|Page last updated at 23:04 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 00:04 UK|
Top spy seriously ill in hospital
Britain's top spy, Alex Allan, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is unconscious and seriously ill in hospital.
The 57-year-old collapsed at his home earlier this week. Government sources say that there is no sign of foul play.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera understands that there is no police involvement or concern over the reason for his condition.
Mr Allan's artist wife, Katie Clemson, died from cancer last November.
The Metropolitan Police said: "We were made aware of a man in his late 50s who was taken to a London hospital after being taken ill at his home address.
"He remains in a serious condition. This is being treated as non-suspicious."
The Joint Intelligence Committee is responsible for briefing ministers and officials with intelligence assessments on issues such as security, defence and foreign affairs.
Mr Allan was a civil servant who worked mainly in the Treasury, before becoming principal private secretary to both John Major and Tony Blair when they were prime minister.
He took the post of high commissioner to Australia in 1997.
In 1999 he became e-envoy for the government, co-ordinating policy on e-commerce among different ministries and departments, before leaving that post and moving back to Australia a year later.
He returned to the UK in 2004.
Downing Street announced his appointment as the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and Head of Intelligence Assessment late last year.
|From The Times|
July 4, 2008
The Government’s top intelligence adviser has been unconscious in hospital for four days after collapsing at his home.
The Metropolitan Police have been investigating the mysterious illness that struck Alex Allan, chairman of the Cabinet Office Joint Intelligence Committee. They have, however, ruled out foul play. Reports that he may have been deliberately poisoned were dismissed by authoritative Whitehall sources last night.
As a precaution, toxicology tests were carried out to discover whether there was anything in his blood or urine that might explain his sudden collapse.
Scotland Yard initially became involved because two officers happened to be at the hospital in West London to which Mr Allan was taken on Monday. They recognised his name and started making inquiries.
* ‘Deadhead’ is made chief of intelligence
Mr Allan, 56, whose wife, Katie Clemson, died of cancer last year, had told colleagues late last week that he was feeling unwell.
The police discovered, however, that he was well enough to visit his favourite website on the Grateful Dead rock group as recently as Saturday. One colleague said: “He is a very charismatic person and there were no indications that anything was wrong apart from him saying that he was not feeling quite up to scratch.”
Mr Allan, who has been chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee for a year, does not have an intelligence background. He served as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs from 2004 until it merged with the National Offender Management Service last year to create the Ministry of Justice.
Colleagues said that Mr Allan was in a very serious condition last night.
|Alex Allan, Britain's leading spymaster, found at home in a coma|
By Tom Peterkin and Duncan Gardham
Last Updated: 12:53AM BST 04/07/2008
Britain's most senior spymaster is in a critical condition after being rushed to a London hospital.
Alex Allan, the chairman of Whitehall's joint intelligence committee, was found unconscious at his home in west London on Monday night.
It was not clear why he had fallen ill, but doctors confirmed that he remained in a coma.
There were initial fears that he might have been poisoned, leading to comparisons with Alexander Litvinenko, the former officer of the Russian state security service who died after being poisoned by the radioactive metal polonium-210.
However, government sources said poisoning was unlikely due to Mr Allan's senior position, and police said they did not consider his illness suspicious.
Mr Allan was appointed as head of the Government's spy network in November last year after a career as one of Britain's leading civil servants.
Known as an outgoing and colourful character who once windsurfed down the Thames wearing a bowler hat and suit, Cabinet officials regarded him as a very high-profile mandarin.
Before heading up the joint intelligence committee, Mr Allan was the mandarin behind the creation of the Ministry of Justice and had been private secretary to both John Major and Tony Blair.
A government source said he was "so high-profile that he would be a very unlikely target for attack. He is a civil servant and he doesn't have enemies. There is no reason for him to be targeted by anyone."
His job involves analysis of MI6, US and GCHQ data rather than intelligence-gathering.
During the Cold War the JIC updated ministers on Soviet military capabilities.
In 2003, under the chairmanship of John Scarlett, it briefed the Cabinet on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Shortly after his appointment to the intelligence committee, Mr Allan's wife, Katie Clemson, a well-known Australian sailor and artist, died of cancer.
Last year he was criticised for publishing personal details on his website that showed him to be far removed from the traditional image of a grey civil servant. He is a follower of American rock group The Grateful Dead and a keen windsurfer and cyclist.
