The whole Sean Kelly issue is an invitation to conspiracy theory crackpots, starting with Adams himself and his daft notion that Peter Hain is an MI5 agent. [Comment on post @ Slugger O'Toole, 2005.06.28]
If it is true that Gerry Adams holds to the daft notion that Peter Hain is an MI5 agent, he's not alone in his daftness. I came to the same tentative conclusion before finding the above comment on Slugger O'Toole. According to my crackpot theory, Hain would have become an MI5 stooge around 1975. Which would entail that the Anti-Nazi League was co-founded and co-led ('77-'82) by an MI5 informant, which, if one thinks about it, makes some sense. Because of John Prescott's on-going troubles, and with Peter Hain being talked of as a possible replacement, I think it's time to air my suspicions in public.
When I were still a lad in shorts at prep. school, Peter Hain was Britain's 'public enemy number one' (said the Telegraph). The Wilson Cabinet considered charging him with 'seditious conspiracy'. Right-wingnut Gerald Howarth founded the 'Hain Prosecution Fund' to battle him. All because Hain, who had come to the UK in '66 when his family fled from the South African secret police, was in '69 leading the direct action campaign against South African sports teams touring Britain. Called the 'Stop The Seventy Tour' (STST), it attracted widespread grassroots support.
"Direct action" took hold as copycat protests followed the Springbok rugby team around the country - Gordon Brown signed on as Hain's Edinburgh organiser - and a secret inner STST group of activists was formed.
The Establishment was shaken by the STST campaign. It affected relations with South Africa and the Commonwealth, and it threatened law and order at home. MI5 infiltrated STST, using multiple so-called 'Hairies', and one of them, 'Mike Ferguson', rose to become Peter Hain's number two. (It would follow from this that MI5 probably opened a file on Gordon Brown around 1970.)
The STST was largely successful, which meant Peter Hain also became South Africa's public enemy number one (PENO). To be considered PENO in one country, and to have MI5 after you, is quite an achievement; to be considered PENO in two countries, and to have both MI5 and BOSS (SA's fearsome Bureau of State Security) on your case, is to be in deep do-do.
In 1972 someone sent Peter Hain a letter-bomb, which was opened by his sister and which failed to detonate. Hain believed that it was sent by BOSS. It may have been BOSS, and it may not, and it may have been intended to scare but not explode, but it may not. Whatever, when someone like Peter Hain receives a letter-bomb, some plods from Special Branch come calling with advice on security. It's possible, I think, that thereafter all of Hain's family's mail was first checked for devices by SB, who'd then deliver them to him. SB officers are the footsoldiers of MI5. From being PENO in '69, Hain (and his family) may thus have started receiving SB/MI5 protection from '72 onwards.
Then, in 1974/5(?), Peter Hain was falsely accused and charged with bank robbery from a Barclays in Putney. The case went to the Old Bailey, and he was acquitted in 1976. As with the bomb, Hain believed that BOSS was behind it. Again, it may have been BOSS, and it may not - if the effect was to push Hain even further towards SB/MI5, then the latter agency may have been involved. It could even have been an MI5-BOSS co-production. Whatever - if Hain really believed that BOSS was trying to maim and/or destroy him, his dependence upon the British secrurity services would have grown. If he was also concerned, say, by the influence of the Trotskyists and Stalinists on the British Left, such as in the anti-apartheid movement in which he was active, it would have been an easy step for him to make, from receiving SB/MI5's on-going protection to passing on information about extremists, quid pro quo. Hain was also, and still is, a CND member, another group of then interest to MI5. Considering the likely effect on Hain of receiving the letter-bomb, and then being framed for robbery, and given that the Security Service had had him under surveillance for some time before that, is it entirely too outlandish to raise the possibility that MI5, and not BOSS, was behind both the dud letter-bomb and the Barclays frame-up? Anyway, I think the bank-robbery experience may have completed his transition from national security threat to potentially valuable asset.
If that's right, then Hain would have been in MI5's pocket when the Anti-Nazi League was formed in 1977. To me this is quite plausible. I think it's even possible that the whole ANL project was started by MI5, for two purposes - it could use surveillance and informants to keep watch of leftist extremists drawn to the ANL, and it could use the ANL and its supporters to quell the growing popularity of the right-wing National Front. For MI5, the Anti-Nazi League operation could have been counted a great success.
Also in 1977, Hain switched from the Liberals to Labour, and in 1991 he was elected an MP. By the end of that decade, he was a Foreign Office minister. Among other posts, he's been Leader of the Commons and Northern Ireland Secretary. At the FCO, he would have been briefed by MI6 and have read secret reports. As Commons Leader, he liased closely with the SS on trying to protect parliament from terrorist attacks. In the occupied six counties, he has political responsibility for the workings of PSNI Special Branch, MI5 and MI6.
Hain's come a long way, from being a target of MI5, to overseeing that agency, Special Branch and MI6; from being plotted against by a Labour Cabinet to becoming a Labour Cabinet minister. Jung called such turnarounds enantiodromias, the going from one extreme to another. I think Hain's extraordinary transformation from public enemy number one to intelligence insider is best explained by the terrorist campaign conducted against him and his family, by unknown intelligence agencies, between 1972 and '75.
So, that's my 'crackpot conspiracy theory', which Gerry Adams maybe also shares. Lots of ifs and buts and maybes but no hard and fast evidence. It's supposition based solely on the events, and the unusual trajectory, of Peter Hain's career. But, given that he's now going for Labour's deputy leadership, his record of mixing it with various spooks, domestic and foreign, is a valid topic for comment, I believe.
[See also: Is Tony Blair an MI5 agent?]