferies (Duty Solicitor)
Beels: The time is 5:44 pm on 9th August. This is a continuation of the interview of Mr Michael Smith. Now Mr Smith, we have been interviewing you for some time. Youíve indicated youíre happy to carry on. Can you confirm that now, on tape, that youíre still happy to carry on.
Smith: Yes, I am happy to carry on, at this stage. Yes.
Beels: And, if you wish to take a break at any stage, please do say so, and weíll end the interview.
Smith: Yes, I understand.
Beels: I must remind you, youíre still under caution. Do you understand that?
Smith: Yes, I understand that.
MacLeod: Can we go back to your trip to Vienna. How many days did you spend over there?
Smith: I think it was about 3 days. I, I canít remember exactly, but it was a long weekend. Three days I think.
MacLeod: Did you take any documents with you?
Smith: My passport, and I ...
MacLeod: No, Iím not talking about your passport, or travel documents.
Smith: Travel documents?
MacLeod: No. Did you take any, did you take any documents from your place of work?
Smith: No, I did not. I took no documents of that nature.
MacLeod: Well, my information is that you did.
Smith: Then that information is false.
MacLeod: To demonstrate, to demonstrate to your KGB doubters, that you were a man of integrity, whom they could trust, and in order to establish your integrity, they asked you to undertake this lie detector test, which you did.
Smith: I did not undertake a lie detector test, neither did I take documents, of the nature youíre indicating. The only documents I took were travel documents, and passport, and that was that.
MacLeod: Well, what Iím saying is, when you went there, you met up with another KGB Officer. A man by the surname of Stalnov, initials B.K.
Smith: Iíve never heard that name.
MacLeod: Right, Iím going to show you a passport photograph of the man Stalnov, whoís a man that conducted the lie detector test on you.
Smith: He looks like a boy.
MacLeod: Granted, itís a very old photograph.
Smith: No, I, sorry, I really couldnít recognise somebody from that.
Beels: Take a closer look. This will be produced as exhibit MM/3.
Smith: I really think this evidence is very flimsy. Iím sorry, but I canít, on the basis of you showing me photographs that, particularly this last one, which is not a very good likeness, I think.
MacLeod: Now I agree, itís not a very good likeness, but Iím sure, if your memory is as good as is ...
Smith: I find it very hard to, to, to recognise people from that sort of pose, anyway.
MacLeod: Well, if your memory is as good as itís been up to now, you should remember you went to Vienna Ö
Smith: I donít remember, I donít remember.
MacLeod: Öand you should remember meeting up with a KGB Officer.
Smith: Certainly not.
MacLeod: Albeit, that that is maybe an old photograph, but that is the man Iím telling you that you met.
Smith: No, I didnít meet that man in Vienna. Neither did I take a lie detector test. The only people I spoke to, in Vienna, were people at the hotel where I was staying, and in a couple of restaurants I visited when I was there.
MacLeod: In fact, you, you gained yourself quite a bit of credibility now with the KGB, after that visit. Not only did you pass the lie detector test, but the ...
Smith: Can you be more specific, because those lie Ö I Ö if somebody had put something on me while I was there, I would have known it. Thereís a lie Ö What does this thing look like? Because I donít recollect I was strapped up to anything, or ...
MacLeod: Well, itís just as well youíre not wearing one now, isnít it?
Smith: Well, I, I think this is incredible. I mean, Iíve never had a lie detector test in my life.
MacLeod: I know youíre lying, and furthermore Ö
Smith: You donít know Iím lying, because Iím telling the truth.
MacLeod: Furthermore , furthermore the information that you passed on that occasion ...
Smith: I did not pass any information on that occasion.
MacLeod: ... was considered of such value, that even Andropov, the former President, who at the time was the Head of the KGB. Andropov was impressed. Andropov was very impressed. That must have been the climax of your spying career.
Smith: But when was this?
MacLeod: 1979, when you visited Vienna.
Smith: But, but, what, what information? I, it was medical facts. I was working at EMI Medical at the time. Are you saying, that, that the work on the brain scanners I passed on.
MacLeod: You, you even passed them on unclassified information concerning the brain scanner project. Unclassified, granted. They were well Ö
Smith: You, are you saying this is what I passed onto this man, at this time?
MacLeod: At that time. You, you went from Thorn, from EMI into the Medical Division.
Smith: Yes thatís true.
MacLeod: ... and after that, you continued to pass information to them, albeit that the information you were passing then, was maybe not as, and certainly was unclassified, but you continued.
Smith: I would like to, to, to confirm or deny what youíre saying, but I find it so incredulous, because I know itís not true. I, I did not take any documents at all, apart from the documents I needed to travel to Vienna. I know that for a fact, and I, I donít care what this man says. I know that for a fact. An absolute fact, that I did not take any documents. And Iím not, Iím not lying.
MacLeod: Well, given that the, given that the medical documentation, or the medical project that you were involved in was unclassified. Did you take unclassified material, after all Ö?
Smith: No, I didnít.
MacLeod: That, that is not Ö
Smith: Look. I, I Ö If I did, I would tell you. I did not take any documentation to Vienna with me, to that man.
MacLeod: Well to any other person, if not that man?
Smith: I didnít meet anybody there, just the people, I, I bumped into in casual relationships in, in the restaurant, and I remember, I think, I chatted to the woman who made me a strudel, in the restaurant. I mean, that sort of thing. That was the only discussions I had with anybody. Very, very casual. I, I was there for a rest, after all.
MacLeod: How can you remember that kind of detail, about the woman who made you Ö?
Smith: Because I remember, because I like apple strudel, and I remember that was one of the reasons I, I liked being in Vienna. I liked the apple strudel there.
MacLeod: I just find it incredible, how your memory serves you well for some, some detail.
