Dou­ble-agent breaks out of jail

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

One of Bri­tain’s most no­to­ri­ous dou­ble-agents, Ge­orge Blake, has es­caped from prison in London af­ter a dar­ing break-out be­lieved to have been mas­ter­minded by the Soviet Union.

War­dens at Worm­wood Scrubs prison last saw him at the evening roll call, at 1730 GMT.

An hour-and-a-half later, his cell was dis­cov­ered to be empty.

Af­ter a short search, the es­cape route was found. Bars in a win­dow at the end of a land­ing had been sawn away and a rope lad­der hung down in­side the prison wall.

False sense of se­cu­rity

Blake is be­lieved to have taken ad­van­tage of the free as­so­ci­a­tion al­lowed be­tween pris­on­ers on Satur­day af­ter­noons in the long-term wing, where he had his cell.

He had served a lit­tle over five years of his 42-year sen­tence.

He was not un­der high se­cu­rity at the prison, and the priv­i­leges he en­joyed have been heav­ily crit­i­cised in the wake of his es­cape.

He was re­moved from the list of likely es­ca­pers af­ter only a year, and war­dens were said to have been lulled into a false sense of se­cu­rity by his seem­ing ac­cep­tance of his ex­cep­tion­ally long sen­tence.

Blake was charged un­der the Of­fi­cial Secrets Act in May 1961. Dur­ing his trial, part of which was held in cam­era, he pleaded guilty to five counts of pass­ing on secrets to the Soviet au­thor­i­ties.

He was sen­tenced to the max­i­mum of 14 years on each of three counts, to run con­sec­u­tively - a to­tal of 42 years. It was the long­est jail term any Bri­tish court had handed down to an in­di­vid­ual to date.

Nine years of be­trayal

He spent nine years as a dou­ble-agent af­ter be­ing con­verted to Com­mu­nism while a pris­oner of war in Seoul, dur­ing the Korean War.

Dur­ing this time, he is be­lieved to have be­trayed the names of more than 40 Bri­tish agents to the Sovi­ets. Many dis­ap­peared, and were thought to have been ex­e­cuted.

His ac­tions dev­as­tated Bri­tish se­cret ser­vice op­er­a­tions in the Mid­dle East. He is be­lieved to have passed on the names of al­most ev­ery Bri­tish agent work­ing in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut.

Lord Parker, Lord Chief Jus­tice, the judge sen­tenc­ing him, likened his ac­tions to trea­son, and said, “It is one of the worst that can be en­vis­aged other than in a time of war.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.