Colin Wallace

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Person.png Colin Wallace   PowerbaseRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(soldier, spook, whistleblower)
Colin Wallace (left) with Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis.jpg
Colin Wallace (left) with Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis
Randalstown, Northern Ireland
Alma materBallymena Academy
Exposed • Kincora Boys' Home
• Clockwork Orange
Interest ofPaul Foot
UK spook who exposed Clockwork Orange and the Kincora Boys' Home. Wrongfully imprisoned for 10 years for manslaughter. Released after Spycatcher confirmed his claims, prompting a judicial review.

John Colin Wallace is a former British soldier and psychological warfare operative who was a member of the Clockwork Orange project, an attempt to smear a number of British politicians in the early 1970s.[1]

In 1974-75 Ian Cameron of MI5 plotted against Wallace who wanted to expose the Kincora Boys' Home scandal and was refusing to engage in smear campaigns directed against British politicians. During the course of his work, Wallace was ordered to leak certain documents to the journalist Robert Fisk. He was then disciplined for what he had done. At his disciplinary hearing, MI5 and others conspired to deceive the tribunal hearing his case. They alleged that he had only one role – his ordinary PR duties – and therefore should not have leaked anything sensitive to Fisk. Secretly, Cameron contacted the chair of the tribunal and told him that Wallace was in the UVF. Wallace, of course, had nothing to do with the UVF. Wallace lost his job. Worse still, in the 1980s he was framed for manslaughter on the basis of fabricated evidence by a corrupt Home Office pathologist who lied to the Court. The conviction was later overturned but not before Wallace spent six years in prison.

In September 2021, Wallace issued proceedings in the High Court in Belfast with the intention of prising out further documents which are in the possession of the British government which will confirm his Psyops role in detail.[2]

Early life

Wallace was born in Randalstown, Northern Ireland in 1943 and attended Ballymena Academy. He joined the Territorial Army in 1961, and later was a marksman in the Ulster Special Constabulary, or 'B Specials'. A former officer cadet in the Irish Guards, in 1963 he was commissioned into the Antrim and Belfast Army Cadet Force. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1965. In 1972 he was commissioned into the Ulster Defence Regiment and was immediately granted the acting rank of Captain, although he also stayed in the ACF. He was seconded to the SAS in New Zealand before working for the Intelligence Services as a psychological warfare officer.

Information officer

Wallace joined the civil service on 15 March 1968 as a Ministry of Defence assistant information officer at the British Army Northern Ireland headquarters at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn. He became an established information officer from 14 December 1971 and a senior information officer with effect from 27 September 1974, having first held this latter post on temporary promotion.[3]

As well as carrying out overt information work for the Army, Wallace was also working for the Intelligence Services as a member of the ultra-secret Army Psychological Operations unit, covertly attempting to undermine the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Loyalist paramilitary groups. One of Wallace's roles was to plant a number of bogus news stories such as one titled "Danger in those Frilly Panties" in the Sunday Mirror, which suggested that female IRA volunteers were causing premature explosions due to static electricity caused by their underwear, in order to divert the IRA's bombmakers from the real cause of the bombs' failure.

Clockwork Orange

Full article: Clockwork Orange

In 1973 and 1974 Wallace was involved with operation Clockwork Orange. Wallace alleges that this involved right-wing members of the security services in a disinformation campaign aimed not at paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland, but at British MPs. He was supported by a covert specialist military troop (possibly a local Northern Ireland speaking SAS unit made up from specially trained Northern Ireland personnel), This group was shrouded in secrecy, as if it were compromised, months of covert Ops and sifting through documents would be made useless. This group was headed by a former Irish Guard Sgt, codenamed 'Melt Down', and was aptly named for the work that he and this group had previously completed for mostly covert and specialist Ops for which they had been attributed. Journalists from foreign news organisations would be given briefings and shown forged documents, which purported to show that these politicians were speaking at Irish Republican rallies or were receiving secret deposits in Swiss bank accounts.

People named by Wallace as having been briefed against in this manner include Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Merlyn Rees, Tony Benn and Ian Paisley.

After HQNI

Wallace resigned from the civil service in 1975 in order to avoid disciplinary action, ostensibly for privately briefing journalists with classified information. Wallace always claimed that this action was consistent with his secret job duties as a member of the Intelligence Services and that the real reasons for his dismissal were related to his refusal to continue working on the 'Clockwork Orange' project in October 1974 and his investigation of a child abuse scandal at the Kincora boy's home, which he claims was blocked because the leading perpetrator was both a leading member of a Loyalist paramilitary group and an undercover agent for MI5.

However, in the 1980s, Wallace produced some documents, including a series of handwritten notes by himself which he claimed were taken at meetings with other members of the plot, including the Member of Parliament Airey Neave. The notes were later subjected to an independent forensic analysis by Dr Julius Grant, and the results were consistent with the notes having been made contemporaneously during the 1970s.


In 1980, Wallace was convicted of the manslaughter of the husband of one of his work colleagues. The conviction was quashed in 1996 in the light of new forensic and other evidence, ten years after he was released from prison. During the appeal hearing, a Home Office pathologist, Dr Ian West, admitted that some of the evidence that he had used at Wallace's trial had been supplied to him by "an American security source". The journalist Paul Foot, in his book 'Who framed Colin Wallace', suggested that Wallace may have been framed for the killing, possibly by renegade members of the British security services in a bid to discredit his allegations that members of the Intelligence community had attempted to rig the 1974 General Elections in which Harold Wilson came to power with a minority government.

