Why ‘Iron Lady’s Government Started Collapsing

By Trowbridge H. Ford


While the British government thought that its troubles, caused primarily by the assassination of statsminister Olof Palme in Stockholm on February 28, 1986, were rendered manageable by the imprisonment in November 1987 of apparent hitman Captain Simon Hayward aka James Rennie in Sweden on trumped-up drug-smuggling charges for five years, they vastly increased, so much so, in fact, that London ultimately had to start seeking peace with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). Once anybody succumbs to blackmailers, it is almost impossible to escape without continuing to give into their demands.

Hayward became such a thorn in Britain’s side, first in Malmö’s maximum security prison, and then back in London, that it was ultimately obliged to make good on his claim that he had been Rennie all along, finally even giving him a position in Whitehall that it had only deceptively promised originally. The IRA’s ‘Steak Knife’, apparently aka DOOK, was such a blackmailing threat, dead or alive, during the process that the Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) had to work overtime to make sure that nothing happened to him, unless at the hands of fellow Provisionals, what helped result in the threats to, and killing of many others, particularly solicitor Pat Finucane, to make sure that its mole in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Brian Nelson, was not fatally compromised to the loyalists.

Nelson became such a nervous wreck, trying to protect ‘Steak Knife’ from loyalist assassins, that his minions were ultimately obliged to leak FRU files to justify the chaos, resulting in the UDA’s chief intelligence officer finally being tried, and imprisoned by specially appointed investigator, Sir John Stevens.

If ‘Steak Knife’ had been assassinated on October 9, 1987 while Hayward’s appeal hearing in Stockholm was in recess, it, no doubt, would been confronted with an alarming statement from the deceased by his counsel, H. K. ter Brake, when it resumed. The IRA operative would have apparently claimed that he, an innocent, law-abiding subject, had accidentally become embroiled while on holiday in Ibiza in covert British operations, an assassination attempt upon Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi.

The agent in the dock had directed so many unfocused killings in Northern Ireland, ‘Steak Knife’ would apparently explain, that he had been called upon by the security forces to kill Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, an apparent Soviet stooge. If an FRU/UDA asssassination attempt on ‘Steak Knife’ had failed, what seemed more likely, given his recognition of the threat, he might well have appeared in person to make the same claims, what undoubtedly would have thrown the hearing, and Swedish relations with Britain into unprecendented turmoil.

While the FRU finally admitted its intervention in UDA plans to kill ‘Steak Knife’, Nelson’s handler Captain M aka Mags – and really Captain Margaret Walshaw – having retired taxidriver, and former IRA activist Francisco Notarantonio targeted instead, the fallout within UDA ranks was immediate. They, especially John ‘Flint’ Stone, suspected that assassination squad leader, John McMichael, had been turned by the PIRA into killing the wrong target. No sooner had Hayward’s appeal of his conviction for drug smuggling failed than the UDA’s Second-in-Command became obsessed with the idea that everyone was planning to kill him. “McMichael,” Tony Geraghty has written in The Bullet Catchers: Bodyguards and the World of Close Protection, “was fanatically cautious about his security, changing his car every two weeks and usually accompanied by a bodyguard.” (p. 391)

To no avail, though, as he was blown up in his booby-trapped car in December. When there was no expected Protestant blacklash, Geraghty added, security sources suggested that McMichael had been killed by his own side for allegedly working with the nationalists in seeking peace! It was thought to be a repeat of what the UDA’s James Pratt Craig had been able to arrange with a member of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade (Number 9 on the RUC Special Branch E4A list) in disposing of Lennie Murphy, the Shankill Butcher, after he kidnapped, tortured, and killed Catholic Joseph Donnegan on October 24, 1982 shortly after having been released from prison.

Number 9 seems to have been none other than ‘Steak Knife’ who consulted with the UDA about matters of mutual interest – i.e., Hayward’s retribution campaign against the IRA not being confused by unfocused loyalist killings – until it almost killed Gerry Adams, veteran IRA Derry republican Sean Keenan, and son Joe on March 14, 1984.

The reason why there was no Protestant blacklash to McMichael’s murder is because the FRU arranged through Nelson for an across-the-board campaign of terror to keep everyone in the dark about why Notarantonio had been killed, resulting in reprisals by the PIRA. On January 15, 1988, Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) assassins, thanks to FRU files that Nelson had been supplied, assassinated Catholic Billy Kane in the same fashion that Notarantonio had been disposed of. The next day, Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) Captain Timothy Armstrong was murdered, the UDA belatedly explaining that he had been mistaken for an unknown Catholic.

