Denis Payne

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Person.png Denis Payne PowerbaseRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png

Denis Payne was a senior MI5 officer who served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

Payne relieved the MI6 officer based at Stormont Castle at some point in late 1973/early 1974.[1] According to Paul Foot, Payne's appointment, with the new title of 'Chief of Intelligence' marked the point at which Northern Ireland became an MI5 preserve at MI6's expense.[2]

According to Colin Wallace, the "resident top MI5 officer at Lisburn, Denis Payne, would give visiting American journalists such as John Barron the standard line of KGB control of the IRA.[3]

Clockwork Orange

According to Paul Foot, Payne presided over the creation of the Clockwork Orange psychological warfare operation:

Not long after the change-over from MI6 to MI5 was completed, Colin was called to a high-level conference at Stormont. Senior MI5 officers were there, including Denis Payne. The subject of discussion was a new initiative to meet the deteriorating security crisis and to stem the rising tide of sectarian assassinations. A top secret information offensive was proposed. Its codename was to become 'Clockwork Orange'.[4]

Ulster Workers Council Strike

Payne's period in Northern Ireland included the May 1974 Ulster Workers Council strike.

During the crisis, Northern Ireland Electricity Service officials said only 30 per cent power could be maintained. When John Hume queried this estimate during a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees, Payne and Brigadier Len Garrett were brought in support its veracity.[5]

External Resources


  1. Richard Deacon, 'C': A Biography of Sir Maurice Oldfield, Futura, 1985, p.174.
  2. Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace? Pan Books, 1990, p.40.
  3. Stephen Dorril and Robin Ramsay, Smear: Wilson and the Secret State, Fourth Estate Limited, 1991, p.257.
  4. Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace? Pan Books, 1990, p.41.
  5. Robert Fisk, The Point of No Return, The Strike which broke the British in Ulster, André Deutsch, 1975, pp. 86-87.