Document:Stephan Kock - Spook

From Wikispooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A detailed look at the career of Stephan Adolphus Kock, one of the spooks at the centre of the Arms-to-Iraq and Pergau Dam scandals

Disclaimer (#3)Document.png article  by Mark Phythian dated December 1994
Subjects: Arms-to-Iraq, Stephan Adolphus Kock, Gerald James
Source: Lobster Magazine

★ Start a Discussion about this document


The series of revelations surrounding British arms sales to Iraq have raised many questions over the role of the intelligence services and revealed much about their modus operandi Some individuals, like Paul Henderson, Mark Gutteridge, and Paul Grecian, revealed their own past intelligence connections in the face of prosecutions brought by Customs. Others involved in the arms-to-Iraq saga have sought to highlight the intelligence connections of those they came into contact with in an attempt to shed light on certain events, in particular the collapse of munitions manufacturer Astra Holdings. In this latter category much attention has focused on one of the more mysterious figures to emerge from “Iraqgate” and the often shadowy world of arms packages and financing - Stephan Adolph Kock. In the media he has been referred to in numerous newspaper articles and has even been the subject of a lead story on Channel 4 News.[1] More recently he has been the subject of a series of parliamentary questions. Despite this interest, relatively little is known about Kock, even though he appears to have played a significant role in the events surrounding the demise of Astra and in establishing the arms deal with Malaysia at the centre of the Pergau Dam controversy. What follows is a preliminary attempt to piece together a profile of Kock drawing on the observations and experiences of some of those who came into contact with him.


Those who worked with Stephan Kock at the Midland Bank and at Astra say he was vague about his background and would avoid answering questions about it. Consequently, there is no agreement as to even where he was born. He appears to have been born in May 1927 and to be a naturalised British subject. A former senior official at the Midland Bank, amongst others, believes him to have been born in Czechoslovakia. However, as TWR Laxton records in a Memorandum submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) investigation into the Pergau affair, Kock himself has claimed to have emigrated to what was then Southern Rhodesia from Holland in 1944[2] although clearly this does not preclude his having been born in eastern Europe.

A CV produced by the Midland Bank's Defence Equipment Finance Department, where Kock was a Consultant/Advisor for several years, provides the single most complete account of his career. it reads:

“Having served with the Royal Air Force, he spent some years in civil aviation.

Subsequently he carried out specialised duties for the British government in various parts of the world, including as Political Secretary to the Rhodesian Prime Minister in the early sixties during the period of constitutional change.

He had further military service abroad in the intelligence corps as an infantry officer. He also saw service for some years in the Special Air Service regiment. Following his retirement from the army he was for a period International Director for a major international Dutch mining and manufacturing group and subsequently again as International Director for the Shell Oil company. He is at present a non-executive director of a public company in the manufacturing sector.”
' [3]

While Kock here claims to have served in the RAF, TWR Laxton was unable to find any trace of Kock having been in the RAF,[4] but given subsequent events it would seem likely that he served in the Rhodesian Air Force from the mid-1940's, possibly until 1951-52. Another main plank of Kock's CV is his service in the SAS. During 1951-52 an entirely Rhodesian squadron of the SAS, C Squadron, was formed by "hard-drinking. hard-fighting idealist" ‘Mad Mike’ Calvert from a pool of 1,000 Rhodesian volunteers. [5] This was part of a build-up of force levels in response to the Malayan insurgency. It would seem likely that Kock’s SAS service was with C Squadron. Indeed, a 1991 Financial Times profile described him as, "a one time officer in the Rhodesian Special Air Service Regiment and personal adviser to Sir Edgar Whitehead, former Rhodesian prime minister." [6] This group served in Malaya alongside A, B and D Squadrons. This background and the contacts made would have provided the basis for Kock's subsequent intelligence work. The experience in Malaya would also go some way towards explaining what qualified Kock to act in so prominent a way on the Malaysian arms deal, one element of which involved the construction of a special forces’ base at Mersing.

