In the biggest scandal to hit Britain’s counter-intelligence services since the publication of Spycatcher, angry MPs demanding to know why the Security Service had recorded hundreds of hours of video footage of alleged terror suspects, subversives and anti-war sympathisers engaged in sex acts, were shocked to learn from the Home Secretary that MI5 has been actively recruiting sex offenders to carry out surveillance operations. “Look, we had no choice but to employ these people – the ‘War on Terror’ left our resources severely over-stretched. All of a sudden we were expected to keep tabs on hundreds of suspects. The CIA were coming up with lists of new names on a daily basis – we just didn’t have the manpower to deal with it ourselves,” explains Tom Scadds, the Security Service officer credited with devising the controversial strategy. “Then it struck me – who could be better qualified to carry out this type of work than voyeurs, peeping Toms and stalkers? Not only are they easy to find – just look behind any bush in a public park – but we quickly found that they’d do this sort of thing for next to no money! To them it’s a hobby!” Despite this explanation, MPs of all parties remain horrified at these revelations. “It is bloody outrageous, a gross invasion of people’s privacy,” roars backbencher Sir Greville Toastleigh. “It is one thing to have your activities monitored by trained intelligence professionals, but quite another to be spied upon by some grubby little pervert in a dirty raincoat!” Scadds, who is currently suspended from MI5 pending a full investigation into the scandal, has been quick to try and allay such fears. “What impressed me about these people was their sheer dedication to duty – they won’t let anything get between them and the objects of their obsession! They also seemed very discrete – not only did their subjects have no idea they were being spied on, but the rest of the world usually considered these voyeurs perfectly respectable citizens! Just the kind of qualities we look for when recruiting for the Service,” says Scadds. “Moreover, most of them could provide their own equipment! Frankly, most of it was far more sophisticated than anything we had – miniature cameras, listening devices, wiretaps; they had the lot! It was saving us a fortune!” Critics of the strategy remain unimpressed, pointing out that the scandal came to light when some of the surveillance footage was sold over the web as pornographic videos. “Quite apart from the human rights issues here, we really have to ask whether, after spending hundreds of hours filming these people variously copulating and masturbating, any evidence of terrorist activity was actually identified?” Asks Toastleigh. “Were any terror attacks thwarted as a result of filming student activists in Penge sticking household objects up their bottoms for sexual gratification, for instance?”
Suspicions about the activities of MI5’s new surveillance teams were first raised when a national newspaper discovered that covert videos of rebel anti-war MP George Galloway apparently masturbating in an hotel room, were being sold on a voyeur web-site for £19.99 a time. “It’s very grainy and a bit blurred, with a very tinny soundtrack, but the masturbating man’s resemblance to George Galloway is quite clear – I’d recognise that moustache anywhere,” says Sunday Bystander reporter Simon Wanger. “Obviously, our initial suspicion was that we’d uncovered some kind of bizarre sex-scandal involving MPs making their own porn!” When confronted with the video, the veteran MP denied all knowledge of it, denouncing the film as a fake. “Despite a superficial resemblance, the performer in the film is clearly not Mr Galloway,” a Respect Party spokesperson told the Bystander. “He has a far larger penis and is able to maintain an erection for more than three minutes.” Nevertheless, a computer analysis by experts indicated that the footage – one of a series of short ‘solo pieces’ on a DVD entitled ‘Celebrity Five Knuckle Shuffle – was genuine. “Our experts were able to identify the rooms the films were shot in as belonging to a mid-priced Birmingham hotel booked by the Anti-War coalition for a rally back in 2002 – all their celebrity speakers, including Galloway, stayed there,” says Wanger. “When we looked at the rest of the DVD, we realised that all of the celebrities featured masturbating on it had attended the rally!” Indeed, a closer examination by the newspaper’s experts threw up more surprises, with several previously unidentified ‘celebrity’ masturbators now revealed as prominent ant-war protesters, including several trade union leaders, a couple of senior clergymen and the Bystander‘s Deputy Features Editor. However, it wasn’t just politicians and celebrities who suddenly found their sex lives for sale on the web, as Bill Gripp, a thirty-four year old electrician and trade union representative from Acton, was to find out when he purchased an adult video online. “Like any normal couple, my wife and I like to occasionally watch this type of film as a kind of aphrodisiac,” he explains. “We tend to prefer the more realistic, cinema verite, type, featuring amateur performers, hence our choice of this ‘Suburban Swingers’ DVD. However, you can imagine our horror when we realised that the slightly overweight couple grunting and wheezing as they made sweaty love were us! There was footage of us at it all over the bloody house! They must have had cameras everywhere!” Gripp and his wife were forced to move when they realised that many of their friends and neighbours had also seen the video. “Mind you, it doesn’t matter where we go, we get recognised every time,” laments the electrician. “Do you know how humiliating it is for complete strangers to come up to you in the street and offer you advice on your love-making techniques?” In other cases, a Walsall teacher was forced to resign after his three-in-a-bed romp with two men dressed as a pantomime horse was seen by his school’s entire sixth form, whilst a vet from Ventnor was forced to flee the country when her unusual approach to animal ‘care’ was caught on camera and seen by the local Young Farmers Association.
Despite the fact that no evidence of terrorist or subversive activity on the part of any of these surveillance subjects was found, Scadds remains unrepentant. “Look, I don’t know what these people are making such a fuss about – if they’ve got nothing to hide, then they’ve got nothing to fear from being watched, have they?” He contends. “They may not have been threats to security, but they were bloody sex maniacs! They should be ashamed of themselves – it’s un-British!” Scadds refuses to concede that the whole strategy was a failure, vehemently denying that it had yielded no useful intelligence whatsoever. “We gathered some bloody good stuff,” he says. “We’ve now got a full audio record of a top Ukrainian diplomat performing oral sex on a prostitute, and a record of every call to a sex chat line made by a driver for the Malaysian embassy. That’s got to be of some use, hasn’t it?” He also denies allegations that he personally profited from the sale of the surveillance footage as sex videos. “Like all public services these days, the Security Service is expected to find ways of generating its own funds – this seemed an ideal opportunity,” says an indignant Scadds. “Frankly, instead of being suspended, I think they should be giving me a bloody OBE! Not only did I save the service bags of money by employing these perves on minimum wage, but thanks to the video sales the operation actually turned a profit!” The Home Secretary, meanwhile, assured Parliament that the sex offenders’ contracts had now been cancelled, and that MI5 had thoroughly reviewed its recruitment policies. “From now onwards its agents will be drawn from the good patriotic ranks of middle-England’s blue-rinsed, curtain-twitching nosey parkers and busy bodies,” he announced to the Commons. “Already, we’ve had a very good tip off from Mrs Jenkins at Number Forty Five that the young lady who recently moved into the flat above the dry-cleaners has had an abnormally high number of gentleman visitors this week – some of them quite swarthy and foreign looking.”