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|John Colin Wallace|
Randalstown, Northern Ireland
|Years of service||1961 - 1975|
John Colin Wallace is a former British soldier and psychological warfare operative who was one of the members of the 'Clockwork Orange' project, which is alleged to have been an attempt to smear a number of British politicians in the early 1970s.
Wallace was born in Randalstown, Northern Ireland, in 1943 and educated at Ballymena Academy. He joined the Territorial Army in 1961, and later was a marksman in the Ulster Special Constabulary, or 'B Specials'. A former officer cadet in the Irish Guards, in 1963 he was commissioned into the Antrim and Belfast Army Cadet Force. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1965. In 1972, he was commissioned into the Ulster Defence Regiment and was immediately granted the acting rank of captain, although he also stayed in the ACF. He was seconded to the New Zealand SAS before working for the Intelligence Services as a psychological warfare officer.
Wallace joined the civil service on 15 March 1968 as an assistant information officer for the Ministry of Defence at the British Army Northern Ireland headquarters at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn. He became an established information officer from 14 December 1971 and a senior information officer with effect from 27 September 1974, having first held this latter post on temporary promotion.
As well as carrying out overt information work for the Army, Wallace was also working for the Intelligence Services as a member of the ultra-secret Army Psychological Operations unit, covertly attempting to undermine the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and loyalist paramilitary groups. One of Wallace's roles was to plant a number of bogus news stories such as one titled "Danger in those Frilly Panties" in the Sunday Mirror, which suggested that female IRA volunteers were causing premature explosions due to static electricity caused by their underwear, in order to divert the IRA's bombmakers from the real cause of the bombs' failure.
In 1973 and 1974 Wallace was involved with an operation called Clockwork Orange. Wallace alleges that this involved right-wing members of the security services in a disinformation campaign aimed not at paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland, but at British MPs. He was supported by a covert specialist military troop (possibly an SAS unit made up from specially-trained Northern Ireland personnel). This group was shrouded in secrecy. It was headed by a former Irish Guard sergeant, codenamed 'Meltdown'. Journalists from foreign news organisations would be given briefings and shown forged documents, which purported to show that politicians were speaking at Irish republican rallies or were receiving secret deposits in Swiss bank accounts.
Wallace resigned from the Civil Service in 1975 in order to avoid disciplinary action, ostensibly for privately briefing journalists with classified information. Wallace always claimed that this action was consistent with his secret job duties as a member of the Intelligence Services and that the real reasons for his dismissal were related to his refusal to continue working on the 'Clockwork Orange' project in October 1974 and his investigation of a child abuse scandal at the Kincora boy's home, which he claims was blocked because the leading perpetrator was both a leading member of a loyalist paramilitary group and an undercover agent for MI5.
In the 1980s, however, Wallace produced some documents, including a series of handwritten notes by himself, which he claimed were taken at meetings with other members of the plot, including the Member of Parliament Airey Neave. The notes were later subjected to an independent forensic analysis by Dr Julius Grant, and the results were consistent with the notes having been made contemporaneously during the 1970s.
In 1980, Wallace was convicted of the manslaughter of the husband of one of his work colleagues. It was reported that Wallace had beaten antiques dealer Jonathan Lewis to death before attending a dinner party with the dead man's wife. Later that night, Wallace was alleged to have dumped the body in the river Arun.
The conviction was quashed in 1996 in the light of new forensic and other evidence, ten years after he was released from prison. During the appeal hearing, a Home Office pathologist, Dr Ian West, admitted that some of the evidence that he had used at Wallace's trial had been supplied to him by "an American security source". The journalist Paul Foot, in his book 'Who framed Colin Wallace', suggested that Wallace may have been framed for the killing, possibly by renegade members of the security services in a bid to discredit his allegations that members of the intelligence community had attempted to rig the 1974 general election after which Harold Wilson came to power with a minority government.
In the House of Commons, in 1990, the Government admitted that Ministers had "inadvertently misled" Parliament over Wallace's role and confirmed that he had been involved in disinformation activities on behalf of the security forces and that he had been authorised to supply, on occasions, classified information to journalists.
