|.: Triumph of MI7
The Isle of Man’s most successful spy was James Qualtrough, codename K-6, who served in MI7 in the 1960s.
MI7 (Manx Intelligence 7) was set up shortly after the UK formed its MI5 and MI6 units. The Isle of Man government didn’t want to be left behind in the Cold War espionage stakes and so formed the Manx Intelligence branch.
The seven at the end of the name is generally though to be because six units had already been formed and disbanded but in fact the only reason the designation was given was to be one better than the best the UK had to offer.
K-6 was one of the first agents to be sent abroad on an active mission, according to secret documents recently released under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK.
He was sent to Jersey after the Manx government suspected the Channel Islands were infiltrating the Manx Treasury – then the Board of Finance. In 1968, the Isle of Man issued a £1 note which was found to contain the words “This is worthless, invest elsewhere”.
At the time, the Isle of Man was forming the taxation strategy which was to turn it into the popular tax haven it has become today – yet when proposals were put before Tynwald in a confidential report, the recommendations included getting rid of personal allowances and raising the basic rate of income tax to 74 per cent.
K-6 parachuted into St Helier in November 1968 and spent three months infiltrating the civil service. Eventually, he was given a job in Jersey’s Ministry of Information and discovered an active operation against the Isle of Man codenamed “Manxdown”.
This consisted of a high-frequency signal which was transmitted from a bunker beneath a Cotil (a steep south facing slope used to grow Jersey potatoes), bounced off a satellite, and directed into a radio beside the bed of the chairman of the Isle of Man Board of Finance.
All of this took place in the dead of night, and it transpired the subliminal messages had been having their insidious effect for more than four months.
K-6 broke into the bunker through air vents, crawled along the air shafts until he found the control room, and dropped into the room – taking its occupants by surprise. Unfortunately, he was captured by the personal bodyguards of the then head of Jersey, a secretive figure known as “La Tête”. He bound and gagged K-6 and dangled him over a large pool in the bunker containing anacondas, great white sharks and piranha fish. He was then slowly lowered into the pool as La Tête went to the control room to fire off the final message which would ruin the Manx economy for ever.
But K-6 managed to pick the lock, use the chains to swing to the side of the pool and knocked out a guard. He put on the guard’s uniform and headed for the control station.
There, he found the bunker’s self-destruct switch and hit it before fleeing the complex in an electric cart – escaping just in time to see the entire hillside blown sky-high.
He made his way back to the Isle of Man where he was awarded the Cross of Mannanan, the highest honour a Manxman can receive.
Labels: isle of man, isle of man manx, James Qualtrough, Jersey, K-6, Manx intelligence, MI7
Written at 17:54 by
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