From 1958 until December 1962, he claims in his Midland CV to have served as Political Secretary to Sir Edgar Whitehead, Prime Minister of Rhodesia. A second long-term connection, that with the Midland Bank, could also date from this time. As his CV notes, it was during Whitehead’s premiership that Walter Monckton, then Chairman of the Midland Bank, headed the Advisory Commission which undertook a review of the Rhodesian Constitution. The period from 1962 to 1967 represents something of a grey area. although Kock was apparently still based in Rhodesia. In 1992 he told the House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee (TISC) that: "In the Special Forces I served as Substantive Captain and I was given my majority in Rhodesia just before UDI." [7] Furthermore, in 1978 Kock gave evidence to the Bingham Inquiry on Rhodesia, and in its Report is described as having been, "National Accounts Advisor to BP Rhodesia" in 1965.[8] However, according to the Midland CV, during this period Kock saw further "military service abroad". He also told the TISC that he "was a military intelligence officer in Rhodesia", which would also seem to date from this period. [9]

There is an apparent contradiction in his CV surrounding the late 1960s. In 1967 his oil connections were strengthened when he became a Director of Billiton, a subsidiary of Shell, based in the Hague, a position he held until 1973. [10] He exaggerated this position in his Midland CV, and had to explain to the TISC that he had been an international director, "of a company called Billiton, a mining house acquired by Royal Dutch Shell and I remained as an international director of that section of Royal Dutch Shell" [11] However, while his Midland CV states that he took up the position with Billiton following his retirement from the army, an interal Astra newsletter stated that: "Following his military career, he carried out special assignments for the Foreign Office." [12]

In ‘1973, Kock became a non-executive director of Biddle Holdings. Former Chairman Frank Biddle later recalled that while working for Biddle, Kock claimed to have dined out with Mrs Thatcher, [13] and his apparent ability to contact her is something about which he subsequently boasted to colleagues at Astra. In June 1984, Kock was taken on by the Midland Bank as a part-time Consultant/Advisor to the Bank's Defence Equipment Finance Department (DEFD), "a team of specialists with banking, military and industrial experience who can provide dedicated assistance to the defence industry", [14] housed within the Midland Bank Group International Trade Services (MBGITS).

Astra Holdings PLC

Kock joined Astra as a non-executive director in October 1986 whilst working in the Midland’s DEFD after being recommended from within the Bank. At the time Astra's bankers were Barclays, but in early 1986 Astra acquired a small security/electronics company, MFA International (then owned by Roy Ricks) by guaranteeing its overdraft. During discussions with MFA's bankers, Midland. the Manager of the Maidstone branch of the Bank recommended Kock to Astra Chairman Gerald James. In a lengthy statement to the PAC investigation into Pergau, James recalled that:

"In discussions with the manager at Maidstone, Peter Weaver, I was introduced on the telephone to Stephan(us) Adolph(us) Kock, as being a man connected with the very top levels of Government and influence re the arms trade.” [15]

Kock was further recommended by [[Richard Unwin as a useful non-executive director after Astra had taken over Unwin International and related companies in October 1986. At the same time Kock was further recommended by the Midland Bank.

In October/November 1986, after the purchase of Unwin's company, the Midland Bank recommended Kock as a non executive director. This recommendation came from a high level in the Bank and was accompanied by a request/recommendation from Richard Unwin. There is no doubt these requests were co-ordinated. At the time Astra needed another nonexecutive director and Kock, with his apparently leading position in the secret and very active Midland arms department, looked an ideal candidate.[16]

While at Astra, Kock left other directors in no doubt as to his connections. The Financial Times profile noted how:

"on several occasions Mr Keck has boasted of his close connections with Mrs Thatcher. He told colleagues he was one of the few people trusted with the number of her private telephone when she lived at Number Ten." [17]

Former directors have also recalled Kock’s boasting of the various figures he knew, ranging from Ian Smith in Rhodesia, to Margaret Thatcher, to John Bourn. When questioned about this by the TISC, Kock replied:

"These remarks that I boasted of knowing Mrs Thatcher are totally unfounded. I happened to have met her on one or two occasions. I hosted a dinner once. All that happened was when the factory north of Grantham was rebuilt they asked Mrs Thatcher to come and open it. Her secretary wrote a courteous letter saying she was not available. What I then said was: "Would you like me to write to her because I have met her"... that was the extent of my boasting."

He denied that he had her private telephone number and said that the only other member of the Thatcher family he had ever met had been Denis at the same dinner. [18] However, former board members of Astra recall his boasting of his ability to contact Mrs Thatcher as having been more widespread than this.

