Andrew Rosthorn and the simply extraordinary life of a Mancunian woman
Below there is a picture of the £50,000 that spooks stashed in the boot of a Ford Ka in a failed bid to stop Manchester’s transgender spy telling her life story.
Olivia Frank had been raised as a boy in West Gorton but left the city in 1974 as a woman, flying to Israel on a false passport to train as a soldier before joining the Israeli secret service.
She spied undercover for the Israeli Mossad and later for Britain's MI5 and MI6.
By November 2017 she was widowed, living quietly in Shropshire and writing her memoirs.
"A young man in his twenties wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket came up to me when I was shopping and addressed me as 'Mrs Frank'.
“He said, ‘There’s a present in your car. Stop the book.'
"When I got back to my little Ford on Sainsbury’s car park, I found a black plastic bin liner with £50,000 in used twenties. Someone had obviously been reading my emails.
“To a widow, living on her savings, it was an arrogant bribe. I’m pretty sure who sent it, and it wasn’t Mossad. They had recently paid for my husband’s funeral.
“The money must have come from some part of the British intelligence services. But I simply will not be bribed into silence. The money is gone. I have not spent it. It is no longer in my possession and on May 24, I managed to publish my book.
“It’s the true story of a mixed-up teenager who wanted to be both a woman and a soldier. It’s in paperback and online, answering a promise I made to both my father and my late husband."
The editor of the long-established 'parapolitics' journal Lobster has reviewed 'the story of an extraordinary life and a striking account of what it was like to be transgender two generations ago.'
Robin Ramsay commented, “Most of all it is a stunning indictment of the lawless, literally murderous, unaccountable British secret state in the Thatcher years.”
PART TWO: Mossad and MI5
After the 'mixed-up teenager' was told by an endocrinologist at Crumpsall Hospital that “I think you have a female brain”, doctors prescribed oestrogen for her gender dysphoria but warned she would be 30 years old before she could be given gender re-assignment surgery.
Two Jewish friends of her father decided: “You are wrong to interpret your gender identity as a handicap. The Almighty makes no mistakes. We think you were born to join the secret service.”
Her first lover was an Israeli army officer, killed shielding her during a battle in Lebanon: “I bowed my head and owned up to a problem with my body. In a faltering way I told Avrim that when I was born, there had been an appalling mistake. Everyone had thought I was a boy."
After the death of Avrim, the British-born deputy director of Mossad, David Kimche came to her bedside in a military hospital. Known in Israel for his secret foreign diplomacy as 'the man with the suitcase', Kimche recruited her for Mossad training.
Like the imaginary British actress in John Le Carré's 1983 novel The Little Drummer Girl, Olivia Frank was sent unarmed to penetrate a Palestine Liberation Organisation terror training camp.
And just like John Le Carré's 'Charlie', the PLO sent her to join a bombing team in Germany.
Mossad had been correct with their warning that, outside Israel, I had no friends
Her astonishing story comes from inside the world’s most-feared secret service, from inside a PLO training camp for female assassins in Lebanon, from inside a neo-Nazi bombing group in Germany and eventually from inside Manchester’s 'Grisly Risley' remand centre.
Frank had returned from a successful mission in Germany to take care of her parents and found them a Lancashire holiday home near Knott End, where she was caught in an MI5 dragnet ordered by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
After the discovery of rifles and military grade explosives hidden by Mossad in Hull, the Government expelled their London chief and cracked down on his agents in Britain.
They laid a trap for Olivia Frank near the well-known Chequered Flag pub on the A6 near Garstang. She was driving with her father, a 72-year-old British army veteran who had been badly wounded in 1942 as an officer in the Rifle Brigade at the Battle of El Alamein.
“I spotted a police car with a single driver waiting behind some bushes. As soon as I put my foot down to cross the A6, the car, with blue lights flashing, chased after me. 'We’ve got trouble, Dad,’ I announced, as I pulled up, put on the handbrake and turned off the engine.
“The cop simply stretched his arm into the car and plucked my plastic road tax disc holder from inside the window. He never looked at the disc, just stuffed it in his top pocket and took out his notebook.
“Mossad had been correct with their warning that outside Israel, I had no friends.”
Frank found herself in Risley Remand Centre facing arson charges. Her father was also facing criminal charges when he died in hospital at Blackpool.
She tells how she eventually agreed to work for MI5, using a bogus identity created by British civil servants for an amazing appearance at Manchester Crown Court, where a judge jailed her as the first known case of a transgender person sent to serve time in a women's prison.
Letters on MI5 notepaper supporting her allegation that she was recruited to spy on a jailed woman banker are reproduced in the book.
She alleges that MI6 gave her the cash to pay for gender surgery in Chester before recruiting her for a bizarre plan to deceive TV journalists from The Cook Report and lure the fugitive billionaire and Tory Party donor Asil Nadir back from Northern Cyprus to face an Old Bailey fraud trial.
PART THREE: Bombs, Munich and an unwelcome old acquaintance
Last month, just a few days after publication of her book, she saw on her home computer the face of a German neo-Nazi who had 33 years earlier strapped two radio-controlled bombs to her body for a night attack on the homes of Jews living in Munich. She has described how a team of Mossad agents disguised as German skinheads foiled the 1985 bomb plot at the last minute.
The face she recognised was that of Karl-Heinz Hoffmann, a Bavarian extremist celebrating his 81st birthday by posting a video on the Internet showing his 'final public appearance' at his medieval manor house, Schloss Ermreuth near Nuremberg.
"My blood ran cold”, Olivia Frank told the New York online magazine Tablet last month, “The Hoffmann in the video is a man I only knew as Konrad, a man who might have killed me that night in Munich with the flick of a switch.”
"When I first met him, he stood in front of me and clicked his heels. I can still hear that first click of his heels. I thought it too risky to mention in my book his long black beard. That kind of beard was unusual in Germany in those days and I wasn’t sure what had happened to him.
“I now know that he served only three years of a nine and a half years jail sentence for charges that did not include sending me, a Jewish woman, to plant a bomb in a block of flats where German Jews were living. A German court set him free in 1989 because they found he had 'plausibly renounced' his past.”
Hoffmann’s 400-man military group was banned after police discovered uniforms, rifles, pistols, bayonets, gas masks, an anti-aircraft gun and a bust of Hitler stashed in hideouts. A live puma found in the basement of Schloss Ermreuth was sent to the Nuremberg Zoo.
Under the headline 'Trans Mossad Spy Identifies Neo-Nazi' the New York magazine reported that Olivia Frank had infiltrated the Abu Nidal Organisation in Lebanon as the 'disaffected anarchist daughter of a wealthy Jewish family in Manchester.'
“Using the real identity and home address of a prominent Manchester businessman, Mossad spymasters, known to themselves as ‘the office’, had intricately created a false identity for their transgender spy. They sent her to Manchester to meet the millionaire owner of a cash-and-carry firm who had agreed to pose as her indulgent father.”
Five years later she says she alerted Mossad with a 'burst' radio message a few hours before being sent by 'Konrad' to plant a radio-controlled bomb.
"I closed in on Konrad’s target. It was ten storeys high and, checking lights in the windows, it looked as though most of the residents were home. I had enough stuff on me to bring the house down. I stood across from the flats, took Konrad’s plastic card out of my pocket and waited for a black Mercedes van to pass by.
"I was still there wondering what to do when a guy I hadn’t noticed before started whistling. It was the Hatkivah, the romantic national anthem of Israel. The whistler spoke to me, ‘I guess you’ve heard that tune before. It’s over… I’m Shaul, from the office.’ My final curtain fell as the rain poured down. Shaul implored me to stay calm and shelter in the bright lobby. He told me he was part of a Yarid team. Shaul said Konrad was for me no more.
"The black van that I had just seen passing me in the road re-appeared outside the flats and in a rush, two men leaped out. I might have known. It was the skinheads who had eyeballed Konrad’s car. Shaul let them into the lobby and told me to leave the shoulder bag and its lethal payload on the tiled floor. I climbed into the van and took a seat so that Shaul could sit behind me and get to work.
"He helped me off with my coat. Wary of booby traps he took his time removing the second bomb from my back. My very diligent and careful new friend finally said, 'It’s off. You’re safe.' Shaul led me from the van to a Mercedes saloon drawn up behind us in the street." In the car was Mossad spymaster David Kimche. The man with the suitcase had flown to Munich to rescue his transgender spy.
The Mossad Spy by Olivia Frank is out now in paperback at £14.99 from Amazon UK and via Kindle online at £9.99.