UNITED KINGDOM

Post-Cold War

The Tomlinson Affair (1999)

Materials presented chronologically.

BBC. "War of Words Over Spy Claims." 13 May 1999. [http://news.bbc.co.uk]

Former spy Richard Tomlinson "allegedly posted the names of 116 MI6 agents on a US-based site after an earlier Swiss-based site was pulled by the service provider.... Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has accused Tomlinson of endangering the lives of people working for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).... Cook said Tomlinson nursed a 'deep seated and irrational grievance' against his former employers.... Tomlinson was sacked by MI6 in 1995 and jailed in December 1997 for breaking the country's Official Secrets Act. Tomlinson was released on probation after six months of his one-year sentence... Tomlinson was born in New Zealand and served MI6 in Bosnia, Russia and the Middle East."

See also, Philip Johnston and Hugh Davies, "Rogue Spy Publishes MI6 Names on the Internet." Telegraph (London), 13 May 1999; and Michael Evans, "Government Fears that Rogue Website Might Put Lives at Risk," Sunday Times (London), 13 May 1999.

BBC. "E-Mail Death Threats for Ex-Spy." 14 May 1999. [http://news.bbc.co.uk]

"Former MI6 spy Richard Tomlinson has told the BBC that he has received death threats by e-mail for allegedly publishing the names of MI6 agents on a US-based Website.... Tomlinson strongly ... denies posting the names of 116 agents on the Internet.... On Friday, the Sun newspaper published his e-mail address, calling him a traitor and urging readers to contact him."

Evans, Michael. "British Spies Caught in the Web Poised to Flee." Times (London), 14 May 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"A number of MI6 officers working undercover in non-Nato countries may have to be withdrawn urgently after the naming of 115 alleged British spies on a California website.... All those named have been warned of the dangers and emergency discussions were underway in Whitehall [on 13 May 1999] to decide who should be recalled. However, it was emphasised that the publication of so many names, some of whom were not even connected to MI6, did not mean their intelligence days were over. Even in the Cold War, spies expelled from Moscow continued their careers elsewhere."

Evans, Michael. "Vendetta Led to Leak of MI6 Agents' Names." Times (London), 14 May 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"Since his release from jail last year and his hasty departure abroad," former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson, who spent four years in MI6, "has turned himself into a one-man industry attacking his former employers and threatening to divulge secrets on the Internet that would seriously embarrass the Government.... [A]fter a six-month probation [in MI6] which was then extended for a much longer period, [Tomlinson's] 'line manager' decided that his sense of judgment, his 'lack of team spirit', and his perceived obsessiveness, were not ... suited to the role of a covert intelligence officer. He was dismissed."

Hoge, Warren. "Britain Closes Web Site With Spies' Names." New York Times, 14 May 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Richard Tomlinson, an "embittered former British spy[,] has used the Internet to make public the names of a large number of secret agents, but officials in London said [on 14 May 1999] that the Web site had been shut down and that no duplicates had surfaced.... The British press today complied with a Foreign Office request not to publish the Web address or the name of the American provider."

Reid, T. R. "Britain Concedes In Virtual Battle: Internet List of Alleged Spies Multiplies." Washington Post, 15 May 1999, A17. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"After a futile three-day struggle in cyberspace, Britain's spy services essentially threw up their hands today and conceded that the Internet is so fast and so far-flung that no government can control the flow of information on the global network....

"Having surrendered on the information battleground, the government instead focused on protecting the people who were named as spies. To spread as much doubt as possible, Foreign Minister Robin Cook announced that the Internet is 'highly inaccurate.' Some of those named have no government connection, officials said. Others were said to be officers in the British foreign service, stationed around the world, but not involved in intelligence. Meanwhile, some of those named were placed under 24-hour guard. Others on the list, including staffers at British embassies in some countries, will be transferred to London."

See also, Michael Evans, "MI6 Fails to Keep Spy List off Net," Times (London), 15 May 1999; and Philip Johnston, "MI6 List Leaks Around World," Telegraph (London), 15 May 1999.

Alderson, Andrew. "Fayed Faces Inquiry over Links with Rogue MI6 Man." Telegraph (London), 16 May 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

The Telegraph has learned that Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Fayed secretly met with Richard Tomlinson in August 1998. The two men seem to have come up "with a conspiracy theory relating to how the Princess of Wales was 'murdered.'" Lyndon LaRouche is the publisher of the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR). EIR's website "published the full list of 117 [MI6] officers, claiming it had received 'an unsolicited e-mail transmission.'" EIR ran "the 'raw' list alongside an article promoting Mr Fayed's theory on the death of the Princess of Wales and his son.... Yet this weekend, The Telegraph has also uncovered close links between Mr LaRouche and Mr Fayed.... In short, the only known link between Mr Tomlinson, who knew the names of the MI6 officers, and Mr LaRouche, who published them, is Mohamed Fayed."

See also, Sunday Times (London), "MI6 Probes Fayed Link to Internet Spy Scandal," 16 May 1999.

Warren, Marcus, and Colin Randall. "Russians Name 'British Spies' in Moscow." Telegraph (London), 17 May 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"The damage inflicted on MI6 by the naming of its officers on the Internet worsened at the weekend when the Russian press listed the alleged British spies in Moscow in the last 15 years."

Jones, George, and Michael Smith. "Straw Calls Emergency Meeting Over the Spy of 87." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

Home Secretary Jack Straw "has summoned Stephen Lander, head of MI5, to an emergency meeting" on 13 September 1999 "to explain why ministers were kept in the dark for almost seven years about the extent of Soviet espionage in Britain." The KGB files "were brought out of Russia by Richard Tomlinson, the renegade MI6 officer [who] ... was serving in Moscow under diplomatic cover in 1992 when Vasili Mitrokhin ... defected to the West. It was considered too dangerous for ... Mitrokhin to bring the 300,000 documents with him so Tomlinson was sent to Mitrokhin's dacha where they were hidden under the floor in empty milk cartons."

Gibb, Frances. "The Spies Who Come Out of the Woodwork." Times (London), 21 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

In the wake of the revelation that Richard Tomlinson had helped retrieve the Mitrokhin file from Russia in 1992, Tomlinson's lawyer Kevin Robinson says that he "is waiting ... to see what happens with Tomlinson. 'We don't know if the British authorities want to get him back ... and, if so, whether they will succeed in achieving that.'"

 

Forward to Tomlinson in 2001

Return to UK Post-Cold War Table of Contents

Return to United Kingdom Table of Contents