Astra itself had been purchased by the James and Gumbley team in June 1981, expanding from a pyrotechnics base to become, by the time of its purchase of BMARC in 1987, Capable of competing with Royal Ordnance (RO - by this time owned by BAE) in the restrictive domestic British ammunition market. This was governed by the secret EPREP (Explosive and Propellant) agreement which guaranteed RO 80% of domestic sales. Astra's difficulties began when it purchased the Belgian munitions manufacturer Poudreries Reunis de Belgique (PRB) from Gechem in September 1989 for £20 million, a purchase intended to further strengthen Astra's challenge to RO, just as former Chairman Gerald James has always maintained people in and around government encouraged Astra to. Having completed the purchase, James was made aware that PRB was fulfilling contracts for munitions bound for Iraq in apparent contravention of the Howe Guidelines which notionally restricted such a trade. These included the propellant for both the Iraqi supergun and the smaller prototype. [19]

Meanwhile, for a non-executive director, Kock was highly active in certain areas. He appeared at least once a week as opposed to the once a month, or even just for board meetings that the Chairman expected of someone in his position. Unusually for a non-executive director, he apparently involved himself in areas of Astra’s business without the knowledge of either the Chairman or the Managing Director, Christopher Gumbley. For instance, in September 1989 he travelled to Belgium to visit the PRB plant at Kaulille without their knowledge. Gerald James has stated that had he known of Kock’s intentions he would not have approved the trip. It was upon returning from this trip that he claimed to have contacted the security services and informed them of an "unusual propellant“ (ie. - the supergun propellant). However, this level of activity did not extend to the US. When Astra acquired the US Walters Group in 1987 Kock wanted to go and inspect it but, according to former directors of Astra, was unable to do so as he was refused a US visa. According to Gerald James, he never visited any of Astra's US acquisitions.

Kock figured prominently in a detailed memorandum prepared by Gerald James for the TISC investigation into arms exports to Iraq, as well as in the oral evidence he gave on 5 February 1992. It was largely as a result of this that Kock himself was called to give evidence on 19 February, appearing on the same day as Christopher Gumbley. Kock told the TISC that he had been recommended to Astra by Richard Unwin, "a friend of mine” and stated "categorically" that the Midland Bank "had nothing to do with my appointment to the board of Astra." [20]

When his Midland CV was read out to him, he was asked if he had ever "been part of the British intelligence services?", he replied: "I have never been an officer in MI6 as it has been alleged.” While this did not completely answer the question, when asked if he had "wide contacts and connections through the intelligence service community", he told the TISC that:

"Anyone who works in the defence area, or has been a soldier, would have access to private information of a nature that might endanger the security of the state. I would suggest nearly every officer in Special Forces Would have that capability to convey information. I was a military intelligence officer in Rhodesia" [21]

In its Report, the TISC described him as, "a non-executive director of Astra with military intelligence experience [22]

The TISC also heard a tape recording of a telephone conversation made by Campbell Dunford, formerly of the Midland and Moscow Narodny Banks, between himself and Kock. In it Kock tells Dunford that, regarding Astra: "I am in command. There is no question about that I am in command because of all the various people who have taken an interest in Astra." When asked what he meant by that and who the "various people who have taken an interest in Astra” were, Kock told the TISC that he had merely, "tried to convey to him I had the influence necessary to influence the appointment of another director" and that “all the major shareholders and banks were concerned at the situation and that is what I meant" [23]

On his trip to Kaulille and discovery of the "unusual propellant”, Kock told the TISC that on his return he immediately, “reported the fact of the matter and discussed it with my colleagues who were more qualified than I was.." [24] However, he was forced to concede that he did not inform the Astra board. Neither did he inform the board of his decision to inform the "security services". The manner in which he claimed to have done so revealed a further familiarity with the intelligence community. He was asked by the TISC:

"When you say you reported it to the Security Services that is exactly what you mean, you do not mean a member of the MOD’s team or to somebody in the DTI, you are quite clear it was to the Security Services it was reported?"

Kock explained:

“Initially I did it by telephone. a very brief discussion on, I think, the Monday following 20 September. Then the first time I could get down was 11 October when I had a meeting. I did speak, of course, later to the Ministry of Defence people and I know quite a lot of them well" [25]

This independence of spirit on the part of a non-executive director led Dr Keith Hampson MP to seek further clarification:

KH: Did you actually report this directly to the intelligence services without consulting or informing the chairman of the company or chief executive of the company?