Smith: Well, you know how memory works by association, and if I can associate something good about something, or something bad, it usually sticks in the mind, and thatís, thatís why I probably donít remember this guy, this meeting with this guy, you seem to insist I met, because he obviously didnít have any impression on me.
MacLeod: Are you telling me, that you were not, that you were not working for the Russians?
Smith: Exactly in one. Thatís exactly what Iím trying to say.
MacLeod: Iím telling you that youíre lying.
Smith: Well, if you think that Ö
MacLeod: Iím telling you that youíre lying.
Smith: I cannot argue with you any more. If you feel Iím lying Ö
MacLeod: Because you know Iím right.
Smith: No, I donít know youíre right. If you feel Iím lying, then thatís up to you. I, I cannot argue with a case that I donít have in front of me. If you say that this man says he knows me, then I think you, you have to bring the evidence forward, not me, because I canít prove negatively that I did not know this man, because obviously, I, Iíve got to produce evidence to show I didnít know him. I think thatís even harder, than what you obviously seem to be trying. Youíve got statements from a man, whoís probably desperate to get out of his country, whoíd say anything, use any connection. I, I, Iím not in that position. I, Iím a law abiding citizen, whoís happily married, who lives a very normal life, and just enjoys a few pursuits like flamenco and music. I mean, I donít see what thatís got to do with, with KGB agents, and things that are best left to John le Carré novels, Iím sorry to say.
MacLeod: What sort of sums did they pay you in a month?
MacLeod: How much were they paying you?
Smith: Who? EMI?
MacLeod: The KGB.
Smith: The KGB have never paid me a penny, because I, Iíve not worked for the KGB. Iíve told you this.
MacLeod: Well, my, my, my information is that they did pay you. They paid you varying amounts on a monthly basis.
Smith: A monthly basis?
MacLeod: Well, as and when the meets were made. They were paying you sums that varied, so as not to draw attention to the fact, that you were in receipt of regular sums, in order to, in order to disguise the source of the monies. They advised you to spend money carefully, so as not to draw attention to yourself. Theyíre the ones that taught you field craft, that you were employing yesterday before you were disrupted.
Smith: I, I Ö
MacLeod: You Ö
Smith: This is all, is all a joke on your part. I really canít see what point youíre trying to make.
MacLeod: The point Iím making, is that you were passing on classified information to the KGB.
Smith: I was not passing on classified information. I know, as well as you do that, the importance of classified information. I donít believe I ever, knowingly, passed any information onto anybody, which you could, be of any harm to this country.
Smith: Well, Iím not saying Ö Like everybody says, maybe weíve said something in the pub over a drink. It happens, and I donít know if, if that could have been misconstrued.
MacLeod: Iím not talking about ...
Smith: Well, what you seem to be talking about is a far more serious offence, which sounds like somebody deliberately contriving to pass on information, and I, I canít see myself in that role.
MacLeod: Thatís precisely what Iím suggesting.
Smith: Well, then I, I think this is where we must differ, you know, because I canít argue with that, Iím sorry.
MacLeod: I just find it extraordinary, that we have a KGB defector, who we know was serving at the London, London, the Russian Embassy in London in the early í70s, who claims that he knew you. He met you, he recruited you, he taught you the basics.
Smith: Look. Can we talk about dates here. You said the early í70s?
MacLeod: Well, if weíre going to be specific, weíre talking about, letís see. Oshchenko was attached to the Russian Embassy in London between August 1972 and September 1979. He was, he was First and then a Second Secretary at the Embassy. He also had a KGB role. It was in that role that he spotted you, and recruited you.
Smith: But why should anybody recruit me? I mean, I donít see Ö
MacLeod: Because Ö
Smith: Iím a nobody as far as I can see.
MacLeod: You were a fellow traveller, a communist, a member of the YCL.
Smith: Iím not disputing that. I never have disputed that.
MacLeod: You had the political ideology. You had the leanings. You were obviously committed. It wasnít just a slight flirtation with communism, because you were involved for a period of, what did we say, 4 years?
Smith: No more than 4 years.
Smith: It was Ö
MacLeod: Thatís hardly a flirtation with ...
Smith: Well, 4 years at that time in my life, when Iím going through a lot of changes, a lot of experience changes, I donít think is unreasonable.
Beels: You said, why would somebody want to recruit someone like you.
Smith: Yeah, I, I Ö
Beels: Is that correct? Thatís what you said?
Smith: Ö Iím a nobody, a nobody as far as Iím concerned.
Beels: But, you will accept that you were, at one particular time, working on the development of the XN715, which was a secret and classified project.
Smith: But I, I had very limited use to anybody on that.
Beels: A very, very important, very important to the security of this country. You had in your possession, in your, in your knowledge, your experience, this kind of knowledge that would be of use to an enemy of this country.
Smith: I, I Ö
Beels: Can you agree or disagree?
Smith: I disagree with that, because the work I was doing was rather specialist. I, I was testing sub-units, as I said, mainly, being involved with ...
Smith: Ö power supplies, and things like that. It was not - Iím judging this - it was not of the sort of nature, that I think, that would be of any use to anybody.
Beels: So why was it classified?
Smith: No, I mean, itís, Ö Ok, Itís classified. Itís important. Itís not divulged. But the amount of my involvement, I think, was such that it wouldnít, on its own, be of any real use to anybody.
Beels: But you had access to information on the project?
Smith: Some access. I, Iíve explained this before, I had some access to information, not sufficient to give me an overview of the project, just the bits I needed to deal, deal with. I mean, this is actually the way itís designed, isnít it?
Beels: Youíve already said that ...
Smith: Itís a need to know basis, and we know the way that that works.
