Daily Mail


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

- 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
Expelled from UK: Ex-Czech spy Jan Sarkocy

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