Rupert William Simon Allason (born 8 November 1951) is a military historian and journalist and former Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Torbay in Devon, from 1987 to 1997. He writes books and articles on the subject of espionage under the pen name Nigel West.
Born in London, Allason and his brother, Julian, were brought up as Roman Catholics, the faith of their Irish mother, Nuala McElveen (who acted under the name Nuala Barrie), and attended Downside School. Their father, James Allason, was also a Conservative Party MP.
He was opposed to ceding greater power to Brussels, in 1993 he was the only Tory who refused to vote for the Maastricht Treaty when it was made into a motion of confidence. The vote was narrowly won but Allason's abstention caused him to have the party whip withdrawn for a year. He left parliament after the landslide 1997 general election, when he lost his seat to Liberal Democrat Adrian Sanders. He is widely considered to have lost because he failed to tip a pub waitress a week before polling day. As a consequence, fourteen waiters who were going to vote for Allason switched to the Liberal Democrats. He lost by twelve votes.
In 2000, Allason was reported to have considered joining the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The author Jon Ronson in the first chapter of his book Them: Adventures With Extremists briefly analyses Allason's career and character, with particular emphasis on his 1997 electoral loss.
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As a historian, Allason has concentrated on security and intelligence issues and his controversial books have frequently made headlines. He was voted 'The Experts' Expert' by a panel of other spy writers in The Observer in November 1989. In 1984 The Sunday Times commented: "His information is so precise that many people believe he is the unofficial historian of the secret services. West's sources are undoubtedly excellent. His books are peppered with deliberate clues to potential front-page stories."
Allason has been a frequent speaker at intelligence seminars and has lectured at both the KGB headquarters in Dzerzhinsky Square, Moscow and at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where he once addressed an audience that included the Soviet spy Aldrich Ames. He continues to lecture to members of the intelligence community at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies in Washington, D.C.
His special contribution to the study of modern historical espionage has been in tracking down former agents and persuading them to tell their stories. He traced the wartime double agent GARBO, who was reported to have died in Africa in 1949. However, Allason found him in Venezuela, and they collaborated on the book Operation Garbo, published in 1985.
He was also the first person to identify and interview the mistress of Admiral Canaris, the German intelligence chief who headed the Abwehr, and he was responsible for the exposure of Leo Long and Edward Scott as Soviet spies.
His titles include The Crown Jewels, based on files made available to him by the KGB archives in Moscow; VENONA, which disclosed the existence of a GRU spy-ring operating in London throughout the war, allegedly headed by Professor JBS Haldane and the Hon. Ivor Montagu; and The Third Secret, an account of the CIA's intervention in Afghanistan. Mortal Crimes, published in September 2004, investigates the scale of Soviet espionage in the Manhattan Project, the Anglo-American development of an atomic bomb.
In 2005 he edited The Guy Liddell Diaries, a daily journal of the wartime work of MI5's Director of Counter-Espionage. He also published a study of the Comintern's secret wireless traffic, MASK: MI5's Penetration of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and the first of a series of counter-intelligence textbooks, The Historical Dictionary of British Intelligence, The Historical Dictionary of International Intelligence and The Historical Dictionary of Cold War Counter-Intelligence.
Allason has been involved in a number of legal cases, in each of which he represented himself without lawyers. While in the House of Commons, he campaigned against the use of Public Interest Immunity Certificates, and exposed the arms-dealing activities of the billionaire publisher Robert Maxwell. He was sued for libel by Maxwell but won the case, winning record damages for a litigant in person by counterclaim.
In 1996 Allason sued Alastair Campbell for malicious falsehood with regard to an article printed in the Daily Mirror in November 1992. The case was heard by Mr Justice Drake, without a jury. The judge ruled that Allason had failed to demonstrate that the Daily Mirror article, although inaccurate, had caused him any financial loss. In a retrial in 1998, he was awarded £1,050 in damages and 75% of his legal costs.
In 1998, he brought and lost a libel action against the BBC show Have I Got News for You over comments made in a book based on the show published in 1996 that "given Mr Allason's fondness for pursuing libel actions, there are also excellent legal reasons for not referring to him as a conniving little shit."
In 2001 Allason sued Random House, the publishers of The Enigma Spy, the autobiography of the former Soviet agent John Cairncross. Allason claimed he had ghostwritten The Enigma Spy in return for the copyright and 50 per cent of the proceeds. However, Allason lost the case and was ordered to pay costs of around £200,000. In passing judgment the trial judge said that Allason was "a profoundly dishonest man" and "one of the most dishonest witnesses I have ever seen".
Allason is the recipient of the U.S. Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO)'s Lifetime Literature Achievement Award, and in 2011 he was elected to the Honorary Board of that association. He is the European Editor of the World Intelligence Review, published in Washington D.C.
In 1979 Allason married Nikki van Moppes. They divorced in 1996 shortly after Allason was exposed by UK tabloid papers for having an extramarital tryst at Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados. The couple have two children, the elder of whom is entrepreneur Tom Allason. In July 2012, Rupert Allason became engaged to violinist Nicola Loud.
As John Major's prime ministership lurched from crisis to crisis, every MP's vote counting as the tiny Conservative parliamentary majority dwindled away after 1992, Mr Allason rebelled over Maastricht and then became the only Tory to refuse to back his government in a no confidence motion.
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