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Coincidence or Grooming? Oscar Beard's chance to join MI5

Oscar Beard | 28.08.2006 01:18 | Indymedia | London | World

The whole idea, for anyone who has known me for any amount of time, is absurd. Yet, the very charismatic cameraman and regular annoyance of the boys in blue - yes, Oscar Beard has been sent an invite to join MI5 through a recruitment agency. Now this, for most, would not cause a second blink, and they would probably hit the delete button instantly, if it wasn't for the incident leading up to the job vacancy appearing in my inbox on 14 August, 2006.

Saturday 12 August, 2006, I followed the London crowd over to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to film the blockade by anarchists, peaceniks and sambistas.

All went well. Two gates were blockaded successfully, causing several hours of disruption to the base that was being used to ship bombs to Israel, which would then be used to annihilate those nasty Hizbullah terrorists, who all seemed to be hiding in densely populated areas of Beirut and using children as human shields, well, according to great journalistic masterpieces like The Sun and Daily Mail.

So, there we all were. Banging drums, making noise - the locals complained. Or at least that's what the police told us. First they banned the drummers from banging the big drums, because they were too loud. But when RoR demonstrated all the drums were just as loud, the police banned them all, leaving only two people playing a lamppost.

During all this a slim, young, blonde-haired woman came and sat next to me on the wall, as I rolled yet another cigarette. She quizzed me. Who was I? Who did I work for? Where was this lot from? They don't look like Swindon Stop the War, she said.

"And who are you?" I asked.

"Police," she smiled.

"Where's your uniform?"

"We don't wear them," she said. She explained she was part of a special unit that tracks and monitors protest groups. She goes out on demonstrations, observes the protestors, talks to who she can, gathers information and writes reports for her bosses. She admitted she liked the job because she got to meet all these nice and peaceful people.

"Who are your bosses?" I asked. "MI5?"

She didn't answer. Just smiled. She asked for my name. I showed her my press card. She then went on to admit she knew of me and her unit had seen many of my videos and reports on Indymedia and elsewhere. I asked how this possible as I used a different name in Indymedia.

She grinned again. A nice grin. Almost innocent. You could see why she was picked for this job. Most could never imagine such a traditional good-looking young woman being a Narc.

"We know who you are," she said. Inside I felt an impending sense of doom, and realised the imminent death of Oscar Beard was around the corner. But I turned it round, refusing to be exposed like this.

"If you've seen so much of my work what do you think?" I asked.

"We like your stuff," she said. I wasn't sure whether I should take this as a compliment or not.

The undercover girl and her female counterpart left in a silver Vauxhall hatchback. I returned to London, burned and grilled.

Two days later, Monday 14 August, I opened my inbox to find a message sent at 11.31am. Use your language skills with MI5, it said. (See photo)

The job vacancy had come through the Total Jobs recruitment agency. It was not unusual for my inbox to receive job offers from them, but what was different this time the email was titled directly to me, rather than to "client" or "subscriber". My name was at the top of the email.

The job, English Language Transcriber, was to listen to recordings of "legal" wire taps and extract vital information, a position putting me on the "front line" of intelligence. 18 to £25,000 a year. Good money for being on the front line, behind a desk. Listening to people going blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blast!

The recruitment, including vetting - that's where all your family, friends and associates get a little visit from MI5 officers to check you, and them, out, and see who you've been hanging with, whether you are a good and loyal British citizen, whether you have been bad or good - that was going to take six months. Plenty of time to investigate you. So, no more crafty doobies with your mates.

"Discretion is a serious part of working for MI5," it said. Discretion. Shut up. So, what else could I do but write about it and put it out wherever I could.

The initial response was fear and panic. Then the idea of applying was toyed with for several days. It would make one hell of an article. The day Oscar Beard applied for MI5, only to reject them at the end - write an article and make some cash from the story to fund my usual lifestyle of sticking my nose in where it is not wanted. Hell, they would not have to research me hard. Someone else in the opposite side of the MI5 building probably already had everything on me on their hard drive, at that very moment.

Sure, the idea of being investigated sounded exciting, waiting for that final visit, when two men in black enter my tiny North London flat with my dossier. What would they think of the newspaper clippings pinned to notice boards and stuck to walls? Or the crude drawings and photos of Bob Geldof with a halo scrawled round his head and the word "WANKER" violently scribbled next to him? What would they think of my music collection of Dead Kennedys, Crass, Bing Crosby and Columbine killer's Marilyn Manson?

Well, Mr Beard, it seems you've been hanging with the wrong sorts. Peace activists, anarchists, anti-capitalists, rogue photojournalists, samba drummers. How does it sound if you become our double agent? You carry on with your usual life. We pay you, the only difference being you report back to us.

And then reject the offer, blankly and bluntly. No way, Jose.

But the idea collapsed quickly. Me, being investigated by the secret service. Jesus, they would have a heyday. They would probably find something I had forgotten about and use it to blackmail me into becoming a Narc.

As word got around though, phone calls came in from a select of concerned friends. Are you really thinking of applying for MI5? Do you think that's wise?

The idea was good while it lasted, but was dropped quickly. One of those spontaneous ideas, whose novelty lasts all of five minutes. But, is there concern here? For myself? And others like me? And if so how many applied? So, is this just a coincidence of events, that transpired in less than 48-hours? Or was there some connection here? One way to find out is to post this article out and wait for any repercussions.

I have since been asked, would I take a job with MI5? If I were blackmailed, what would I do? Simple. Serve time. Or go to an early grave. A good-looking corpse.

am not a religious man, nor spiritual - although some strange things do indeed to happen to me - but joining the Watchers, or the police for that matter, I optimise that with going to bed with the devil - signing over your soul, if you like.

As William Burroughs once said, there are no honourable bargains with dealing with quality merchandise like souls.

No, for this journalist, and professional pain-in-the-neck, no, it's business as usual. Between three jobs, little sleep, and watching and studying the global events and how they transpire from all I can remember from these past 19-years, since I got involved in this dirty game of not agreeing, I keep watching and digging. And every now and again it gets out just that bit further. And it usually pisses someone off, somewhere. But the more it goes on and the more incidents occur - from riot shields to kicks in the knee, to being known by name by the FIT team, all the way to the top - the more I realise I must be doing something right.

Oscar Beard
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28.08.2006 01:33

MI5 application
MI5 application

The original email sent.

Oscar Beard
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Display the following 12 comments

  1. they must be getting desperate if they went after u — darkside
  2. Cheeky Bugger — Oscar Beard
  3. pics — sean
  4. “Either you are with me or against me.” — Winston Smith
  5. more — sean (again)
  6. Re: NETCU — domestos extremity
  7. well done — dp
  8. Polly — plunk
  9. Glasgow — squint
  10. Google ad — Reg
  11. The ego has landed — Spook
  12. So what's wrong with the truth? — Jacob