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As it Happened. -

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(generated from captions) Hello. I'm Ricardo Goncalves. An earthquake has shaken Japan tonight. The epicentre of the 7.3-magnitude tremor was around 450 kilometres east-north-east of Tokyo. A 1m high tsunami wave hit the city of Ishinomaki in the east. It struck in the early evening local time as people were heading from work. Emergency camps in the southern Philippines are overflowing with victims of Typhoon Bopha. At least 540 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands remain displaced after the storm destroyed whole communities. Egypt is bracing for more trouble following a speech from the country's president that's infuriated his opponents. Mohamed Mursi has defied calls to curb his sweeping powers or suspend proposed changes to the constitution. And Queensland Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe has been laid to rest, nine years after he disappeared. And I'll have a full World News Australia bulletin at 10:30.

NARRATOR: On this shore, just
after midnight on 7 December 1941,

Japanese troops invaded
the British colony of Malaya.

The Pacific War had begun.

Two hours later, Japanese planes
launched from aircraft carriers

blew up the American
fleet at Pearl Harbor.

PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT: A date
which will live in infamy.

Within 10 weeks
came Japan's crowning victory -

the fall of Singapore,

symbol of British power in the East.

They were blows inflicted by
the most devastating combination

of naval and air power ever seen.

Disaster had struck
Britain and America.

But behind Japan's conquests
lies an extraordinary secret

that has remained hidden
for 70 years.

MAN: This is from Churchill -

"I regard the attached
as most serious.

"Here are all these Englishmen,
two of them I know personally,

"collecting information
and sending it to the Japanese."

It may seem incredible,
but it was the British

who gave Japan the know-how
to take out Pearl Harbor

and capture Singapore.

Most shocking of all,

for nearly two decades,
the Japanese had infiltrated

the very heart of
the British establishment...

The duty you owe is to this country,

not for any other country.

..through a mole
who was a peer of the realm,

known to Churchill himself.

In 1918,

it felt as though the sun would
never set on the British Empire.

Britain was the dominant power
in Asia

and, victorious
after the First World War,

she didn't just rule the waves
but the skies above them.

That year, she found
a revolutionary way

of harnessing power from air
and sea.

The first aircraft carrier
was born - HMS 'Argus'.

These great ships could carry
an entire squadron of planes

thousands of miles over the ocean,

to bring them within range
of anywhere on the planet.

Naval air power already is seen

as something with great potential,

and the British are recognised

as being ahead.

One nation had particularly
noticed the advantage

the carriers were giving
the British.

Though it's largely forgotten today,

Japan had been an ally of Britain
throughout the First World War.

It was a bond forged of
two island peoples

who shared a maritime destiny.

When HMS 'Argus's sister ship,
the 'Eagle', was launched in 1918,

the Japanese approached
the Royal Navy

to inspect
its state-of-the-art carrier.

Yet, surprisingly, they were
rebuffed, not once but 10 times.

The admiralty were very sensitive

about the technology
around naval air power.

They understood that this
was a war-winning weapon

and, indeed, they describe
this as a deadly technology.

But the Air Ministry and
the Foreign Office saw the prospect

of lucrative arms contracts
with Japan.

So, a compromise was agreed.

A civilian mission
would be allowed to go to Japan

to help develop aircraft carriers

and encourage the Japanese
to buy British military hardware.

Many thought that
even with the new technology,

Japan could never be a threat.

MAN: There were some
now seemingly ridiculous stories

that the Japanese

would never make good pilots because

they weren't good cavalrymen.

So, you could sell them the aircraft

and they'd never actually
pose a threat to anyone.

It was believed the Japanese
would want

"only gentlemen" on the mission.

Whitehall believed they'd found

..William Forbes-Sempill.

He was the son of a Scottish peer

and carried the title
'Master of Sempill'.

His father has been
an aide to George V.

Sempill himself goes to Eton.

He's one of the founder members
of the Royal Flying Corps.

He transfers to
the Royal Naval Air Service in 1916.

By 1917, aged 24,
he's a wing commander

and probably one of the most
experienced British officers,

in terms of naval air power.

In 1920, the Sempill mission
left for Japan.

ALDRICH: The Japanese get
a hand-picked team of people,

the best people
who developed this technology.

They're being shown what
sort of aircraft they need...

..what sort of weapons

both level flight bombing
and also the use of torpedoes.

This is a large-scale operation.

But these planes had limited range.

To take on an enemy on the other
side of the Pacific Ocean,

the Japanese needed
aircraft carriers -

this was way beyond their know-how.

The crucial technology is the deck,

and the Japanese won't even attempt

to construct the deck on the carrier

without British assistance.

Work began on the first
Japanese carrier, the 'Hosho'.

Within two years, Sempill
and his military missionaries

had given Japan's naval air service
a potentially worldwide reach.

Sempill returned home.

The mission and its base

were put under the vice command
of Yamamoto Isoroku,

the future mastermind of the attack
on America's naval fortress,

Pearl Harbor.

