Scottish independence campaigner claims MI5 is leading dirty tricks campaign

 

A veteran campaigner for Scottish independence has accused so-called cybernats who subjected author JK Rowling to a tirade of internet abuse of “opening the door” to a possible MI5 dirty tricks campaign to scupper a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum.

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars claimed it was “naïve” to think that the security forces were not involved in seeking to influence the outcome of September’s ballot which could see the break-up of the UK.

He told The Independent that he was personally aware of one secret agent having arrived in Glasgow.

Mr Sillars said that those who posted the abusive comments – including one sent from a hacked charity Twitter feed - viciously lambasting Ms Rowling for her £1m donation to pro-union Better Together this week had meant to harm the independence cause. “I don’t know who did. Somebody did it that is inimical to the yes campaign,” he said.

This week a special advisor to First Minister Alex Salmond was forced to apologise after he made false claims about a mother-of-two who spoke at a Better Together rally. Clare Lally was later targeted by what she described as “keyboard warriors” who attacked her on social media.

In an open letter to cybernats, whom he described as “useful idiots” – the phrase deployed by Lenin to describe propagandists for a cause they did not understand - Mr Sillars said that online smears and insults had delivered a publicity coup for supporters of the status quo.

“Are you so naive, that you never think that perhaps MI5 and special branch are taking a role in this campaign? As their function is protection of the British State, they would not be doing their jobs if they were not. There was, and probably still is, a section in MI5 that dealt with the Scottish national movement, headed by Stella Rimington, who became Director General in 1992, and is now Dame Stella,” he wrote.

Mr Sillars also claimed that during the failed 1979 devolution vote, the US Consul in Edinburgh was “from the CIA stable”.

He added: “That was for a weak assembly, do you think that they will not be more engaged now that independence is on the agenda? Has it ever crossed your mind that by conducting a campaign of abuse, which plays into the hands of the No media, you are opening the Yes side to a dirty tricks campaign?”

Speaking later, Mr Sillars, who said he had worked with the security services during his political career, said: ”I know there was an MI5 guy arrived in Glasgow. I won’t tell you how or why I know it. I know when he came.”

He added that continuing internet abuse meant: “You open the door to MI5 to take a role that we wouldn’t know about and wouldn’t be able to identify.”

A spokesperson for Yes Scotland said: ‘We are not aware of the matters Mr Sillars refers to, and these are his own views.”

Yesterday First Minister Alex Salmond said pro-union comments made by Hillary Clinton which mirrored those of President Obama would boost the Yes vote

Mrs Clinton, a former US Secretary of State told BBC2’s Newsnight: “I would hate to have you lose Scotland” describing a split from Westminster as a “loss for both sides”.

Mr Salmond said: "I suspect that insofar as it is influential, it is helpful to the Yes side.

"I don't know if Hillary or the president of the United States are familiar with the Scottish word thrawn. It doesn't mean stubborn, it basically means Scots don't like being told what to do.”

A Better Together spokesperson said: "The paranoia of the nationalists is reaching ridiculous levels now. They should stop blaming everybody else for their failing campaign."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick