Forsyth: My jour­ney from cub re­porter to mis­sions for MI6

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - An Author’s Life - By Matt Le­clere

Ash­ford-born au­thor and jour­nal­ist Fred­er­ick Forsyth has re­vealed his past work­ing as an MI6 op­er­a­tive at the height of the Cold War.

Forsyth, fa­mous for his es­pi­onage nov­els in­clud­ing The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, spoke about his time work­ing un­der­cover for more than 20 years in an in­ter­view with The Sun­day Times.

He started out work­ing for the Ken­tish Ex­press as a 17-year-old cub re­porter in 1956 be­fore start­ing his Na­tional Ser­vice.

In the in­ter­view pub­lished at the week­end, he tells of his time work­ing in the then East Ger­many car­ry­ing out sev­eral mis­sions to help out MI6 through­out the 1960s and 1970s.

It comes as he re­leases his memoir called The Out­sider.

Speak­ing to Sky News he said: “It doesn’t do any harm now to men­tion var­i­ous ad­ven­tures that were had way back.

“We’re talk­ing a long time

‘i have never for­got­ten My sunny six weeks with the ken­tish ex­press’ Forsyth, who re­cently cel­e­brated his 77th birth­day, was born in Ash­ford in 1938.

His par­ents were shop­keep­ers in North Street, just a stone’s throw away from the cur­rent of­fices of the Ken­tish Ex­press.

His fa­ther ran a fur shop on the first floor and his mother a dress shop on the ago. It was the Cold War, it was se­ri­ous and dan­ger­ous.

“I was asked to run a cou­ple of er­rands, that’s all, no James Bond work, that’s rub­bish.

“They would say ‘Fred­die, we’ve got this lit­tle prob­lem. ground floor. He wrote for the Ken­tish Ex­press again in 2005 mark­ing his time at the pa­per in a col­umn mark­ing the pa­per’s 150th birth­day.

“I had al­ready de­cided that af­ter two years in the RAF, I wanted to be a jour­nal­ist and for­eign cor­re­spon­dent. In that year, the editor of the Ken­tish Ex­press was a Mr Fran­cis,” he Could you see your way clear to slip­ping into East Ger­many and pick some­thing up?’. So the an­swer was ‘oh, I sup­pose so’.”

He also re­veals many of his nov­els were based on his wrote. “Of course, I had not a clue what to do. So, I was sim­ply at­tached to a re­porter.

“I got my first taste of mag­is­trates court, town coun­cil, cat show, Corn Ex­change and in­volv­ing won­der­ful rides to the myr­iad vil­lages that made up east Kent in 1956.

“My first words ever printed ex­pe­ri­ences, which had to be vet­ted by MI6.

He added: “If I wanted to use stuff which I knew might be sen­si­tive I would call.

“The re­ply was usu­ally look ‘write it first and we’ll vet it’.” for the public con­cerned a small item of tit­tle-tattle, stem­ming from the vi­brant me­trop­o­lis of Peas­marsh, or was it High Halden?

“No mat­ter, af­ter six weeks my call-up pa­pers ar­rived and I was gone.

“But I have never for­got­ten my sunny six weeks with the Ken­tish Ex­press.”

Au­thor Fred­er­ick Forsyth worked at the Ken­tish Ex­press be­fore start­ing his na­tional ser­vice

The fur shop run by Fred­er­ick Forsyth’s par­ents in North Street is the first shop on the left of the pic­ture

The best­selling au­thor was told by MI6 “to slip into East Ger­many to pick some­thing up”

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