"You know Mr Smith, they have treated you like an African": in every era, William Wilberforces arise in Europe and stand by Africa through thick and thin. Harold Smith of Widbrook is undoubtedly one such character of our time. Not many people, European or otherwise, would sacrifice themselves for principles, values and a foreign continent. New African went to interview him.


New African: Mr Smith, you had an opportunity to keep quiet and continue to be the golden boy you were. Even after you returned to the UK, the offers were still open. Why did you persist in speaking out, what was your motivation?


Harold Smith: Journalists have asked me: "What did they offer you to shut you up?" And I tell them; a knighthood, a pot of money, a top job in the Far East. And they say: "You turned down all that? We would have taken them."

You see, with these bribes, once you start taking them, those offering the bribes can then do whatever they like with you, but we--my wife Carol and I--have led the life we have wanted to.

You see, what they do is play cat and mouse; they have done it all the time so they know what they are doing. Then one of them comes over, in this case it was the chief secretary, and says: "This was a terrible mistake, I didn't know anything about this, this is awful. I'm going to recommend you for a knighthood and shake hands and be friends." And they keep this up, so you don't know where you are, and then they come up with the big bribe.

After the chief secretary had offered this knighthood, the governor-general, Sir James Robertson, said to my face that I ought to be dealt with. There is nothing he would have liked more than to have got rid of me, because these guys have got tremendous hatred for somebody who breaks the rules, the old school rules. But I have been brought up to be honest and decent and obey the law, so when I come across a situation where everything is turned upside down, where they are pretending to do one thing but are secretly doing another, it's a big shock.


We are Methodists--Carol and I--and we don't do that sort of thing--take bribes. And I think most people would behave like we do, but for people with ambition, say civil servants and people like that, if you say you were offered a knighthood and turned it down, their jaws hit their chests. They would kill their mother-in-law for it.

When I refused to take the bribes, they thought it was really bad news, so what did they do?--They gave me a secret trial, treason. It was a kangaroo trial, it wasn't done properly, but the people involved were the top lawyers in the country, the very lawyers who tried the Nazis at Nuremburg. Was I that important? When they tried the Nazis and Hitler's allies like Herman Goering, they were allowed defence lawyers, and I wasn't? I was worse than the Nazis?

They had this organisation called Justice to which all kinds of lawyers belonged and it was there they did this, and I wasn't allowed a defence lawyer. Never mind it was against the principles of English law. For all I know, when I was there they could have done with me whatever they wanted. It was a pretty awful experience. In English law you are supposed to have a defence and know the charges against you, not a vague charge that you have done something very nasty. I had never been charged in my life with anything. I had never broken the law, so how could they charge me?

But really it was a trick because in a way they wanted to find me innocent so they could then offer me all these bribes quite properly. There was a small demand, though. After they had offered all those things, they said: "Well, of course, you must give your word never to speak about this." All they wanted was my word, so this was all a gag: "This top job in the Far East, it will be permanent and forever. But you will never be allowed to return to Britain."

You just can't believe what these people can do. Nothing will stop them, they can threaten you with terrible things, and they threatened my wife. It's like one of those films where Cary Grant runs around saying: "Hey, call the police,' and the police turn out to be on their side. And you are running around. Oh yes, these people can do anything they like, and there is nothing you can do about it. And when you go to the politicians and ask for help, they are all frightened.

We got some help from some pretty important people over the years like Harold Wilson, the former prime minister, we have a letter from him which mentions that he knows us, so we have been around.

In a way, we were very lucky. When they pretended at the end that somehow...

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