Stasi UK. Style.

Matthew X profrv at
Wed May 12 11:57:31 PDT 1999

'MI5 investigated Royle Family star'

Jason Deans
Wednesday August 21, 2002
Ricky Tomlinson

Clandestine operations by the secret services over the last 50 years are to 
be exposed in a new BBC series that will include disturbing details of the 
lengths to which MI5 went to track Royle Family actor Ricky Tomlinson.

Confirming many conspiracy theories, the BBC2 documentary, True Spies, will 
show how government operatives infiltrated political groups, trade unions 
and media organisations

Tomlinson, a former trade union activist, and the former Marxist Tariq Ali 
are among those confronted on camera by True Spies presenter Peter Taylor 
with evidence they featured in Special Branch and MI5 files.

"All the conspiracy theories about the security services tapping phones and 
so on that we all dismissed turned out to be true," said Mr Taylor, whose 
credits include a number of award-winning documentaries about Northern 
Ireland and most recently the Iranian embassy siege.

"They infiltrated everyone and everything, even Fleet Street and the BBC. 
The files they had were vast."

It is known MI5 targeted BBC journalists in the 1970s - "subversive" 
journalists had files marked with little Christmas trees and BBC management 
submitted the names of journalists for vetting.

But Taylor's documentary shows the extent of the secret service's 

"In some cases there was justification for what they did, but in many cases 
there was absolutely no justification whatsoever. They infiltrated things 
like Friends of the Earth and the anti-asbestos campaign. If you went on a 
CND demo, you could have ended up with a file," he said.

"When I asked them 'what threat did organisations like this pose?', they 
said 'you never know until you find out'."

Mr Taylor said he had not been allowed access to the files, but had 
interviewed a number of Special Branch officers for True Spies.

Special Branch agents working undercover would infiltrate organisations in 
order to spy on their activities for MI5.

Mr Taylor said both Tomlinson and Mr Ali were visibly shocked when 
confronted on camera with evidence that they had been the subject of secret 
service investigations.

In the case of Mr Ali, a Special Branch undercover agent had infiltrated a 
leftwing organisation to which he belonged and made a copy of the office 
key so the secret service could gain access.

Within the BBC in the 1970s and 1980s the secret services were particularly 
interested in the activities of broadcasting unions such as Bectu and the 
ACT, according to Mr Taylor.

"When I asked about the BBC the interviewee said they had an inside source 
who told them about potential militants," Mr Taylor said.

He added that the BBC no longer had an MI5 liaison officer who vetted 
employees and famously put the christmas tree-like signs on their files if 
they were thought to pose a potential threat to national security.

"That post is no longer filled. I think it stopped in the early or 
mid-1990s," Mr Taylor said.;$sessionid$L3BDXMZQBGU13QFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2002/08/22/nrick22.xml&sSheet=/news/2002/08/22/ixnewstop.html&_requestid=96117&_requestid=20381
Telegraph version.

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