Government re-examination

In the House of Commons in 1990, the UK government claimed that ministers had "inadvertently misled" Parliament over Wallace's role and confirmed that he had been involved in disinformation activities on behalf of the Security Forces and that he had been authorised to supply classified information to journalists.

Junior Defence Minister, Archie Hamilton, also confirmed the existence of a project called 'Clockwork Orange' but denied that there was any evidence that it involved briefings against elected Irish or British politicians.

A government inquiry set up by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and undertaken by Sir David Calcutt QC confirmed that Wallace had, indeed, been working for the Intelligence Services during the 1970s and that his enforced resignation from the Ministry of Defence had been made on the basis of a false job description designed to conceal his covert role in psychological warfare. Sir David Calcutt also found that members of the Security Service had manipulated the disciplinary proceedings taken against Wallace. In the light of the Inquiry's findings, Wallace was awarded compensation by the Government.

Despite the findings of the Calcutt Inquiry, the Ministry of Defence refused to allow the Defence Select Committee to have access to Wallace's secret job description. In a letter dated 11 February 1991, the Ministry of Defence said that Wallace's job description contained "sensitive information relating to the security and intelligence matters" and that the provision of such papers, even under the conditions relating to the Committee's access to classified information, "would be inconsistent with the conventions".

Dublin bombings inquiry

Evidence from Wallace was used by the Barron Report, an Irish government inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

A letter from Colin Wallace to Tony Stoughton, the Chief Information Officer of the British Army Information Service at Lisburn, on August 14, 1975 noted the connections between UVF loyalists and intelligence agencies of the British Army and of the RUC Special Branch:

"There is good evidence the Dublin bombings [see Dublin and Monaghan bombings] in May last year were a reprisal for the Irish government's role in bringing about the [power sharing] Executive. According to one of Craig's people [Craig Smellie], the top MI6 officer in the North of Ireland at the time, some of those involved, the Youngs, the Jacksons, Mulholland, Hanna, Kerr and McConnell were working closely with [Special Branch] and Intelligence at that time. Craig's people believe the sectarian assassinations were designed to destroy then Northern Secretary [Merlyn Rees]'s attempts to negotiate a ceasefire, and the targets were identified for both sides by Int/SB. They also believe some very senior RUC officers were involved with this group. In short, it would appear that loyalist paramilitaries and Int/SB members have formed some sort of pseudo-gangs in an attempt to fight a war of attrition by getting paramilitaries on both sides to kill each other and, at the same time, prevent any future political initiative such as Sunningdale."[4]

In a further letter dated 30 September 1975, Wallace revealed that MI5 was trying to create a split in the UVF in order to foment violence:

"because they wanted the more politically minded ones ousted. I believe much of the violence generated during the latter part of last year was caused by some of the new Int people deliberately stirring up the conflict. As you know, we have never been allowed to target the breakaway UVF, nor the UFF, during the past year. Yet they have killed more people than the IRA!"[5]


To this day, Wallace remains something of an enigma. Former members of the Special Forces admit that Wallace worked with them as far afield as Berlin and the Oman during the Cold War, but the Intelligence Services still try to distance themselves from what Wallace was doing. Wallace's role in Ireland is clearly still a very sensitive matter. He had been part of the Army team preparing for the Widgery Tribunal into the Bloody Sunday killings of protestors in Derry, and in 2002, he testified at the Saville Inquiry into the events[6].

One of Wallace's close friends in the Army described him as follows: "I played golf with the General. That was an accident. Colin was needed by the General. Everyone needed him. They just could not do without him."

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Yarnold who worked with Wallace in Ireland said: "Let's face it, Colin was the lynchpin of the whole operation. He was terrific - way ahead of us all in his knowledge and his readiness to work. Everyone wanted him all the time, and somehow he was always available.

A former Ministry of Defence, Chief Information Officer commented: "For loyalty and dedication to the Army, Colin Wallace was in a class of his own".

Documentary film

"The Man Who Knew Too Much" premiered on 29 September 2021

An award-winning documentary film about Colin Wallace, "The Man Who Knew Too Much", premiered on 29 September 2021. Michael Oswald's documentary describes how Wallace spread fake news, created a witchcraft scare, smeared politicians and attempted to divide and create conflict amongst communities, organisations and individuals. Wallace fell out with members of the intelligence community and found himself accused of murder.[7]

Legal action

Colin Wallace suing the Ministry of Defence

On 30 September 2021, the Belfast Telegraph reported:

An ex-Army intelligence officer is suing the Ministry of Defence in a case which he hopes will help expose secrets about the military’s dirty war in Northern Ireland.

Colin Wallace, who quit his job after trying to highlight the Kincora scandal, and refusing to take part in a smear campaign against leading politicians, has begun legal action against his former employer.

In a writ served by his lawyers on the MoD, he accuses it of “negligence, misfeasance in public office and deceit”.[8]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Getting it Rightarticle2011Lobster MagazineA realistic appraisal of the functioning and lack of EFFECTIVE political oversight of the UK Secret Intelligence Services
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