The same day, the PIRA killed the UDR’s John Stewart in reprisal for Kane’s killing, and two days later, it eliminated Catholic Anthony McKiernan, thinking apparently that he had fingered Kane. Then the circle started again six days later with the UDA killing of Catholic businessman Jack Kielty. (See Raymond Murray’s The SAS in Ireland, p. 397, for details.)

McMichael’s murder threw Hayward into an absolute tailspin, given the upholding of his drugs conviction in Stockholm the previous month. The South Detachment’s Ops Officer was already in a most depressed state because of the failure of British officialdom to gain his release despite efforts by London MP John Gorst. Life Guards commanding officer, Colonel James Emson, had taken National Drug Intelligence Unit claims of his drug dealing seriously enough to come to Stockholm to question him about them. (Simon Hayward, Under Fire: My Own Story, pp. 100-1)

Commiserating colleague Major Simon Falkner was also working behind the scenes to see that the Stalker inquiry into the 1982 killing in South Armagh was provided with a second tape of the controversial killing of Michael Tighe in a Lurgan hayshed on November 24th (John Stalker, The Stalker Affair, pp. 248-9), what Hayward apparently accomplished while leading a re-inforced RUC Special Branch E4A squad. Now London was, it seemed, more interested in protecting nationalists, particularly Gerry Adams, and their defenders, especially solicitor Pat Finucane, than Crown operatives, and their agents who were carrying the fight to the IRA.

To disabuse Hayward of this erroneous misconception, Attorney General Sir Patrick Mayhew announced to the Commons on January 26, 1988 that the Crown was taking no action ‘in the public interest’ against the RUC officers who were allegedly responsible for the six deaths in South Armagh during the fall of 1982, which Stalker had been appointed to investigate, and what Sir Colin Sampson, his replacement, recommended upon completing the inquiry.

Any prosecutions would have resulted in the officers contending that they only covered up for others, particularly Hayward, on instruction by superiors – what would have opened a whole Pandora’s Box of secrets. Later, Lord Mayhew explained vaguely: “A lot of intelligence matters would have been brought out that would have been very deleterious to the intelligence operation that was essential in the circumstance of the time.” (Quoted from Peter Taylor, Brits: The War Against the IRA, pp. 252-3.)

In the wake of the PIRA bombing of the British cenotaph at Enniskillen on November 8th (Remembrance Sunday), which killed 11 bystanders, and injured another 60 instead of members of the security forces, the British Court of Appeal upheld the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six, and Parliament made permanent the Prevention of Terrorism Act, what had made possible indiscriminate acts of terror by Hayward, the UDA, and FRU against Northern Irish subjects.

For good measure, on February 23rd, Private Ian Thain, sentenced to life in prison for killing a Catholic, was released after having served little over two years, and the only imprisoned soldier during the Troubles was then returned to duty with his regiment, The Light Infantry. Hayward, in sum, could follow the same route though overseas, as his letter of resignation from the Army had not yet been accepted.

The operation Lord Mayhew was referring to was stopping the PIRA’s plan to blow up British troops during the changing of the guard outside the Governor’s residence in Gibraltar, what its West Fermanagh unit had attempted in reprisal for the capture of the Eksund, loaded with Libyan weapons for its ‘tet offensive’, in Enniskillen the previous fall, and for which it was obliged to disband when the unfocused atrocity occurred. (Peter Harclerode, Secret Soldiers, p. 148. N. b. that he has discussed this bombing as far away as possible from the murders on The Rock, p. 548ff.)

No sooner had the PIRA’s Council approved of the attack than an informer, undoubtedly ‘Steak Knife’, disclosed the plan to British authorities. ‘Steak Knife’ was most desirous of getting back on good terms with them, especially in light of Enniskillen, and they were most eager to oblige because of the continuing problems with Hayward, highlighted by Notarantonio’s murder.