SK: Yes, I did, Sir.

KH: You did?

SK: Yes.

KH: You actually went straight to Dr Pike and Major General Donald Isles?

SK: Yes.

KH: You did not first go to the chairman of the company?

SK: No, I did not.

KH: Is this the normal approach-of a non-executive director, would you not normally consult with the chairman?

SK: It depends whether he needs to be consulted.

KH: Quite an interesting thought. [26]

This was also picked up on later by Stan Crowther MP, when he asked:

SC; You have these telephone numbers in your diary, do you? Not many people are familiar about how to contact MI5 or MI6. Mr James and Mr Gumbley had to get on to the Ministry of Defence who then sent people from MI6 to speak to them, How do you come to be so involved?

SK: I spent a lifetime...

SC: -involved-

SK: I have never been a member of MI5 or MI6.

SC: I am not talking about being a member.

SK: If I find anything which I consider to be contrary to the interests of this country I will report....

SC: ...The question is how do we report it? How do we get in touch with them? You certainly know how to get in touch with them all the time, do you not?

SK: I know how to get in touch with some of them, yes. [27]

This is also the recollection of Chris Cowley, formerly Project Manager for Project Babylon. In his memoir of his involvement with Iraq, Cowley recalls a conversation with supergun designer Dr Gerald Bull at a time when Bull himself was considering purchasing PRB:

I could remember Bull mentioning him [Kock] to me as long ago as 1988... I had discussed the Astra bid [for PRB] with Bull and been shown a number of papers which Bull had somehow got hold of...But among them was a list of those present at talks between Astra and PRB, held in November 1988.

What’s Kock doing at this meeting? he wanted to know.

Who’s Kock?

He's a Yarpie - a Rhodesian. He works for the Midland Bank arms department, but he's also part of MI5 like Cuckney [28]

Despite Kock's claim to have informed the “security services" of the "unusual propellant" in advance of the warning given by Gumbley and James, Nicholas Bevan of the MoD told the TISC that he first knew of Project Babylon through a meeting with Gumbley and James on 26 October 1989, after both of Kock's apparent contacts, suggesting that Kock’s full report of the 11 October had not been circulated and that details of his initial telephone conversation were not passed on either. This was one of the incidents of apparent compartmentalisation which led the TISC to conclude that excessive compartmentalisation had been the cause of the apparent failure to detect the supergun programme until the last minute. However, Gerald James questions whether Kock did in fact contact the "security services" at this time. As Nicholas Bevan told the TISC: "I would say that of course information which is gathered by Government, by whatever agency, is normally circulated to other parts of Government which have an interest.” [29] If Kock didn't, the conclusions of the TISC could be further called into question.

One theme that was central to Kock‘s testimony was his consistent opposition to the purchase of PRB by Astra. It was important for Kock to seek to establish this because subsequent events, culminating in what he termed the ”revolution",[30] left Kock as the only board member who had been in place at the time of the PRB purchase by virtue of the fact that he was untarnished by having supported it at any point. Indeed, when asked by the TISC why he was the "only director left on the board...?”, Kock said that: "I remained on the board because there was no reason for me to resign" [31] TISC Chairman Kenneth Warren (like Kock, a member of the Special Forces Club) read Kock a section of Gerald James’ evidence that:

”Mr Kock was desperate for the PRB deal to go through when he knew [Sir John] Cuckney and [Comte Herve de] Carmoy were involved and wished the deal to go through”.

Kock replied: ”That is a fabrication, Mr Chairman"[32] However, in a note added to his evidence (which appears in the same volume as Kock‘s), Christopher Gumbley stated:

"I must also add that Mr Kock did ring me early in the morning once before the PRB purchase and demanded that we got a move on with the purchase. He told me that he had been talking to Mr De Carmoy of SGB. Mr Kock asked for my assurance that we were proceeding with the PRB purchase with allspeed." [33]

Kock‘s claim that he was consistently opposed to the purchase is also contested by other former Astra directors and by a former senior official at the Midland Bank, all of whom have recalled his support for it. In his evidence to the TISC, Gumbley said:

"Mr Kock advised at the beginning of the difficulties of Belgium and he was not 100 percent for the move forward. His position changed and he became very much in favour of the acquisition" [34]

Kock's claim that James, "made great efforts not to keep me informed of the PR8 affair and there were many, many arguments because I was not kept informed” [35] is also contested by James and another former member of the Astra board.

