Labour leader de­nies claim by Czech spy he was paid to pass in­for­ma­tion to Sovi­ets

Daily Mail - - Front Page - From Mario Led­with in Bratislava and Jack Doyle

JEREMY Cor­byn was a paid in­for­mant of the Czech se­cret po­lice at the height of the Cold War, a for­mer Com­mu­nist se­cret agent claims.

For­mer spy Jan Sarkocy said he re­cruited the MP, co­de­named Cob, in the 1980s. Mr Cor­byn was an ‘as­set’ who knew he was work­ing with the Soviet pup­pet state, Mr Sarkocy claimed. ear­lier this week it emerged Mr Cor­byn had hosted Mr Sarkocy – who was posted to Bri­tain as a diplo­mat un­der a fake iden­tity – in the House of Com­mons.

The Labour leader in­sisted he had no idea Mr Sarkocy, who was ac­tu­ally work­ing for the Czech se­cret po­lice and was later ex­pelled from Bri­tain by Mar­garet Thatcher, was a spy.

Last night Mr Cor­byn’s aides de­scribed the lat­est claims as a ‘ridicu­lous smear and en­tirely false’.

But speak­ing for the first time about the al­le­ga­tions yes­ter­day, Mr Sarkocy di­rectly chal­lenged Mr Cor­byn’s ac­count, in­sist­ing the MP had known about his role within Statni Bezpec­nost (StB) – the Com­mu­nist era se­cret po­lice force in the coun­try.

‘It was a con­sen­sual col­lab­o­ra­tion,’ Mr Sarkocy said. At his home in ru­ral Slo­vakia, the 64-year-old added: ‘He was our as­set, he had been

re­cruited. He was get­ting money from us.’ The for­mer agent said the op­er­a­tion to cul­ti­vate Mr Cor­byn, who al­legedly told him that he ‘ad­mired’ the Soviet Union, was over­seen by of­fi­cials in Rus­sia.

‘Re­cruit­ment [of Cor­byn] was over­looked and se­cured by Rus­sians,’ he said. ‘All the in­for­ma­tion that we got from him and one other sup­port­ing source had been ver­i­fied and then val­ued not only here, but in Rus­sia as well … It was like this, when we got a tip on some­one we worked to­gether with the Rus­sians.’

Mr Cor­byn’s aides strongly de­nied the claims. But De­fence Sec­re­tary Gavin Wil­liamson called on the Labour leader to ex­plain ex­actly what hap­pened.

He said: ‘These as­ton­ish­ing claims will ring alarm bells all over Bri­tain. Jeremy Cor­byn is a man who wants to lead this coun­try as our Prime Min­is­ter yet has re­peat­edly sided with our en­e­mies. The Bri­tish pub­lic has an ab­so­lute right to know what went on.’

This week se­cret doc­u­ments sug­gested the spy tar­geted Mr Cor­byn in the hope of find­ing in­for­ma­tion on MI5 and MI6, as well as on Amer­ica’s nu­clear regime.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Sarkocy said he would not talk about the in­for­ma­tion Mr Cor­byn dis­cussed be­cause the mat­ter was ‘con­fi­den­tial’. But he re­vealed that the Labour leader had helped him build con­tacts.

Mr Cor­byn has claimed the pair sim­ply had a ‘cup of tea’ in the Com­mons.

How­ever, Mr Sarkocy – who at the time used the alias Lieu­tenant Jan Dymic – said they met more of­ten than the three times listed in archived records. He said Mr Cor­byn was a reg­u­lar at events within the

‘Put us in touch with other peo­ple’

Czech em­bassy in Kens­ing­ton, Lon­don, at the time. The ex-spy claimed the then back­bench MP was also in touch with other StB agents work­ing from within the agency.

Asked if he met Mr Cor­byn on more oc­ca­sions than doc­u­mented, he said: ‘Yes, of course. It’s not im­por­tant what you can find in of­fi­cial doc­u­ments. Don’t for­get, a lot of them were de­stroyed.’

As well as their two West­min­ster meet­ings in 1986 and 1987, and a meet­ing at Mr Cor­byn’s con­stituency of­fice, he claimed that they met in ‘in­tel­lec­tual cir­cles’.

