Jock Kane

First GCHQ employed whistleblower dies, aged 92

Missing documents.  Racketeering. Espionage. GCHQ’s Hong Kong legacy and the man who helped expose it.


Jock Kane, the first ever whistleblower employed by GCHQ, who in 1980 exposed the agency’s corruption in Hong Kong, died on 27 September 2013, aged 92.  His funeral took place on 9 October in Hampshire.


Kane, a former GCHQ radio operator, was the source for a series of reports exposing how GCHQ was involved in a ten-year cover up of serious corruption, graft and security failings at its Hong Kong base in Little Sai Wan.


According to Duncan Campbell, Kane first came to him out of the blue in 1980, frustrated at the government’s intentional failure to properly investigate his concerns.


The New Statesman, Daily Mirror and World in Action began an investigation.  Together they uncovered how GCHQ employees were abusing the allowance system, defrauding the public purse to the tune of £1m, and establishing corrupt business relationships.


The investigation also revealed how hundreds of Secret and Top Secret documents had gone missing from the base in the previous years. Security was lax, or often non-existent. Chinese contractors and cleaners were regularly permitted hours of unsupervised access to rooms holding Top Secret documents without ever being searched before they left.


The agency also permanently leased 30 rooms for visiting intelligence staff from the Lee Gardens hotel in Hong King.  The hotel was known for housing a Triad-run prostitution racket and the Kuomintang, a “nationalist Chinese subversive and intelligence organisation”.


GCHQ attempted to stymie the investigation by bugging the phone lines and hotel rooms of the reporters, and tipping off leads. The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) also censored the World in Action programme by Paul Greengrass, now famous as the director of two of the Bourne films.


Following the revelations, former MoD official Eric Garland, public relations manager for the Lee Gardens hotel, was convicted on “17 charges of deception, accepting bribes, and using documents with intent to deceive.”


Kane wrote a book about corruption in GCHQ, but it was seized by Special Branch and has never been released.


Find the New Statesman stories below and a video of Jock Kane’s appearance on After Dark: British Intelligence programme.


(Note: Firefox browser often obscures PDFs.  If this happens, download and open the document)

The spies who spend what they like

The power of Britain's intelligence chieftains depends on the legend that their efficiency and integrity need no oversight. Scandals have eroded the legend somewhat, but 'majority shareholder', GCHQ, remains comfortably obscure.

16 May, 1980

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Jock Kane's Story

Jock Kane was a Supervisory Radio Officer for GCHQ for over 20 years. He left in 1979, frustrated at the "artificial secrecy, which protects a
disgusting network of corruption, inefficiency and security betrayal."  He you can read his original New Statesman story.

16 May, 1980

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GCHQ: the cover up continues

New Statesman revealed evidence of widespread corruption, security failure and foreign espionage inside GCHQ. Duncan Campbell has
produced further evidence of GCHQ's corruption and how it relates to dangerous incompetence.

23 May, 1980

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Jock Kane's story #2

Jock Kane addresses the Independent Broadcasting Authority's (IBA) decision to censor the World in Action report, inspired by his GCHQ revelations about lax security and corruption. 

23 May, 1980

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Hong Kong charges start

Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (lCAC) has brought 17 charges of deception, theft and bribery against the former MoD official Eric Garland.

1 August, 1980

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Corrupt MoD land agent jailed

The British MoD's former Land Agent whose corrupt dealings were exposed in the New Statesman last year, has been convicted on 17 charges of deception, accepting bribes, and using documents with intent to deceive.

6 February, 1981

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BBC Radio Four's Last Word

BBC Radio 4 Last Word: Jock Kane from Duncan Campbell on Vimeo.


Open Media


Part one


Part two    
Part three