When the new management at Astra called for a DTI Inquiry into the company (marking the first time in history that a company Chairman - Roy Barber in this case - had requested a DTI investigation into his own company), it had to reconcile these two sets of recollections on this most important of issues. Kock told the Inspectors that, "he remained Opposed to the PRB acquisition and that at some stage he had a long and heated argument with Mr James about it" [36] However, the Inspectors conceded that James, Gumbley, Miller, Guest, and Anderson (almost the entire board of directors) recalled Kock moving from his earlier opposition and that he "became positively in favour of the acquisition". However, their Report effectively accepts Kock‘s version of events. It states:

Mr James and Mr Gumbley told us of further specific incidents which they said illustrated Mr Kock's positive support for the acquisition. We do not consider it necessary to detail these... Mr Kock was insistent to us that he was throughout opposed to the acquisition, and when in due course we come to consider the roles played by each of the directors in connection with the acquisition we shall assess Mr kock’s role on the basis that he was so opposed. [37](my Emphasis)

The Report criticises the former directors for going ahead with the purchase of PRB, but the line taken by the Inspectors has meant that while the DTI has chosen to pursue the disqualification of six of the directors "in the public interest" (James, Gumbley, John Anderson, Martin Guest, James Miller and former non-executive director Laurence Kingswood) under the Company Directors’ Disqualification Act (1986), [38] while Kock will not be similarly pursued.

When Gumbley was asked by the TISC if he could explain; "why Mr Kock was the only board member to stay after you [ie. the old board] were all removed?", he replied: "I suppose they had to keep somebody and he has stated he was probably involved in removing me at one stage and I usume that applied to the rest of the board". [39] Kock told the TlSC that:

"It was in my opinion, time for [James] to retire. That was the first one and then Mr Gumbley resigned himself, he was not pushed by me. He resigned for reasons which you are aware. The new chairman then got the board resolution passed which I seconded which suspended the rest of the directors and the rest of the directors subsequently resigned leaving me the only previous director there" [40]

However, James believes that it was the knowledge he and Gumbley gained regarding covert arms supplies, principally to Iraq but also to the Far East, that led Kock (who enlisted the aid of Trowers and Hamlins, "to provide independent advice during the period of board room catalogue events and evidence to be handed over to SJ Berwin relative to the DTI inquiry”, [41] without the rest of the board's knowledge) to engineer his and Gumbley’s removal. According to The Independent: “Mr Kock subsequently boasted of playing a key role in the reconstruction of Astra, after he had forced out or, as he described it, "pressed the button" on three Astra directors". [42] As James recalled in his Statement for the FAC:

I became aware that our company was heavily involved in covert and illegal arms supplies from US, UK and Belgium. In the course of investigations by myself and Gumbley it became clear that Kock became alarmed. Gumbley investigated Far East contracts including a contract for Thailand which PRB had for 155mm equipment. This contract involved £5m commission on £16m contract and was with a company called Lotberi or Lopberi. Lotberi or Lopberi is and was also a project to build a huge special forces complex in Thailand just across the border from Malaysia. This project is complementary to the special forces base in Malaysia which is part of the Malaysian arms deal...Lotberi or Lopberi is also a huge base in Thailand which includes manufacturing capability for weapons/ammunition. My understanding and knowledge is based on direct personal contact with people in our company PRB...and also with hearing conversations between Kock and others and to seeing faxes and telexes sent to Thailand by Kock on our office machines. [43]

The Independent reported that:

“What Mr Gumbley threatened to uncover during his few days in Thailand was an arms ring which reputedly spreads from Whitehall to Washington via Belgium and other loosely regulated countries to some of the world's most pernicious regimes, including Saddam Hussein's lraq." [44]

Once the old board had been removed, the new Astra board failed to win a single order, despite the outbreak of war in the Gulf, up to the appointment of a Receiver in February 1992, just days before James gave evidence to the TISC.