The United States viewed Japan's

growing naval strength
in the Pacific

with increasing alarm.

At the Washington Conference
of 1922,

the United States insisted on curbs
to new Japanese warship building.

And, crucially, the Anglo-Japanese
Alliance was terminated.

The price of
the Washington Conference,

Britain is to abandon
her cherished ally.

Japan is cut adrift.

BEST: What this means
is the end, really,

of any discussions
over naval technology or tactics.

All of that is gonna
come to an end.

This should have meant the severing
of close military contact

between Britain and Japan.

But for another distinguished
British naval flyer,

it was only the beginning.

By 1923, the aircraft carrier
'Hosho' was in ocean-going service.

Now the Japanese needed training
on how to operate its planes at sea.

They were in luck.

Britain's finest carrier pilot
came calling.

Frederick Joseph Rutland,
the son of a labourer,

had risen through the ranks

to become squadron leader
of the 'Eagle'.

In a statement to British
intelligence two decades later,

Rutland would explain
his initial motive.

MAN: "I felt that there were not
going to be any more wars anyway.

"I, therefore, decided
to leave the service.

"I have a strong instinct
of adventure

"and I decided to go to Japan."

ALDRICH: Rutland,
rather like Sempill,

was a pioneering
Royal Flying Corps pilot.

He joins in 1914. He's an ace.

I mean, Rutland is famous for

having spotted the German fleet
during the First World War,

hence his nickname,
'Rutland of Jutland',

and, indeed, he's given one of
the highest awards for this,

the Albert Medal.

At first, the Japanese
put Rutland to work,

designing aircraft chassis
for the Japanese Air Force.

"In Japan, my cover
was the Mitsubishi Company,

"in whose Tokyo building
I had an office.

"The Mitsubishi Company was,
in fact, the Japanese Government."

Mitsubishi would later manufacture
the Zero fighter,

a plane that would cost the lives
of thousands of Allied servicemen.

Rutland's paymasters
then revealed they had

a much more important job for him.

They would increase his salary
if he agreed to show their pilots

how to fly off and onto
the decks of carriers.

They were so pleased
with the results,

they gave him a year's leave
on full pay.

The Sempill mission and the
information provided by Rutland,

certainly in the early to mid-1920s,

that is the foundation for
the establishment

of the Japanese air arm.

During their respective periods
in Japan,

Rutland and Sempill had formed
a bond with their hosts

they did not want to break.

ALDRICH: Sempill and, indeed,
Rutland develop

an affinity with the Japanese.

Sempill's been in Japan
for a long time,

he's made those
personal connections.

It's not just friendship.

He's part of a revolutionary
element, almost,

within the Royal Navy.

He's part of this elite of
air power enthusiasts.

And he's found kindred spirits.

Back in Britain, Sempill was
carving out a new career,

but it was a role closely regulated
by the Official Secrets Act.

BEST: His job seems to be
going around,

advising governments on arms sales,
particularly of aircraft.

He should be very careful
with any contacts he has.

If he's involved in discussions
about technology transfer...

..then he really ought to be
letting the government know.

But here,
at the National Archives in London,

recently declassified
documents reveal

that, instead, Sempill was embarking
on a far more dangerous path.

ALDRICH: What we've got here
is an MI5 report,

and what's fascinating is

it shows the really forensic detail
which MI5 was collecting on Sempill.

MI5's suspicions were
first aroused in early 1923.

"Several small incidents
have recently shown

"that the Japanese may be adopting
other than orthodox methods

"for finding information about
the Royal Air Force,

"notably your recent report
that Colonel Sempill's servant

"is a Japanese naval rating."

MI5 began an investigation
of Sempill.

It turned out he wasn't just
socialising with the Japanese.

He was in regular contact
of a very different nature

with Japan's naval attache
in London, Captain Toyoda.

ALDRICH: Toyoda's not just
a naval attache,

he's not just attending
cocktail parties.

MI5 have evidence that he's also
conducting his own espionage.

This is a trained
intelligence officer,

not just a routine naval attache.

In February 1924, MI5 intercepted
a letter from Sempill to Toyoda

which instantly raised the alarm.

"You will remember
I wrote to you on 7 January

"regarding large bombs."

The MI5 case officer noted:

"Air Ministry were of the opinion
that the matter referred to..."

ALDRICH: This is about
naval air power.

This is about destroying
capital ships.

The Japanese are struggling to see

how you can take out
major battleships

with the relative light aircraft
of the 1920s.

It's this kind of forensic detail

that really persuades MI5
to take to the next stage,

which is to start to monitor
Sempill's phone.

Phone tapping was a new
and revolutionary surveillance

in the 1920s.

It was also not sanctioned lightly.

The evidence that Sempill was
trading Britain's secrets to Japan

began to mount.

13 May 1924 -
letter from Toyoda to Sempill

thanking him for
"the enclosed drawings

"and detailed specifications".

(JAPANESE ACCENT)
"The perusal of which

"has afforded me great interest.

"I am forwarding these papers
to Japan for my home authorities."