Beels: Youíve also said that security at times, and in certain parts, of the Systems and Weapons Division at Feltham, was lax.
Smith: You know the reason why.
Beels: So, you therefore were in a position, you were aware of these lapses in security. You were in a position to take advantage of it.
Smith: No, those Ö
Beels: Were, were you not in a position to take advantage of it?
Smith: Youíre talking about a different period, actually. I mean, if you bear with me. The reason I wrote that letter, and you know it was, because I, I was trying to resolve a security question that was hanging
over me. I wrote that letter in 1980, I think, which was 2 years after I left EMI.
Beels: But it was referring to your period of work?
Smith: Well, no.
Beels: When, you were there at Feltham Ö
Smith: It was referring partly to that, but the business about the shopping bag, and that sort of thing, was not to do with my period in, when I left in 1978. It was to do with the situation that existed in 1980. I think that should be made clear.
Beels: Sir, explain Ö
Smith: I visited, I visited Feltham for a series of tests, when I was at Thorn EMI Datatech. Those series of tests involved using some equipment at EMI Electronics, Feltham. So, I had access to the site, and my main point was: why am I being granted access, when Iíve lost my security clearance, and that was really the crux of what, what I was griping about.
Beels: So, let me get this straight. This is after your security clearance has been taken away. Youíve gone back and had access to the site?
Smith: Thatís right.
Beels: The whole of the site?
Smith: Not that. I, I was allowed on the premises. I donít think I would have been allowed to go anywhere.
Beels: Were you accompanied?
Smith: I, I was accompanied by an engineer who worked with me.
Beels: Throughout? Throughout the time that you were working there?
Smith: Yes, more or less. Weíd go to lunch, and the reason we were going on the main yard was to have lunch.
Beels: But he was a friend of yours?
Smith: Well, he was a colleague. I mean, he was Ö
Beels: So, he wouldnít be standing there over your shoulder, checking every single movement of yours during the day. Where you were going. He was a friend of yours. He presumably trusted you and allowed you to ...
Smith: Letís, letís not you make accusations, or Ö
Beels: Iím not making accusations.
I am not making accusations as such, I Ö
Smith: Makes, it makes it sound like I was roaming Ö
Beels: I was trying to establish where you had access.
Smith: I was not roaming around the building, no. I spent most of my time in the vibration section, which is an out-building of EMI Electronics, and we did all our work there. And thatís where this fuze system was located, I discussed about being in a shopping bag, that Ö
Beels: This is the XN715?
Smith: Thatís right.
Smith: Now, that is where I was spending most of my day. I went into the main building to get lunch, and this is when Robert Lindsay, his name is, accompanied me, and we went to lunch in the canteen. The only other reason was to discuss something with, we had another trip where we were looking at humidity and temperature tests, which were in the main building, itís another part of the site there, but I was working all the time I had no Ö
Beels: But youíre saying that Ö
Smith: Öreason to go anywhere else in the building.
Beels: Are you saying that the work on the development of the XN715 was taking place - and let me get this right, as I have not been there, I just want to get it right, in my mind -
was in a, what you would describe as an out-building?
Smith: Itís an out-building. Itís a building on itís own, on the other side of the car park from the main building.
Beels: And you had access to that building?
Smith: They gave me it, I shouldnít have had access, but the point I was making ...
Beels: Thatís what?
Smith: I shouldnít have had access to the building if I didnít have security clearance, because the site itself is covered, not just the main building, and I was allowed onto that site ...
Beels: How long were you allowed in there for, over what period of time are we talking about?
Smith: For days. A number of days. It was not Ö
Beels: A week. Weeks?
Smith: It was not, I canít remember, about 2 weeks in all.
Beels: Two weeks.
Smith: But you Ö
Beels: You walk in freely, your face is familiar, and you were allowed to travel and walk ...
Smith: No. We were there to do a job, and they knew where we came from, they knew who we were, there was no suspicion about why we should be there. We were there to do a job that, we had paid to have access to that equipment.
MacLeod: Are you saying. Can I just get, clarify on one point.
MacLeod: When you complained about this weakness in security at EMI, were you talking specifically about the Systems and the Ö
Smith: Systems and Weapons.
MacLeod: Weapons, yes. Is that what you were talking about, or were you talking about the other part of ...?
Smith: No, no. It was the whole Systems & Weapons site at Victoria Road, Feltham.
MacLeod: Was weak?
Smith: Well, I think I overstated the case to make a point. I was not trying to, to do any more than that.
MacLeod: So, I mean, what you were talking about, there was the apparent security weaknesses in the system at EMI at Feltham, in respect of this Ö
Smith: Well, you can read what Iíve written.
MacLeod: No, but I am just trying to, you were the one that actually made the, made the comments to the MoD. I just want to clarify, in my own mind, that thatís what you meant precisely.
Smith: I meant, there were certain weaknesses that I could see. Maybe other people saw as well, but I just felt it was worthy of comment, and in the predicament I was in, I felt, why shouldnít I say something about what I saw as other weaknesses what, they are calling me a weakness, and what are these other weaknesses.
MacLeod: Ok. The work that was carried out on this project, If that information concerning the fuze was leaked, whatís your views on that, would it be damaging to west Öto our national interests?
Smith: I suppose it must be. I think it would be damaging, but I know ...
MacLeod: You think?
Smith: Ö I donít know the total consequences. I am only going on what I was told, that it was covered by the Official Secrets Act.
MacLeod: You think it would be damaging. You think?
Smith: Well, Ok. Look, I know it would be damaging, if ...
MacLeod: You know, but you said just now that you think?
Smith: Well, it depends who has access to it. I mean, if it Ö
MacLeod: Well, if it fell into the hands of the Russians?
Smith: Well, I think it would be damaging then, yes.
MacLeod: You think?
