Person interviewed: Michael John Smith
Place of interview: Paddington Green Police Station
Date of interview: 8th August 1992
Time commenced: 19:13 Time concluded: 19:34
Other persons present: Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod
Detective Sergeant Stephen John Beels
Richard Jefferies (Duty Solicitor)
Beels: This interview is being tape-recorded. Iím Detective Sergeant Stephen Beels, Special Branch, New Scotland Yard. Other officer present Ö
MacLeod: I am Detective Superintendent Malcolm MacLeod, also from Special Branch, at New Scotland Yard.
Beels: And you are sir Ö
Smith: My name is Michael Smith of Kingston upon Thames.
Beels: And you are sir Ö
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, sir, a form explaining your rights of access to a copy of the tape. The date is the 8th August 1992, and the time is now 7:13 pm. I must caution you again, sir, that 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, you are entitled to free legal, legal advice, and you have your solicitor present with you. Is that correct?
Smith: Thatís correct.
MacLeod: Right, er Ö
Smith: First of all Iíd like to put on record. I apologise very much for my behaviour earlier on, right. I was overwrought. Iíve had a very bad day Ė a lot to put up with Ė and I do apologise if Iíve inconvenienced anybody, Iíve made, upset anybody. Itís not my normal way, right, but Iíve been put in very unusual circumstances here today. Now, because of the way the interview went in the first part of the session, where matters have been discussed which I didnít have full knowledge of, and I, I get the feeling that, er, the way the interview was going, I was being, um, led to answer things, that were leading me down paths that I couldnít see the implications of. Iíve decided to decline to comment any further on any questions that you may have for me. Itís, itís not that Iím trying to cover anything up, Iím certainly not, but until you reveal further information on your side, I feel that itís pointless me commenting, and having an endless discussion, which, er, goes round in circles, about trivia as far as I can see, when I wanted to get onto the meat of the case, which I thought was far more serious.
MacLeod: Right, Ok. I understand it then. I perfectly understand that. Well, can you tell me then, um, are you then prepared to discuss, um, something about your background? Can you tell me when you first became involved with the Communist Party of Great Britain?
Smith: No, I donít think Iíd better discuss it. If you want to raise, those sort of matters, thatís been discussed, um, at length, in a Positive Vetting session I had in 1980. I donít want to comment any further. In fact, they asked me at the time not to, to not talk about it to anybody, so Iím doing that.
MacLeod: Right. Can we talk about, perhaps, your trips abroad?
Smith: My trips abroad, er? Iíve got nothing to hide, and, but I donít think thereís any point in commenting any further until Iíve got more information.
MacLeod: Well, if youíve nothing to hide, well tell me Ö
Smith: Why should I, why should I, why should I discuss these things?
MacLeod: Because youíre here to help, help us.
Smith: I want to help you, but youíre not helping me, Iím afraid. So I, I donít wish to comment any further.
MacLeod: Right. Ok. Letís go, letís go back to today then, shall we?
MacLeod: Can I just, can I Ö
Smith: Youíve messed up today for me. Iím, um Ö
MacLeod: Well, listen to what I have to say. I merely asked you a number of questions concerning your activity, from the time you got up this morning to the time that you left home.
Smith: I, I thought I had discussed that at length, and I donít wish to comment any further on that. Iíve given you the information that I thought you wanted, but Iím not going to give you information which, er, when youíre not prepared to give me the reason for your questioning. I think it would be highly foolish of me, at this stage, to make comments on things that I donít understand, which you certainly do understand.
MacLeod: Well, Iím putting it to you, that you received a telephone call this morning, from a man called Ö
Smith: Weíve discussed that. Weíve discussed that. Iíve, Iíve told you exactly what I can tell you.
Smith: Thereís no further comment on that point.
MacLeod: Well, Iím putting it to you that that telephone conversation concerned a man called Victor, and you were on your way to make, er, to meet up with somebody when you left the house this morning.
Smith: Thatís untrue, but I donít want to comment on it anyway. Itís pointless commenting.
MacLeod: Well tell me then Ö
Smith: No, Iím, Iím not, Iím not going to Ö
MacLeod: If itís pointless then. Tell me why itís pointless?
Smith: Iíve discussed that with you before. I donít know any Victor. I donít know any George. I mean, Iím not trying to cover it up. If thatís what you think I went out to do this morning, well you have to draw those conclusions, and present the evidence you think youíve got, but I canít comment on something that I have no knowledge of. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: So youíre telling me that you donít know a man called Victor?
Smith: I told you I knew, er, somebody called Victor. Heís the son of a friend of mine, who is Spanish and lives in Epsom. Thatís the only Victor I know, or to my knowledge have known, as far as my memory goes back. I canít give you any more information than that.
Thatís all in the early part of the tape. I see no point in elaborating on something that, when thereís no further information. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: Well, Iím putting it to you that you do know, or you were acquainted with a man called Victor.
Smith: Well then. If you say so, I donít know if thatís true or not, but, um, I donít know if I knew a man called Victor. I donít think I did. How could I comment on something youíre giving me no information about - who this man is, or what he does, or where he lives. I mean, how can I possibly comment on something when I donít know this man?
MacLeod: Iím putting it to you, that you know a man called Victor.
Smith: I donít wish to comment any further. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: You know a man called Victor Oshchenko. Iím now showing a photograph, a black and white photograph, to Mr Smith of Victor Oshchenko.
Smith: Who is he?
MacLeod: I want you to tell me?
Beels: This will be exhibit Ö
Smith: I do not know this man.
Jeffries: Mr Smith.
Smith: I, Iíve never seen this man before. How can I possibly say I know him. I certainly wasnít going to meet him today, because Iíve never met the guy. How can you, Ö
MacLeod: Youíre a liar. He knows you.
Smith: How can you Ö How does he know me?
MacLeod: Youíre going to tell me that.
Smith: I cannot tell you something that I donít have any information on. Look, youíre sitting there, very cute on giving this information.
MacLeod: That man, that man is with us, and you know as well as I do who that man is. He is with us now.
Smith: With us ...? Who is us?
MacLeod: Just listen to what I have to say. That is the reason that you find yourself in this situation today.
Smith: But that might be so, I mean, maybe, maybe he is the cause of my problems, but Ö
MacLeod: Well, why should he Ö
Smith: Well, well, I donít know. Iíve said I canít comment on something. This is information which you, youíre springing on me, and youíre expecting me to, to say yes, I know him? No I donít. I do not know this man. How do I know this man? Who is he?
MacLeod: I want you to tell me when you first met Victor Oshchenko?
Smith: Did I meet him somewhere, by chance?
MacLeod: You know, you know very well you met him. You know very well you met him. You knew him for a number of years.
Smith: I canít comment. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: You canít Ö
Smith: Well, whatís the point in me commenting on this sort of rubbish. I mean, youíre, youíre going to twist it around. You Ö
MacLeod: Thereís nothing been twisted. Itís been Ö
Smith: Look, I canít, I canít comment on this. Iím sorry. Iíve made my point. I, I apologise for being the way I am, because thatís the way I am. I get upset when people upset me.
MacLeod: Who Ö
Smith: But I canít ans Ö, answer questions about things that Ö How do you expect me to answer questions like that?
MacLeod: Perfectly well. If you knew that man, and Iím suggesting that you do, and you knew him over a period of time.
Smith: Well, if you think you, if you think I knew him, then you tell me where I met him? I donít know. Did I meet him in a bar? Where? I donít know. You, you, youíre twisting these things.
MacLeod: Heís been telling us, heís been telling us about you.
Smith: Has he? Well, perhaps he knows more about me than you do. I donít know who the guy is, but if you want to make a point of it, yes, Ok, evidence, I donít know. What do you expect me to say? Iíve said I do not know this man. I do not want to comment any further on this case, until youíve given me some hard facts on which to base what Iím supposed to have done. Iím sorry, the ballís in your court.
MacLeod: You were quite keen on tennis at one time, werenít you?
Smith: No, thatís not true. Iíve played tennis, but Iím not keen on it.
MacLeod: Well, youíve played tennis?
Smith: Well, Iíve played with my wife. You can ask her.
MacLeod: I want you to know, that we know an awful lot more about you.
Smith: A lot of people know a lot about me.