To make ‘Steak Knife’s participation more likely, the security forces allowed in January 1988 an IRA ActiveService Uinit in Belgium to escape after the massive car bomb it had planted in Brussels was discovered. The bombing was intended, like Patrick Magee’s in Brighton in December 1984, to decimate the government’s senior ranks attending a European Union summit. While Ed Moloney, in A Secret History of the IRA, has expressed puzzlement over why the security forces did not move against the terrorists, he then answered his own query by stating that the Prime Minister wanted to give the PIRA a “bloody nose” at Gilbraltar.

While all accounts of the shooting on The Rock (Operation Flavius) have concentrated on what happened to the members of the ASUnit on the fatal day, especially because of SAS overkill on the ground, and official disinformation in the press, hardly any attention has been paid to who set them up, apparently ‘Steak Knife’, Mags aka ‘Mary’ (Sergeant Margaret Walshaw of the FRU), and, according to some accounts, someone even standing in for Hayward.

The whole point of the unexpected shootings by the SAS markmen, what Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, and Secretary of Defence George Younger had approved in late February (Quoted in Murray from Colin Brown’s Sept. 5, 1988 article in The Independent, pp. 411-2.), was to give ‘John Oakes’, ‘Katherine Smith’, and others the chance to make their getaway during the cull.

Howe was the principal target of the car bomb in Brussels, and Younger had had to contain the mess when the Americans did not show up during NATO’s Anchor Express Exercise for the planned assault upon the Soviets’ Kola Peninsula – what Palme’s assassination was to trigger against Moscow. The Foreign Secretary was understandably most desirous of getting back at his attempted murderers, and Younger of seeing the end of the Hayward affair. Downing Street intervention completely upstaged what MI6, MI5, and military intelligence had been planning from their operational headquarters in Gibraltar’s Rock Hotel.

‘Oakes’ was clearly the informer from the PIRA’s Council, and ‘Katherine Smith’ was his expert on terrorism, sounding much like the FRU’s Captain M. He aka DOOK – given his connections with Giltraltarm – would have been the ideal man to prepare the operation on the ground, and she seems to have been his constant companion, using the aliases of his PIRA associates when appropriate. They constituted the Malaga-based ASU which made regular visits to The Rock, starting on February 23rd, and triggering the Cabinet decision.

‘Oakes’ and ‘Smith’, as Father Murray has written, used a red Ford Fiesta to transport the explosive from Valencia to Marbella, and then they loaded it into a white Ford Fiesta that ‘Smith’ had rented for the mission. (pp. 402-3) The third car, the blocking one for the bomb-laden white Ford Fiesta, was rented, according to Geraldine Mitchell, and Andy Pollack of The Irish Times, by a man missing the middle and ring fingers of his right hand, a telltail sign of Hayward, though his actual presence seems most unlikely, given his imprisonment in Sweden.

About ‘Smith’, Jack Holland and Susan Phoenix have written in Phoenix: Policing the Shadows, she was observed by the SAS the day before the cull, “…reconnoitring the area around the governor’s palace, where, it was thought, the Provisionals were going to target a changing-of-the-guard ceremony. She was followed into a nearby Catholic chapel, where she was observed lighting a candle before leaving. It is unknown whether this was for the bombing team or for the hundreds of potential innocent victims.” (p. 199)

It turned out that the candle was for the bombing team, as they were the ones blown away as she mysteriously made her escape. Her identity becomes even murkier when we are told that she, allegedly the only member of the ASU to escape, continues to sit on Sinn Fein’s Central Committee despite the well-documented case against her for conspiring to commit mass murder.

‘Smith’, in sum, was definitely not the real ‘Mary Parkin’, volunteer Mairead Farrell, who had accompanied Daniel McCann and Sean Savage when the site was surveyed in November, though Farrell used the alias on occasion. Farrell was diminutive, with long, dark hair, while ‘Smith’ was “slightly built with short curly hair.” (p. 403)

Duncan Campbell, in his article “Panic in the street” in the June 17, 1988 issue of the New Statesman , claimed that it was because British and Spanish intelligence officers lost track of ‘Mary Parkin’ that the decision was made to kill the three volunteers for fear that ‘Parkin’ was in the process of setting off the bomb. In sum, there were six people involved in the operation, three of whom were working for British authorities.

