Marconi Weapons System

Defence written question – answered on 10th January 2006.

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay Labour, Thurrock

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date the document known as the Prosecution Exhibit bundle pages 51 to 59 in the case of R v. Michael John Smith held in the Central Criminal Court from September to November 1993, relating to the Marconi Space and Defence Systems Ltd. Demonstrator Programme Requirement Specification Bandpass Filter Assembly component dated 8 January 1982 reference 79481/PBH/BB/SO8 became linked to a weapons system; which weapons system it was linked to; on what date it became obsolete and no longer linked to any weapons system; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

I am currently unable to provide a response to the questions raised as the subject is the matter of an investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and it would be inappropriate to provide the information requested while this investigation is ongoing.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes3 people think so

No12 people think not

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Michael John Smith
Posted on 18 Jan 2006 1:02 am (Report this annotation)

I was absolutely disgusted by the answer given by Mr Adam Ingram. How could any answer he gave to this question have affected the outcome to the CCRC's investigation of my case? This was a purely factual matter and not one concerned with opinion or interpretation.

The facts are: an MoD expert stated at my trial that the said document was related to the ALARM missile project; the Technical Director of Marconi was quoted as agreeing to this claim; in 1995, at my appeal, a Deputy Director of MoD Security confirmed the link to ALARM. Then, in the Security Commission's report on my case, it was admitted the MoD's evidence about this document was "seriously incorrect" and it caused a significant problem for the Commission, which resulted in the statement: “… at the time the document was created it was not specifically linked to a particular weapons system.” (HMSO, Cm 2930, July 1995, Annex A.5).

In the espionage cases of Rafael Juan Bravo and Ian Parr, both apparently entrapment scenarios organised by MI5, it was quickly publicised in the media (for example on the Guardian and BBC websites) exactly what projects had been involved, and the level of document classification was also mentioned in those reports. In my case it was claimed that a 'restricted' document was wrongly classified, and the project it was used on was never publicly acknowledged. I would expect the same degree of disclosure as occurred in the Bravo and Parr cases, especially as those cases are quite recent and my case involved a document that is now over 24 years old.

I do not know what the truth is behind that restricted document, but it would appear the MoD is not comfortable to simply confirm that the evidence given at my trial, by their own expert, is correct. I await their further comment, and wonder why they are so reticent to clear up this matter once and for all.

Michael John Smith
Posted on 23 Jan 2006 6:20 pm (Report this annotation)

Moscow is a funny place, where British spies receive classified material from rocks. Presumably MI6 will now ask "can we have our rock back". If the electronics in the rock are covered by the Official Secrets Act, then I guess we wouldn't want a Russian to look at it? Double standards and lies and crimes seem to be the norm in our culture of secrecy, as David Shaler and Richard Tomlinson aptly demonstrated. What worse place is there to be caught with your trousers down - the freezing Russian capital in January!

Michael John Smith
Posted on 10 Dec 2007 1:31 am (Report this annotation)

I never did get a reply from the Ministry of Defence, following Andrew Mackinlay’s question on the ‘restricted’ document. This lack of honesty by the MoD was the main reason why I started my blog, because I felt the only way to draw out the truth was to go public and openly question the evidence at my trial.

My fears of a cover-up were well-founded, when the Criminal Case Review Commission’s provisional report arrived in July 2006 - the investigation referred to by Adam Ingram. The report brushed aside all my arguments, and it amounts to a whitewash that there were no failings in the legal process. However, I have since learned quite a lot more information about that ‘restricted’ document, and the misrepresentation that surrounded it. I can now make presumptions about why Adam Ingram felt unable to make a statement disclosing the truth.

The MoD expert, Professor Lewis, whose testimony led to my conviction, claimed in court on 11 October 1993 that he had been told by Marconi’s Technical Director (in a telephone conversation) that the document was used on the ALARM missile. I talked with that Technical Director in January 2007, and he informed me that he had not known about the document’s use, and would have consulted other staff in a different Marconi company. This means the evidence given to the court was at least triple “hearsay”, and it is significant that nobody will now admit to having been the source for the evidence.

The important fact, which I have only recently learned, is that the ‘restricted’ document became obsolete on 27 March 1984, and so it was impossible that this was a document used on any actual ALARM missile. It is interesting that Mr Mackinlay’s question requests a date when the document became obsolete, but the MoD declined to admit that it was obsolete.

The truth is more disturbing, because it appears that a related document, actually used on ALARM in 1991, was unclassified, and MoD staff must have been responsible in deciding that the specification was not sensitive enough to be classified. Therefore, the MoD’s evidence to the Security Commission (1994), that the ‘restricted’ document should have been classified ‘secret’, was dishonest since the document was not in use after 1984.

This all looks very bad for the MoD expert who gave that testimony at my trial in 1993, because he seriously misled the jury into believing that the information in the document was extremely sensitive, and that its contents could endanger British servicemen’s lives.

I hope that the MoD will now assist me in resolving this matter once and for all, and that they will support a retrial so that the true evidence can be put before a jury.