Sempill told Toyoda...

"It would be useless for you
to attempt to obtain

"such information officially."

Sempill was passing on a whole
range of secret information.

MAN: Toyoda writes to Sempill,
saying he would be grateful

for any new information
regarding parachutes,

the new Handley-Page
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In July 1924, Toyoda was
invited to the British Fleet review,

a public event.

Sempill used this opportunity

to introduce his Japanese friends

to top British carrier designer
Sir Tennyson D'Eyncourt.

He wrote to Toyoda:

"27 July 1924.

"I hope you had a good look
at the carriers.

"D'Eyncourt will,
with careful handling,

"produce much valuable data."

D'Eyncourt was warned off
by the authorities.

Sempill then tried to procure
another key figure for the Japanese,

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Charles Vyvyan.

"My dear Commander,

"In my humble opinion,
the advice and active cooperation

"of such a man would be invaluable.

"It is vital that this matter
be kept quiet

"as, should any word get out,
it will cause trouble."

ALDRICH: What Sempill is doing here
is he's talent-spotting for Toyoda.

And, of course, he's always
anxious to keep this secret.

MI5 was appalled
by Sempill's behaviour.

"30 October 1924 -

"Sempill's conduct
in inciting Toyoda

"to endeavour to secure Air
Vice-Marshal Vyvyan's services

"and to keep it dark

"shows that he is quite unscrupulous

"as regards what confidential
British Air Force information

"he passes on to the Japanese."

MI5 was unequivocal
about Sempill's conduct.

He presented himself as a man

only helping British companies
sell abroad.

BEST: Is Sempill a spy?

I'm not entirely sure.

Um, I think

he's interested in
trying to portray himself

as a very useful conduit
to naval technology.

Um...

I'm happier with the expression

as far as it goes."

It's not illegal

to talk to a foreign power

about military matters
and military technology

if that information
is a matter of open source.

But if it's information
that's on the secret list,

yes, it's illegal - you're breaking
the Official Secrets Act.

In July 1924, MI5 obtained evidence
which they believed showed

that Sempill had clearly
crossed the line into illegality.

Sempill had written to Toyoda
with key technical details

about Britain's latest aero engine.

"If the information contained in
this letter is in any way correct,

"it would appear that Sempill has
committed a serious infringement

"of the Official Secrets Act."

MI5 believed it now had
overwhelming evidence

that Sempill was
spying for the Japanese,

yet nothing was done about it.

ALDRICH: MI5 don't want to give away
sources and methods.

They're also, in the 1920s,
reading telegrams

which are being passed by cipher

from the Japanese Embassy
back to Tokyo.

And, above all, this is the work of
the antecedents of Bletchley Park.

They do not want to give that away.

That is one of the most closely
guarded secrets

of the British State.

So, all this is
potentially in jeopardy

if you bring a case against Sempill.

Despite the secrecy
of MI5's operation,

one letter to Toyoda shows
that Sempill may have realised

he was under suspicion.

"10 December 1924.

"My dear Commander,
I meant to tell you today,

"please be very careful how you use
any information you get

"and don't couple the name
of any individual with it.

"I will tell you more
when we meet again,

"but I know just exactly
how the wind blows

"and the need for being
super cautious."

In late October 1925,

Sempill travelled to Brough,
in Yorkshire,

to visit the Blackburn
Aircraft factory.

This trip would later be
of great significance.

His ostensible reason
was to see a single-engine plane,

but his real motive was to spy on

a new state-of-the-art flying boat,
the Iris,

Blackburn was building exclusively
and secretly for the Air Ministry.

MI5 noted...

"30 October 1925 -

"following on Sempill's visit
to Brough,

"the Blackburn Aeroplane Company
forwarded to Sempill a letter

"containing a detailed account of
the performance of fleet aircraft,

"including the secret flying boat,
the Iris,

"in practically the same form
as that requested by Toyoda."

"6 January 1926.

"It is quite clear that not only is
Sempill furnishing the Japanese

"with aviation intelligence...

(READS) "..but that he is being paid
for doing so."

So, this is the smoking gun
provided by British code breakers.

Essentially, this document
is saying that Sempill

is not just providing information
to friends,

but he's being paid for
the gathering of

what they call
"aviation intelligence".

So, it's paid espionage.

Then, in early 1926,

the authorities were
finally given the chance

to challenge Sempill
without giving MI5's game away.

He was negotiating with
the Greek Government

to organise and train
its naval air service.

But the Greek naval attache
in London reported to his government

a chilling warning about Sempill
he'd received from the Air Ministry.

"They do not think
he is a proper man

"as what he would sell to us,

"he may sell to any other state.

"And I was told by the Air Ministry

"that he is in
financial difficulties."

Sempill heard about the warning.

On 26 April, he wrote
to head of the Air Ministry,

demanding a meeting
about the cloud of suspicion

which he claimed hung over him and
was damaging his business prospects.

MI5 now at last saw a way
of confronting Sempill

without admitting they'd been
intercepting his letters

and tapping his phone.