Educated at Harrow, Mr Allan has degrees in maths from Cambridge and in statistics from University College, London. He joined HM Customs and Excise in 1973 and worked his way through the civil service, holding a number of senior posts.
|Did Russians or al-Qaeda poison Britain's top spy?|
By JOHN KAY
SUPERSPOOK Alex Allan may have been an assassination target of the Russians or al-Qaeda, security experts said last night.
The 56-year-old chairman of the Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee is in a coma in hospital and has had toxicology tests to see if he has been poisoned.
Another theory is that Britain’s top spy — whose 58-year-old Australian wife Katie Clemson died from cancer in November — may have taken a drugs overdose.
Aide ... Mr Allan with ex-PM Tony Blair
He was also under pressure because of the scandal last month when top secret JIC documents were found on a train and handed to the BBC.
But colleagues insisted that Mr Allan was “upbeat” and his £185,000-a-year job was safe.
Doctors at the London hospital where he is being treated are also investigating whether he has contracted pneumonia.
Trusted ... Alex Allan as John Major's private secretary
Last night officers from Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command were on a round-the-clock vigil hoping they will be able to interview Mr Allan.
He is described as a keen runner and extremely fit, but is said to have begun to feel ill towards the end of last week. Mr Allan was found unconscious at his home on Monday and rushed to hospital by ambulance.
Coincidentally, two police officers were at the hospital on other business. They alerted Scotland Yard boss Sir Ian Blair who ordered a veil of secrecy.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown was immediately told and asked to be kept closely informed of the spy chief’s condition, which is “critical”.
Mr Allan had direct access to the PM and regularly updated him about terrorist threats facing Britain.
Detectives are now looking at the possibility he was targeted by an enemy.
Rock fan ... young Mr Allan plays guitar
The members of the Joint Intelligence Committee Mr Allan chairs are senior civil servants and the heads of the UK’s three intelligence agencies MI5, MI6, and GCHQ. The JIC is responsible for providing ministers with co-ordinated intelligence assessments.
Top security expert Chris Dobson said: “Alex Allan’s illness raises suspicion of foul play simply because of his job.
“He oversees and co-ordinates every aspect of our intelligence community.
“He is therefore a prime target. The nature of his sudden illness, if it is an assassination attempt, points towards the FSB, successors of Russia’s KGB. They are the masters of assassination by poison.
Suspects ... Vladimir Putin and Osama Bin Laden
“They were blamed by Britain for the death of Alexander Litvinenko by radioactive polonium poisoning in London in 2006. And anti-Russian Vicktor Yashenko was horribly disfigured by poison which almost killed him during the election which made him President of the Ukraine.
“So Mr Putin, the former KGB colonel who runs Russia, ‘has form’. And he has become increasingly aggressive towards Britain, accusing us of espionage plots against Russia. Al-Qaeda is another suspect.
They would see his death as a great victory, fulfilling Osama Bin Laden’s threat to strike at the heart of the ‘infidel enemy’. What better target than the man whose job is dedicated to wiping them out?”
Yet senior security sources say they are “as certain as we can be at this stage” that Mr Allan was not the target of a sinister attack by Bin Laden’s henchmen. And they insisted that “nothing suspicious” had so far been detected.
Joker ... Alex Allan in photo apparently showing him windsurfing to work
Earlier in his career, he was principal private secretary to John Major and then Tony Blair.
Mr Allan plays guitar and is a fan of ’60s rock band Grateful Dead.
He runs a lyric and song-finder website for the group.
The site includes pictures of him windsurfing to work during a transport strike in the 1980s.
A security source said: “Everyone at the highest level is very concerned.”
|Coincidentally, two police officers were at the hospital on other business. They alerted Scotland Yard boss Sir Ian Blair who ordered a veil of secrecy.|
|1997-1999 British High Commissioner to Australia. Responsible for British trade policy, diplomatic and consular work across Australia.|
1992-1997 Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (John Major to April 1997 and Tony Blair to Aug 1997). Responsible for all the work of the Prime Minister’s office, overseeing advice and briefing on both policy and communications. Appointed G7 "sherpa" for Naples, Halifax, Lyons and Denver Summits.
|Nov 2007 Appointed Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.|
2004-2007 Permanent Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs. Head of UK Government department responsible for courts and tribunals, judicial appointments, constitutional reform etc. From May 2007, Permanent Secretary at newly created Ministry of Justice, comprising the former Department of Constitutional Affairs and the National Offender Management Service (prisons, probation, sentencing policy etc).