While the original plan, among other things, had been to betray ‘Oakes’ fatally to his PIRA colleagues, the resulting overkill by the Thatcher-led SAS determined an entirely different outcome. Britain’s European colleagues, especially Spain, were appalled by their misuse in this clear act of international terrorism. MI5, especially DCI John Deverell, was totally demoralized by the result, what it had planned to break the security forces’ links with the sectarian paramilitaries, especially ‘Steak Knife’. Instead of ‘Oakes’ being suspected, exposed, and executed by his republican colleagues for the mission’s abject failure, the PIRA made a meal of the new Shoot-to-Kill murders of the unarmed volunteers.

When the nationalist leadership turned out for Farrell’s burial, as the Unionists had for McMichael’s funeral, the UDA’s Michael Stone thought that he had the FRU’s green light from Nelson to kill as many of them, particulary ‘Steak knife’, as possible, resulting in the murders instead of Kevin Brady, John Murray, and Thomas McErlean, and the wounding of some seventy others while the the Army and the RUC were deliberately absent.

Consequently, in March 1989, Stone had the book thrown at him, receiving a sentence of 648 years in prison for not only the above killings, but also those of Patrick Brady, Kevin McPolin, and Dermott Hackett. As the obvious fallguy for others, particularly Hayward, at his trial explained in killing van driver Hackett: “I read his file. He was a legitimate target.” (Quoted from Murray, p. 430.) If Hackett was a legitimate target, everyone was.

When undercover Corporals Robert Howes and Derek Wood of the Royal Signals Corps interfered inexplicably with Kevin Brady’s funeral three days later, they sparked a savage attack by republicans which resulted in their being literally ripped apart. Some mourners had concluded erroneously that the SAS, which often worked with the RSC, was involved in another republican cull, while others thought it was the work of loyalists. Enoch Powell, the independent Unionist, was so angered by the turn of events that he called for a determination of who was responsible for the two military disasters.

As for who ‘Mary Parkin’ really is, it is interesting to note that Peter Taylor found a ‘Mary’, the same one who took over the 14 Intelligence Company’s protective surveillance of the UDR’s William Graham after Hayward was arrested in Sweden, who was most eager to talk about the dangers to the weakest of women in the FRU who recruited informants and agents within paramilitary organizations:

What you must remember is that if ever we were captured by the IRA or any of the splinter groups, or by any terrorist organization, then they would undoubtedly play with us in the form of interrogation before they would kill us. So you had to be equipped for those instances and training was part of it. (Quoted from Taylor, p. 148.)

This same ‘Mary’ was also most sang froid about killing terrorists Dessie Grew, Seamus’s brother whom a Hayward-led RUC E4A squad had apparently disposed of eight years before, and Martin McCaughey when they went to collect weapons from a mushroom shed in the autumn of 1990, reminiscent of Hayward’s shootings of Michael Tigue in 1982, and Francis Bradley in 1986:

I didn’t feel sad or elated. I didn’t feel anything at the terrorists’ deaths. The terrorists had a clean ‘getaway’ car as well as the ‘operational’ car there. And in the clean car was a bottle of whisky. Now why would you have that? Only to celebrate the death of some innocent person they’re just going out to murder in cold blood. (Quoted from p. 304.)

Preemptive strikes to kill potential murderers are no less murders.

When ‘Steak Knife’s set up of the Gibraltar volunteers went so cruelly wrong, thanks to Prime Minister Thatcher’s introduction of SAS marksmen into the operation, and the UDA concluding that it constituted an open season to kill nationalists, the PIRA went on a campaign of increasing violence and efficiency. In May, three RAF servicemen were murdered in Holland in a series of bomb attacks. In July, nine airmen were injured when a bomb exploded inside the barracks’ perimeter fence at Duisberg.

The following month, three Royal Engineers and a civilian were injured by an explosion at Roy Barracks, outside Dusseldorf. A week later, Welch Regimental Sergeant Major Richard Heakin was assassinated in Ostend. In September and October, there were several more killings and woundings of British forces in West Germany. Failure of other bombs to explode, and sucess by European police rather than the Intelligence and Security Group’s usual informants at British facilities in capturing suspects prevented the toll from being higher.

In Britain, while the PIRA bombing campaign was slower in coming, it was more deadly in its results. At the beginning of August, Lance Corporal Michael Robbins was killed, and nine soldiers injured when a bomb exploded at London’s Mill Hill Barracks. With ‘Steak Knife’ cutting off all meaningful contact with British intelligence in Ulster, the carnage was horrific. It was a classic case of the double agent going sour – the worst kind of blowback. Suddenly, ‘Steak Knife’, while still drawing his £75,000 salary, and making all his meetings with handlers, especial Captain M or ‘Mags’, just didn’t seem to know what the Provisionals were really up to.

