GB News 2nd September 2021
Rupert Allason (Former Conservative MP)
Nigel West (Author)
Nigel Farage (Broadcaster)
Venue: Pints of View
Rupert William Simon Allason, who writes as Nigel West, was born in London in 1951. He is the son of the late James Allason and his Irish born actress wife Noula whose stage names were Nuala McElveen and Nuala Barrie. If you recall Queen Mary’s lady in waiting in the TV mini-series Edward and Mrs Simpson, you are recalling Rupert Allason’s mother.
His father had a good war, rising to Field Marshall Mountbatten’s staff before a successful peacetime career in insurance and serving as Tory MP for Hemel Hempstead for 15 years.
Rupert has a brother, Julian, who is a psychologist.
The siblings were educated at Somerset’s £36000 a year Downside school, the Ampleforth of the south, before Rupert’s further study at Grenoble University and graduation in English from London University.
Between 1979 and 1996 Mr Allason was married to Bermudan born Nikki van Moppes a successful record industry businesswoman.
Between 1987 and 1997 Mr Allason was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Torbay, losing his seat in Tony Blair’s 1997 Labour Party landslide after forgetting to leave a tip in a local restaurant. Following the election, in which the sitting MP lost by only 12 votes, seven waitresses at the aforementioned eatery let it be known they’d switched their allegiance because of the errant tip, causing a swing of 14 that cost Rupert his seat.
In a 1993 profile, The Independent described Mr Allason in enviable terms. He was debonair with tousled hair and boyish good looks. He enjoyed a property in Bermuda as well as a fine London home in Fulham and a country residence in Berkshire.
He was a special constable in London’s Rochester Row and had written a book a year since 1980. His non-fiction works specialised in the secret world within which he trod a well informed inside track. As for his novels, The Independent placed him above Jeffrey Archer and below Douglas Hurd.
He frequented continental ski resorts, drove a Porsche and his Who’s Who listed hobbies included “sailing close to the wind.” Just how close we will address presently.
GB News’s Talking Pints began with interviewer Nigel Farage wishing Mr Allason the very best of health while the former Tory MP opposite quaffed a decent looking white wine.
Farage reminded Rupert that he had entered the House of Commons in 1987 when he was in his thirties and Mrs Thatcher was, “At the height of her powers.”
“And subsequently stabbed in the back by her own cabinet,” his guest interrupted. “Her backbenchers would have backed her I think.”
By 1990 she was coming to the end observed Farage wistfully.
Allason thought Mrs T badly advised towards the end. As for his professional relationship with her, she had been suspicious of Rupert because of his interest in the security services.
From when she first became PM in 1979, her first crises were because of intelligence failures. The unmasking of KGB mole Anthony Blunt and the unexpected Argentinian invasion of the Falklands Islands had made the new Prime Minister ‘noivous’, said Allason summoning his inner Elmer Fudd.
She was also suspicious of the EEC, observed the interviewer, as it morphed into the EC and subsequently, after the Maastricht treaty, to the EU at which point Mr Farage, still in business at the time, had begun his interest in politics and Ukip.
“And ended my interest in politics,” added Nigel’s guest noting his loss in the 1997 election. However, he told the tale differently than the seven Torbay waitresses. Ukip had stood against him, split the anti-Labour vote, cost the Tories a seat and ironically had helped to install Europe enthusiast Tony Blair in Number 10.
“Yes, you were a casualty,” noted Farage, “but in the very long view Ukip have destroyed the Labour Party.”
“Happy to have been a casualty,” pro-Brexit Rupert was gracious enough to concede.
During the Maastricht vote, Prime Minister John Major had used the lowest trick in the book, a confidence motion added to the treaty bill, in order to win.
Under the pressure, Bill Cash and other Eurosceptics voted for what they’d advocated against. “Good job you weren’t here in 1940,” (tedious left-wing bore) Dennis Skinner had shouted across the chamber. All had folded except Rupert although modestly he said he thought nobody would notice him within the original 15. The whip had been removed from him making him a “Battlefield casualty for a good cause.”
“Better known as writer Nigel West, are you the unofficial historian of the security services?” Asked Farage.
“In a strange sort of way, yes,” replied Rupert. He had begun writing in the seventies and had met with hostility to start with, being injuncted by the Attorney General which, if anything, made him more interested in intelligence.
Your reviewer is not so sure. I have read, and am happy to recommend, A Matter of Trust which is an upbeat account of MI5’s work between the end of the war and 1972. However, it being published in 1982, during the fallout of the unmasking of KGB mole Anthony Blunt, I thought then and now the material had been encouraged in Allason’s direction in order to show MI5 in a good light. A thumping good read all the same.
Farage noted that his guest had done well out of his writing and also out of various legal cases. One or two he’d won, one or two he’d lost. Moving rapidly on, Nigel asked if it was the Cold War that had sparked an interest in the secret world?
No, replied Rupert, the Second World War. He referred to his old school, Downside, a Benedictine monastery, and to one of its monks who had taken religious orders after a lifetime of derring-do. The monk had escaped from a camp in Silesia during the war and had walked across occupied Europe, all the way to neutral Spain and Portugal, where he had volunteered for the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).
During hostilities, he had taken another’s life. This preyed on his conscience. He became a monk. His friend in the SIS had been John Le Carre who used to drive down to Downside and talk to the boys.
Fans of Le Carre, of whom I am one, may recall a Silesian emigre poet called Axel in The Perfect Spy. I wonder?
Subsequently, a number of Downside boys went into the intelligence, including Mark Allen who was responsible for negotiating a United Nations deal with Colonel Gadaffi which allowed scrutiny of Libya’s biological and chemical weapons.
