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Who Framed Colin Wallace?

Whoframedcolinwallace Paul Foot
Macmillan 1989
Pan 1990

The definitive account of one of the most remarkable stories ever to emerge from Britain's secret state.

When the British Army arrived in Northern Ireland in 1969, the local knowledge of Antrim-born public relations officer Colin Wallace proved a godsend. As the conflict developed, information became a crucial battleground, and Wallace became increasingly involved with psychological warfare.

Initially, this meant working with MI6, but in 1973 the Northern Ireland role passed to MI5. This was followed by the initiation of project Clockwork Orange, a smear campaign intended to discredit paramilitary leaders.

However, as Foot shows using Wallace's contemporary notes, the project soon became a right-wing propaganda campaign aimed at British politicians, notably including the key smear that Harold Wilson was a KGB agent.

The campaign intensified in 1974, as MI5 set out to undermine the new Labour government and it's attempt at power-sharing in Northern Ireland, the Sunningdale Agreement.

During this period, Wallace leaked the presence of SAS troops in the north to journalist Robert Fisk, an act that Foot interprets as an attempt to embarass the Wilson government. In late 1974, concerned that Clockwork Orange was a diversion from the deteriorating situation in the North, Wallace withdrew from the project.

In November 1974, Wallace wrote a memorandum to his superiors attempting to expose the Kincora Boys Home scandal. The home was the centre of a paedophile ring run by William McGrath, an extreme loyalist with connections to a number of unionist politicians.

In 1975, he was suspended and then sacked for attempting to pass restricted documents to Fisk, something he believed he had authority to do as part of his psy-ops role.

In 1980, Wallace became the first ever intelligence source to back the claim that MI5 had plotted against Harold Wilson, in an article by David McKittrick in the Irish Times.

Several months later, a man called Jonathan Lewis was found dead in the English town of Arundel. Wallace had been having an affair with his wife, and was convicted of his manslaughter. Foot systematically dissects the prosecution case and argues that Wallace was framed by a professional team of killers.

Wallace's cause would eventually be taken up by Fred Holroyd, another British Army officer who had fallen victim to the MI5-MI6 power struggle in Northern Ireland.

Interest in the case finally took off in the mid-1980s when Peter Wright's Spycatcher backed up Wallace's claims of an MI5 plot against Harold Wilson. Yet the attempts to discredit him continued.

A 1987 article in the Independent, claimed Wallace was a Walter Mitty figure, who had falsely claimed to be a parachutist.Foot found that there was no record of Wallace at the British Parachute Association, but his persistence paid off when a duplicate file was found at the International Parachute Association.

In 1990, a year after the publication of the first edition of the book, the MOD admitted for the first time, in a parliamentary statement, that Wallace had worked in psychological operations and the Clockwork Orange project had existed. His murder conviction was quashed in 1996.

It is a truly incredible story, and in bringing it to light, the late Paul Foot achieved one of the high points of British investigative journalism.

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