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Who Framed Colin Wallace?
On January 30, 1990, the Armed Forces Minister, Mr Archie Hamilton made an extraordinary statement to the House of Commons about the activities of Mr Colin Wallace. Mr Hamilton admitted that several key allegations consistently made by Mr Wallace were in fact true. Until this time, Wallace had been constantly cast by the Ministry of Defence, the police and sections of the press in the role of a 'Walter Mitty' fantasist. Now he was finally vindicated as a man who had told the truth while officialdom had lied.
Author Paul Foot, a Socialist investigative journalist with the Daily Mirror was initially sceptical of Wallace's claims. When Foot first rang the MoD in April 1987, he asked if it was true that Colin Wallace had served in a special MoD press unit in Ulster which dealt in "psychological operations" . He also asked if Wallace had taken part in circulating antiterrorist propaganda - some of it totally false; had Wallace been sacked for refusing to take part in political dirty tricks and had he ever served alongside the SAS? The MoD's reply was short and sharp No, no, no and no. He had been a mere information officer, he had nothing to do with psyops and he had resigned his post voluntarily. He had never served with the SAS.
Foot was almost ready to tell Wallace to get lost, but he was then able to produce evidence to back-up his claims. Who then is this seemingly ever present thorn in the side of the British establishment? What are his claims?
Wallace was born in Randalstown, Co. Antrim and was educated in the prestigious Ballymena Academy. He became an active officer in the Territorial Army from 1961 and a member of the Ulster Special Constabulary - the `B' Specials. In 1968 he took up a full-time past in Lisburn as a Public relations Officer for the Army in Northern Ireland.
When civil disturbances first broke out later that year and the troops were deployed on the streets in August 1969 he was regarded as a godsend. He lived on the Army HQ camp - the only indigenous officer in the whole barracks. He was constantly in demand because of his wide-ranging local knowledge.
Wallace claims that he soon became involved in "Psychological Operations" - black propaganda campaigns. One of his most notorious anti-IRA stories appeared in the Sunday Mirror in 1973 headlined "DANGER IN THOSE FRILLY PANTIES". This story suggested that female IRA volunteers were being killed by premature explosions as a result of static electricity building-up in their nylon underwear.
One of the most interesting parts of the Colin Wallace affair is the light he throws on the so-called Kincora scandal. Kincora was a boys' home in East Belfast which was run by three pederastic homosexuals - Joseph Mains, Raymond Semple and William McGrath. McGrath was also the leader of Tara, an extremist Protestant paramilitary organization and a leading light in a private Orange Lodge, LOL 1303. Foot alleges that Wallace tried to alert the authorities regarding what was going on at Kincora years before it finally came to light. He alleges that McGrath was working for MI5 and that the Security Service ignored the plight of the boys at Kincora to protect their investment. This reviewer was a member of LOL 1303 and actually knew William McGrath from 1975 up to the time of his arrest and conviction. He was always boasting of how much he knew about the activities of the IRA and the Eire army. Foot's information in the chapter on Kincora is impeccable as far as it goes.
According to Foot, Wallace was quite happy to confuse and discredit the IRA and loyalist paramilitary groups. He claims that things changed in 1973 when MI6 was replaced by MI5 in Lisburn. A top secret propaganda campaign was launched under the name of Clockwork Orange. Originally the project was to expose the personal inadequacies of top IRA and UVF members, but it soon spread to cover top political figures in Ulster and Great Britain.
Some of the project's papers suggested links between the Trotskyist theorist Ernest Mandel, Harold Wilson the then Prime Minister and the KGB. The intelligence services were spiralling out of control. Wallace was not only being asked to smear labour politicians and leading Socialists, but also the then Tory leader Edward Heath and others. in October 1974 he declined to take any further part in the Clockwork Orange operation. Shortly afterwards his world began to fall apart.
He was dismissed from his post after being accused of leaking confidential information to a journalist. He moved to England and took up a job for Arun Council. Shortly afterwards, the husband of a friend and colleague was found dead. Wallace found himself accused of murder and was eventually sentenced to ten years' imprisonment after being found guilty of manslaughter. Wallace stoutly proclaims his innocence. Was he framed by the Security Service to discredit and silence him. Foot presents convincing evidence to prove his case that this has indeed happened.
The first edition of this book had to be published in advance of the new Official Secrets legislation to prevent a re-run of the Spycatcher affair. The paperback takes the story up to the beginning of 1990. It reads like a Robert Ludlum thriller! It ably demonstrates how the Security Service can get out of control in a so-called democracy. MI5 and MI6 are seen to be accountable to no one! Nevertheless, it is still possible for one man to stand up and expose wrongdoing even though the cost is high.Ý