John Cradock

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John Anthony Cradock was a British official. He served in the Malayan Civil Service, the Ministry of Defence and the Northern Ireland Office.[1]

The latter positions, at least, appear to have been cover postings for an MI5 role.[2]


The Singapore Free Press reported in April 1952:

IPOH, Tues.
Mr John Anthony Cradock, former District Officer, Batang Padang, was yesterday presented with the Perak Meritorious Service [illegible]
[illegible] councillors.
Mr Cradock gained the award last year.
The citation states that as chairman of Perak South War Committee he played a large part in launching in June 1950, the Perak South [squatter?] resettlement scheme, the Briggs Plan.
"It preceded many of the schemes started in priority areas in the South of the Federation," adds the citation. "Many valuable lessons were learnt and much that was done then is still the guide for the present day [...][3]

It maybe relevant that the official history of MI5 records:

At the beginning of 1957 the DDG, Graham Mitchell and B1 visited Malaya to make job offers to officers of the Malayan Civil Service, who were known after their arrival in MI5 as the 'Malayan mafia'. Stella Rimington, the first female DG, later complained that, though some of the colonial recruits rose to senior positions, a minority, with the security of a pension and a lump sum to buy a house, "seemed to do very little at all, and there was a lot of heavy drinking."[4]

Northern Ireland

J. Cradock is listed as an Under Secretary (liaison staff) at the Northern Ireland Office in the Civil Service Yearbook for 1976, a post previously held by MI5 officer Denis Payne.[5] The name appears as J.A. Cradock in the otherwise identical 1977 entry.[6]

According to David Leigh:

MI5 fought - and beat - MI6 for control of Intelligence in Northern Ireland under a succession of 'DCI's on two-year tours to this new, uninhibited career-posting - Ian Cameron, Jack Credock, John Parker.[2]

John Anthony CRADOCK, M.B.E., Principal Director, Ministry of Defence was awarded the Order of the Bath (C.B.) in 1980.[7]

Review of counter-terrorism in Britain

Stephen Dorril states that Cradock was involved in a review of counter-terrorism in Britain in the mid-1980s:

It was around this time that Sir John Cradock, deputy secretary at the Ministry of Defence, reviewed intelligence-gathering and counter-terrorism operations. There had been a proposal, presumably from MI5's director-general, Sir Anthony Duff, and his advisers' to transfer the Special Branch's counter-terrorist duties to the Security Service. Cradock rejected the move.[8]

Dorril's interpretation would seem to cast doubt on the suggestion that Cradock was an MI5 officer. However, Stella Rimington suggests it may actually have been MI5 which rejected a transfer of powers at this period:

Although I have no direct knowledge of this, it was widely said in MI5 that, at the time the Brighton bomb almost killed Mrs Thatcher's cabinet at the Conservative Party conference in October 1984, there would have been the opportunity for the service to take on the intelligence role against Provisional IRA activity in Great Britain, but our predecessors had not wanted to take on the responsibility, because they were afraid of criticism if they failed.[9]

External Resources


  1. John Cradock, CB, MBE, (1921-2003), alt.obituaries, Google Groups.
  2. 2.0 2.1 David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, Mandarin, 1989, p.209.
  3. HE STARTED SCHEME FOR NEW VILLAGES, The Singapore Free Press, 8 April 1952.
  4. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.333.
  5. Civil Service Yearbook 1976, p.744.
  6. Civil Service Yearbook 1977, p.785.
  7. Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 June 1980, issue 48212, p.3.
  8. Stephen Dorril, The Silent Conspiracy: Inside the Intelligence Services in the 1990s, Mandarin, 1994, p.229.
  9. Stella Rimington, Open Secret, Arrow Books, 2002, pp.219-220.