MacLeod: This man, this man has been telling us about you. Now weíre getting down to the nitty gritty now, and I want you to tell me what your relationship was with Oshchenko.
Smith: All I can say is that he wears a big tie [looking at his photograph]. I mean, what, what do you want me to say? I mean, the guy doesnít look like anybody Iíve ever seen.
MacLeod: He has accused you of passing, passing classified information to the KGB.
Smith: Oh, thatís crazy!
MacLeod: Is it?
Smith: It, itís, of course itís crazy.
MacLeod: Tell me about the Ö
Smith: Look, if, if you listen to somebody off the street, who accuses somebody ...
MacLeod: Listen to my, listen to what Iím saying to you.
Smith: Look, I canít. How can you expect Ö Look, you, you spring this on me. You expect me to come up with some, er, some answers that satisfy you, and Iíd love to do that. I want to get out of here as soon as I can. The way youíre presenting this, youíre not helping me. Youíre, youíre putting me in a position where youíre springing evidence on me, to try and make me say things about something I donít even know. I mean, look I, I do not know this guy. I donít wish to comment any further on, on any relationship you might think Iíve got with him, until you tell me where, where did I meet him? Where, where? Who is he?
MacLeod: Well, thatís what I Ö
Smith: Where does he come from?
MacLeod: Thatís, thatís what I want you to tell me.
Smith: Well, if Iíve met him at a place, actually somewhere, I donít know.
MacLeod: Why, why should he, why should he name you Mr Smith? Why should he Ö
Smith: Iíd like to know that too. Yes, how does he Ö
MacLeod: Well, thatís what weíre here to establish.
Smith: Has he got my name from somewhere?
MacLeod: You tell me?
Smith: I, I donít need to, because I donít know. If you want me to, to string you a pack of lies, to make your case ...
MacLeod: I donít want you to ...
Smith: Well, thatís what I think youíre trying to do, Iím sorry. I donít want to get involved in this. I said, I donít want to comment any further, and you, you donít seem to, to believe that. I mean, Iím not commenting now, Iím just giving you, you the chit-chat, and ...
MacLeod: You deny, you deny knowing this man?
Smith: Of course I do.
MacLeod: Iím saying youíre a liar.
Smith: Well, where is he? Get him in here, and weíll, weíll have it out.
MacLeod: Youíre lying. Youíre lying through your teeth. Youíre pretty good at lying arenít you?
Smith: I donít think so.
MacLeod: Well, you lied when you filled in your vetting application for Thorn EMI, didnít you, about your past Communist Party connections. Am I right, or am I wrong?
Smith: I donít know, I ...
MacLeod: Of course you know.
Smith: Iím not going to comment on Ö
MacLeod: You know well now, that youíre lying through your teeth.
Smith: Look, if youíre going to drag the past up, Iím going to have, to have time to sort things out, and what happened.
MacLeod: No you donít.
Smith: How do I remember back, youíre talking about 15 years ago.
MacLeod: You can remember your past connections with the Communist Party. Yes or no?
Smith: I donít have to talk about that, because thatís covered already by my Positive Vetting.
MacLeod: Yes, but this is not a Positive Vetting enquiry.
Smith: Iím not going to discuss it with you. You are not members of the Security Forces. Iím not obliged to mention anything to you.
MacLeod: You are obliged to answer all the questions Mr Smith.
Smith: I think Iím in my rights in saying ...
MacLeod: You are not.
Smith: They told me not to discuss it with anybody, and thatís what Iím doing.
MacLeod: You can take it from me, I am perfectly entitled to put these questions to you.
Smith: I donít think you are.
Smith: Show it to me in writing then.
MacLeod: Iím not here Ö
Smith: Iím sorry, Iím not going to discuss something with you, about something which, er. Iím being put in an embarrassing position here, discussing somebody I donít know, about things that might have happened 15 years ago, and you want me to discuss what, what I talked about in private to a, a Security Officer. Iím sorry I canít do that.
MacLeod: Yes you can.
Smith: No I canít.
MacLeod: Because itís Ö
Smith: Iím not, Iím not refusing to discuss it, but you get a Security Officer who has the clearance, the, er ...
MacLeod: I have that clearance.
