How the spooks decide who works for BBC
On 1 July 1976 I was confidentially advised that the Scottish Arts Council had awarded me a writer's bursary to complete a book on the MacCrimmon legend, and a nationwide controversy brewed up in The Scotsman newspaper when it was discovered that I had received death threats.
The rest of July and all of August 1976 had passed without a single cheep from Nairn or anyone else in the BBC for that matter. They had certainly never told me what had happened to the “audition” tapes.
And for an organisation so obsessed with the MacCrimmon legend as BBC, there was only a muted response to the writer’s bursary in the shape of a single request for a news story. No complaints about my voice, and the interview was used.
Meanwhile not a whimper came from Producer Nairn, the self-appointed scourge of imaginary Communists. What we did not know was that he was honing his appalling English, which arrived in September, in the shape of a note thanking me for “ attending an audition”.
It rudely added: “We do not feel you have sufficient experience in this specific field to allow us to take you on as a Reporter or Presenter.” What field could that have been?
“At this moment there is no system in Scotland of in-job training for this type of employment but it is a matter which is under consideration.” It was signed by his secretary, presumably to demonstrate his feelings of superiority. There was certainly no admission that he had earlier destroyed a recording of an interview of mine with Robin Richardson about the MacDiarmid pibroch, by running a magnet over the tape, while shouting: “I’m not going to publicise that Communist bastard in any way…That Communist bastard.” (See The Birth of the ‘Glenfiddich’ .)
I was too busy organising my research into the MacCrimmon book and tidying up the newspaper controversy to reply immediately to his uncontrived nastiness. What it really meant was that BBC could claim it had interviewed me but had found me allegedly too unskilled to employ – and this from some sort of comic-cuts character who wrote the words for the bubbles, and judging by his letters, not very well at that.
I replied a month later saying I only now had time to reply to his note about the voice test which I did at his request two-and-half months earlier. I mentioned “the unaccountable delay” and said I had instead decided to accept “one of the few Scottish Arts Council grants for writers of merit”, meaning I could not have taken work with BBC even if it had been offered.
I added: “I note you claim that I do not have ‘sufficient experience’ to be offered a post (in fact, I was only interested in free-lancing, as I stated in my original letter). For the record, I should also state that I worked for twenty years in national newspapers as a senior writer, specialist and columnist, and know of many people who joined BBC during that time with no experience of broadcasting and far less journalistic experience than mine; some, indeed, whose newspaper experience was even limited to local weeklies. Perhaps I should add that during that time I have interviewed thousands of people, including prime ministers, heads of medical schools, international scientists, industrial magnates, down to common gangsters and confidence tricksters, but I never took part in a quainter interview than the one during my voice test.
“I further note that BBC advertised last week for reporters, whose qualifications needed to be experience in journalism or possession of a degree or similarly educated. As I therefore qualify on two counts to be considered for one of these posts, your earlier remark seems curious and requires to be lucidified.”
I ended by stating that as I had initially contacted Andrew Boyle to see if BBC Scotland wanted science coverage, I would send him a copy of the letter as a courtesy.
But I wasn’t quite done. “P.S.,” I added. “Robin Richardson used to tell an amusing story about the dumping of an interview he did with me, after I composed a piobaireachd (subsequently broadcast) for Hugh MacDiarmid on his 80th birthday. I wonder if you could let me have the official version, again for the record.” (see above) I also pointed out the music was being republished as part of a life of the poet.
Nairn must have been badly frightened, for this time he replied by return. “The ‘unaccountable delay’ to which you refer was not of my making – I was waiting the opinion of others involved.” Others? It was supposed to be only the singular “Assistant Head of Programmes.”
Nairn then lied his head off. “Referring to your PS I have no idea what ‘amusing story’ you are referring to, and as far as I know official versions of amusing stories do not exist.”
It is doubtful if even a kids’ comic would have accepted his letter for publication without rewriting, but there we are. BBC Scotland had somehow been allowed to inspect me and falsely scold me for my non-existent political bias and/or distortion.
No-one from BBC, including Nairn, ever “lucidified” the actual distortion of the facts in his own letter, nor why “others” had become involved. I was later permanently, as it turned out, deprived of employment by the BBC when I most needed it.
I never heard from Boyle again. Perhaps Nairn had managed to steal the copy-letter to prevent Boyle from seeing it. He had already stolen my character, so it wouldn’t have been so morally difficult for such a larcenist to do so. I therefore decided to do some research into Boyle and discovered that he stayed for only a year at BBC Scotland as “Head of News and Current Affairs (Radio and TV)” and then left. He had already written biographies including one about Lord Reith of BBC, prophetically called Only the Wind will Listen. His Who’s Who entry for 1991 stated: “Work published 1979, led to exposure of the Blunt affair".