While at Astra, Kock appears to have spent much of his time putting together the arms deal with Malaysia. The Financial Times has described how Mrs Thatcher’s 1988 visit to Malaysia to sign the £1bn arms deal,

“was preceded by a team from Midland's defence department led by Mr Stephan Kock, together with Ministry of Defence and other officials and a small delegation from Britain's Special Air Services. The main consortia were bidding for contracts for a proposed special forces base at Mersing, close to Malaysia's East Coast. "Kock was there to ensure that Midland got a big sllce of the action," Said one former official. [45]

In addition, a “former senior executive from Midland Bank" told The Independent that Kock (described as "a consultant to Midland who also advised the Government's Joint Intelligence Committee) was the “architect of the different strands” of the Malaysian deal. [46] At around the same time, The Observer described him as,

"an arms adviser, who visited Malaysia with officials from the Ministry of Defence and members of the ‘Special Air Service before 1988, at about the time the Government was discussing aid to the Pergau project" [47]

As Gerald James recalled:

"He was much involved with [Richard] Unwin in orchestrating a huge Malaysian arms deal about which we heard a lot almost every week. Unwin was a £75,000 pa consultant to Astra but did little for us as he was preoccupied with Malaysia" [48]

In January 1994, Kock issued a (brief) statement to Channel 4 News which conceded: “I was involved in the Malaysian Dam project." [49]

In his Statement for the FAC, Gerald James recalled specific instances which highlighted Kock's role in the Malaysian arms deal. He noted that:

"from the time of Kock's involvement with Astra he was much occupied with Unwin on the Malaysian negotiations...and organised a series of events including a Malaysian evening at the Porchester Hall. This was a supper and "knees up" for the Malaysian High Commission and took place in 1987. Both Chris Gumbley and 1 were invited, although unlike Kock and Unwin, we did not sit at the VIP table." [50]

Moreover, he recalled an incident when:

With Chris Gumbley, I attended a meeting in Midland Bank in July 1988 with Nigel Rudd, a close friend of Kock and Chairman of Williams Holdings... The meeting with Rudd which took place in Midland Bank's Cannon Street offices, took one hour. When Rudd left, Richard Unwin and various Malaysian military personnel trooped into the office. They included Colonel Harry Adnam and General Yakob or Jacob. There were, I believe, also representatives of the Malaysian High Commission. Kock started talking about the Malaysian arms deal before we had left, quite openly mentioning some very sensitive matters. He said they were having problems with Mahathir’s bagman who was an Indian or an Indian Malay or Malay of Indian extraction. Kock also complained about various parties who were being too greedy re kick-backs or commissions and suggested certain officials from the UK end had done private deals and were too familiar with the bagman. [51]

Kock told James that, “he was personally organising the Malaysia arms deal [and] he would see to it that Astra would at least get ‘one or two crumbs off the table'..." [52]

However, as James notes, this was "something which he in fact never did, in spite of running up large costs from Astra in connection with the deal. These inc1uded items like £150 bills or more for one day’s telephone conversations from a hired car and expenses for shuttling up and down from his new home in Scotland" [53]

Kock had been resident in Scotland for a couple of years when, on 15 lanuary 1990, he drove up to two men who were repairing their broken down van near his Argyll home. Kock brandished a gun and fired a shot into the air over their heads. A Financial Times report on the incident quoted police investigating the incident as saying that it was "very delicate" given Kock's intelligence connections and in view of the "big names" who provided references It further reported that, "his solicitor, at the court hearing following the shooting incident said Mr Kock’s defence work had left him with an acute concern for his personal safety." [54] He went on to say that Kock’s career had been "delicate in both nature and locations". [55] The Independent reported that: "Police admit privately that their investigations were stymied by protestations on Mr Kock's behalf by the intelligence services." [56] He was fined £650. When questioned about this by the TISC, Kock told them, ”I do not carry a gun” and, "I never carried a gun”. [57] However, a former director of Astra clearly remembers that when Kock used to travel from his home in Scotland by car, he always used to take with him a 9mm Luger pistol in a sports bag, which he did not like to travel without. Kock would, according to the former director, then leave the pistol with the director's secretary. Kock was unable to travel to work on British Midland aircraft as, according to the same former director, he was banned by the airline following an incident with a stewardess. There also exists a record of an unsavoury incident in February 1989 at a Trusthouse Forte hotel, the Angel and Royal, in Grantham, when Kock threatened an assistant manager, telling him he was Major Kock of the SAS. [58]