Smith: I donít think you have the clearance.
MacLeod: Well, Iím not asking whether you think or not, Iím telling you.
Smith: I, I Ö
MacLeod: Iím not going to Ö
Smith: I, I do not work on verbals. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: Weíre not, weíre not going to sort of fudge the issue here. I want you to answer my questions concerning your employment at Thorn EMI.
Smith: Look, my employment is between me and my employers, and if you want to ...
MacLeod: The position that you are in at the moment is a matter for discussion here and now, Mr Smith.
Smith: I donít think it is, Iím sorry.
MacLeod: Well, I think it is, and youíll be here as long as it takes me to get to the bottom of this.
Smith: Ok. Weíll stay here as long as you like, but I donít wish to comment on things that you are not being fair about. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: Fair. Am I being unreasonable.
Smith: I think you are.
MacLeod: Asking you about your past connections with the Communist Party. Are you denying that you were ever a communist?
Smith: Look Ö
MacLeod: Are you denying it?
Smith: I didnít, Iíve said Iíve got no comment to make on it.
MacLeod: Youíve got no comment to make.
Smith: Thatís all covered Ö
MacLeod: But you did lie before about it.
Smith: Iím not commenting on that. Thatís covered by the Official Secrets Act, and my discussions with people in private. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: That is a matter for me.
Smith: Iím, Iím Ö
MacLeod: Iím leading this investigation, and I want to find out from you.
Smith: You can say what you like.
MacLeod: Listen, Iíll ask the questions.
Smith: Until you show me in writing, something that says you have the right to ...
MacLeod: Iím not here to establish my, er, security clearance with you. I am telling you ...
Smith: Well, I, I know where I stand.
MacLeod: Mr Jefferies will have to accept that I have the necessary ...
Smith: Would you accept something verbal? I, I do not accept a verbal, er, er ...
MacLeod: Youíre going to have to accept it.
Smith: Well Iím sorry, weíll end the interview now. I cannot accept what youíre saying. Iím sorry. You do not have clearance to discuss my security clearance. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: Have you ever discussed your work anywhere else, Mr Smith, when you were working in EMI. Have you ever discussed the work you were involved in with anybody outside the company?
Smith: Well, what aspects of my work are you talking about?
MacLeod: Well, I want you to tell me.
Smith: I talked about the working conditions, the things ...
MacLeod: Weíre not talking about the working conditions, weíre talking about the sensitive project that you may have been involved in.
Smith: You know as well as I do, that you cannot discuss these things outside work, except with people who are cleared to that level of security clearance. I know that and you know that.
MacLeod: So, what youíre saying is that perhaps you might not even discuss it with your wife, for example.
Smith: Well, I think if you ask her youíll find out. Why should I tell you that. You can find out from her.
MacLeod: What, that youíve never discussed work concerning the ...
Smith: Iíve discussed work, but I didnít say I discuss, er, secrets. I donít think thatís for discussion with my wife or anybody.
MacLeod: I donít think itís fair for discussion with your wife, but you, you certainly discussed it with your wife.
Smith: What did I discuss with my wife?
MacLeod: Youíve discussed the work that you were involved in, in Thorn EMI, with your wife. Sheís told us. Youíre telling me that youíve got a security clearance, youíre not prepared to talk to me, but youíre prepared to talk to your wife. That doesnít get any better.
Smith: Look, those words Ö What I talked to my wife about is between my wife and I. Are you accusing her Ö
MacLeod: What Iím saying Ö
Smith: Are you accusing her of being involved in anything like this.
MacLeod: Iím not accusing anybody. What Iím saying to you is that you were quite prepared to discuss with your wife, the kind of work that you were involved in at Thorn EMI, but why should that be any different with anyone else? If youíre prepared to speak to your wife about it, why not somebody else, like the KGB for example.
MacLeod: Yes, the KGB.
Smith: I donít know anybody in the KGB. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: Youíre a liar.
Smith: Am I?
Smith: Then who do I know in the KGB?
MacLeod: That man. Victor Oshchenko.
Smith: I, I donít know him. If heís the Victor youíre thinking, youíve been mentioning in the earlier discussion we had, Iíve no way of knowing if thatís that man or somebody else. Perhaps I donít know him as Victor. I donít know. I donít know this guy. Who is he?