But Peter Wright revealed in his startling book, Spycatcher, that Anthony Blunt, who had been a senior MI5 officer during the 1939-45 War and the royal family’s art expert, had confessed as early as April 1964 – or fifteen years before Boyle’s claim – to being a Russian spy. He had been exposed in 1963 by the FBI who told MI5 that an American citizen had informed them that Blunt had recruited him as a Communist agent when they were both at Cambridge University in the 1930s.
Spycatcher was not published until 1988, and the information about Blunt had always been kept secret for fear of embarrassing the Queen and the Establishment. Where did Boyle get his information?
It turned out Boyle had been a spook all along.
Boyle was born at Dundee in 1919 (the same year that Hamish Henderson was born only 20 miles away at Blairgowrie) and, according to Who’s Who, was educated first at “Blairs, Aberdeen”. What Boyle did not disclose was that “Blairs” was until its closure in 1986 the Scottish junior seminary for boys and young men studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood, which he did not enter. Before 1939 he moved to Pau University in France, little more than 30 miles from the Spanish border, across which refugees were still fleeing the Franco regime. But they were mainly Communists and their families.
Boyle’s Who’s Who entry added: “Escaped from France as student June 1940”, around the time of the Dunkirk evacuation and the fall of the Channel ports to the German blitzkreig machine, effectively marooning him. But a 30-mile hike to the Spanish border would have meant little to a young man of twenty, especially as local transport was still running, and he made his way back to Britain, joining the volunteer reserve of the RAF in 1941.
However, he then worked in military intelligence in the Far East until the end of the War in 1945. He later became military correspondent, Far East, with the rank of major. The following year, presumably without training, he joined the BBC as a script writer/producer.
It was two years after Boyle left BBC Scotland that he exposed Sir Anthony Blunt as “the Fourth Man”, in turn the homosexual Communist spy to whom Hamish Henderson had written his poem on treachery.
Boyle must have used his intelligence contacts – or conversely they used him as a trusty – to penetrate the homosexual web of silence around Blunt which protected him for all the years he was the Queen’s surveyor of paintings at the royal palaces, now known to have a protective homosexual culture of their own.
Why had Boyle left Blairs without qualifying as a priest? Only much later was the seminary exposed as another hotbed of homosexual assaults on its students. Did Boyle escape from this type of sexual abuse at Blairs, on the South Deeside road from Aberdeen to Balmoral, the summer residence of the Queen? Something had impelled him to ruthlessly hunt down Blunt, expose, ruin and exile him.
And how did Boyle “know of my work from the past”? Perhaps it referred to one of the last stories I did for the Express. (See below)
Whatever else had happened, Boyle had arranged for me to be the victim of a pre-arranged hostile interview in reverse by a person who was malevolently disposed towards me, and had falsely branded me a Communist, for reasons which were then inexplicable to me. Nairn was also born in Dundee and it was inconceivable that he had not spread his lies about me to Boyle, or did Boyle the spook know about them all along?
If so, what was Nairn’s part in the farce of the audition? Was he working for the homosexual ring within BBC which I had inadvertently identified? If so, I would have been the last person the BBC would have wanted to recruit. And the facts were that if you were turned down once for a BBC job, you were turned down for life.
But Nairn knew something else, which was kept secret from outsiders. Anyone who applied to BBC for work was vetted by MI5 in their office, Room 105, at Broadcasting House, London, and anyone who even so much as wrote a letter to a left-wing periodical was blacklisted.
It was not until August 1985 that The Observer newspaper cracked the story in a front-page story headed: ‘Revealed: How MI5 vets BBC staff’. Eight specific cases were listed, who had rightfully received compensation for loss of earnings and injury to their feelings, but no-one knew how many other victims were involved.
When I tried to clear my name with the BBC I was informed my name did not appear in any of their files, which I found extraordinary. They did not specify if I had been blacklisted and any putative MI5 file of mine accordingly marked with a Christmas tree. In German the Christmas tree is called Tannenbaum, which was also the name of Germany’s traditional Christmas hymn. But its melody had been appropriated by the Communists to which they sang The Red Flag.
So I wrote an article, revealing what had happened and sent it to a newspaper editor, Arnold Kemp, whom I considered a friend. The third par. stated that I realised “some form of tribunal is vital where people who think they have been falsely represented can clear themselves.”
But Kemp refused to publish the article asserting that “it rather inflated (sic) what seems to have been a minor incident.” Are you kidding? I later discovered what he refused to admit to me. The BBC was then indemnifying him in a serious court case which could have permanently ruined him. Instead he used his newspaper, trying to do the same to me, which became so blatant, it became top of the discussion list for the chattering classes in Scotland.