Spy Cases

Spy Fever Strikes UK

13 September 1999


On 13 September 1999, Home Secretary Jack Straw issued a statement on the UK intelligence and security agencies' handling of the materials supplied by defecting KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin. He invited the Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by Tom King, to examine the agencies' "policies and procedures" for the handling of Mitrokhin's information. Click for text of Straw's statement and for text of a press release from the Security and Intelligence Committee accepting the Home Secretary's invitation. Reportage on Straw's statement appears among the materials for 14 September 1999.

Assinder, Nick. "Driberg Always under Suspicion: The Kremlin Had Two MPs on Their Books." BBC. 13 Sep. 1999. [http://news1.thls.bbc.co.uk]

"It will come as no surprise to contemporaries of flamboyant former MP Tom Driberg that he was a KGB spy, codenamed Lepage. The notoriously homosexual MP ... was a close friend of Guy Burgess and visited Moscow with him.... More surprising is the revelation that little-known ex-MP Raymond Fletcher was also a KGB agent. Mr Fletcher ... was codenamed Peter.... He was always thought to be a moderate in the Labour Party, but had a maverick streak."

BBC [http://news.bbc.co.uk].

1. "Former MPs Named as Spies." 13 Sep. 1999.

Tom Driberg (Lepage) and Raymond Fletcher (Peter).

2. "Idealist Who Sold out His Homeland." 13 Sep. 1999.

On Vasili Mitrokhin.

3. "Jack Straw: Met MI5 Boss after Spy Revelations." 13 Sep. 1999.

A statement released by Home Secretary Jack Straw on 13 September 1999 after a meeting with MI5 head Stephen Lander "said he was informed last year of the existence" of Melita Norwood."

Binyon, Michael. "KGB Defector: I Fear for My Life." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

Vasili Mitrokhin "is living in a closely guarded safe house, under a false name, with round-the-clock security." Mitrokhin said on 12 September 1999 "that he fears being murdered by Russian hitmen because of his treachery."

Binyon, Michael. "US Was Main Target of Dirty Tricks." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"America was the top target for most KGB operations, but most were dirty tricks that were often as crude as they were farcical.... Among the more successful was an attempt to throw suspicion on the CIA for involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy, the allegation that Martin Luther King was in the pay of President Johnson and the assiduous cultivation of rumours that J. Edgar Hoover ... was a closet homosexual and cross-dresser. But there were also numerous attempts to smear American politicians, operations to stir up racial hatred by disseminating forged pamphlets denouncing black people as 'race monkeys' and attempts to recruit Zbigniew Brzezinski ... as a Soviet agent."

Binyon, Michael, and Christopher Andrew. "Arms Buried Across Europe." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"Among the most sinister remnants of the Cold War are [Soviet] caches of arms, explosives and radio equipment buried all over North America, Western and Central Europe, Israel, Japan and other countries... [T]hese caches are decaying and unstable.... Records of the exact location of some .. have disappeared. Those discovered, using the directions recorded in the Mitrokhin file, have been carefully dug up. One, in Switzerland, was found to be so unstable that it exploded as soon as a powerful firehose was turned on it."

Gurdon, Hugo. "Dirty Tricks II: How Moscow Faked CIA Plot to Kill Kennedy." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

According to the upcoming book by Vasily Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, "[t]he KGB forged a letter purporting to be from Lee Harvey Oswald and leaked it to unwitting conspiracy theorists to spread the idea that the CIA was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy." The KGB also targeted Martin Luther King, planting "unfavourable articles in African newspapers in the hope that more radical black Americans would take his place."

Hall, Allan. "Spies Say Time for Vengeance Is Long Over." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

At a Berlin conference on espionage during the Cold War, "[o]ld spies were divided ... on what punishment should be handed out to Melita Norwood."