Inquiries into Kock

Attempts to uncover more information about Kock have met with limited success. There have been several attempts in Parliament to pursue the matter. On 22 April 1993, for instance, Allan Rogers MP asked, "what the official duties of Mr Stephen Adolphus Kock have been since 1980." However, when the question appeared in Hansard, the date included was 1990. The reply given was "None." [59]

On 28 February 1994, Menzies Campbell MP asked "on what occasions Mr Stephen Kock has represented Her Majesty’s Government in campaigning for defence exports to Oman, Jordan, Indonesia and Thailand." Jonathan Aitken replied: "Mr Stephen Kock has not, on any occasion, been asked to represent Her Majesty’s Government on these matters" [60] On the same day, Sir David Steel's question, "on how many occasions and in what capacities [has] Mr. Stephan Kock acted on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in relation to contracts arising out of overseas development since 1988", was answered "None" [61]

On 1 July 1994 Michael Meacher MP asked, "for what reason Stephan Adolph Kock has Special Branch protection; and what other names he uses or has been known by", and on 5 ]uly was informed that: "It is not in the public interest to disclose whether any person has received official protection or not. There is no Ministerial responsibility for names by which Mr Kock is known or has been known." Perhaps most revealingly, in answer to a further question by Meacher on 24 May 1994, the Government came as close as it yet has to acknowledging Kock's intelligence connections. Meacher asked: "what duties Stephan Adolphus Kock has performed for (a) the Prime Minister, (b) the Ministry of Defence, (c) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (d) the Department of Trade and Industry and (e) any other Department between 1964 and 1979; and in which countries overseas each of these duties was carried out." The reply was that: ”Mr Kock performed no official duties for any Government Department during the perios 1964-79. It remains the Government's policy not to comment on the contacts which an individual may or may not have had with the security and intelligence agencies" [62]

Kock’s role within Astra and his role in arranging the arms deal with Malaysia clearly deserve further investigation. Although cited as a central figure in the Malaysia deal, both in the press, on television, and in statements to the FAC and Scott Inquiry, Kock is not mentioned once in the FAC Report or the accompanying published evidence. Although a number of the TISC‘s sessions involved discussion of Kock (the evidence of James,Gumbley, the Midland Bank, and, of course, Kock himself) he only appears fleetingly in the final Report, concerning his claim to have informed the security services of the "unusual propellant" ahead of Gumbley and James. Yet his claims before the TISC, where he portrayed his role as involving no more than that normally expected of a non-executive director, do not appear consistent with the prominent role he is said to have played in the Malaysian deal and the influence and contacts he apparently had in arranging it. Perhaps revealingly, Gerald James has recorded in a letter to Allan Rogers MP how, after the FAC Report was published. he bumped into Peter Shore MP who had chaired the inquiry: ”I... asked him why Kock had not been interviewed - I said ‘why has the main witness not been interviewed?‘ Shore assumed I meant Thatcher as he said it was her prerogative as a former Prime Minister...I said I meant Kock. To this Shore said ‘I know, but that is another level of Govemment'" [63]