‘ You can’t do it openly,’ the Slo­vak na­tional said. ‘What was im­por­tant for us was to be able to move on, get more con­tact to cre­ate a net­work. He [Cor­byn] put us in touch with other peo­ple … He knew I was there as a diplo­mat.

‘At that time there was no ques­tion about whether you were work­ing for the StB or as a diplo­mat. It was the same. There was no rea­son to stress that I was work­ing for the StB be­cause I was work­ing in diplo­macy.’

Mr Sarkocy, who went on to be­come a busi­ness­man af­ter go­ing back to Slo­vakia and hav­ing a brief re­turn to spy­ing be­fore the fall of the Iron Cur­tain, added: ‘Cor­byn ad­mired the Soviet Union at the time … Money wasn’t his sole mo­tive.

‘These were all highly in­tel­lec­tual and ma­ture peo­ple, grad­u­ates of univer­si­ties like Cam­bridge, Ox­ford.’

Asked how he tried to es­tab­lish Mr Cor­byn as a con­tact, he said: ‘Well you come and get to talk­ing, you po­litely ask whether he’d like to co-op­er­ate or not, how he sees things. The bind­ing act can be in writ­ten form or ver­bal.’

He added that ‘if some­thing hap­pened at the time, he [Cor­byn] knew he could go live in Rus­sia’, but he de­nied that any such pro­posal was dis­cussed with the MP.

Three years af­ter Mr Sarkocy ar­rived in Lon­don pos­ing as a diplo­mat in the Czech em­bassy, he was evicted by Mrs Thatcher for his role in a spy ring with three oth­ers.

The ex-spy, who was renowned by bosses for his in­no­va­tive ways of cul­ti­vat­ing sources, yes­ter­day bragged about his abil­ity to work in­side the Bri­tish sys­tem.

‘I knew what Mar­garet Thatcher would eat for break­fast, lunch and din­ner the next day and what dress she would be wear­ing,’ he said.

Hint­ing at his prox­im­ity to other MPs dur­ing his trips to the Com­mons, he added: ‘I was go­ing there for a whisky. There was a re­ally good whisky. It is great to be on the ter­race and look­ing at the River Thames.’

Doc­u­ments seen by the Daily Mail yes­ter­day showed Ron Brown, the late Scot­tish Labour MP, was also noted as a con­tact in Sarkocy’s files un­der the co­de­name ‘Bento’. At the time, there was sig­nif­i­cant con­cern that spies from be­hind the Iron Cur­tain were tar­get­ing mem­bers of the Labour Party for state se­crets.

Mr Sarkocy, an en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate, moved to Lon­don in May 1986.

Se­cret doc­u­ments in an StB ar­chive in Prague re­vealed Mr Cor­byn was vet­ted as a pos­si­ble con­tact by the Czech in­te­rior min­istry and dis­played a ‘pos­i­tive’ view of the east­ern bloc dur­ing meet­ings.

Ex­perts have said the doc­u­mented in­for­ma­tion points to the Labour leader be­ing cul­ti­vated as a pos­si­ble source rather than serv­ing as an ac­tive in­for­mant.

The pair are said to have first met af­ter Mr Sarkocy re­ceived a tip- off from a ‘very im­por­tant Labour MP’ who worked within the trade union move­ment at the time. Last night, a spokesman for Mr Cor­byn said: ‘Jeremy was nei­ther an agent, as­set, in­former nor col­lab­o­ra­tor with Cze­choslo­vak in­tel­li­gence. These claims are a ridicu­lous smear and en­tirely false.

‘The for­mer Cze­choslo­vak agent Jan Sarkocy’s ac­count of his meet­ing with Jeremy was false 30 years ago, is false now and has no cred­i­bil­ity what­so­ever. His story has more plot holes in it than a bad James Bond movie.’

Labour of­fi­cials pointed out that Svet­lana Ptac­nikova, di­rec­tor of the Czech Se­cu­rity Forces Ar­chive that keeps doc­u­ments of the StB, said Mr Cor­byn was ‘nei­ther reg­is­tered [by the StB] as a col­lab­o­ra­tor, nor does this [his al­leged col­lab­o­ra­tion] stem from ar­chive doc­u­ments’.

Ex­pelled from UK: Ex-Czech spy Jan Sarkocy


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