Michael John Smith (espionage)
Michael John Smith was born on 22 September 1948. He was charged in the UK with four offences under sections 1(1)(b) and (c) the Official Secrets Act 1911 in 1992 and convicted on the three of charges under section 1(1)(c). He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. This was later reduced to 20 years on appeal in June 1995. The three charges on which he was convicted related to 'communicating material to another for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State'.
Between 1960 and 1967 Smith attended Ockendon Courts County Secondary Modern School, Essex and achieved nine GCE 'O' level and four 'A' levels. He went on to the University of Surrey where he graduated in 1971 with a degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
Upon graduating Smith found employment for a short time as a trainee assistant electronic engineer at a small engineering company.
April 1972 he joined Rediffusion in Chessington as a Junior Engineer.
July 1976, Smith started work as a test engineer in the Quality Assurance department of Thorn EMI Defence Electronics at Feltham, Middlesex. As a part of his role Smith had security clearance to allow him access to material classified up to SECRET.
From 1985 to 31 July 1992 (when he was made redundant) he was employed as a Quality Audit Manager at the GEC Hirst Research Center, Wembley. The Hirst Research Centre was the central research laboratory of General Electric Company plc, which undertook a wide range of Ministry of Defence (MoD) and commercial projects.
Hirst was classed since at least 1977 as a ‘prohibited place’ within Section 3(b) of the Official Secrets Act 1911 because it received and held classified material for the purpose of fulfilling MoD contracts. These contracts cover a range of military equipment including the Rapier missile.
It was alleged Smith was recruited as a spy by Viktor Oshchenko, who befriended him at a union meeting in 1975 and ran Smith up until September 1979.
Viktor Oshchenko defected from the USSR in July 1992 and provided information which is said confirmed suspicions that Smith had provided information on the XN-715 radar fuse for the British WE.177 free fall nuclear bomb. The fuse was developed by Thorn EMI in conjunction with a number of MoD research establishments.
Despite the fact that the most serious of Smith's alleged espionage activities occurred whilst he was working for EMI, his trial was confined to charges under the Official Secrets Act 1911 relating to the documents taken from GEC in his possession at the time of his arrest.
Following the defection of Viktor Oshchenko and the information he provided it was decided that Smith should be arrested as soon as possible. In August 1992 a member of the Security Service telephoned Smith and pretended to be a friend of his friend Viktor and that they should meet. It was arranged to call Smith at a telephone kiosk near his home. This call never took place due to a mix up but Smith was under surveillance by the Metropolitan Police near the telephone box. When Smith returned home he was arrested under the Official Secrets Act 1911.
Analysis of Smith's financial affairs revealed unexplained income of over £20,000.
During a search of the boot of Smith's car, police found a plastic bag full of documents and some components. Amongst the documents were handwritten notes headed "Micromachining Project", "Micron-Valve Project" and other subjects. A document was also found which an expert at his trial linked to the ALARM missile project.
The report of the Security Commission dated July 1995 prepared after an inquiry into this case stated that:
- "The material known to have been obtained by Smith during his time at GEC which led to the charges and his conviction under the Official Secrets Act, was a mixed bag. Some was already in the public domain and some was of value more for its commercial than for its military potential. But a number of documents contained more sensitive material, relating to weapons systems. The potential damage to the UK overall including the Rapier is assessed as considerable. In the case of the other current weapon system, the detailed information contained in the document which should have been classified SECRET would have enabled an intelligent enemy to deduce operating parameters which would have allowed counter-measures to be developed. The potential damage to the national interest in the case of that weapons system is assessed as serious."
On the 10th January 2006 Andrew Mackinlay MP asked in Parliament for clarification on to which weapon system the most serious document in the prosecution against Smith was linked. Smith alleges that this document had nothing to do with the ALARM missile system as was alleged in his trial.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (January 2012)|
- Operation Billiards, Michael John Smith's blog
- Bandpass Filter Assembly component, Andrew Mackinlay MP asks for clarification on the document alleged to be linked to the ALARM missile project
- The Espionage Goes on, Time Magazine 31 August 1992
- Oshchenko debriefings, Viktor Oshchenko's MI5 debriefings on the Michael John Smith case
- Gordievsky briefing, Oleg Gordievsky's MI5 briefing on the Smith case
- Interviews with Police (1992), Michael John Smith's Police interviews following his arrest
- Police Witness Statements (1992-93), Set of the "used" Witness Statements taken by the Police during their investigations into the charges of espionage
- Judge's evidence admissibility rulings, Pre-trial and in-trial evidence admissibility rulings by the judge Mr Justice Blofeld
- Prosecution Case Summary, Case Summary prepared by the Prosecution before the trial of Michael John Smith
- Count 3 Exhibits, Exhibits from Count 3 of the Indictment that were used to charge Michael John Smith with spying
- Count 4 Exhibits, Exhibits from Count 4 of the Indictment that convicted Michael John Smith of spying, contains alleged "secret" material
- Defence expert Dr Eamonn Maher's report, "Analysis of Exhibited Material from a Technical Standpoint" dated June 1993
- Evidence of Professor Meirion Francis Lewis, Controversial evidence from Professor Lewis resulted in Michael John Smith's conviction
- X-examinations Stella Rimington & Gordievsky, Cross-examinations of Stella Rimington and Oleg Gordievsky by Defence Counsel at the trial
- Evidence of KGB agent Mr E, Evidence of a US citizen referred to as Mr E, who gave evidence at Smith's trial that he had been recruited by Viktor Oshchenko
- Judge's Summing-Up (1993), The Summing-up from Michael John Smith's trial by Mr Justice Blofeld
- Crown documents issued at Appeal, The Crown documents disclosed at the last minute during Michael John Smith's Appeal in 1995
- Court of Appeal Judgement (1995), Final Judgement issued at Michael John Smith's Appeal
- Security Commission report Cm 2930, Report by the UK's Security Commission following an investigation of the Smith case
- European Commission of Human Rights (1997), Ruling of the ECHR following an application by Smith