(BIG BEN CHIMES)

At 12 noon on 4 May 1926,

in the office of
the Deputy Chief of Air Staff,

Sempill's interrogation began.

Also present were Major Ball
of Air Intelligence Security, MI5,

and the director of
public prosecutions himself,

Sir Archibald Bodkin.

The verbatim transcript was locked
away for more than eight decades.

From the intercepts,

the interrogators already knew
what Sempill had done.

The only question was
would he come clean?

In order that we may
clear up this matter,

you will tell us
what foreign governments

you've had activities with.

I have had connections of a kind
with most foreign governments.

As you know, I went out to take
charge of the Japanese air service.

And since my return I have had

connections with the Chileans,
Greeks, Brazilians, et cetera.

However, the connections I have had
are really very small.

These connections do not
amount to much.

Just a letter or two and perhaps
a conversation here or there.

Sempill was instantly
on dangerous ground.

His interrogators knew
from the surveillance

that his dealings with the Japanese

had been anything but
"really very small".

The transcript records how
they began to probe that connection.

What is the nature
of your relations with them?

Only on a friendly basis.

Do they write?
Yes.

Do you reserve a salary?

No.

Who is the naval attache?

Captain Toyoda
is the Japanese naval attache.

Do you receive applications
from the Japanese

or from any other power

which might be of
a secret character?

If I ever have received any
applications for information,

and they're doubtful
as to the secrecy or otherwise,

they mention it.

Is it left to them
to say if it is secret?

I expect if I had
all the correspondence,

I could produce letters
from the Japanese attache

asking for information

and saying that it may be something
of the nature of secret.

If he wants a parachute
or bombs or anything,

he represents the matter
to his chief,

and the chief takes the action.

Sometimes Captain Toyoda
refers to me.

You mentioned that you might receive
a request about parachutes or bombs.

Did they ask you
about parachutes or bombs?

This is not in my line.

The real truth was that
the very first MI5 intercept

had shown Sempill giving away
secret information about bombs.

"You will remember
I wrote to you on 7 January

"regarding large bombs."

The interrogators now moved to
the heart of the matter -

the Japanese attache's motive
for dealing with Sempill,

rather than directly
with the Air Ministry.

What is the object of the Japanese
asking for information

which they could have got
for nothing

on application to the Air Ministry?

They could come here
and ask any question they like.

I can't say exactly
as to the motives

as to whether they go to
the Air Ministry or not,

but they know that I know
their situation

and they have faith in my knowledge
and experience and recommendations,

and rely on me.

You did not think that
they come here first

and find that they
cannot get information,

and then write to
Colonel Sempill about it?

I cannot say.

Well, this is the danger
of such an arrangement.

Of course, with all your knowledge
and experience in general,

you would know the answer
to many questions

that they might not be able
to get from here.

Yes, no doubt.

You see the danger of
such an arrangement?

Yes.

The obvious danger
is that if there is anybody

who knows such things,
which are kept secret,

they may let the cat
out of the bag.

You are your own
judge on these matters.

Have you ever referred any question
to the Air Ministry

as to whether you should answer
this question or that question

by another foreign power?

No. I do not think there's
any case of that kind.

Because the detailed evidence of
Sempill's dealings with the Japanese

had been established by
covert methods

it could not be used against him.

But the interrogators
had an ace up their sleeves.

While on the train to visit
the Blackburn factory in Brough

the previous November,

Sempill had made a foolish mistake.

He'd talked openly
to foreign air attaches,

one of them from Chile,

about the secret aircraft
the British were developing.

A witness to this conversation
reported it to MI5.

"He heard the Master of Sempill
discussing,

"in the presence of two attaches
of foreign powers,

"the futility of the Air Ministry's
policy of secrecy

"regarding certain aircraft.

"Incidentally, he referred to
the Iris as one of the aircraft

"on the secret list in question."

Sempill's loose talk provided

the one piece of damning evidence
obtained openly

that could be used against him.

You might take it from me,
that it is perfectly plain

that on your way up to Brough,
the Iris was mentioned

to the Chilean representative.

As far as I can recollect,
I said that a large flying boat

was being constructed
by Blackburn.

That was a sort of show day
to see a single-engine seaplane.

Yes.

Why did you want to see the Iris?

You had previously acknowledged
it was on the secret list.

Naturally, being
interested particularly

in the marine side of aviation,

and knowing the officer
extremely well

who was designing this machine,
who was at one time under me,

I was anxious to see it.

Well, why not ask the Air Ministry

if they had any objection to you
getting these particulars?

Wouldn't it have been the wisest
and most...patriotic thing to do?

I admit, in that case, it would have
been the thing to have done.

With this admission,
Sempill had effectively confessed

to a breach of
the Official Secrets Act.

Do I understand that neither
the Japanese nor any other power

ever asked you
other than general questions?

Did they ask about the Iris?

No.

But the Japanese had requested
information about the Iris.

He was lying.

There is such a thing as
a law in this country.

Have you read the Act of 1920?