Beels: To what degree?
Smith: If it was the Albanians, perhaps it wouldnít be.
Beels: To what degree. How do you see, how much damage would be caused?
Smith: I, thatís a question I canít have any knowledge of. I mean, I donít know what, you see ...
Beels: What was your understanding of Ö
Smith: Can we, can we Ö
Beels: No. Let me make this point first. What was your understanding of the workings of this radar fuze, the XN715?
Smith: The workings of?
Beels: Yes. How, just describe to me as a layman, in principle what it does, what its function is?
Smith: Well, I donít know if I should discuss that, should I.
MacLeod: Well, you can rest assured. Can I just make this point. We have the necessary security clearance. As far as Mr Jefferies is concerned, he has not signed the Official Secrets Act, but I have already apprised him of his responsibilities in that, he, any information thatís made privy to him in these interviews, will be treated in the same way as if he had signed the Official Secrets Act. So, you can take it from me, we are all cleared to the highest classification. And we are only just going to delay matters, if we donít get to the gist of the questions that have been put. Now tell us, Answer Mr Beels.
Smith: What exactly would you like to know?
Beels: As I tried to say. As a layman, just try and describe to me what this radar fuze XN715 does, so that we can all understand?
Smith: The basic, now you have got to understand, we were only dealing with parts of the system, the system was much more than what we had to built. But my understanding of it was, that it was basically a thing that decided the height of detonation of a nuclear weapon, and thatís all that it was. I mean, it didnít do any more than that.
Beels: The height of detonation?
Beels: So, if that, the knowledge concerning that fuze was to fall into the hands of, say, the Russians, it would therefore, would be extremely damaging in times Ö?
Smith: I think thatís ...
Beels: If a situation was to occur, that there was a war between the 2 countries.
Smith: Iíd like to answer that, but Ö
Beels: It would be crucial.
Smith: If I say something, itís based on inadequate knowledge on my behalf, because I donít know what the other, what the Russian side ...
Beels: I am only asking you to reply
Smith: Öif the Russian side Ö
Beels: within your knowledge, and your experience.
Smith: Ok. Within my knowledge, in my knowledge. All I can say is, I think it would be damaging to the British interests if that information was leaked, but I canít say in what way it would be damaging, because I donít know what the enemy would use it for.
MacLeod: Well, can I just pick up on that point. I mean, surely, I mean, here weíve got a fuze, literally the thing
that detonates a nuclear weapon, that determines the height of detonation of the free-fall nuclear weapon. Are you saying that ...
Smith: No. I have explained what I think it ...
MacLeod: I find it incredible, that you are giving the answer that youíre giving.
Smith: I think it would be damaging, but what you seem to want me to say, is that I know in what way it would be damaging. I donít, I donít know what they would use that information for. In what way Ö
MacLeod: Theyíd use it for themselves, to counter the Westís nuclear capability. We are talking about serious stuff here, weíre talking about the Russians having the capability, in effect, to neutralise any nuclear warhead that might have been directed in their direction!
Smith: How could they have neutralised it? I mean, Ö
MacLeod: You know enough about the workings of that fuze.
Smith: I could not neutralise it. Youíve got to realise that this was a very sophisticated fuze.
Smith: And, as far as I was concerned, there was no way it could be, whatís the word, blocked?
Smith: Jammed. Thereís no way it could be jammed. Thereís no way it could be stopped from detonating. It was designed to be, to work every time, and I donít believe anybody could have stopped that working, even if they had beamed something up at it, because I saw the testing, and people were saying that to me in the Lab. This is, it must work every time, itís a, it was designed to do that. I mean, if somebody jammed it, they would have to know far more about it than I ever could know.
MacLeod: Well, itís interesting that the, not long after this work was being, sort of, pioneered at EMI, at Feltham, that the Russians also acquired the same technology.
Smith: Well, they couldnít have got it from me, because I didnít have enough knowledge. Iíd like to give you the satisfaction of saying I could build one, but Ö
MacLeod: I think youíre being Ö
Smith: Thereís no way that I had that knowledge. All I knew about it, was that it had certain assemblies in it, that I knew how to test.
MacLeod: Right, Ok.
Smith: I didnít know the design. I didnít know all the circuit diagrams.
MacLeod: I think youíre lying there.
Smith: No. I, I knew Ö
MacLeod: You know more about the workings of this fuze than what youíre prepared to talk about.
Smith: How can you say that?
MacLeod: Because I am just going to refer back to the position, I think you were promoted, you started off as a test engineer?
Smith: Yes I was always a test engineer at EMI.
MacLeod: Yes, and you took up the position of, you were assigned to the development of the XN715, a classified project.
Smith: I was never involved in development work, I was only a test engineer there.
MacLeod: Well, I think we are being pedantic here. Development and testing.
Smith: Well, this is very important.
MacLeod: I think, that for the purpose of this discussion, we can agree that thatís synonymous.
Smith: Well no, I, I want to disagree on the point, that I was involved in development. I was never involved in development.
MacLeod: Ok. You werenít involved, but you were overseeing. The point I am trying to make, that you were a quality engineer, that you had oversight of the whole project concerning the fuze?
Smith: Well, Iíd like to know where you got that information from, because I donít think that is accurate. My involvement, I, I want to be honest about this, because I am not trying to hide anything now. My involvement with that fuze, was that I tested sub-assemblies, to try to prove the procedures on testing, to ensure that specifications could be met on sub-assemblies. Now sub-assemblies, as you know, are not the complete fuze, they are just little bits that inter-react with each other. And I had no, at that time, had no real knowledge of the overall system, and it was only really, I suppose, in the last couple of weeks I was there, I think it was, when I saw the whole fuze put together. We never, I never saw the project through.