Before we continue with the interview (which moved on to Afghanistan and China) we shall take a look at those ‘won and lost’ legal cases and bear them in mind when listening to Mr Allason’s analysis.
Currently showing in cinemas is ‘The Courier’. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the part of Greville Wynne. In the guff that accompanies the film, Wynne is described thus:
“A British businessman unwittingly recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Forming an unlikely partnership with a Soviet officer hoping to prevent a nuclear confrontation, the two men work together to provide the crucial intelligence used to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
However, Mr Allason took a different view in The Friends: Britain’s Post-War Secret Intelligence Operations, in which he referred to Mr Wynne as:
‘a Walter Mitty figure’, a liar, and sometimes worse for drink
Wynne sued. Publishers Weidenfeld settled but Allason continued his part of the case with Wynne dropping legal action just before it went to court.
Subsequently, the author was not so fortunate.
In 2001, he sued Random House for copyright infringement claiming fifth man John Cairncross’s autobiography The Enigma Spy had been ghostwritten by himself and the copyright belonged to him or to his company Westinel Research Limited.
Allason lost the case in which the publishers counterclaimed that the book had been written by Cairncross with the help of his wife Gayle. Random House went back to court having struggled to recover from Allason the £200,000 in costs and compensation awarded to them.
As reported by the Guardian,
In a damning ruling, Mr Justice Neuberger gave him [Allason] a “last chance”, warning that if he does not “come clean” within 18 days, he risked being sent to jail for a “significant time”.
Mr Allason claimed to be penniless and a million pounds in debt. However, it was discovered that his Berkshire house was owned by a Panama based company while his Porsche was owned by Westintel British Virgin Islands. Judge Neuberger insisted that accounts of family trusts, share ownership and the value of various Westintel companies be presented to the court soon.
Mr Allason’s legal difficulties had emboldened journalists previously intimidated by his other successes.
A Richard Ingrams piece in The Observer repeated a previous High Court judge’s comment that Allason was ‘profoundly and cynically dishonest’. Mr Ingrams went on to say,
I could fill up this column with instances of Allason’s cynical dishonesty. Observer readers, however, may like to be reminded of his behaviour on the occasion of the execution by Saddam Hussein of our freelance reporter, Farzad Bazoft, in 1990.
Mr Ingrams reminded his readers that Saddam Hussein had been on ‘our’ side at the time. After Bazoft’s death, there was a determined effort to blacken the executed journalist’s reputation (particularly in naming him as an Israeli spy), of which Allason was a part. Even when still alive and in an Iraqi prison, Allason had claimed an Israeli businessman’s name had been found in Mr Bazoft’s address book.
Was the intelligence effort in Afghanistan a big failure?
In so much as we are where we are, yes, thought Rupert. People expect the intelligence services to predict the future but in reality, they provide a snapshot of what is going on – cats eyes disappearing into the darkness for guidance. Options can be outlined rather than instructions given.
Biden’s behaviour had been shameful, particularly with the sudden withdrawal from Bagram military airbase north of Kabul. The Afghan National Army (ANA) had been involved in an iPad war. When the ANA patrolled, data was available to them via the Americans regarding the location of airstrikes, IEDs and aerial recognisance. After the withdrawal, they went on patrol with no idea of what was going on and no advance warning of Taliban activity.
It was wicked for Biden to claim that the ANA had not been prepared to fight.
Farage reminded us of 45,000 Afghan casualties since 2014 before moving on to China. During the Cold War the espionage focus had been on the USSR but…
Allason said that if you do business in China you are required to have a Chinese business partner and thereafter everything that happens will revolve around their national security service, the Ministry of State Security (MSS). They use the idea of Chinese family obligation to pressure all involved. The longest ever infiltration of the CIA was by a Chinese agent called Larry Wu Tai Chin.
When dealing with the Chinese you are dealing with the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party. You will lose all proprietary information. They will steal everything and feel that they are entitled to do so.
Software, contacts, education, all of that is attractive to the MSS. They have a relationship with 300 university research departments. You are not dealing with companies or universities, you are dealing with the MSS.
They do things differently there. Trying to understand China from a distance is like never having been to Russia and then declaring yourself a Kremlinologist.
There are 750,000 Chinese students in North American universities, at which point Farage interjected to inform us that British boarding schools are packed with Chinese students and Cambridge University takes endowments from the People’s Republic.
The MSS is commercial appropriation done on the industrial scale, replied Allason. They pitch at everybody and keep on coming back. One of their sleeper agents was in New York for 21 years before they started using him.
Farage returned closer to home, mentioning top civil servants and pro-Brussels types who are now pro-China. Why did Boris Johnson think Huawei was a good fit for Britain’s telecommunications?
Allason couldn’t speak for what went through Johnson’s mind but thought we couldn’t develop future telecoms without outside help. Huawei were already there. Better the devil you know. There was a danger any other foreign collaborator would be taken over by the Chinese anyway.
What next for Nigel West / Rupert Allason?
The intelligence sector is booming. There is a book to be written about Afghanistan especially in the surrendering of Bagram. It was only an hour and a half from Kabul. An armoured column could have been pushed through to safeguard the capital.
At former head of the CIA Robert Gate’s confirmation hearing, Gates had said that Biden had been on the wrong side of every foreign policy decision. It had been Biden who had stopped the CIA going after Bin Laden.
“Is Jo Biden fit to lead the free world?” Asked Farage. “I think you’ve just answered that question.”
© Always Worth Saying 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file