No.

You should take my advice
and see a solicitor,

acquaint yourself with
the spirit of the Act.

You're a sort of law unto yourself.

The public law of the country
is entirely disregarded.

The fault was, in a sense, double.

Firstly, you had no right
to obtain that information,

and, secondly,

you induced somebody at those
works to give you that information.

I do not dispute that.

The duty you owe is to this country,
not for any other country.

The Director of Public Prosecutions
concluded with a prophetic warning.

We have got, I believe, a paramount
position in regards to air matters.

Now, if information we have found,
and details,

are in any way communicated
to a foreign power,

we, in effect,
are providing the material

by which that foreign power
can become a more effective enemy.

Despite this, at a high-powered
meeting in Whitehall

on 13 May 1926,

chaired by the Foreign Secretary
himself, Sir Austen Chamberlain,

it was decided
not to prosecute Sempill.

He'd been let off the hook,

though the Director of Public
Prosecutions wrote that

he "could not free his mind of the
uneasiness he felt about the case".

BEST: He's a member
of the aristocracy.

You wouldn't want to necessarily
see this come to trial.

If he carries on, well, then,
that might be a different matter.

MI5 know that even if they
hold this trial in camera,

Sempill will know what's going on

and he will blow the whistle
on MI5 sources,

and they can't afford to do that.

Re-examination of the files has
uncovered another worrying dimension

to Sempill's activities

which went far beyond
the shores of Great Britain.

This is a letter from Sempill
to Commander Toyoda.

He says, "My Dear Commander,
I hear that one 'Hunter',

"who was with me in Japan
as a WO II" -

that's a warrant officer two -

"is now in the American air service
at Honolulu."

"He does not know much
and is a rather weak character,

"but they may try and use him.

"Do what you like, but I suggest
you keep an eye on him.

"Yours sincerely, W.S. Sempill."

This is extraordinary
because this is, essentially,

Sempill assisting the Japanese
with counter-espionage

and then telling the Japanese that

their people in Honolulu
need to keep an eye on him.

Honolulu is, of course, Hawaii.
It's Pearl Harbor.

Um, so, we can see where
all this is pointing.

Hey, sweetheart?
Mmm?

Could you download one of those
Bush Fire Survival Plans? It would be good to sit down
and see what needs doing. Yeah, can we do it later?
I'm just in the middle of stuff. I'll tell you what, I'll print one
off sometime this week at work. Righto, sweetheart.
Let's do it then.

By 1930, the help of men
like Sempill and Rutland

meant that Pearl Harbor was now
a viable Japanese target.

(ARTILLERY FIRE)

They had achieved
astonishing advances.

In just seven years,
Japan had developed a carrier fleet

equal in size and strength
to the Royal Navy.

Japan now had the means
to realise her imperial ambitions.

She set her sights
on South-East Asia

The ultimate prize was Singapore.

It lay at the foot of

the British colony of Malaya,

and was her strategic linchpin
for the whole region.

Back in 1920,
under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance,

a grateful Britain had granted Japan
naval concessions in Penang,

at the northern end
of the peninsula.

Japanese warships
could dock at the port

and easily observe British defences.

Japanese businessmen
began buying up prime sites

from Penang,
all the way to Singapore.

BEST: They overlook the area where
the British ships would be grouping,

where there might be a future
development of the harbour.

There was almost a pattern
of purchase going on.

Japan's interest
was not just commercial.

She needed people on the ground,

to gather intelligence
for a future invasion.

ALDRICH: What you're seeing
in the 1930s, to some extent,

is a Japanese diaspora
across South-East Asia.

The Japanese are providing a lot of,
if you like, new services -

photographers, engineers.

Also some traditional services.

Under the front of these businesses,

Japanese intelligence began

inserting sleeper agents
from Penang to Singapore.

The identity of one
would be revealed

after Japan's victories
10 years later.

MAN: He was identified
as the barber in Singapore,

cutting the British
and Australian hair.

What happened?

He turned out...he was a colonel
in the Japanese Army.

You know, when go into a barber's
you start talking and that,

and they get all sorts
of information.

The sheer number
of Japanese citizens,

which was in the thousands,

made blanket surveillance
practically impossible.

To make matters even worse,
the British found it difficult

to distinguish between
Chinese and Japanese residents.

Singapore's melting pot was
the perfect hiding place for spies.

They're acquiring the workaday,
routine intelligence

that you would require
to invade South-East Asia.

The width of bridges, numbers of
troops, weaknesses of air defences,

locations of logistical stores
and arms dumps.

Like MI5 in London,

British intelligence in the Far East
was expert in the use of intercepts.

Early on, FESS - or
the Far Eastern Security Service -

broke Japanese codes,

but the code-breakers were swamped.

They had only seven people
monitoring Japanese traffic

for the whole of Asia,
the Americas and the Pacific.

And there was no appetite
in Whitehall

for taking a hard line
against Japan.

ALDRICH: They want to turn
a blind eye.

They're worried about
the consequences

for diplomatic relations with Japan.