  1. Channel 4 News, 28.1.94.
  2. TWR Laxton: Memorandum on Stephan Adolf Koch, p.3. The PAC chose not to publish this or a Statement by Gerald James, former Chairman of Astra Holdings, on the same subject in the volume of Minutes of Evidence and Appendices (HC2?1-ll) which accompanied the FAC's Report (Public Expenditure: The Pergau Hydro-Electric Project. Malaysia, the Aid and Trade Provision and Related Matters,HC271-1). However, the FAQ decided to “receive” both and consequently they are both lodged in the House of Commons Library and House of Lords Record Office.
  3. Midland Bank Midland Bank Group international Trade Services: In Support of Excellence (brochure)
  4. TWR Laxton, Memorandum, pp.4-5. When he gave evidence to the Trade and Industry Select Committee investigating the supergun and Exports to Iraq, he told Doug Hoyle MP that the had been a Warrant officer in the Air Force, but did not specify which. Given the course of the questioning though, it is reasonable to assume that Koch was referring to the Rhodesian Air Force. See. Trade and Industry Committee: Exports to Iraq: Minutes of Evidence Wednesday l9 February 1992 (HCB6-xii), pp .410-411
  5. See-Tony Geraghty: Who Dares Wins; The Story of the SAS 1950-1992,3rd Ed., Warner, London, 1993, pp.333-335.
  6. Financial Times, 15.7.91.
  7. TISC; Minutes of Evidence. 192.92., p.410.
  8. TWR Laxton, Memorandum, p.6.
  9. TISC: Minutes of Evidence, 192.92., p.409.
  10. These are the dates given by HVR Laxton: Memorandum, p.6.
  11. TISC, Minutes of Evidence, 192.92., p.408.
  12. Quoted in Chris Cowley: Guns, Lies and Spies, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1992, p.227.
  13. Quoted in the Financial Times, 15.7.91.
  14. Midland Bank Group International Trade Services: In Support of Excellence. On its activities and performance, see The Financial Times. 13.7.91.
  15. Statement for Foreign Affairs Commitee: Gerald Reaveley James, p.8.
  16. Ibid, pp.8-9.
  17. Financial Times. 15.7.91.
  18. TISC, Minutes of Evidence 192-92., pp.409-410.
  19. This is covered in more detail in M. Phythian: Britain and the Supergun, Crime Law and Social Change, Vol.19 1993, pp-.353-357.
  20. TISC: Minutes of Evidence, 19.2.92, p.402
  21. Ibid. p-408-409.
  22. TISC: Exports to Iraq: Project Babylon and Long-Range-Guns, HC86. 13 March 1992. p.xxxiii. As referred to above, an internal Astra newsletter carried a similar description as having "served both in the Air Force and the Army, including service in military intelligence and special forces. Following his military career he carried out special assignments for the Foreign Office"
  23. ISC:Minutes of Evidence, 19.2.92., p.404.
  24. Ibid. p.402
  25. Ibid. p.407. When pressed on whether he had passed on his information about the propellant to MI5 or MI6, he asked to be allowed to "answer this in confidence". Ibid. p. 412
  26. Ibid. p.408
  27. Ibid. p.412
  28. Chris Cowley: Guns Lies and Spies, pp. 226-227
  29. TISC: Exports to Iraq:Project Babylon and Long-Range Guns, p.xxxiii
  30. TISC: Minutes of Evidence, 19.2.92., p.411
  31. Ibid. P.409.
  32. Ibid. P.403.
  33. Ibid. P.393.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Ibid. P.411.
  36. DTI: Astra Holdings PLC: Investigation under section 431(2)(c) of the Companies Act 1985 - Report by Colin Percy Farquharson Rimer QC & John White FCA. HMSO, 1993 p.267. This marked a reduction from the "many, many arguments" he told the TISC of.
  37. Ibid. pp.268-269
  38. Letter from Andrew Leithead, Assistant Treasury Solicitor to Harry Cohen MP, 8.8.94
  39. TISC: Minutes of Evidence, 19.2.92., p.400
  40. Ibid. P.409.
  41. Astra Board Minutes, 4.12.90. See TWR Laxton: Memorandum , pp.11-12.
  42. The Independent, 6.7.91.
  43. Statement for FAC, pp.16-18.
  44. The Independent, 6.7.91.
  45. Financial Times, 15.7.91.
  46. The Independent 26.1.94. In addition, Campbell Dunford, a former manager with MBGITS, confirmed to Gerald James Kock's role, and told him that "he was asked to set up special banking arrangement for the deal": Statement for FAC, p.28.
  47. The Observer, 30.1.94.
  48. Statement for FAC, p.12.
  49. Channel 4 News, 28.1.94.
  50. Statement for FAC, p.13.
  51. Ibid. pp.23-24.
  52. Ibid. p.19.
  53. Ibid. pp.24-25.
  54. Financial Times, 15.7.91.
  55. The Independent, 6.7.91.
  56. Ibid.
  57. TISC: Minutes of Evidence, 19.2.92., p.410
  58. Report made by Astra Holdings into incident and statement of the Assistant Manager, 21.2.89
  59. Hansard, 22.4.93, col.193w. Stephen rather than Stephan was an error contained in the original draft.
  60. Hansard, 28.2.94, col.589w.
  61. Ibid. col.545w.
  62. Hansard, 24.5.94, col.102w.
  63. Letter dated 8.8.94.