Harold Doyne-Ditmas

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Harold Doyne-Ditmas was an MI5 officer.

D branch counterintelligence

In the early 1960s he worked in MI5 D Branch as one of ten cases officers under D1 section head Arthur Martin.[1] He worked with Martin and Peter Wright on a Movements Analysis programme which, according to Wright, identified a number of KGB officers operating under diplomatic cover.[2]

According to Stephen Dorril, "Doyne Ditmass had extensive experience of counter-espionage as a case officer in the old D Branch and was a veteran of A Branch's Movements Analysis which involved computerising the Watchers' records of the movements of KGB officers stationed in London.[3]

In May 1964, Peter Wright visited Washington to seek support for the Movements Analysis program. Wright was supported by James Angleton and CIA chief Richard Helms agreed to send over a team.[2]

On his return, with the CIA team due to arrive the following week, Wright learned from Martin that Doyne-Ditmas was being transferred to Washington. This led Wright and Martin into an angry confrontation with D Branch head Malcolm Cumming.[1]


According to Stephen Dorril, Doyne-Ditmas "served in Washington in the early sixties, liasing with the CIA and FBI.[3] It can perhaps be inferred that this was the position to which he was transferred in mid-1964.

K Branch

David Leigh implies that Doyne-Ditmas served in K Branch, presumably a reflection of that branch's origins in a re-organised D Branch.[4]

A Branch

Discussing the dispersal of K Branch officers in the 1970s, Leigh says Doyne Ditmas moved "to computerise the watchers' charts in A Branch.[4]

Kagan case and the Wilson Plot

David Leigh reports that in 1975: "One of Doyne-Ditmass's 'watchers' from 'A4' reported excitedly that he had been following the Soviet Embassy's main KGB agent-runner. He had left the Embassy, crossed the Bayswater Road and gone into a nearby flat. To whom did it belong? Joe Kagan.[5]

As a result of this discovery the flat was bugged, and MI5 discovered that on one occasion, Kagan was on the phone to Prime Minister Harold Wilson's secretary Marcia Williams, while the KGB officer, Boris Titov, was in another room of the flat.[5]

In the wake of the Kagan case, Peter Wright tried to persuade his colleagues in K Branch that Wilson should be confronted with MI5's material on him, in the belief that it would force the Prime Minister's resignation. According to Leigh: "Doyne-Ditmass said that the right way to proceed in such circumstances was surely to approach the Cabinet Secretary, Sir John Hunt.[6]

Northern Ireland

Doyne-Ditmas is identified as Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence (Northern Ireland) at some point in the period 1981-1983 in an order of battle compiled by Stephen Dorril.[7]

According to Dorril, Doyne-Ditmas was responsible for introducing Movements Analysis into the battle against the IRA, in conjunction with 125 Intelligence Section of 12th Intelligence and Security Company.[3][3]

In late 1983, Doyne-Ditmas argued for banning Sinn Fein but not the Ulster Defence Association.[8]

According to Dorril, he was still in post in 1985.[3]

1988 Honours

Doyne-Ditmas was awarded a CB in the 1988 Queen's Birthday Honours.[3] He was listed in the London Gazette as Harold Granville Terence Payne DOYNE-DITMAS, Under Secretary, Minister of Defence.[9]


In 1990, in the wake of the Lockerbie Bombing, Doyne-Ditmas was appointed as the first Chief Inspector responsible to the Secretary of Transport.[3] According to the Observer, Doyne-Ditmas was handpicked for the job by Margaret Thatcher.[10]

The Guardian reported at the time of the appointment:

THE newly-created post of Chief Inspector of Transport Security, responsible for anti-terrorist measures at air and sea ports and the Channel Tunnel, is to be filled by Harry Ditmas, a top-ranking career civil servant, it emerged yesterday.
Mr Ditmas, a former under-secretary at the Ministry of Defence, is expected to take up his new post shortly, and will then report directly to the Transport Secretary, Cecil Parkinson.
...Mr Ditmas, as the new incumbent, will bear complete responsibility for security at ports and the Channel Tunnel. He will also oversee the compilation of annual reports on transport safety. As part of the restructuring, James Jack, currently Chief Inspector of Aviation Security, will move over to assume policy control for civil aviation security...
...Mr Ditmas, whose career also spans periods at the Foreign Office as well as the Cabinet and Northern Ireland Offices, will also be responsible for the department's policy of testing security at airports.[11]

Trident Maritime

Doyne-Ditmas was one of a number people named in 2001 proposal by Tim Spicer's Trident Maritime for a security survey to be carried out in Sri Lanka:

Excluding Spicer and a professional photographer, the majority of the 15 names on his personnel list were retired British Special Forces and intelligence officers. The most prominent among them was Harry Ditmus, described as the British government's "former co-ordinator of transport security." A fuller profile would have identified "Hal" Doyne-Ditmus, CB (Commander of the Bath) as a senior career intelligence officer with Britain's ultra-secretive internal Security Service, conventionally known as MI5. After serving as assistant director of MI5, Doyne-Ditmus was posted to Belfast, Northern Ireland in the mid 1980s to serve as the U.K. government's director and coordinator of intelligence at the height of its 20-year battle with the Irish Republican Army.[12]

External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, Mandarin, 1989, p.101.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Peter Wright, Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of Senior Intelligence Officer, Viking, 1987, p.344. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Wright217" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Stephen Dorril, The Silent Conspiracy: Inside the Intelligence Services in the 1990s, Mandarin, 1994, p.113. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Dorril113" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Dorril113" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Dorril113" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Dorril113" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Dorril113" defined multiple times with different content
  4. 4.0 4.1 David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, Mandarin, 1989, p.242.
  5. 5.0 5.1 David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, Mandarin, 1989, p.243.
  6. David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, Mandarin, 1989, p.245.
  7. Stephen Dorril, The Silent Conspiracy: Inside the Intelligence Services in the 1990s, Mandarin, 1994, p.484.
  8. Eamon Phoenix, NI state papers: Government considered proscribing Sinn Féin, BBC News, 27 December 2013.
  10. Dean Nelson And Michael Durham, SECRET CUTS IN ANTI-TERRORIST SECURITY, The Observer, 5 February 1995.
  11. Patrick Donovan, Civil servant fills port security post, The Guardian, 30 October 1990.
  12. Duncan Campbell, Marketing the new 'Dogs of War', Center for Public integrity, 30 October 2002.