Beels: Now, we are coming to the end of the tape. Are we going to continue, or Ö?
Smith: I think we had better continue, because I want to get this point sorted out.
Beels: Is that Ok with Mr Jefferies?
Jefferies: Yes, indeed.
Beels: As we are coming to the end of this tape, I am about to switch the machine off. The time is 6:12 pm.
Person interviewed: Michael John Smith
Place of interview: Paddington Green Police Station
Date of interview: 9th August 1992
Time commenced: 18:19 Time concluded: 18:47
Other persons present: Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod
Detective Sergeant Stephen John Beels
Richard Jefferies (Duty Solicitor)
Beels: The time is 6:19 pm, by my watch. This is a continuation of the interview of Michael Smith. During the short break, when tapes were changed, Mr MacLeod and Mr Jefferies took the opportunity to stretch their legs. There was no conversation between myself and Mr Smith, of any consequence, or of any evidential value. Mr Smith, I must warn you, still, that you are under caution, and you are not obliged to say anything. You understand the caution?
Smith: Yes, I understand.
Beels: Ok, sir.
MacLeod: I am going to come back to the main thrust of this interview, and that is to talk about your work, you have been doing for the KGB. I am not going to beat about the bush in, any longer. Because, I mean, we have talked about your communist, your previous association with the Communist Party. Weíve talked on, round the edges of certain issues. I want to come back now to
what is at the forefront of my mind, the extent to which you were working for the KGB. Itís not a hypothetical question on my part, I regard that as a statement of fact, and I want you in your own words, and in your own time, to tell me what youíve done for the KGB, your full involvement with the KGB over the years?
Smith: I cannot talk about involvement with the KGB, because I have not been involved with the KGB. If I had been in contact with any KGB Officers, it was without my knowledge. As we were discussing before, on the earlier tape, this meeting in a bar or a hall, Iím not sure which; that I may or may not have met a KGB Officer. Thatís the only time I can possibly recollect, that I have ever, would have come into contact with one of these people. But I have certainly not been working consciously for the KGB at any time.
MacLeod: Right. Have you ever passed information on to anybody else, outside your workplace, concerning the work that you were involved in. Have you ever discussed the work that you were involved in with EMI?
Smith: I think I can honestly say no.
MacLeod: But you discussed it with your wife?
Smith: What I discussed with my wife was, um, it could be of no consequence to anybody, it was just a very, descriptive version of what I did.
MacLeod: But you did feel the need, bearing in mind that you were involved in this project for EMI before you met your wife?
Smith: Yes it was.
MacLeod: And your wife tells us, that you were discussing with her, and it had been the matter of some conversation between the two of you, you had been discussing with her, this particular project that you were involved in, albeit some time before you met her?
Smith: Ok. The reason we were discussing it, as weíve said earlier, was that it had been a bone of contention between us, about me not having the security clearance, and not getting the job Iíd been after. And she, obviously, wanted some explanation of what this was all about, and so I had to piece it together for her, which involved me discussing a little bit about what I had been doing - not in detail, I didnít give her the facts and figures - it was purely a description that it was a fuze, roughly what it did. But she had no idea how it could work, or what use, the information I gave her could be of no use to anybody. Thatís my honest opinion.
MacLeod: She made a statement too, did she not, that, on one occasion when she asked you: ďwere you, are you or are you not a friend of this countryĒ. What do you think she meant by that?
Smith: My wife asked me that?
MacLeod: Mmm. ďAre you, or are you not, a friend of this country?Ē
Smith: I donít think thatís words she would use. She wouldnít Ö
MacLeod: Or words to that effect, if not precisely those words. You discussed it with her.
Smith: She meant, I think, yes, she probably did say that, because she was very angry I remember, at the time when we first discussed this security clearance matter, and she said, ďoh, so you must be a spyĒ or something like that. I am sure she said something like, because she was very Ö
MacLeod: Why should she say that?
Smith: Because she said, ďwell, why havenít you got the security clearance, thereís obviously a reason for itĒ, and thatís the only reason she would have said something like that, I think, is because she was upset about it, and thought thatís the only logical conclusion, the way she could piece the facts together was, that I must be a spy, because thatís why they wonít give you the clearance. I think thatís all she meant.
MacLeod: Thatís a big assumption to make? I mean Ö
Smith: I think thatís what she said, she said to me at one time, something Ö
MacLeod: But you did discuss your previous membership of the Communist Party with her? I mean, surely, that would Ö
Smith: I didnít discuss it with her, not before we got married.
MacLeod: No, but she knew you were, she knew that you had previous connections with the Communist Party?
Smith: At what stage? She did know, yes.
MacLeod: Yes, thatís right. I mean, with what detail, it matters not.
Smith: She Ö
MacLeod: Can I just finish the point I am trying to make. Could you not have said to her, ďwell, look, the reason I havenít got this security clearance is because at some stage, a few years ago, I was involved with the Communist PartyĒ.
Smith: Thatís right, and thatís exactly what I told her.
MacLeod: And why should she then make the assumption, that that should necessarily make you a spy?
Smith: Because she, perhaps, because sheís got a rather romantic view of things. She didnít see it, the way I presented it to her, but jumped to conclusions, and I put her right by saying, ďno, it was, itís not that at all, itís not the way youíre making out, it was, I am sure, because of my involvement in the Young Communist League that caused thisĒ. In fact, I was more concerned that it had been my relationship with my flatmate called John Watson, who I shared a flat with for a long time. He had a connection with the Workers Socialist Party, I canít remember the name of the group, they were a Trotskyist group. He had an association with that through a friend of his called, um, Tim Summers, who was quite a big name in this organisation, I think Iíve got it right, is it the Workers Socialist Party, WP, or Ö
Beels: Or WRP?
Smith: I donít know, it was a long time ago.
Beels: It was Tim Ö?
Smith: Tim Summers, I think.
Beels: Thank you.
Smith: Heís well known, Iím sure, as a, or he was, as a bigwig in this thing. Now, he used to come round to our flat, and my friend John,
who I shared the flat with, used to be on the phone all the time, and I had every feeling that these were the people who got me mixed up, and gave me this security problem. I seriously thought that, because I thought, ďwell, I have not been doing anything wrong, why should somebody pick on meĒ, and I didnít realise, that there had been some sort of tracking back through my history.
MacLeod: Did that surprise you?
Smith: It did, because I didnít realise.
MacLeod: I mean, if you were a member of the Communist Party, and you hadnít declared it on your application form, or your Vetting form, why should that come as any great surprise. I mean, you misled them, you deceived them, and you even deceived the interviewing officer. It was only half way through your interview ...
Smith: I donít feel any pride in the fact that, what happened then, happened the way it did. I, if it could have happened any differently, I would have changed it. But Iíd be stupid to say that I didnít go into it feeling, well, that there wasnít anything to find out, that these people would just allow me to continue.
MacLeod: So, you thought it would be quite acceptable, for somebody of communist persuasion to hold the position ...
Smith: But, at this time I didnít have communist persuasion, I was quite happy to be a normal citizen of this country.
MacLeod: Because that suited the KGB. For you to have a Ö
Smith: Well, it didnít suit the KGB at all. Because nobody told me to do that. I was quite happy to live the way I had been living. I didnít see any way it should discontinue.
MacLeod: The reason that you were disappointed, was because it removed you from a position where you were able to be of value to the KGB.
Smith: Thatís not true.
MacLeod: It was as much a setback for them, as it was for you.
Smith: Itís certainly not true, because that position had already happened. I had already left EMI in 1978. So, it could be of no benefit to anybody but me. I was looking at career prospects for myself, not for anybody else, myself and my wife.
MacLeod: Yes, but you were looking, I would suggest, to getting into another company involved on government contract work, where you could continue your activities in spying for the KGB.
Smith: It was purely that, there would be more options open for better career prospects, to have the security clearance than not. But, as it turned out, I had a reasonable job at
S.E. Labs, which then became Thorn EMI Datatech. I had no reason to worry that I was going to be in financial problems, or would be doing work that was completely unsuitable. I was happy enough.
MacLeod: During the time that you were at EMI, did you ever make any notes or sketches, or whatever, of the work. The details of the Ö?
Smith: Well, itís natural, that if youíre doing the work ...
MacLeod: Yes, but let me clarify that. Did you ever take away from your place of work notes?
Smith: I donít think so, I had no need to there.
MacLeod: So there would be no need to take away from EMI any sketches?
Smith: Well, itís not like you, you know, you used to take work home, like I have done in the past.
Smith: To work on it at home.
MacLeod: So it Ö
Smith: I had no reason to do that, because the work was all Ö
MacLeod: It was all there in the office, so there was no need ...
Smith: There is a reason for that, because I was involved in testing physical things, and the physical things were in the building. I mean Ö
MacLeod: So, thereís no need then, for you to take, or for you to have taken any material?
Smith: None whatsoever, no.
MacLeod: Right, Ok. So, youíre telling me that you never took away any classified material from EMI?
Smith: Why should I, I mean Ö?
MacLeod: Because you were tasked to do that by ...
Smith: Now look, I, if I had a reason to take it away, I would tell you. If I had to take it home to work on it, but the nature of my work was not like that.
MacLeod: Well, can I put to you another scenario. You may not have taken documents away from your place of work, you may not have made sketches at your place of work, but can I ask you, did you make any sketches or notes from memory, when you returned home?
Smith: From memory?
MacLeod: Yes, from memory, of the work that you were involved on in the project?
Smith: I donít think I did. I mean, why should I?
MacLeod: You donít think? I mean, you either did or you didnít.
Smith: No I didnít. I mean, thereís no, well you are asking me something that happened 14 years ago, and I do not recollect having any need to make any notes when I was away from work.
Smith: I mean, you can imagine the implications of that. I mean, why should I do that? I am just as likely to have somebody knocking on the door and investigating me then, as now, and if they found that information, Iíd be in trouble. Well, why should I do it?
MacLeod: Well, itís just as likely to have somebody knocking on your door then. I mean, what would there be to arouse suspicion that you were taking material away? You already had security clearance, and you were a communist, Ok, of short duration.
Smith: I donít know why it happens, but Ö
MacLeod: I mean, thatís not normal, surely, I mean.
Smith: Iíve already explained, I think, that I was visited by a member of the Special Branch, in about 1977, who flashed a card at me, and asked me a lot of questions. I was very suspicious about it, and I went straight down to the police station, because I thought the man was a burglar, and was looking for some way into my flat. They laughed it off, but I mentioned this at work, and they said, ďah yes, they do that sort of thing to check up on people, to make sure that they are who they say they are, where they liveĒ, and it made me think, yes, ďIíve got to watch this, you donít do things like thatĒ, you know. Iíd no reason to, why should I. Actually, the work wasnít very interesting outside. I mean, whereas some work, that people do, may have spin-offs in their private lives - they may make use of the circuit they have designed, for something such as an amplifier - that sort of work has no interest outside that building. I mean, you canít use a fuze for mowing the lawn, or anything like that, itís not that sort of thing.
Beels: But we have already said, and you have already confirmed, that the information on the project that you were working on would be useful to somebody else.
Smith: Iíve already stated, that I think it was probably a very serious thing, if it got into the wrong hands, but I am not going to put, have you put words into my mouth about how serious it might have been. Because, unless I know all about the Russian measures on the other side,
how can I possibly know what use it will be to them?