In the meatime, on June 15th, the PIRA killed six British soldiers in a booby trapped van in Lisburn after it was left unattended outside British Army Headquarters in Northern Ireland, and two months later, another eight soldiers were killed in a bus on the Ballygawley-Omagh Road in a classic remote-control bombing. Two days later, Navy recruiter Lt. Alan Shields was killed in a car-bombing attack in Belfast.

Downing Street was so alarmed by the turn of events that it tried to impose a ban on direct statements to the press by paramilitaries, fearing that those from the PIRA would explain why the attacks were occurring, since Sinn Fein’s News Letter promised more until Thatcher responded. (Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, The Origin of the Present Troubles in Northern Ireland, pp. 139-40)

In fact, the killing became so confused that the UDA began again to suspect that Nelson was working for the IRA. To spread more confusion, the UDA had assassinated Terry McDaid in May, mistaking him for his dangerous brother, Declan, though he had been under surveillance for months. Then, in July, it executed Brendan Davison, a senior officer in the IRA who also happened to be Special Branch’s leading informer in the republican movement.

Nelson hated Davison so much that he thought of himself ‘as if he was waging a war’ against the other man. Still, according to Geraghty in The Irish War, he warned the FRU of the threats against Davison, though the Army apparently failed to take the necessary steps to protect him, ultimately concluding conveniently that the IRA had done it. (p. 157)

“In August 1988, Nelson was taken to a house on the outskirts of Lisburn and subjected to a violent interrogation by Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in which he was ‘assaulted, brutalized’, and thrown into ‘physical convulsions on the floor’ when he was stabbed on the back of the neck with an electric cattle-prod.” (Taylor, pp. 294-5)

When Nelson survived the ordeal, the UDA turned its suspicions on leading member James Pratt Craig and associate Timothy McCreery who had arranged Lennie Murphy’s assassination back in 1982 after consultations with the PIRA’s ‘Steak Knife’ aka Padraic Wilson (Number 9 on the RUC’s E4A list). Craig and Number 9 had mysteriously escaped arrest by the RUC soon after the 1984 failed assassination attempt on Adams. (Phoenix, p. 159)

Suspecting that something was amiss, and knowing that ‘Steak Knife’ was off limits with the FRU, the UDA assassinated Craig on October 15, 1988, suspecting that he had been working for the much infiltrated INLA all along.

By 1989, the FRU was frantic over what to do about ‘Steak Knife’. To reduce the possibilities of his exploiting the Hayward case at Britain’s expense, officials did as much as they could to quiet the Guards officer’s fury over having been railroaded in Stockholm. When his brother David was killed in an automobile accident in Scotland, they tried to get him compassionate release from prison to attend the funeral. They even tried to arrange his serving his sentence in a British prison.

Hayward had an article published in the Daily Mail, and was allowed numerous press interviews to calm hostile interpretations of his incarceration. Hayward was encouraged to write his side of the story, MP John Gorst and others supplying research materials, and officials in London promising to see to its publication upon completion.

Once Hayward was deeply involved in the project, the MoD accepted his letter of resignation in November 1988, believing rightly that he would no longer make a fuss about his predicament, especially since London was seeking his early release – what would result in his serving only half his sentence. Then Downing Street – the same triumvirate which had decided to use the SAS on The Rock – ordered Patrick Finucane’s assassination back in Ulster.

By this time, Wilson had employed Finucane, the leading republican solicitor in Belfast, to safeguard his interests, and Hayward was increasingly concerned about Finucane’s growing involvement in legal redress for the 1982 Shoot-to- Kill victims. Given Finucane’s knowledge of ‘Steak Knife’s activities, and status within the legal profession, he was seen as a bigger threat to British interests than his client.

In March 1988, Nelson had reported to the FRU that the UDA was again plotting Finucane’s assassination, and it had made sure that Ian Phoenix’s RUC Tasking and Coordination Group, and the Army prevented it. “At the same time, however,” Harclerode wrote, “more attention began to paid to Finucane’s contacts with senior members of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein activists.” (p. 568)

Right before the assassination, Home Office Minister Douglas Hogg warned the Commons that some solicitors were being “unduly sympathetic” to republicans, a charge that deputy SDLP leader Seamus Mallon claimed would determine the fate of the Thatcher government if an assassin’s bullet made it a reality. On the night of Finucane’s murder, William Stobie, a loyalist quartermaster and RUC informer, warned his handler twice that someone was going to be assassinated that night, but nothing was done to prevent the killers from taking murder weapons to the assassination site. After the Davison fiasco, the different security forces were hardly even talking to one another.

