Secret agent tells inquest of meeting

A BRITISH secret agent and his local "contact" had a meeting to discuss the death of tourist Julie Ward nine days after her remains were found in Kenya in 1988, an inquest heard yesterday .

A BRITISH secret agent and his local "contact" had a meeting to discuss the death of tourist Julie Ward nine days after her remains were found in Kenya in 1988, an inquest heard yesterday .

The meeting was logged in a file note at the London headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) - sometimes called MI6, a coroner was told.

But both men failed to mention the meeting when questioned last year by detectives re-examining the case following allegations of a cover up involving the Foreign Office and the government of then Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi, the inquest at County Hall in Ipswich heard.

The agent, a former member of SIS who was given the name Mr A to protect his identity, said he had wrongly memorised the date of the meeting after reading an SIS file last year.

His "contact', named in court by Mr A as former Kenyan police assistant commissioner David Rowe, did not accept coroner Peter Dean's invitation to attend the inquest in Ipswich.

Mr A, who gave evidence via an audio link from another part of the building where the inquest is being held, said he "could only assume that David Rowe had forgotten' about the meeting.

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Four days after their meeting, Mr A and Mr Rowe met Miss Ward's father John at the British High Commission in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

On that occasion Mr Rowe told Mr Ward, 70, a hotelier who lives at Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds, that his daughter might have been struck by lightning so fierce that it broke her bones.

Post-mortem tests showed that Miss Ward, 28, who also lived near Bury St Edmunds and was photographing wildlife in the Masai Mara game reserve, had been murdered, then decapitated and dismembered with a sharp, heavy instrument.

The British pathologist who examined some of Miss Ward's remains said the lightning theory put forward by Mr Rowe was "utter and absolute nonsense'.

Mr A, who had a "cover' job at the British High Commission in Nairobi which involved arranging training in the UK for Kenyan police officers, told the inquest the SIS had no interest in the investigation of Miss Ward's death.

"I am an ex-staff member of the Security Intelligence Service - that is its proper name. It is not MI6,' said Mr A.

"I was asked by the High Commission as part of my cover job, not my SIS role, to ask for David Rowe to attend the High Commission as soon as possible.'

He added: "There was no SIS interest in the Julie Ward case.'

Mr A said he visited Mr Rowe at his home in Nairobi on the evening of September 22, 1988. They then met Mr Ward at the High Commission on September 26.

Dr Dean asked why Mr A had logged the September 22 meeting on file at SIS headquarters if the SIS had no interest in the matter.

"I also had to discuss with David Rowe other SIS matters,' Mr A said.

"David Rowe was a contact of SIS. I was his case officer. David Rowe was a contact of SIS because he had very good contacts in Kenya.

"Given that background, it will explain why I formally wrote up my meeting with David Rowe and why this document went back to SIS headquarters in London.'

Mr Ward, who said he could not understand why the SIS had any involvement in the investigation, has complained that the Foreign Office and the Metropolitan Police, who also became involved in investigating Miss Ward's death, colluded with the Arap Moi government to prevent his daughter's killers from being convicted.

The complaint is being investigated by Lincolnshire Police on behalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and its report is due out later this year.

The inquest has heard that the Kenyan authorities initially claimed that Miss Ward had either been attacked by animals, struck by lightning or committed suicide. The hearing has also been told that a post-mortem report was changed because it suggested her bones had been severed with a sharp instrument.

Dr Dean asked Mr A if he was aware of any attempts to "pull Mr Ward back' from areas he wanted to investigate.

Mr A replied: "No, sir.'

Dr Dean raised the issue of the naming of Mr A's contact in open court.

He said he assumed lawyers representing the SIS at the inquest would have made indications if there had been any problems arising from the naming of Mr Rowe, who is believed to have a home near Ipswich.

Dr Dean said he was not making any order preventing the press from naming Mr Rowe.

The hearing was adjourned until today .

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