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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Former Tory MP 'profoundly dishonest'
Rupert Allason
Mr Allason could now face criminal proceedings
Former Conservative MP Rupert Allason could face criminal proceedings in the wake of a trial in which a judge described him as "a profoundly dishonest man".

Mr Justice Laddie's comments came after he threw out Mr Allason's claims that he was the author a book published under the name of John Cairncross.

The former Torbay MP, who lost his seat in 1997, writes spy stories under the name Nigel West.


I must warn you Mr Allason that whatever you say now may be taken down and used in subsequent criminal proceedings

Mr Justice Laddie
Mr Allason had claimed the copyright to a book published under the name of Mr Cairncross, the "fifth man" in the Cambridge spy ring and took the case to the High Court.

But, rejecting his claims, the judge said: "I have come to the clearest possible conclusion that Mr Allason has told me untruth after untruth in pursuit of this claim."

The judge awarded indemnity costs of around 200,000 against Mr Allason, who had claimed he had ghost-written The Enigma Spy in a deal struck with Mr Cairncross before his death.

Mr Allason had claimed that Random House did not own the copyright to The Enigma Spy and he wanted injunctions stopping release of the book and damages.

Widow's crucial evidence

He claimed that Mr Cairncross assigned the copyright to him during a meeting in a French restaurant in 1994.

But Mr Cairncross's widow, Gayle, said the only deal was that Mr Allason should find a publisher.

John Cairncross
Mr Cairncross disputed suggestions he was the 'Fifth Man'
Mr Justice Laddie suggested Mr Allason had altered his version of events wherever the facts contradicted him and said he ranked as "one of the most dishonest witnesses I have ever seen".

"Mr Allason appears to believe that all he needs to do is assert in firm terms that a state of affairs existed and his audience would have to accept his word for it," he said.

The judge said the writer had maintained under oath he had never been a director of the company, Ermin Press, that had tried to The Enigma Spy.

But the judge said that after the trial finished on Friday he had logged on to Mr Allason's website and found that he described himself as an "editorial director" of the firm.

He said when he logged on the following day that description been changed to editorial consultant.

'Website altered'

The judge said: "It appears to me that sometime shortly after the trial had finished but before judgement had been given - and after he had invited me to visit the website - he had arranged for the contents to be altered to support his dishonest assertion.

"In my view this is even more serious than the extensive untruthful evidence given by Mr Allason during the trial and I therefore intend to refer these papers (his judgement) to the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions]."

Mr Cairncross, who died in 1995, is said to have been the "Fifth Man" out of the Cambridge spy ring that included Philby, Burgess and Maclean.

Recruited at Cambridge

He worked for the Special Intelligence Service during the war having been recruited by Soviet intelligence after he left Cambridge.

He rose to be a Treasury mandarin before resigning in 1951 when he came under suspicion.

When the former MP attempted to explain how the information on his website had been changed he was told by the judge: "I must warn you Mr Allason that whatever you say now may be taken down and used in subsequent criminal proceedings."

Mr Allason, who had conducted his own case, refused to comment at the end of the hearing.

See also:

09 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Tory Euro-sceptic considers defection
13 Sep 99 | Britain betrayed
The Cambridge spy ring
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