It may be the begining of the end for The Royal House of Windsor. Former MI6 agent Richard Tomlinson has now found a publisher for his memoirs, a book which has all the potential to unseat the British Royal House. Tomlinson himself testified before the Le Herve commission of inquiry into Princess Diana's death in Paris and his affidavit, although subsequently suppressed, clearly implicated senior members of the British Royal Household. Since then he has become a marked man, harried from country to country and with little in the way of media attention to help him publicize what he knows about MI6's involvement in the princess's death. However all that has now changed. Tomlinson now has a publisher and today, Sunday 14th January, a full 3 page interview with him appeared in one of Britain's top selling quality Sunday papers. Although no mention is made of Princess Diana, probably because of fear of legal action, it is only a matter of time before what Tomlinson's knows about MI6's involvement in Diana's death becomes more widely known. In effect the writing is on the wall for the British Monarchy and the Royal House of Windsor.
RUSSIANS TO PUBLISH TOP MI6 SECRETS
MI6 accused its former officer Richard Tomlinson yesterday of striking a deal with the Russian intelligence services to publish his memoirs of life as a spy.
The book, entitled The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security, is due to be published shortly by a Russian company that MI6 claims was set up for the purpose. It has no previous publishing history.
Tomlinson's decision comes only weeks after it was revealed that ministers are about to authorise the publication of memoirs by Stella Rimington, the former director-general of MI5.
Tomlinson's book is likely to present ministers with even more substantial problems. While Rimington's book has been shorn of controversial material, his is an attack on the management of MI6 and reveals much about its internal culture and methods.
The service is so secretive that the only previous glimpses of its internal culture have come in highly fictionalised accounts such as Ian Fleming's James Bond books.
MI6 has long sought to portray Tomlinson as a dangerous maverick hell-bent on damaging the service.
It maintains he mixes up fact and fiction, though it acknowledges that large parts of the book, a version of which it has read, are accurate.
In the book, Tomlinson gives details of the extreme lengths that MI6 has gone to in pursuing him around the world. Other sections describe how MI6 carries out dirty tricks operations and how recruits are given specialist training at Fort Monckton in Portsmouth.
It contains details of the training exercises for new recruits, and reveals how new officers are taught to create identities for themselves.
The author also describes much of the organisation's tradecraft and the way recruits are taught to hide their true careers from family and friends. Other chapters cover his time undercover in Bosnia, a secret mission to Russia and his role in uncovering a plot by the Iranians to buy a chemical weapons plant.
Tomlinson says he has offered three times to submit the book for vetting to the D-notice committee, but says MI6 has responded "with menacing letters threatening me with imprisonment or used my admission of having a text to confiscate my computers." MI6 says it has never been given the book to vet.
Tomlinson, 38, was recruited into MI6 in 1991 after getting a first class degree in aeronautical engineering at Cambridge and serving in the Territorial SAS. He scored top marks in his training and was initially seen as a high-flyer. But after service in Bosnia he received a severely critical staff assessment and was sacked. Claiming that he had been unfairly dismissed, he sought redress from an employment tribunal; but MI6 stepped in with a public interest immunity certificate (PII) to block him, citing national security.
Tomlinson claims that MI6 officers used threats of arrest and lifelong harassment to make him hand over the time in the secret service. He was subsequently arrested in 1996 and sentenced to a year's imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act for giving a synopsis of the book to an Australian publisher.
Soon after leaving Belmarsh top security prison in May 1998 on licence after serving part of his sentence, he fled abroad, moving from one country to another to avoid what he insists is harassment instigated by MI6. Intelligence organisations in several countries, including France and Germany, have tried to recruit him to reveal details of MI6 operations. He says he co-operated with the Swiss.
Tomlinson says that he has been assaulted, arrested, held for questioning or raided by armed police at least 11 times in six countries. He is banned from America, Australia, France and Switzerland and has been harassed in Germany and New Zealand. He is now living in Italy and believes he is under surveillance.
In May last year his apartment in Rimini was raided by Italian police and his computer, mobile phone, computer disks and legal papers were taken. They were handed over to two British Special Branch officers and have not been returned.
Tomlinson claims that Italian private detectives hired by MI6 approached his landlady and friends in Italy and told them he was a convicted paedophile.
A raft of injunctions and other legal actions has prevented him from publishing his book in Britain. As a result, he has followed the precedent of the former MI5 officer, Peter Wright, whose book, Spycatcher, was published in Australia and the United States after it was banned in Britain. Only after imported copies were sold at road junctions and street markets in Britain did the courts accept that it was pointless to keep the ban in place.
"MI6 prosecuted and imprisoned me under laws which on July 20, 2000 were scathingly condemned by a UN report in Britain's human rights record," says Tomlinson in the book's epilogue. "They took expensive injunctions out agains me in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, the USA and New Zealand, all in disregard for laws governing freedom of speech, guessing correctly that I did not have the funds to appeal through the courts."
His publisher in Russia has printed at least 10,000 copies of the book, which will be distributed around the world.
Tomlinson says he will come back to Britain voluntarily, hand over to charity his profits from the book and if necessary go to prison again, on condition that he is first allowed to take MI6 to an employment tribunal.
MI6 has retaliated by accusing his Russian publisher of operating under a false name and using bogus documents to travel regularly to the United States and Europe. The man is said to have set up the publishing company shortly before approaching Tomlinson with a $50,000 offer to print the book.
MI6 maintains, although it admits it has no proof, that he is a front-man for one of three Russian intelligence services. It believes that these services - the FSB, GRU and SVR - have read Tomlinson's book.
Last night Tomlinson and the publisher both dismissed the claims as "rubbish". Tomlinson said: "There is no evidence to support these allegations, but if they are true then I'm grateful to the Russians for supporting freedom of speech."
Last week, The Sunday Times began the process of challenging the injunction granted by Mr Justice Toulson in November 1996 which prevents media in Britain reporting anything Tomlinson says or writes which he learnt as a result of his employment at MI6.
The paper argues that the terms of the injunction are too broad and that, once the book has been published in Russia and becomes widely available here and abroad so that its contents are known to every non-friendly intelligence service, it is pointless to maintain a ban in this country. By Nick Fielding
First published in the Sunday Times 14 January, 2000
Tomlinson's historic affidavit can be seen here: