Cor­byn has ques­tions to an­swer, says ex-mi6 chief

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - Po­lit­i­cal Editor By Gor­don Rayner

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

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