MacLeod: Iíve told you who he is
Smith: No, you havenít told me who he is.
MacLeod: Iíve told you that is the man you knew as Victor Oshchenko.
Smith: But I donít know anybody called Oshchenko. Itís not an, an English name. I donít know that person. If this man has been spreading lies about me, to try and get me in trouble, to get himself off the hook, then I want to meet him and have this out with him. Look, weíre going to get nowhere like this. I donít wish to comment on these things, until the facts are on the table. What did I do, when did I do it. If you canít come up with that then, then I need to, er, sort a few things out at home. I donít need to be messed about like this. Iíve told you I donít wish to comment on things until you, you come clean with what it is youíre charging me with.
MacLeod: Right. Letís, er, letís just change tactics for a moment, shall we. Can we just have, er, a sort of look at, you, a recap on your sort of background. You are Ö
Smith: I donít wish to discuss my background with you, Iím sorry. Why should I?
MacLeod: Have you got something to hide?
Smith: Of course I havenít.
MacLeod: Well, in that case, why should you feel so reticent about talking about your background?
Smith: Because Iím not feeling in the mood right now.
MacLeod: Well, I donít think youíre really in a position to dictate, whether youíre in a mood or not, to discuss matters that are highly relevant to this investigation.
Smith: Isnít that for me to decide how I feel. Look, I donít wish to comment. Weíre getting in the same argument as we did before. Iím sorry, I apologise for this developing the way it has done, but I donít like your interviewing technique - Iím sorry - and I donít like the sort of questioning youíre having on me, when youíve given me no time to, to think what I should answer. Itís, itís all coming out of the blue, who this guy is. I mean, you suddenly put him on the table, and say Iím supposed to know him. What do you expect me to say? Iím not stupid.
MacLeod: You do know him.
Smith: But I think youíre taking me for stupid, and Iím not stupid.
Smith: So Iím not going to comment on this guy. Whoever he might be, itís for you to present the facts and Iíll, Iíll discuss it when you come up with them.
MacLeod: So, what youíre telling me is, youíve never met this man. Youíve never met Victor Oshchenko.
Smith: Look, letís just say no comment. I mean, whatís the point of beating about the bush. No comment.
MacLeod: Right. Does it concern you that heís come across.
Smith: Across from where?
MacLeod: That heís defected.
Smith: Defected from where?
MacLeod: Donít play silly games, Mr Smith.
Smith: Look Ö
MacLeod: You know who he is.
Smith: I donít know what youíre talking about.
MacLeod: That man has fingered you. He has Ö
Smith: But why has he fingered me?
MacLeod: Heís fingered you, because he was your controller.
Smith: My controller? Nobody controls me except my wife.
MacLeod: Can I just talk about the time that you were, er, involved in trade union affairs.
Smith: No comment.
MacLeod: Why? Is there something about this that might embarrass you?
Smith: No comment.
MacLeod: Why did you join Thorn EMI?
Smith: No comment.
MacLeod: Does that cause you something of discomfort?
Smith: No comment.
MacLeod: Iím going to talk about this man.
Smith: You might talk about him. Iím not talking about him, because I, I donít know him.
MacLeod: Yes you do. Yes you do.
Smith: Go, go ahead then. Mention him and see what Iíve got to say, because I, I donít know what I can say about him, and you, you are calling the tune obviously.
MacLeod: Iím putting it to you, that the reason that you left your home today was to make, make a meeting with a man called George.
Smith: George? Look we discussed this before. I do not know a George. Iíve no comment on that.
MacLeod: Who was going to speak to you about Victor.
Smith: Victor who?
MacLeod: Victor Oshchenko. The man Iím talking about. The man whose photograph is in front of you here.
Smith: I donít think that was what the conversation was about at all. Iím sorry.
MacLeod: Are you saying Ö
Smith: Look Ö
MacLeod: Just, let me finish. Let me finish. Are you saying that the telephone conversation this morning by this man, so called, this man so called George, er, that was, er, there was no reference to a Victor?
Smith: No, you said you thought there was somebody called Victor. I donít think I mentioned him. Maybe there was, but I said his accent was bad, and I didnít ...