Given Nelson’s known hatred of anyone working with the PIRA, and its operatives, especially ‘Steak Knife’, it was easy for him to initiate the targeting of Finucane. On the night of February 12, 1989, the UFF’s Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair, the UVF’s Brian Robinson, and the FRU’s free-lancer Ken Barrett apparently broke into his house, and killed him in a hail of bullets in front of his family while it was having dinner. Nowhere in sight were his bodyguards, or any security forces, thanks to FRU inaction.

Adair was most desirous of filling the gap left by ‘Flint’ Stone’s difficulties, and thereby taking over the UFF’s ‘C’ Company on the Shankill Road. Robinson was the UVF’s specialist in motorcycle shootings, having apparently been involved in all the recent plans to kill Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. Barrett, as Peter Everett discussed in his article about the FRU in Issue Eleven of Eye Spy, was given an FRU photograph of Finucane by Nelson, and was driven by his house by the UDA intelligence chief to make sure that there was no slipup this time. On the appointed night, an RUC policemen called Nelson to inform the team that the area was free of security forces, and an hour later Finucane was murdered.

While London thought that its troubles with ‘Steak Knife’ would be reduced by Finucane’s assassination, they, of course, only increased. Only officials with the greatest secrets, and guilty consciences could have thought of such a ploy in the first place. Only such persons would have given any special credibility to ‘Steak Knife’s legal representation, and what it might claim whether he lived or died. If ‘Steak Knife’ had been assassinated, any deathbed confession he might have made through his legal counsel would have been dismissed by the general public as just more PIRA propaganda.

London had already tipped its hand that this was no ordinary case, though, by sentencing MI5 officer Michael Bettaney, who the Soviets had declined to have spy for them, to 23 years imprisonment in 1984 for telling IRA prisoners tales about its operations in Northern Ireland while on remand in Brixton prison. (Mark Urban, Big Boys’ Rules, p. 99)

Fincuane’s assassination was the most vivid, and telling confirmation of veteran reporter David McKittrick’s claims that such killings showed that London was more interested in protecting members of the security forces who pulled the triggers than in justice. (The Irish War, p. 103)

The PIRA’s response to Finucane’s murder was immediate, and had the hallmarks of ‘Steak Knife’ settling scores with the security forces who had betrayed him. While the UDA tried to make out that the Finucane murder was just part of a sectarian murder campaign by killing Sinn Fein councillor John Joseph Davey of Gulladuff, Magherafelt two days later, ten days later 50 paratroopers narrowly escaped death when Tern Hill Barracks, Shropshire were largely destroyed by Semtex bombs.

There were frustrated attempts a few days later at Stoke Newington, North London, and then at North Yorkshire again against Prime Minister Thatcher when she was scheduled to address another Conservative Party conference.

The campaign had the hallmarks of the Hayward affair. Dessie Grew, whose brother, the unarmed volunteer Seamus, was the target of two assassination attempts by the Guards officer back in 1982 before he was disposed of, had trained the ASU responsible for the attacks on British servicemen in Germany, and was wanted by the police for questioning regarding the murder of an RAF Corporal, and his six-month-old daughter in October 1989. (Harclerode, pp. 573-4)

While Lt. General Sir David Ramsbotham, physically responsible for the SAS training base in Hereford, escaped assassination in November when a bomb was discovered under his car in Kensington, a few days later Staff Sergeant Andrew Mudd lost both his legs, and his wife was injured when their car was blown up in Colchester. Mudd, who had been mentioned in despatches back in 1984 for helping capture the gunmen who had tried to kill Adams (Murray, p. 433), was now considered no better than the rest of them.

The Conservative government cracked under the strain. While Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, Hogg’s boss, declared right after the latest attempt against the Prime Minister outside Scarborough that the government would not cease its war with the IRA until it was extirpated, and the ‘Iron Lady’ persisted in her uncompromising pose, the Thatcher ministry was reorganized to seek peace with the republicans.