Junior Defence Minister, Archie Hamilton, also confirmed the existence of a project called 'Clockwork Orange' but denied that there was any evidence that it involved briefings against elected Irish or British politicians.
A government inquiry set up by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and undertaken by Sir David Calcutt QC confirmed that Wallace had, indeed, been working for the Intelligence Services during the 1970s and that his enforced resignation from the Ministry of Defence had been made on the basis of a false job description designed to conceal his covert role in psychological warfare. Sir David Calcutt also found that members of the Security Service had manipulated the disciplinary proceedings taken against Wallace. In the light of the Inquiry's findings, Wallace was awarded compensation by the Government.
Despite the findings of the Calcutt Inquiry, the Ministry of Defence refused to allow the Defence Select Committee to have access to Wallace's secret job description. In a letter dated 11 February 1991, the Ministry of Defence said that Wallace's job description contained "sensitive information relating to the security and intelligence matters" and that the provision of such papers, even under the conditions relating to the Committee's access to classified information, "would be inconsistent with the conventions".
Dublin bombings inquiry
A letter from Colin Wallace to Tony Stoughton, the Chief Information Officer of the Army Information Service at Lisburn, on 14 August 1975 noted the connections between UVF loyalists and intelligence agencies of the Army and of the RUC Special Branch:
"There is good evidence the Dublin bombings [see Dublin and Monaghan bombings] in May last year were a reprisal for the Irish government's role in bringing about the [power sharing] Executive. According to one of Craig's people [Craig Smellie, the top MI6 officer in the North of Ireland at the time], some of those involved, the Youngs, the Jacksons, Mulholland, Hanna, Kerr and McConnell were working closely with SB [Special Branch] and Int [Intelligence] at that time. Craig's people believe the sectarian assassinations were designed to destroy [then Northern Secretary Merlyn] Rees's attempts to negotiate a ceasefire, and the targets were identified for both sides by Int/SB. They also believe some very senior RUC officers were involved with this group. In short, it would appear that loyalist paramilitaries and Int/SB members have formed some sort of pseudo-gangs in an attempt to fight a war of attrition by getting paramilitaries on both sides to kill each other and, at the same time, prevent any future political initiative such as Sunningdale."
In a further letter dated 30 September 1975, Wallace revealed that MI5 was trying to create a split in the UVF in order to foment violence:
"because they wanted the more politically minded ones ousted. I believe much of the violence generated during the latter part of last year was caused by some of the new Int people deliberately stirring up the conflict. As you know, we have never been allowed to target the breakaway UVF, nor the UFF, during the past year. Yet they have killed more people than the IRA!"
To this day, Wallace remains something of an enigma. Former members of the Special Forces admit that Wallace worked with them as far afield as Berlin and the Oman during the Cold War, but the Intelligence Services still try to distance themselves from what Wallace was doing. Wallace's role in Northern Ireland is clearly still a very sensitive matter. He had been part of the Army team preparing for the Widgery Tribunal into the Bloody Sunday killings of protestors in Derry, and in 2002, he testified at the Saville Inquiry into the events.
One of Wallace's close friends in the Army described him as follows: "I played golf with the general. That was an accident. Colin was needed by the general. Everyone needed him. They just could not do without him."
Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Yarnold, who worked with Wallace in Northern Ireland, said: "Let's face it, Colin was the lynchpin of the whole operation. He was terrific - way ahead of us all in his knowledge and his readiness to work. Everyone wanted him all the time, and somehow he was always available."
A former Ministry of Defence Chief Information Officer commented: "For loyalty and dedication to the Army, Colin Wallace was in a class of his own."
- Commons statement on Wallace
- The Guardian; Man gaoled for killing, 21 March 1981
- Death Squad Dossier, Irish Mail on Sunday by Michael Browne, 10 December 2006, see also, Irish Daily Mail, 30 November 2006 for further information
- Paul Foot (2 October 2002). "The Final Vindication". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2007.
- Archie Hamilton's answers on Wallace, Hansard 30 January 1990
- Lobster Magazine, which covers a great deal of the Wallace story
- Foot, Paul; Who Framed Colin Wallace? (1989)