And at this critical moment
of British weakness, Japan struck.

(PHONE RINGS)

In 1931, Japanese troops
invaded Chinese Manchuria.

Japan's march to war had begun.

In response, the British began
construction works here

to turn Singapore into

the biggest and most fortified
naval base in the world.

The cost was, then,
an astonishing £50 million -

£2.5 billion today.

The dry dock alone
was 28 miles square.

Enormous 15- and 16-inch guns
were built

to repel any attack from the sea.

Just a year later, it was discovered

that the Japanese had secretly
bought plans of the base

from a British servicemen
called Roberts.

In 1936, MI5 stepped up
their game in the East

and sent out a new station officer
to Singapore.

He worked closely with army
intelligence on the ground.

British strategists assumed
that any attack on Singapore

could come only from the sea.

But army intelligence officer
Joe Vinden had doubts.

He investigated the possibility
of an attack by land,

after an invasion of Malaya.

In the winter of 1937,
Vinden sailed up the east coast.

"We landed on several beaches
from a dinghy

"and came close inshore,
all along the coast.

"The beaches presented no difficulty
to any landing party.

"The defence scheme, as laid down,

"considered that any attack during
the period of the northeast monsoon,

"from November to February,

"was impossible due to rough seas."

What Vinden saw convinced him

that an attack would come
by land, via Malaya.

I learnt that during this period,

several thousand Chinese
landed on the east coast every year.

Vinden even predicted the place
the Japanese would come ashore -

Kota Bharu.

This would render Singapore's
new fortifications redundant.

Vinden recommended the cancellation
of additional guns

priced then at £15 million -

that's £747 million today -

and that the money should be
spent on new planes instead.

His advice was ignored and the new
MI5 station officer retired.

Japanese spies were now everywhere,
and not just Malaya.

Their tentacles stretched across
the Pacific to the United States.

They even had agents
in Pearl Harbor.

The base wasn't just crucial
to the United States.

Churchill believed
the American fleet

would deter any attack
on Britain's colony of Singapore.

Yet, incredibly, one of Japan's
key agents at Pearl was now British.

He was the man
who, back in the 1920s,

had taught Japan's pilots
to fly from aircraft carriers -

Frederick Joseph Rutland.

Rutland had turned his
technical expertise to espionage.

ALDRICH: This is
a fascinating document.

MI5 are saying here,

"He used seagoing craft
to investigate the harbour..."

This is in the United States.

"..taking moving pictures
of any warships."

He is "an expert 16mm
movie cameraman."

Later, in a confession
to intelligence officers,

Rutland would state:

"As to my duties, I was to report -

"in peace time whether people
were in favour of war,

"when war appeared to be imminent,

"whether the Americans
were really going to war,

"the dispositions of their fleet..."

"I fixed up a letter code."

"A was for aircraft,

"B was for battleships,
C was for carriers,

"D for destroyers."

Rutland's activities
aroused suspicion,

and the FBI was soon on his case -

his every move was being followed

as they waited for
the right moment to pounce.

(GONG REVERBERATES)

In Britain, the naval pilot

who'd already come close to
prosecution as a Japanese spy

was now a distinguished
public figure.

Sempill had commanded
the highest pillar

in Britain's flying establishment -

President of
the Royal Aeronautical Society.

In 1934, he inherited
the family title

as the 19th Lord Sempill

and took his seat in the House
of Lords as a Conservative peer.

Society would regard him
as someone with real integrity.

But Sempill has
an ideological affinity

with militarist right-wing regimes.

In 1937, Japan, now an ally
of Nazi Germany, invaded China.

That year, Sempill welcomed
a Japanese delegation

to Croydon Airport.

Their aeroplane's name, 'Kamikaze',

was a chilling premonition
of the shape of things to come.

NEWSREEL REPORTER:
The airmen are officially welcomed

by the Master of Sempill.

British aviation
is very proud, indeed,

of the splendid flight
that has just been accomplished

by our two Japanese friends.

(APPLAUSE)

But there's evidence that Sempill

also maintained his secret links
with the Japanese.

The records on Sempill
from the 1930s

seem mysteriously
to have disappeared.

But one surviving MI5 document
from 1940

mentions that from 1931, he was
a paid consultant for Mitsubishi,

which he knew built aircraft

for Japan's rapidly expanding
carrier force.

By then, she already had 130 planes
and three carriers.

The Japanese use a number
of commercial fronts for espionage.

So, some these major
military-industrial combines,

like Mitsubishi,

are effectively conducting espionage
for the Japanese Government.

The same report also suggests, in
addition to his Japanese sympathies,

another motivation
for Sempill's actions.

He's somebody who seems to live
beyond his means,

as far as we know,
from MI5 material.

He's running a hefty overdraft.

And, clearly, if the Japanese

are willing to pay substantial
sums of money for access,

and other governments are as well,

it would be very tempting.

He was running a £13,000 overdraft.

That's nearly £750,000
by today's money.

Sempill wasn't just pro-Japanese.

