James Miller

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James Miller was an agent for the Security Forces in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s.

Miller was an Englishman,[1] born in 1932,[2] and a former soldier.[1]

He married an Ulster Protestant and moved to Monkstown, co. Antrim.[2] He later told journalist Barrie Penrose that he had been recruited by military intelligence in 1970, soon after the Troubles broke out, and that his main job had been to infiltrate extreme loyalist organisations. He also worked as an MI5 agent.[1] His job as a lift engineer enabled him to moved freely across Northern Ireland for intelligence purposes.[3]


In 1971 Mr Miller infiltrated Tara for the intelligence services. He reportedly voiced suspicions about child sexual abuse by Tara leader William McGrath to his handlers.[1]

He was told to drop the issue, and shortly afterwards he was expelled from Tara.[1] Former Tara second-in-command Roy Garland told journalist Liam Clarke:

"I can tell you exactly what happened," Mr Garland said. "A number of UVF men were attending the meeting and they said that Miller was working for British intelligence. McGrath said: 'Tell him to go', so I went over and told him: 'I am sorry, you have to go,' and showed him out."[1]

Journalist Barrie Penrose reported in 1987:

Miller says that McGrath's sexual tendencies were common knowledge inside Tara. Miller said: 'My M15 case officer later told me to leave McGrath to them and I understand they used the information to recruit him as an informer. ' Last night McGrath confirmed that he knew Miller but would not comment on any other aspect.[3]

At some point, probably in the mid-1970s, information from Miller as well as other sources about the Kincora Boys Home was passed on by Army intelligence officer Brian Gemmill to Ian Cameron of MI5.[1]


Mr Miller went on to join the UDA at his handler's request.[1]

UWC Strike

Miller told Barrie Penrose in 1987 that his handlers had encouraged him to agitate within the UDA for what became the Ulster Workers Council strike, saying 'My case officers told me to do it. M15 wanted to get at Wilson. They said he was a Soviet agent.'[4]

Penrose reported:

'I did a dangerous job over there for nearly five years and many UDA and IRA men went to prison as a result,' Miller said last night. 'But I could never understand why my case officers, Lt Col Brian X and George X, wanted the UDA to start a strike in the first place. But they specifically said I should get UDA men at grass-roots level to 'start pushing' for a strike. So I did. '
Miller said his MI5 case officers told him Harold Wilson was a suspected Soviet agent and steps were being taken to force him out of Downing Street. Miller said that in early 1974 his case officers instructed him to promote the idea within the UDA of mounting a general strike which would paralyse Northern Ireland. The result, says Miller, was the Ulster workers' strike in May 1974 which severely embarrassed Wilson's government and helped to torpedo the Sunningdale power sharing executive of Catholics and Protestants, which had included an 'Irish dimension' by allowing the Irish government a consultative role in Ulster.[3]

Paul Foot later stated that 'Brian X' was Lt Col Brian Dixon.[5]

After the IRA denounced Miller as a spy, he persuaded senior IRA figure Ivor Bell that he was simply a working-class man who had been traduced and Bell took him into his home and protected him.[6]

After the UDA started to suspect him of being a spy, MI5 brought Miller to England, setting him up with a house and small business in Devon.[5]

1987 revelations

In March 1987, journalist Barrie Penrose was contacted by Miller after writing stories about Colin Wallace and Fred Holroyd.[5] Miller told Penrose about his activities for MI5 in the 1970s, and said he had known Wallace's name at the time.[5] To allay Penrose's scepticism, Miller have Penrose details of his then current MI5 handlers.[5] When Penrose rang the number given to him and inquired about Miller, the person who answered said 'what's the problem with him, now', complaining he was never satisfied. When Penrose explained he was a reporter, the phone went dead.[6]

At the time of Miller's 1987 interview with Barrie Penrose of the Sunday Times, Home Office officials working with MI5's legal adviser confirmed that Miller had worked for the security forces in Northern Ireland. Admiral William Higgins, secretary to the D-Notice Committee at the Ministry of Defence, requested The Sunday Times for security reasons not to identify Miller's then current whereabouts or his case officers.[3] senior UDA sources also confirmed that Miller had been a senior intelligence officer in their organisation.[3] Miller's testimony was backed by former army officers Colin Wallace and Fred Holroyd.

In a 22 March 1987 Sunday Times story, Miller told Penrose he planned to give his evidence to Merlyn Rees, the former home secretary, and other former Labour ministers, who were seeking an inquiry into 'unlawful' MI5 activities in the mid-1970s.[3] In a follow up story on 29 March 1987, Penrose reported calls for an inquiry by Rees and former Labour Prime Minister Jim Callaghan. Penrose suggested that Miller's evidence cast doubt on the findings of the 1983 Terry Inquiry into abuse at Kincora Boys' Home. Rees said he had nor first hand knowledge of Kincora,'But it does tie in with conversations I heard at the time. This whole affair must be investigated.'[3] After these revelations, however, Miller went quiet.[2] According to Paul Foot, he moved to another area and changed his phone number.[7]

Liam Clarke, who worked with Barrie Penrose on the 1987 story, reported in 2014 that Miller had since died.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Liam Clarke, Kincora: How three men alerted MI5 officers to home's dark secret... and still nothing was done to stop the child sex abuse, [Belfast Telegraph, 6 August 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace, Pan Books, 1989, p.105.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Barrie Penrose, MI5 'plotted' Ulster strike, Sunday Times, 22 March 1987. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Penrose220387" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Penrose220387" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Penrose220387" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Penrose220387" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Penrose220387" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Penrose220387" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Barrie Penrose, The Enemy Within?: The case against MI5, Sunday Times, 3 May 1987.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace, Pan Books, 1989, p.353.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace, Pan Books, 1989, p.354.
  7. Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace, Pan Books, 1989, p.355.