MacLeod: Well, clearly it wouldnít have been given the secret classification, unless it was considered to be Ö
Smith: Weíve established that.
MacLeod: Ö damaging to national security.
Smith: We established it was a secret project. I was under the full awareness of the importance of the work, I signed the Official Secrets Act, everything was done according to the book. I signed documents in and out that I had, I only had about, I think, 2 or 3 documents that I had to use, which were just sub-assembly test procedures, and, of that nature.
MacLeod: If the, if I were to accept what you are saying, that youíre an innocent man, that youíve had no connections or dealings whatsoever with the KGB, and Iíve got it wrong. Would it be, what sort of, if the KGB wanted to recruit somebody to obtain that kind of work, how easy would it be for them to get into a company like EMI?
Smith: Well, I wouldnít know. I mean, not being a KGB agent, I wouldnít know how easy, but Ö
MacLeod: But would you Ö
Smith: I could imaging that people with weaknesses, maybe, or people, as we know homosexuals, and people of this nature may fall prey to blackmail, and such like. I know these sort of things go on.
MacLeod: Is it the kind of establishment that you would expect the KGB to take an interest in?
Smith: I suppose they would, like any other establishment that is doing work on weapons, and ...
MacLeod: So it wouldnít be surprising?
MacLeod: If the KGB were to target somebody, into the like of Thorn EMI, or any other company carrying out classified contract work?
Smith: Weíre speculating here, I suppose? It wouldnít be.
MacLeod: Thatís not unreasonable is it?
Smith: It wouldnít be unreasonable, that anybody who looks at the facts would probably say, ďthatís the sort of place they might targetĒ. But if youíre talking about people, individuals I mean, as I mentioned in the letter, there was a guy, I think he was Iranian, who had openly talked about travelling to Moscow, I think it was, and he was saying things that I wouldnít have said there in public, about the nature of the system being better over there for social welfare, and things like that.
And he was still working there when I left, and I was, it upset me to think that he was there and I wasnít, and he was the one who was doing all the talking. And itís things like that that stick in my mind, as being the contradictions of this sort of business.
MacLeod: Would you expect, if the Russians were going to recruit somebody, for them to want to ensure that the person they are recruiting maintains a fairly nondescript lifestyle, so as not to draw attention to themselves. To conform, and to be seen to be, if you like, pro-establishment, conservative with a small c, tennis players?
Smith: Right. Tennis players (laughs). I donít know, I donít know if thatís true. I mean, there was a case, I remember from the í60s, I read in The People, or somewhere. I think it was a family, a husband and wife - Iíve forgotten their names - husband and wife, people who were recruited by Russians, I donít know if they were the KGB. And they had a very flamboyant lifestyle I read - parties, and inviting people round, and they were anything but what you could say, fitting the bill, as being quiet.
MacLeod: So, there isnít any particular stereotype, this is what youíre saying?
Smith: I donít think there is a stereotype, no. But then, we are only talking generally. I wouldnít know what sort of people would be targeted for that sort of work.
MacLeod: And again, it wouldnít be unreasonable for the Russians, for the KGB to make use of their contacts with the trade union movement here, to make contacts within the Communist Party and the YCL, to identify and talent spot for potential agents?
Smith: I would like to say on that score, I donít believe, in my experience, that they were ever successful in doing that. Because, as I say, my evidence of, my recollections of Russians being around, or being influential in trade unions, or the YCL, or the Communist Party, was .001% or something. It was so small, I wouldnít like to say I could be aware of any way in which theyíd influenced any of those organisations, in my field of interest.
MacLeod: Perhaps you misunderstood what I said. I am not suggesting they try to influence those organisations, the question was, would it be reasonable to expect them to use their contacts with trade unions?
Smith: Well, they might try. I suppose theyíd try.
MacLeod: And their fellow travellers within the CPGB, or other people of a left-wing persuasion?
Smith: Well, if we are talking in hypothetical terms, I suppose it might be, but I ...
MacLeod: So it would be quite reasonable?
Smith: Ö not knowing this from the inside, I canít say. I wouldnít like to say, or put words to this, to make it sound like I have experience or knowledge of these matters, because I donít.
MacLeod: So, you were really in a fairly ripe position back in the í70s. You were an active trade unionist, or involved in your trade union, you were a member of the YCL, you admit yourself it was spread over a period of 4 years, you had an interest in Russian to an extent.
Smith: The interest in Russian, as I said, I didnít use it in any way to speak to Russians.
MacLeod: Nevertheless, no, but I mean, I am curious?
Smith: I donít know how to speak Russian now. I donít think I ever did. I mean, it was purely an interest in the language.
MacLeod: Yes, but I find it curious that you should choose Russian?
Smith: I explained that, because I knew a man who was Yugoslav, who was learning Russian. And he was sharing the same room as I was, so it was natural that I should listen to what he was listening to, and heíd said, ďwhy donít you pick this up too?Ē So, I tried to learn a bit, that was the only
reason that, I thought, ďI know a bit more about Russian than I know about French, or any of the other languagesĒ. I donít think thereís anything sinister about that. Thereís a lot of people who learn Russian, who have got no interest in politics, Ö
Smith: Öand I suppose the reverse. I mean, I donít see that that makes any difference whatsoever.
MacLeod: Are you continuing to say to me, that you were not working for the KGB?
Smith: Iíve got to continue saying that, because itís true.
MacLeod: Weíve discussed Victor Oshchenko, the KGB Intelligence Officer.
Smith: Heís the first man you showed me?
MacLeod: Yes, he was the man who recruited you back in the mid í70s, and, in fact, he was your contact right up until September í79, when he handed over to another KGB Officer, this Victor Lazin, and Lazin remained at the Embassy until, let me see, he was there, he took over from Oshchenko in terms of handling you.