Another line in the same report

mentions his membership of pro-Nazi
organisation the Link.

He was also on the council
of The Right Club,

whose objective was
to expose organised Jewry

and clear the Conservative Party
of Jewish influence.

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are just the beginning.

In September 1939,
war in Europe broke out.

Winston Churchill
returned to government

as First Lord of the Admiralty.

Astonishingly, Lord Sempill
also joined the Admiralty.

Sempill gave a specific assurance
that he would have

no further discussions with his
Japanese friends on service matters.

Despite that, when the manager
of Mitsubishi in London

was arrested for spying
in August 1941,

at a time when relations with Japan
were rapidly deteriorating,

Sempill intervened
to secure his release.

MI5 noted...

"Makohara was released
after two days

"and Sempill telegraphed...

"..'Delighted results...
proud to help...working hard cause."

The British Government doesn't
detain foreign nationals lightly,

so these people are
under the suspicion of espionage

and Sempill is working
to get them off.

At this precise moment,

the two great leaders
of the Western powers -

the British Prime Minister,
Winston Churchill,

and American President Roosevelt -

were meeting face to face
for the first time.

Churchill was desperate
to get Roosevelt

to join the war against Hitler.

Their discussions were held
in total secrecy.

On board the 'Prince of Wales',

with the Royal Marine
Guard of Honour,

was Peter Dunstan.

All we knew was
that there was a conference

between Churchill and Roosevelt,

and that was in the officers'
quarters in the rear of the ship,

which was taboo to anybody.

And, so, we didn't know
what was going on.

All we knew, it was a conference
between the two great men.

Later that month,

Churchill received news from British
intelligence about the meeting

which filled him with horror.

This document is so sensitive,

it was classified for 60 years.

ALDRICH: This is a detailed account
of that meeting

sent from the Japanese Embassy
in London,

back to Tokyo.

We have this document

because the British
code-breakers at Bletchley Park

intercepted and decoded
this document.

And shortly after the Japanese send
this detailed account back to Tokyo,

it's on Churchill's' desk.

This is not the sort of account
that you could put together

through reading the coverage
in the newspapers.

This is the inside story
of the Placentia Bay meeting.

So, essentially, what this points to

is the fact that the Japanese
have excellent sources

in and around Churchill

and they have the inside track
on that meeting with Roosevelt -

all the details about, for example,

the war against the Germans
in the Atlantic.

And you can see Churchill's
handwritten minute on this document.

"Pretty accurate stuff".

To this day, no-one knows
who passed these secrets on,

but the pool of candidates
is very small.

We know who the Japanese informants
are around this time

and perhaps the most important one,

and certainly the most important
one with access to Churchill,

is Lord Sempill.

There was worse to come.

A few days later,
MI5 told Churchill

that the Japanese had information
about his inner circle.

He demanded evidence.

A month later,
after a surveillance operation,

it was presented to him
with the names of two sources -

one was Sempill,

the other had been with him
in Japan.

ALDRICH: This is a Prime Minister's
personal minute.

It's from Churchill to Eden.

Um, and it's 20 September 1941.

"I regard the attached
as most serious.

"At any moment we may be
at war with Japan,

"and here are all these Englishmen,
many of them respectable,

"two of them I know personally,

"moving around,
collecting information

"and sending it
to the Japanese Embassy.

"I cannot believe the Master of
Sempill and Commander McGrath

"have any idea
what their position would be

"on the morrow of
a Japanese declaration of war.

"Immediate internment would
be the least of their troubles.

"It is impossible for Lord Sempill

"to continue to be
employed at the Admiralty."

Sempill was told
he had to leave his job,

but when Churchill heard the news,
he backtracked.

"First Lord.

"I had not contemplated Lord Sempill

"being required
to resign his commission

"but only to be employed elsewhere
than at the Admiralty.

"The matter should be treated as
one of employment

"and not one of status."

BEST: You wonder
if it's something to do with

his aristocratic background.

The problem, of course...
to recall in this

is he's actually a member
of the House of Lords

and he does have friends,
presumably,

still within the Conservative Party

who could create difficulties
if he was interned.

What Churchill is realising is that

here is someone that MI5
have been watching since 1925,

and Churchill has actually been

giving this person
classified information.

In some ways, it's bad for Sempill,

but it also looks very bad
for the British Government.

Once again,
Sempill had been let off the hook -

this time by Churchill himself.

On 7 December 1941,

a Japanese fleet was sailing across
the Western Pacific Ocean.

Its air arm now surpassed
both Britain and America's,

thanks largely to
the Sempill mission

and his illegal supply
of technical information afterwards,

exposed by MI5 intercepts.

Armed with this know-how,

the Japanese embarked on
a secret naval operation

that would change
the course of history.

Many of their planes
were Mitsubishi Zeros.

They could outperform

The first Mitsubishi
to land on a Japanese carrier

had been flown by a British pilot
17 years before.

The Japanese had perfected
the technique

with the help of British air ace
Frederick Joseph Rutland.