Jones, George, and Michael Smith. "Straw Calls Emergency Meeting Over the Spy of 87." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

Home Secretary Jack Straw "has summoned Stephen Lander, head of MI5, to an emergency meeting" on 13 September 1999 "to explain why ministers were kept in the dark for almost seven years about the extent of Soviet espionage in Britain." The KGB files "were brought out of Russia by Richard Tomlinson, the renegade MI6 officer [who] ... was serving in Moscow under diplomatic cover in 1992 when Vasili Mitrokhin ... defected to the West. It was considered too dangerous for ... Mitrokhin to bring the 300,000 documents with him so Tomlinson was sent to Mitrokhin's dacha where they were hidden under the floor in empty milk cartons."

See also, Philip Webster, Andrew Pierce, and Frances Gibb, "Straw Seeks Reason For MI5 Delay," Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999.

Macintyre, Ben. "Files Led FBI to Agent at Work in US." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

According to former KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin and Cambridge historian Christopher Andrew, Robert Lipka, a former clerk at the National Security Agency, was captured "through information contained in the 'Mitrokhin files.'" Lipka is "currently serving an 18-year sentence for espionage."

The files "are also believed to contain information ... on the enduring mystery of Felix Bloch.... The State Department alleged he had engaged in 'illegal activities involving agents of a foreign intelligence service', but he was never charged and instead lost his job for lying to the FBI about the incident."

McGrory, Daniel. "Bomb Plan to Disrupt Prince's Investiture." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"The dirty tricks planned against Britain by the KGB's Department V included disrupting the preparations for the investiture of the Prince of Wales in the summer of 1969. KGB officials decided that security for the ceremony at Caernarfon Castle on July 1 would be too tight for any spectacular coup."

McGrory, Daniel.

1. "KGB-Trained in Seduction." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http:// www.the-times.co.uk]

"The Lothario touch has not entirely deserted John Symonds, according to the female occupants of Holly Court, the sheltered home where he lives in North London."

2. And Stewart Tendler. "Widdecombe Leads Calls for Traitor's Arrest." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"The Conservative Party [on 12 September 1999] led demands for the Lothario traitor, John Symonds, a KGB agent for seven years, to be arrested and ordered to stand trial."

Millward, David. "Beautiful Girls Trained Me, Says the Romeo Spy." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

Discussion of John Symonds, corrupt CID officer and KGB "Romeo spy," named in the materials brought to the West by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin.

Reid, Tim.

1. "Friends 'Won't Let Her Down.'" Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

On Saturdays, Melita Norwood usually delivers some 30 copies of the socialist paper Morning Star to like-minded friends. On 12 September 1999, a friend delivered the papers for her.

2. "What a Fuss, Says the Old Spy Laughing Over a Cuppa." Times (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"Stooped over a portable radio in her drab kitchen, Melita Norwood cackles with laughter as she listens to a strident [Shadow Home Secretary] Ann Widdecombe denouncing her treachery."

Smith, Michael. "Dirty Tricks I: Russia Bugged British Agents and Kissinger." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

The files brought by Vasili Mitrokhin to the West show that the KGB had "more than 15 successes against Britain..., including the bugging of MI6 stations in the Middle East.... In America, the KGB successfully planted a bug on Henry Kissinger when he was US Secretary of State. Documents leaked from US defence contractors, including Boeing Fairchild, General Dynamics, IBM and Lockheed, provided Moscow with detailed information on the Trident, MX and Cruise missiles at the forefront of the West's defences."

Smith, Michael. "Why MI5 Ignored Small Fish in a Big Plot." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"The disclosure that an 87-year-old woman ... was a valuable KGB agent has been accompanied by understandable astonishment at the failure of the authorities to prosecute her. But the suggestions that Melita Norwood was one of the KGB's top spies are very far from the truth and it seems likely that the decision not to prosecute her was made on more sensible grounds than at first seem likely."

Times (London). "Story That Set the Agenda." 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times. co.uk]

"The revelation in The Times ... that Melita Norwood ... betrayed Britain for 40 years, making her the most valued female KGB spy in history, has set the domestic news agenda in the past two days and dominated news bulletins across the world."

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