One thing that unquestionably facilitates spook intervention in politics is the studied unwillingness of people on one part of the spectrum to take an interest when perceived opponents are infiltrated. No more so than suggestions that the Euro-Sceptic movement might be the subject of secret state jiggery-pokery. This not only ignores the political past--both the Labour Party & the Green Party once favoured withdrawal from the EU--it allows spooks greater maneouvrability in the present.

Something that we at NFB definitely think is a bad thing. We would only ask that those who have no sympathy for UKIP put that aside for a few minutes and look at the issues...

TEBBIT WEIGHS IN

Just before the 2001 General Election, Tory bruiser Norman Tebbit wrote in The Spectator that UKIP had two ex-MI6 agents in the ranks, and by standing in seats against Tory Eurosceptic candidates was perhaps following an MI6 (and New Labour) agenda [132]. His argument had two aspects--the presence of MI6 assets on the one hand, and UKIP electoral strategy on the other.

UKIP did indeed stand against Tory Euro-sceptics who lost their seats, such as Patrick Nicholls. However, standing against those they are politically close to was no new policy--UKIP opposed the Referendum Party in 1997 and prior to that election were distinctly antagonistic [133]. In any event, whatever Tebbit's own views on the EU, the suspicion is this article was written for (Tory) party motives to some extent at least. Tebbit hardly proved his case as to what M!6 might have been up to in UKIP. He did however, to use his phrase, 'strike gold' in one respect-ascertaining there were indeed two ex-MI6 agents inside UKIP. For that, we should all be grateful, as too for putting the question of spooks infiltrating politics on the agenda.

MI6 & PARTY POLITICS—A DEFINITE CASE TO ANSWER

Without question MI6 cultivate assets in political parties. Raymond Fletcher (Labour MP for llkestone 1964-83) was on MI6's payroll while in parliament. Another former MI6 officer was influential Tory Cranley Onslow MP, later instrumental in recruiting 1970s MI6 provocateurs the Littlejohn brothers. Former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken was so in with MI6 he used this to defend his libel case against The Guardian. The most high profile former MI6 officer is Paddy Ashdown. As Lib Dem Leader his first act was persuade the party to ditch their unilateral nuclear disarmament policy. And who really believes his interest in the former Yugoslavia has nothing to do with Paddy's MI6 past? Not us. At the very least we can say former MI6 employees entering politics retain links with SIS, which are of use in, and affect, their political life.

THE JONES ALLEGATIONS

Tebbit did not name his source, but others did. It was Chris Jones, sometime Labour Party Press Officer, more recently a UKIP Press Officer. He held this post for a few months before departing in contested circumstances. Jones, contacted by NFB, readily conceded he was Tebbit's source, but added little, and seemed unenthusiastic about his previous claims. Undeterred, we continued investigating and obtained his two known relevant letters anyway.

First up is Jones' letter to Jeffrey Titford MEP dated 26/9/00. He raises seven main points, yet none concern MI6 or even party policy. They all impinge on his employment contract and related financial matters, of little help in determining MI6 involvement in UKIP. At that time (and still) Jones had a court case pending relating to his employment. Maybe he was sidelined after discovering an MI6 plot in UKIP--but this letter does not directly support that. Indeed, inasmuch as he says "alarm bells started ringing in my head in my second week in [UKIP] employ", no allegation concerning MI6 is even implicitly substantiated. A mundane motive for alleging MI6 infiltration (revenge) is however potentially substantiated. Luckily, we already know via Tebbit two were definitely ex-MI6.

A second Jones missive is more helpful, dated 14/1/01. His letter to the 'Regulation of Investigatory Powers Tribunal' refers to "my allegation, based on detailed circumstantional {sic) evidence gathered over 5 months that UKIP has been penetrated and is largely controlled by British Intelligence agents". Unfortunately there is no evidence in this letter, although a request is made to "call upon files on UKIP: myself: Dr R AE North: G Franklyn-Ryan: Nigel Farage MEP: Heather Coyningham a former FCO official; Christopher Skeate also FCO: Tony Stone: Mark Daniel (alias): Janet Girsman and G Lance Watkins". Given he presumably doesn't see himself as a spook, maybe others on this list are victims too according to Jones. What caused whittling down 8 names to 2 (when he met Tebbit) is not ascertainable. Perhaps Mr Jones might say more on these matters, and we hope he will. One further point-in our opinion, the last people to go to if concerned about spookery is the Home Secretary or any spook monitoring body. If there is no secret state involvement, it'd be a waste of time. If there is involvement, they wouldn't admit it but simply cover their tracks.

SIFTING THE EVIDENCE

According to preliminary research the following things are known or claimed about Heather Coyningham & Christopher Skeate, the two ex-MI6 staff. They worked in Latin America together (possibly Peru) and were both in the Referendum Party, the latter as a 1997 candidate. As UKIP Press Officer, Skeate recruited Coyningham to a secretarial role. Fluent in languages. Coyningham now works in Brussels as secretary to both Titford and Farage. No evidence has been found of her factionalising, but it has to be said if she were still operating to an MI6 agenda, this apparently mundane but in reality crucial job is exactly the sort of task she would perform. We have heard that Coyningham played a key part in the recent General Election campaign, and helped change party policy concerning a referendum on EU membership. We do not know this is so, but report it: such a policy dilution is something MI6 would favour.

Skeate has a higher profile. He attended the crucial New Alliance foundation meeting 7/6/97 and in February 1999 lobbied NEC members to prevent suspension of Liz Milton from that body. Also that month, he accused then leader Michael Holmes of being responsible for posting defamatory material concerning himself (Holmes) on the Eurofaq internet newsgroup. Skeate drifted in and out of the various internal conflicts, surfacing at the October 1999 AGM claiming "the NEC had achieved nothing in the last year or so-and attempted to put the blame on Michael Holmes" (according to one critic) [134]. Maybe Skeate's participation in factionalism was innocent-and after all, a lot less than some. However, if he too were still working to an MI6 agenda, encouraging factionalism at pivotal moments is something one might expect. Early in 2001, Skeate left UKIP, over an undisclosed matter. His internet argument with Holocaust Denial supporter Alistair McConnachie (mentioned earlier) found its way to the Guardian in February 2001. Of course, Skeate probably genuinely opposes anti-semitism, although we doubt pro-Jewish sympathies were encouraged in MI6. After all, his Latin America posting will have included dealings with the Cayman Islands, which play "an integral role in money laundering for several of the Arab intelligence services" [135].

REACTIONS TO TEBBIT

Ordinary UKIP members saw Tebbit as pursuing a Tory agenda: fair comment [136], The Telegraph covered it straight [137]. The Guardian snidely dismissed Tebbit as a 'conspiracy theorist'—yet Tebbit had incontrovertibly established Skeate and Coyningham were MI6 [138].

Next up was Andrew Pierce inThe Times (24/5), who in 1999 broke the Farage/Lecomber/Deavin photo story. He poured scorn on Tebbit, implying UKIP was the province of MI5 (if anything) not MI6--but why not both? He stated "there have been so many personality clashes within the party they would not have needed any external help to disrupt it". Like Pierce for example? His was a disingenuous remark, for not only may spooks accentuate personal rivalries (the COINTELPRO model) genuine rivalries are good cover. Obviously speaking of the Jones Memo, Pierce claimed to be "trying to locate" it. We think it unlikely he didnt already have it. He asked of a plot 'what is the point?', knowing full well even the tiniest groups get infiltrated, never mind ones with MEPs whose main plank is a foreign policy issue. Pierce then deliberately blurs the Carmichae! (MI5) case with this (MI6) one, attributing such (manufactured) confusion to Tebbit! And so on--all in all, a professional snow job. Clearly, at some time between 1999 and 2001, Pierce's public line on UKIP has undergone a radical change. Reporting the Tory attempt to bribe UKIP early in 2001 Pierce was respectful of Farage, quoting extensively from his internal UKIP report in a way doing UKIP (as opposed to Tories) no harm [139]. The uncharitable might think Pierce got instructions from above (or below) to enthusiastically rubbish Tebbit's claims. We couldn't possibly comment.

Recent coverage in the BNP's Spearhead says little but is again reminiscent of Dr Deavin, using the name Barry Preston [140]. To date, neither Searchlight nor Francis Wheen have said anything. Maybe the drip feed is clogged up?

During the whole controversy, only one UKIP luminary spoke--Nigel Farage. He said a lot--and said nothing. To The Telegraph he admitted the "party could have been infiltrated by all sorts of people". Not specifying who. For The Guardian he mused over whether leaks from UKIP had been "the far left, the far right, or the Conservatives, but I just don't know". Not spooks then. Strange, considering Tebbit's Spectator article reported "no shock at UKIP when I told them what I know about the person who had left". Or perhaps Farage believes an MI6 asset in UKIP would not be infiltration? So what would? On the BBC (23/5/01) Farage rhetorically asked "who is to say whether we were infiltrated by the security services". Actually, Norman Tebbit. Farage's most fatuous offering is the last. According to the Daily Express (25/5/01) after questioning Coyningham, Farage said "she thinks these claims are nonsense". So do any number of people up in court--shouldn't a party leader properly investigate, as the Express headline 'Party starts spy probe' promises? Topping it is this riposte. "Asked whether either had ever worked for MI6, Mr Farage said 'I haven't got a clue'". Does this ridiculous response indicate irresponsible incompetence or something else? Your call. At the very least, former Tory MP John Browne could head up an inquiry. That really would be fun.

FOOTNOTES TO EXTRACT

132) The Spectator 26/5/01
133) see for example UKIP Press Release 28/11/96 & leaflet 'Why UKIP is not in alliance with the Referendum Party' (1996)
134) letter in Independence issue 30 October 1999 p.5
135) John Loftus & Mark Aarons 'The Secret ar Against the Jews; (St Martins Press NY) p.394
136) Brian Lee letter to The Spectator 2/6/01
137) Daily Telegraph 24/5/01 (Sarah Womack)
138) The Guardian 24/501 (Nicholas Watt).
139) The Times 2/3/01 (Andrew Pierce).
140) Funny goings-on in UKIP' Spearhead 92 October 2001 p.18-19

IN-DEPTH COVERAGE OF THE SUBJECT OF THIS ARTICLE IS IN "NOTES FROM THE BORDERLAND ISSUE 4" - CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE SHOP

 

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About NFB Magazine

Welcome to Britain's premier parapolitical investigative magazine Notes from the Borderland (NFB). We have been producing the magazine since 1997 but some published material before then.

Our political perspective is Left/Green, but we welcome truth-tellers, whatever their affiliation. Research interests include the secret state (MI5/MI6/Special Branch, now SO15) & their assets, including those in the media. We are resolutely anti-fascist, and to that end investigate the far right and state infiltration of various milieus. In a shallow age where many TV programmes and print/internet stories are spoon-fed to servile journalists/bloggers by shadowy interests, NFB stands out as genuine investigative research. 

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