The use of torpedoes -
which hung from their chassis -

had also been taught
by the Sempill mission.

The Commander of the Fleet,
Yamamoto Isoroku,

had become vice-chief
of the naval air base

which Sempill had overseen
19 years earlier.

Simultaneously, another fleet
sailed across Gulf of Thailand,

towards Malaya.

Its objective - to land a Japanese
invasion force here at Kota Bharu,

just as intelligence officer
Joe Vinden had predicted.

From pillboxes like this one,

British and Indian troops
put up stiff resistance.

Churchill was confident
that if they could just hold on,

reinforcements from Pearl Harbour
would soon be on their way.

Two hours later, Yamamoto Isoroku
ensured that hope was extinguished.

In two waves, Japanese planes
launched from carriers

attacked the fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Small aircraft with large bombs -

the secret technology
which had first prompted

MI5's phone tap of Sempill -

destroyed the American fleet.

Yamamoto's right-hand man
in planning the attack

was Takijiro Onishi.

He'd been personally trained
by Sempill.

With the US fleet
at Pearl Harbor wiped out,

the only British ships
available in the Far East

sailed from Singapore
to intercept the Japanese.

Led by the finest Battleship in the
Royal Navy, The 'Prince of Wales',

on which Churchill and Roosevelt
had met just three months earlier,

they were the only hope
of stopping the invasion fleet,

but had no air cover.

They were spotted
by Takijiro Onishi's navy air fleet.

Now the British would learn just
how well Sempill had trained Onishi,

who planned the attack.

83 aircraft dived
with heavy bombs and torpedoes.

Underneath was Peter Dunstan.

One of the first torpedoes

hit the 'Prince of Wales'
on the port forward propeller shaft.

It ripped a great big hole
in the 'Prince of Wales'

and she dropped down to the stern

with the amount of flooding water
that came in.

After the Japanese had stopped
bombing us and she was going down,

we were told to abandon ship.

The 'Prince of Wales'
and HMS 'Repulse'

were sunk with the loss
of nearly 900 lives.

The same day, Sempill was caught

making calls
to the Japanese Embassy,

a full three days after
hostilities had begun.

Who the hell are you?

Astonishingly, he made
more calls on 13 December.

We've been listening to your calls.

Alright. I don't give a damn
who the hell you are.

When his office was searched,

he was found to have Admiralty files

he was supposed to have surrendered
three weeks earlier.

Despite all of this,
Sempill was never prosecuted.

On 15 February 1942, Singapore fell.

100,000 troops were taken prisoner.

The majority were shipped
to Japanese concentration camps,

where a quarter died
in horrific conditions.

In a secret session
of the House of Commons,

MPs demanded an inquiry

to explain how this tragedy
could have happened.

It was blocked by Churchill himself.

If it had gone ahead,
it might have revealed

that for nearly 20 years
before the surrender,

British officers, had provided
the military secrets and know-how,

first legally, and then covertly,

that enabled both the raid on Pearl
Harbor and the capture of Singapore.

Rutland was deported to Britain,
where he was interned for two years.

He comes out, towards the end
of the war, destitute,

and eventually ends up
killing himself

by putting his head in an oven
in a bedsit in London.

Sempill is given a choice when
Churchill discovers his activities.

He can either resign
his naval commission

or else he's given the choice

of taking a position
up in northern Scotland.

Rutland isn't part of
the British elite and Sempill is.

Lord Sempill died in 1965.

He went to his grave treasuring
a very special possession -

the Order of the Rising Sun,

given to him for what
the Japanese Prime Minister called,

"The splendid results,
almost epoch-making,

"that have been brought about
in the Imperial Japanese Navy."

In the wake of the sacrifice
at Pearl Harbor

and the fall of Singapore,

these words took on
an added resonance.

Japan had wounded a superpower
and crippled an empire.

Worse still, it was done with
the help of people

the Japanese were
supposed to be fighting against.

For Britain, the price was enormous.

She would never be
the dominant power in Asia again.

Supertext Captions by
Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2012

This program is captioned live. Japan shaken - a powerful quake strikes off the east coast. Hundreds of thousands homeless - the Philippines cleans up after Typhoon Bopha ns up after Typhoon Bopha as the death toll tops 500. Fine tributes - Daniel Morcombe laid to -- final tributes - Morcombe more late to rest nine years after his death. He may no longer be with us but Daniel's legacy will live on.Strip off and strut your stuff - the good call behind stuff - the good call behind your -- this. I'm strutting my stuff so every Indigenous kid every Indigenous kid gets the chance to go to school. ANNOUNCER: From SBS this is World News Australia. Good evening. I'm Ricardo Goncalves. A powerful earthquake struck north- eastern Japan tonight and was felt as far away as Tokyo, -- Tokyo where buildings shock violently. The 7.3 magnitude undersea quake triggered a 1m tsunami forcing people to flee their homes in the same area devastate -- devastated bid last year's tsunami but this time there are no reports of major damage or injury. You can see on your screen right now the earthquake. Buildings shock violently in Tokyo