Spooks planned to warn Queen ...as as­ton­ish­ing new book claims Labour leader was paid by KGB

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Ian Gal­lagher CHIEF RE­PORTER

Pages 8-10

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’

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