MacLeod: And you couldnít, you couldnít, I see. Well, I can prove that the gist of that telephone conversation this morning concerned Victor, and you know well who Victor was. That was the reason you left so promptly to make the meeting.
MacLeod: What time did you receive the telephone call at?
Smith: I said it was about, I donít know, about 10 to 9, I think.
MacLeod: What time did you go for your newspaper?
Smith: I think it was about 25 past 9, or something. It was quite late.
MacLeod: So it was just an ordinary Sunday morning for you?
Smith: Sunday? Itís Saturday.
MacLeod: Saturday, yes, Saturday morning out to get the, the newspaper, and ...
Smith: Well, Iíve got a particular reason. Iíve, Iíve lost my job, if you donít know, and Iíve been trying to, er, to look through newspapers; get, get advertisements, er, and also I was interested in the Olympics yesterday, because I, I missed, I was too tired to Ö.
MacLeod: Letís forget the Olympics.
Smith: Itís, itís very important, itís very important to the matter, if you ... We, er, we went down to the coast yesterday, and, er, I was too tired to watch the Olympics when I got back, and Iím very interested in the Olympics. So I went to get the paper particularly to see who won the steeple-chase.
MacLeod: Right, Ok. Letís forget that. Letís forget the newspaper. Letís talk about the journey out this morning.
Smith: Look, I donít want to comment any more on that. Iíve, weíve said so much on the first tape. Itís just, you know, people are going to get the impression that weíre paranoiac about this, and I donít think itís worth all this fuss.
MacLeod: I think, I think it is.
Smith: I donít think so. Thereís nothing in, in that earlier tape that could possibly be of any interest to you or me. You might think so, but I donít. You cannot keep looking at me like that.
MacLeod: I canít understand Ö
Smith: We, we just need to sort out what is this all about. Can we put some cards on the table, and we can go away and sort this out.
MacLeod: Well, Iím certainly not going to put all my cards on the table at this time.
Smith: Well, what do you expect me to do, to, to speak a load of garbage.
MacLeod: Because I expect you, I expect you to be honest and truthful.
Smith: I am being honest.
MacLeod: No, youíre being deceitful.
Smith: Oh, thank you, thank you very much.
MacLeod: And youíve been lying.
Smith: Look, I canít comment on that. This is absolutely ridiculous!
MacLeod: Itís not ridiculous.
Smith: This is a farce, and I donít want to be involved in this sort of farce, so letís end the interview now.
Smith: No comment.
MacLeod: Listen, weíve got enquiries to carry out. Weíll continue these enquiries as long as it takes. Youíre here to help us with these enquiries.
Smith: I want to help you, but youíre putting me in a very awkward position, by asking me questions that, that are aimed at getting information from me that I, I canít see the reason for it. Youíve, youíve got me under, er, er, scrutiny for something, and I donít know what it is. Why should I discuss anything with you when, when youíre being like this. My solicitor Ö
MacLeod: The question is Ö
Smith: Ö and I have discussed this before, and we wanted to find out some facts so that we could know how to answer them, but youíre not giving us those facts, and if you donít give us the facts, I mean, I can, I can disregard this as being a waste of time.
MacLeod: Right. I, I can establish, I can prove evidentially that you received a telephone call this morning from a man called George.
Smith: How can you prove I received a telephone call?
MacLeod: I can prove that.
Smith: I donít think you can prove that.
MacLeod: I can prove that you received a telephone call Ö
Smith: If my wife talked to you about it, and Iíve talked to you about it, thatís the only way you can prove that it happened. Isnít it?
MacLeod: Thatís for you to find out. Iím ending this interview now. The time is Ö
Beels: The time is 6:34. Is there anything else you wish to add or clarify?
Jefferies: It is 7:34.
Smith: Thereís nothing to clarify.
Beels: I beg your pardon. Iíve been corrected. Itís 7:34.
Smith: Thereís absolutely nothing to clarify.
Beels: At the end of this interview, I will be asking you to sign the seal and master tape. Will you do so?
Beels: You already have a form, and your solicitor has the form 987 explaining your rights of access. I am now switching off the machine.