2001-2004 Moved to live in Western Australia. Member: Premier's Science Council; ICT Industry Development Forum; Senate of the University of Western Australia. Chairman Rottnest Island Task Force; Interactive Virtual Environments Centre. Member of the International Policy Advisory Council of MIT’s Auto-ID Center. Consultant for Centre for Global Studies, Victoria BC.
1999-2000 E-envoy for the British Government. Responsible for co-ordinating policy across Government on e-commerce (legal framework, international issues, telecommunications regulation, education and training, access initiatives etc), and for overall policy on getting Government services online.
|From the Series:|
Director of MIT's Auto-ID Laboratory and a Professor of Information Engineering
April 18, 2007
This talk will focus on the problems of bringing real time visibility to physical objects by using active and passive RFID. The use of RFID technology to track products through the supply chain was promoted by MIT?s Auto-ID Center and the concept of the 5 cent tag encouraged companies such as Wall*Mart and Gillette to spearhead RFID adoption. However, to be useful in a supply chain we need to be able to answer the questions of What (Identity), When (timestamp), Where (location) and Why (business context). Indeed, the problem extracting higher level (business) events from the voluminous data is a key issue, since even today 70% of the data in ERP systems is unused. The wide array of use cases in the various verticals (FMCG, HLS, Aero, Defense, Auto, Pharma) have raised many questions of how to build a global network in which objects can be tracked.
Last updated 28 Jun 2008
|Choosing a name|
The name Grateful Dead was chosen from a dictionary. According to Phil Lesh, in his biography (pp. 62), "...Jer[ry Garcia] picked up an old Britannica World Language Dictionary...[and]...In that silvery elf-voice he said to me, 'Hey, man, how about the Grateful Dead?'" The definition there was "the soul of a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial." According to Alan Trist, director of the Grateful Dead's music publisher company Ice Nine, Garcia found the name in the Funk & Wagnalls Folklore Dictionary, when his finger landed on that phrase while playing a game of "dictionary". In the Garcia biography, Captain Trips, author Sandy Troy states that the band was smoking the psychedelic DMT at the time. The term "Grateful Dead" appears in folktales of a variety of cultures.
Wall of Sound
Over the years, a number of iconic images have come to be associated with the Grateful Dead. Many of these images originated as artwork for concert posters or album covers.
* Lightning bolt skull: Perhaps the best known Grateful Dead art icon is a red, white, and blue skull with a lightning bolt through it. The lightning bolt skull can be found on the cover of the album Steal Your Face, and the image is sometimes known by that name. It was designed by Owsley "Bear" Stanley and artist Bob Thomas, and was originally used as a logo to mark the band's equipment.
* Dancing bears: A series of stylized dancing bears was drawn by Bob Thomas as part of the back cover for the album History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear's Choice). The bear is a reference to Owsley "Bear" Stanley, who recorded and produced the album. Bear himself wrote, "... the bears on the album cover are not really 'dancing'. I don't know why people think they are, their positions are quite obviously those of a high-stepping march."
* Skull and roses: The skull and roses design was composed by Alton Kelley, who added color and lettering to a black and white drawing by Edmund Joseph Sullivan. Sullivan's drawing was an illustration for a nineteenth century edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Kelly's design originally appeared on a poster for a 1966 Dead show at the Avalon Ballroom. Later it was used as the cover for the album Grateful Dead. The album is sometimes referred to as Skull and Roses.
* Uncle Sam skeleton: The Uncle Sam skeleton was devised by Gary Gutierrez as part of the animation for The Grateful Dead Movie. The image combines the Grateful Dead skeleton motif with the character of Uncle Sam, a reference to the then-recently written song "U.S. Blues", which the Dead are seen performing near the beginning of the film.
|Spy in a coma found 'with blood everywhere' by painter who used his artist colony house|
By Liz Todd
Last updated at 10:10 PM on 05th July 2008
The mystery surrounding the sudden illness of Britain's top spy deepened last night after a neighbour revealed he was found covered in blood by an artist who worked in his house.
Alex Allan, the 57-year-old chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was still in a coma under police guard as doctors ran tests to try to identify what caused him to collapse.
He was found by wildlife painter Dominique Salm, who took over the studio in his home when his artist wife of 29 years, Katie Clemson, died of cancer last year.