Instead of getting rid of ‘Steak Knife’ and Hayward, she settled for getting rid of Howe and Younger, moves she would soon come to regret.

Howe was consigned to the ministerial wasteland of Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council, and Leader of the Commons, and Younger gave up the MoD for a place in the Lords. Tom King went to Whitehall from Belfast, and the untried John Major became Foreign Secretary. Peter Brooke, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, shocked the country three months later when, after admitting that the IRA could not be defeated, he announced that the government was prepared to make peace with it when it gave up terrorism. (Taylor, pp. 313-4)

The immediate reason for the government’s July U-turn was John Gorst’s learning what was really in Hayward’s manuscript, scheduled for publication right after he was released from a Swedish prison in September. Instead of a prosaic apology for his predicament – what would lead to his rehabilitation, it seems, in the new guise of James Rennie – Hayward was so bitter in his description of his treatment by British officials, so graphic in discussion of who he really was, so detailed in how he related to the controversial killings in Ulster John Stalker had been asked to investigate, and so revealing about who DOOK, his helpers Brian, Heather Weissand, and his brother Christopher really were that the British MP felt obliged to add a defusing Foreward about alleged Swedish injustice to the manuscript, and forced Hayward to add an accommodating Acknowlegements preface to all the right people – Brigadier James Emson, Major General Sir Desmond Langley, and Colonel Andrew Parker Bowles – before it was published. London obviously hoped that readers would read no further.

For those who did, it was a shocker. Its cover had a photograph of Hayward in civilian clothes while on a mission which matched eye witnesses evidence about the murder – one in which he looked much like a Photofit reconstruction aka “The Phantom” of the statsminister’s assassin. Hayward made it crystal clear inside that he was Britain’s leading uncover agent in Northern Ireland during the times of the most controversial killings. (Under Fire: My Own Story, p. 40)

He made much of the loss of the middle joints on the middle and ring fingers of his right hand (pp. 35-9), injuries which restricted his service to gun-slinging for the ‘Det’; yet, he was so embarrassed, and ashamed about his eighteen months service in Northern Ireland that he had not told his wife-to-be about it. He spoke so sarcastically of Swedish officials being the source of claims that he was so employed that the reader was disabused of the idea by the time he was tried for drug smuggling, what was made the result of Stalker’s dogged pursuit of him. (p. 276)

When Hayward learned the extent of his set up in Sweden – that DOOK instead of being an incidental player in the process was its central figure, with connections right up through the Foreign Office – his rage knew no bounds. When his solicitor’s request to Sir Geoffrey Howe on April 13th that it assist in seeing that he was properly represented was turned down, the accused sarcastically explained: “It was not Government policy to interfere in the internal affairs of another state.” (p. 162)

When it turned out that the PIRA’s DOOK had cleverly shifted the physical set-up from Hayward’s brother to himself, and then apparently gotten National Drugs Intelligence Unit officers to go along with an informant’s claim that Hayward was knowingly involved in his brother’s drug trafficking, Simon explained: “My arrest could well have been seen as an ideal opportunity to take a swing at any army officer who had supposedly been ‘killing our boys’. The planting of such information is well within the capabilities of the IRA.” (p. 173)

Once Simon had learned from his brother how DOOK had set him up, and that his brother’s wife, Chantal, had apparently been murdered because she could testify about the IRA man’s role in the process, Hayward wrote extensively about DOOK’s wealth, family, and associates. The terrorist, though with no visible source of income, had at least two homes, and apartments in Santa Eulalia and Gibraltar, possessions one would expect of one who was receiving £75,000 per annum in a secret bank account there from the FRU.

DOOK also had a grand yacht which Hayward had visited on several occasions. The IRA man also had a number of false passports, including an American one. DOOK had also apparently married, and had a child, though he was often in the company of another woman, as Hayward attempted to explain when they met again at Santa Eulalia’s Royalty Cafe:

Sitting at a table on the pavement outside it was a dark-haired woman of about thirty-five, with an angular face and wearing sunglasses. I can remember nothing else about her except that she seemed vaguely familiar and was holding a small child, or was it a small dog, in her lap. I am almost one hundred per cent certain that she was Duke’s wife, a Dane called Gitta or something similar. She appeared to recognize me and I in turn realized why she looked familiar. She had been on Duke’s yacht when we had gone to it for a drink on my last visit. (p. 58)

Ultimately, this woman turned out to be not DOOK’s wife but Heather Weissand, apparently aka Captain M, and really Captain Margaret Walshaw. It was her testimony which ultimately secured Simon’s conviction on appeal.

