MI6: FOOT WAS A SOVIET STOOGE
Spooks planned to warn Queen ...as astonishing new book claims Labour leader was paid by KGB
MI6 officers believed former Labour leader Michael Foot was in the pay of the Soviet Union, a new book reveals.
At the time, they were so convinced of the now- discredited claims that they were prepared to warn the Queen in the event of Foot becoming Prime Minister.
The ‘ evidence’ presented by a Soviet defector in the 1980s was apparently considered st rong enough to warrant this unprecedented intervention.
But those close to Foot have always insisted he was never sympathetic to the Soviet Union, and was i n fact scornful of t hose who were.
The book, The Spy And The Traitor, details ‘corroboration’ by MI6 officers of the allegations made by defector Oleg Gordievsky, who said that Foot received a series of clandestine payments from the KGB.
It further claims the Russians classed the great Parliamentarian, who died aged 96 in 2010, as an ‘agent’ and ‘confidential contact’.
MI6 concluded that while Foot had not been a ‘spy or conscious agent’ he had been used for disinformation purposes and received in return the equivalent of £37,000 in today’s money.
Last night, Joe Haines, press secretary to former Prime Minister Harold Wilson insisted that Foot was ‘a patriot’.
‘ The only plausible reason he would ever have taken money from the Soviets would have been to support the perennially hard-up Tribune’ [the Left-wing publication Foot edited in the 1950s], he told The Mail on Sunday.
‘But if he did, I doubt he gave anything in return.’
The book outlines the extent of the Soviet Union’s penetration of the Labour and trade union movement throughout the Cold War and the willing co-operation and financial gain of many of its leading members.
At his debriefing in 1982, Gordievsky revealed to MI6 that the trade union leader Jack Jones had been formally listed by the KGB as an ‘agent’. Upon moving to London, Gordievsky reactivated contact with Jones, who in the 1970s had a standing invitation from two Labour Prime Ministers to join the Cabinet.
While Jones was ‘ delighted to accept lunch, and occasional disbursements of cash’, Gordievsky said he was by now ‘absolutely useless’ as a contact.
The revelations come 23 years after Foot successfully sued The Sunday Times when it published Gordievsky’s claims that the KGB held an extensive file on the former Labour leader, whom it had named Agent Boot.
Describing the allegations as a ‘big lie’, Foot said that as far as he knew he had never met or seen a KGB agent in his life. He and his supporters dismissed the allegations as MI5 smears.
His biographer Kenneth O. Morgan wrote: ‘It is utterly ironic that... unreliable informants such as Oleg Go rdievskyb egan to spread rumours that Foot had been a Soviet “agent of influence”.
‘ Right- wingers in the security service who had let genuine spies such as Kim Philby slip through the net actually gave them some credence.’
However, the new book records that MI6 agents privy to the revelations from Gordievsky in the summer of 1982 had actually believed his claims.
They were apparently set to warn the Queen – who for decades has held weekly discussions with her Prime Ministers – in the event that the Labour Party won the next General Election.
‘Within MI6 there were discussions about the constitutional implications if Michael Foot won the election,’ the book states. ‘It was agreed that should a politician with a KGB history become prime minister of Britain, then the Queen would have to be informed.’
The book also reveals that Sir Robert Armstrong, then the Cabinet Secretary, was warned about Gordievsky’s revelations by the director-general of MI5.
Both concluded that the ‘information was far too politically incendiary’ to be passed to Margaret Thatcher, the then Conservative Prime Minister.
‘Russians classed him as a confidential contact’