Dominique Salm (right) may have saved Alex Allan's life after finding him in a coma 'covered in blood'
Neighbours said yesterday that Miss Salm, 35, may have saved his life. She told them she encountered a horrifying scene, with Mr Allan slumped unconscious and 'blood everywhere'.
Whitehall sources insisted yesterday there was no evidence of foul play - and blamed his collapse on pneumonia. But this does not chime with Miss Salm's account of what she found.
Experts say pneumonia sufferers may cough up some blood but rarely large amounts.
Miss Salm's account of the events is likely to fuel speculation over whether Mr Allan was a target for foreign agents.
Meanwhile her mother, Sally Ann Salm, added to the intrigue by declaring: 'Some very serious people have asked Dominique not to comment on any of this until it has been fully investigated and she is doing just that. So am I.'
One of Miss Salm's neighbours said: 'Apparently there was blood everywhere. Dominique has a set of keys for Alex's home because she works there during the week.
'On Saturday Alex went cycling, which he does every weekend. On Sunday she knew he was in bed because she could hear him snoring but she does not like to interfere with his life. She later went home.
'But she was rung up by Alex's mother or sister who live in Hampshire who asked her if she could go and check on him because she's the only one who has a key apart from him. They wanted her to see what was the matter with him.
Enlarge Free spirit: Alex Allan made headlines when he windsurfed to work in the 1980s to get round a train strike
'I think they knew he wasn't very well because he phoned them. She came round in the car. She was horrified because he was unconscious. She called an ambulance.'
Miss Salm is understood to have expressed regret that she didn't check on him the day before.
'But she just thought he was having a rest,' said the neighbour. 'Dominique rang up to say she didn't think he had been drugged, she thought he was just ill.
'The paramedics were in there for ages and then they went off late on Monday and that was the end.
'We didn't know what was the matter with him. The next day all the police came and were looking round his house. There was a chap watching all day, standing guard. They were there the whole afternoon.
'Dominique had washed the sheets and things but she couldn't get them out of the washing machine because she was not allowed.'
One of Whitehall's most colourful characters, Mr Allan once windsurfed down the Thames in a suit and bowler hat to avoid a train strike during the Eighties.
Described as outgoing and ebullient, friends say he revels in the unconventional.
He lives among a handful of painters, sculptors, jewellers and print-makers in a dedicated artists' colony in Hammersmith, West London, which was set up in the Sixties by the late surrealist painter Julian Trevelyan, who gave away land next to his home to a group of hard-up artists.
Seven homes with spacious studios were built and a restrictive covenant, stipulating that only working artists be allowed to live there, is still in force today.
It is understood Mr Allan's living arrangements were reviewed by the police after he was appointed to the Joint Intelligence Committee last November.
Miss Salm declined to talk to The Mail on Sunday. She describes herself as being 'passionate about art and wildlife' and combines her love of both 'to build a reputation both nationally and internationally as a skilled wildlife artist'.
She was born in Jamaica but moved to Hampshire when she was a child. Miss Salm is a regular visitor to her mother's £1million country home in the picturesque village of Kingsclere.
Last night a Whitehall source said: 'There is nothing to suggest this is anything other than a tragic illness.'
A police source said that officers had examined the circumstances in which Mr Allan was found and 'quickly established there were no indications of anything suspicious'.
He added: 'Because he is a person of significance, investigators made sure nothing untoward had occurred. But it was quickly established there was a medical reason for how he was found. He is being treated as a medical patient not the victim of any kind of poisoning or other attempt on his life.'
Dr Keith Prowse, chairman of the British Lung Foundation, said it was not unsual for someone of Mr Allan's age and lifestyle to succumb to pneumonia. But pneumonia alone would not have produced much blood.
'If it is pneumonia it is likely to be secondary to something else. And a significant quantity of blood is more likely to come from the gut than the chest,' he said.
'Pneumonia is something that can strike very quickly, however.'
But the only official comment about Mr Allan's condition has come from Scotland Yard who said it was a 'non suspicious medical emergency.'
A Whitehall source added that Mr Allan was under police guard in a Central London hospital.
As one of the Government's most senior security advisers, Mr Allan oversees the committee which analyses intelligence information coming in from MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, as well as from the military and other sources. In this role he has the highest level of security clearance and access to top secret files on terrorism and counter-espionage.
Other staff at his security level have their identities protected but, like Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, and John Scarlett, the head of MI6, the chairman of the JIC is a public figure.
However Mr Allan, who was previously private secretary to both John Major and Tony Blair and head of several Government departments, has always been extremely open about details of his personal life.
He has previously revealed his home address, telephone number and mobile number on the internet.
He also published a detailed personal website, which he last updated on Saturday June 28. A rock fan, he calls himself a 'Deadhead', slang for a die-hard fan of American band the Grateful Dead.
His website contains a Grateful Dead 'song finder' and photographs of his family and friends. Among the pictures is one of him cycling and another strumming a guitar.
The details on the site are likely to have caused concern to security chiefs as they would enable the foreign intelligence services to form a comprehensive overview of his activities, interests, family and friends.
Yesterday the Cabinet Office refused to discuss whether Miss Salm had been security cleared, her relationship with Mr Allan or 'any aspects of his security arrangements'.
|UK spying chief emerges from coma|
Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 20:08 UK
British spying chief Alex Allan, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, has regained consciousness having been in a coma for 10 days.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said there were "positive signs of recovery" in Mr Allan, 57, who has been in intensive care since collapsing at home.
He is expected to remain in hospital for the immediate future while he "regains his strength".
The spokesman said: "His family are delighted with his progress."
Mr Allan collapsed at his home on 30 June.
Government sources say there is no sign of foul play.
Mr Allan's committee collates information from MI5, MI6 and GCHQ and briefs the prime minister, ministers and officials on intelligence assessments on issues such as security, defence and foreign affairs.
The deputy chairman takes over in the absence of the chairman but Cabinet Office policy is not to publicly name the person.
|Pictured: Alive and Tweeting...the spy who nearly died in coma mystery|
By Jason Lewis
Last updated at 10:04 PM on 06th June 2009
Looking tired, his hair thinner and a shade greyer, this is Alex Allan, Britain’s intelligence chief – a year after he was struck by a life-threatening illness which led to fears he was the victim of an assassination plot.
Finally back at work in his secretive Whitehall role assessing the work of MI5 and MI6, the cause of the spymaster’s near-fatal collapse remains a mystery.
Last week, Mr Allan, Downing Street private secretary to both John Major and Tony Blair, and former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice and High Commissioner for Australia, refused to discuss what had happened to him.
Back on his feet: Alex Allan strolling near his home
Until his illness, Mr Allan, 58, was fit and active and known as a keen runner, sailor and cyclist. But in July last year, weeks after he was appointed head of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), he was found unconscious at his West London home.
Blonde wildlife painter Dominique Salm, 36, who rents his late wife’s art studio in his home, told neighbours he was discovered with ‘blood everywhere’.
Her account added to speculation that Mr Allan may have been targeted by a foreign spy.
The JIC chief lapsed into a coma and was described as ‘very, very seriously ill’.
He was put under police guard in hospital while toxicology tests were carried out at his home.
Speculation focused on whether he had been targeted by terrorists or a hostile foreign government and questions were raised about his personal security.
Mr Allan’s wife, artist Katie Clemson, died of cancer aged 58 in 2007 and he continued to live in what was described as ‘an artist’s enclave’ on the Thames near Hammersmith.
He had also published his personal details on his own website, including his address, telephone number and details of family and friends.
However, Government officials tried to play down the investigation into his collapse, which was overseen by Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command.
No details of the police inquiry’s conclusions have ever been officially released, but Whitehall sources were quoted blaming it on pneumonia and insisted it was ‘non-suspicious’.
Despite security concerns, Mr Allan – who did not return to work until January – has also begun publishing further personal and professional details on the internet.
The short postings on Twitter reveal more details of his friends, where he spends the weekend, his travel arrangements and who he has been meeting as chairman of the JIC.
Yesterday his latest message said: ‘To Cowes for Civil Service Sailing Association regatta. No wind, but 25 boat fleet seem to have had a great week. Gave out prizes at dinner.’
The postings also reveal meetings with security delegations from a Singapore-based intelligence agency, a trip to look around the American aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, meetings at the Admiralty board room ‘with Nelson/ naval memorabilia. Semi-circle cut-out in table to fit stomach of former Board member’.
Last month, he flew to Washington ‘staying at ambassador’s residents (sic), meetings with all the usual suspects – including new appointments’.
Last week, at the Hampshire farmhouse where he is believed to have recuperated, his sister Jane said: ‘Alex is now fully recovered, back at work and living in London again.’
She refused to discuss what had been behind the illness.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: ‘This is a private and personal matter. Alex Allan is back at work and fully recovered.’