Ms. Weissand had told DOOK, and his associate Brian all they needed to know about the mission.

The first comment by both men upon meeting Hayward was to ask him about his Army employment (pp. 59 and 69), indicating that she had briefed them about him. Irishman DOOK was described thus: “He was small, about five foot seven, slim and wiry, in his late thirties or early forties. His hair was blond to gingerish, and on this occasion he was clean-shaven, although I remembered a beard from our previous meeting.” (p. 59) Brian, while fair-skinned, had a deep tan, and mousey-colored hair. He was making a living on the island, doing odd jobs.

Regarding the actions by these conspirators, Richard New, a former British Customs Inspector, and a Director of Veritas Management, concluded in his report for the defence, which was published in the book’s Appendix: “…it is my opinion that Simon Hayward should have been acquitted by the Appeal Court, and I consider that that would have been the outcome had he been tried before an English court.” (p. 473)

Of course, the reason why the appeal failed was because of the machinations in the UK while it was being heard. Under the circumstances, Hayward’s feelings of betrayal went deep. “I have many regrets, but above all my Swedish experience has taught me never to trust. There are very few people to whom I would extend that privilege today. My confidence in a system I have been brought up to believe in and to support has received an almighty dent.” (p. 448)  Hayward poured scorn on Foreign Office Minister David Mellor’s lack of action in his case: “If the government supported such a protest against the Israeli treatment of Palestinian refugees, why could it not take some measure of action over Swedish treatment of a British soldier?” (p. 449)

The failure of the Foreign Office to mute Hayward’s bitter criticism of Britain goes a long way in explaining Howe’s dismissal. Younger’s failure in preventing its publication achieved the same result because he resigned in protest over the Foreign Secretary’s sacking. Tom King was brought down from Belfast to contain the damage, what seemed to be a large order with Hayward threatening to become a totally “loose cannon”.

While the former Guards officer was prevented from appearing on Terry Wogan’s talk show because the BBC cancelled it, and the press was making light of his book – The Times reviewer Stuart Teller claiming, for example, that readers would have to wait for its sequel to figure out what the story really was – the FRU decided to reduce its risks from either Hayward or ‘Steak Knife’ by ending Nelson’s career with the UDA by court action. He just knew too many of the secrets for all concerned.

To nail Nelson, the FRU arranged the assassination of the PIRA’s Loughlin Maginn by the UVF’s Brian Robinson and an associate, apparently Davy McCullough, after a prolonged struggle at his house on the night of August 25, and then a week later, the FRU, led by ‘Mags’ in two unmarked cars, took out these assassins after they had gunned down Catholic Patrick McKenna in the Ardoyne in a drive-by shooting. “The soldiers crashed a car into the motorbike,” Father Murray wrote, “and then shot Robinson dead.” (p. 439)

The female operator, Harclerode added, killed the flattened Robinson with one shot to the back, one in the wrist, and two to the head (p. 572), reminiscent of Derek Bird’s role in the killing of Francis Bradley. McCullough and an associate, consequently, were the only ones left to take the rap for McKenna’s murder.

This unprecedented action by the security forces had the added benefit of getting rid of one of Finucane’s killers, who the RUC was apparently pursuing. Robinson had been crowing about the Maginn murder, and once he too was eliminated, the UDA published the Army file on the PIRA’s intelligence officer to justify his killing – what led to Stevens’ appointment to investigate collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in murdering republicans.

While Thatcher was being forced on the defensive, Hayward and ‘Steak Knife’ were more dangerous than ever, as we shall see.

Related Posts:

Short URL: http://www.veteranstoday.com/?p=138794

GI Thrive

Santa Catalina Island Goes to War

Get Your Loan Now

Get Your Loan Now

Get Your Loan Now

Apply for your VA Home Loan Now

Apply for your VA Home Loan Now

Apply for your VA Home Loan Now

Apply for Jobs on HireVeterans.com Now

Apply for Jobs on HireVeterans.com Now

Apply for Jobs on HireVeterans.com Now

Get Educated at Excelsior College

Military collectibles

Become a Consultant


You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes