Corbyn has questions to answer, says ex-mi6 chief
JEREMY CORBYN has “questions to answer” over his contact with a communist spy and cannot simply “laugh off” the disclosures, a former head of MI6 says today.
Sir Richard Dearlove said that it was “absurd” for the Labour leader to suggest that he thought a Czechoslovak agent was merely a diplomat when they agreed to meet, and that Mr Corbyn should have “taken care to avoid” him.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Sir Richard, who was “C” – the head of the Secret Intelligence Service – from 1999 to 2004, said Mr Corbyn would be left in “a very awkward position” as a potential future prime minister if there were any further revelations from Cold War era files.
He has previously suggested that Mr Corbyn would have failed the vetting process if he had ever applied for a job at MI5, MI6 or GCHQ, making him “unfit” to be prime minister.
Mr Corbyn has admitted meeting Jan Sarkocy, a spy for the Státní Bezpečnost (STB), the Czechoslovakian intelligence agency, when he was a backbench MP in 1986, but denies passing sensitive information to him or accepting payment.
Mr Sarkocy, who described Mr Corbyn as “a very, very good source”, has been described as a “serial fantasist” by Labour, and this week Mr Corbyn released a video message claiming that the press had “gone a little bit James Bond” by publishing “ridiculous smears”.
But Sir Richard says Mr Sarkocy could not be so easily dismissed. He says that “discussions I have had with friends close to the current Czech intelligence community” suggest otherwise.
STB files held in Prague show that Mr Corbyn was given the code name “COB” by the agency at the time Mr Sarkocy had contact with him, showing the Czechoslovaks “had reason to be interested in him as a target”.
The CIA also kept tabs on Mr Corbyn because of his visits to Marxist-run countries in South America and the Caribbean in the Eighties, and MI5 opened a file on him because of
of manslaughter and denies any wrongdoing, now faces an eighth inquiry by IFI, which was set up in the wake of a series of court victories by the human rights lawyer Phil Shiner, who has since been struck off for dishonesty.
Two weeks earlier, Major Campbell received a Long Service and Good Conduct medal, which he also plans to return. Major Campbell said: “Without any sense of irony, the same British Army that has steadfastly done nothing to make any tangible difference to these continuous allegations, decided to award me my Long Service and Good Conduct medal, for ‘15 years irreproachable service’.
“The likelihood is though that I will be returning this one too.”
Last night, a series of senior MPS and former military chiefs called on the Ministry of Defence, which funds IFI, to shut it down. Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, declined to comment on whether it was right or wrong for Major Campbell and two comrades to be dragged through another inquiry. He previously said he accepted that soldiers should not be subjected to a “constant treadmill” of investigations.
Downing Street said the Government had “a legal obligation” to continue with the IFI inquiry.
But Johnny Mercer, the Conservative MP and former Army captain who has raised the major’s plight in Parliament, said: “IFI must end. It is a charade driven by cowards without the will or courage to do the right thing.”
Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee and a former Army officer, branded the latest inquiry “a disgrace”, adding: “Having courageously faced the enemy he’s now being attacked by bureaucratic cowardice of those who won’t stand up to a legal assault, some of whom have already been proved to be dishonest. Our government must stop this now.”
Major General Julian Thompson, who led a commando brigade in the Falklands war, said: “It is absolutely astonishing. He has been investigated a number of times and has been cleared. Someone in government at the very top should stop it.”
Lord West of Spithead, the former First Sea Lord, said: “We treat the men and women who have been fighting to protect us more harshly than the people who are trying to kill us.”
An MOD spokesman said: “IFI is not investigating soldiers, it investigates incidents in order to uncover facts, learn lessons and comply with our legal obligations. The MOD ensures that no service personnel are unnecessarily inconvenienced by the IFI process.”
Major Robert Campbell is considering returning his Long Service and Good Conduct medal, received two weeks before he was told that he faces an eighth inquiry into the death of an Iraqi teenager in Basra 15 years ago