Smith: He was the First Secretary, or something?
MacLeod: Yes, he was expelled from the UK in August í81. But he handed over to another man, and I think he will be known to you.
Smith: Well, if he was expelled, I mean, surely that would have raised the matter? If I was supposedly talking to this man, I would have been implicated then Ö?
MacLeod: Well, we wouldnít have known who his agents were, would we?
Smith: Well, I donít know? I mean, you are making this Ö
MacLeod: Now, just let me finish what I am saying. The point I am getting at is, you had Oshchenko, then Lazin, and then you had this man Anatoliy Chernyayev. I canít pronounce the name. I spell it for you, for the benefit of the tape.
Smith: I donít care what his name is, this is getting more and more absurd. I mean, these people are ...
MacLeod: People you know.
Smith: People I donít know. I mean, itís like a rogueís gallery of mug shots. As far as I am concerned, these people mean nothing to me.
MacLeod: So, are you saying that you donít know who this man is?
Smith: Iíve not said. The man I told you about, that I said I think had receding hair, I have not seen that man here.
MacLeod: Oh, the man Ö Right, ok. But what I am saying to you is,
he was the man that took over from Lazin, you remember?
Smith: No, I donít remember.
MacLeod: Thatís Lazin.
Beels: At this point Mr MacLeod has produced a photograph, which will be exhibit MM/4.
MacLeod: Well, he was an Attaché, a Labour Attaché, Third Secretary, and I believe that you probably knew him. I donít believe, I know, that he, if you like, controlled you up to or around ...
Smith: And whatís his name?
MacLeod: Iíll spell it
Smith: Has he got a first name? The second name you canít pronounce.
MacLeod: Anatoliy, and the surname is Chernyayev, and you will forgive my pronunciation. And you are telling me that you donít know that man?
Smith: I do not know that man from Adam.
MacLeod: Well, I can tell you that that man was expelled from here.
He was a Russian Intelligence Officer, who was expelled from this country in April 1983, and he was a man ...
MacLeod: In í83.
Smith: But you are going back 10/11, 9 years? I mean.
MacLeod: Yes, I am going back before that, when you were recruited by Oshchenko, back in the mid í70s.
Smith: Are you saying these are a sequel? I mean.
MacLeod: What I am saying is, in the order of handling. Oshchenko was the man who recruited you, Lazin was the man who took over from Oshchenko. When Lazin was expelled in í81, you were handled by this man, Chernyayev.
Smith: Well, I can only say, that the man who is giving you this information is concocting it from people he knows, to make it sound like thereís a long case history.
MacLeod: But why should he concoct it?
Smith: Because heís trying to Ö
MacLeod: But why pick on you?
Smith: Ö win friends here, I guess.
MacLeod: Why pick on Michael Smith, from Ham, whoís only interested in playing the Spanish guitar and flamenco dancing, and getting on with his daily life? Why should a Russian KGB officer ...?
Smith: Letís not get it wrong. I was not playing flamenco in those days, if you are talking about the í70s. I first studied playing flamenco in 1982.
MacLeod: Right, Ok.
Smith: Ö and I donít think Ö
MacLeod: So, youíre an innocent Ö?
Smith: I was playing, I wasnít playing flamenco seriously until í85 or í86. So, these people, if they say I was playing flamenco in those days, it must be wrong.
MacLeod: No, I am not saying that, sorry. That was only by way of me trying to illustrate the, here you are, by your way of it, an innocent member of the public, if you like, just getting on with doing the job heís doing, whose interests ...
Smith: I understand what you are saying, but if we go back to Oshchenko.
Smith: Is it Oshchenko or Ochenko?
MacLeod: Well, you know better than I do.
Smith: I donít know better, youíre pronouncing it in different ways. This man who supposedly recruited me, seems to be the earliest one in the line, and youíre putting this back at the time when, possibly, he would have known this man Andy Wilson, and would have implicated me through him.
Smith: Now, the only way I can think heís got my name, is through Andy.
MacLeod: But you were both known to Andy. Well, clearly, I mean, you knew Andy Wilson.
Smith: I knew Andy Wilson, I am not denying that.
MacLeod: And indeed, he did, and if you remember that meeting you had down at Hampton Court, when you happened to bump into Andy Wilson.
Smith: Hampton Court?
MacLeod: Yes, there was a meeting round Hampton Court.
Smith: I have never seen Andy Wilson at Hampton Court, Ö
MacLeod: Ö and it was Ö
Smith: Ö he lives in Morden.
MacLeod: On that occasion, you were out with Oshchenko at a meeting, and you bumped into Andy Wilson.
Smith: But what was I doing in Hampton Court?
MacLeod: And you were both, you were carrying out a regular rendezvous with Oshchenko, a regular meet, not very professional where you were going to be seen, but you were clocked.
Smith: I did not meet anybody like that.
MacLeod: You were clocked by Andy Wilson, and there was concern was there not, there was concern that that might have breached your security?
Smith: No, there was not, because it didnít happen.
Beels: Well, the tape is coming to an end. I understand Mr Jefferies, that you would like your client to take a break?
Jefferies: Obviously, yes, I am sure you are aware he has been sitting here for going on 5 hours.
MacLeod: I think we, how long would you like a break for Mr Jefferies?
Jefferies: If I can leave it, in this sense, for sufficient time to enable him to recover.
MacLeod: Oh, indeed.
Beels: Can I just say, before I conclude this interview, is there anything you wish to add or clarify?
MacLeod: No, we can continue the interview later.
Beels: At the end of this interview Iíll be asking you to sign the seal on the master tape. Will you do so?
Beels: And Iíll give you a form. The time is 6:47 pm, and I am switching off the machine.