Harold (Kim) Philby, the son of the diplomat, Harry St John Bridger Philby, was born in Ambala, India, in 1911. "Philby's father nicknamed his son Kim after the eponymous hero in the popular Rudyard Kipling novel. Brought up by an Indian nanny, Philby's first language was a sort of nursery Punjabi; like Kipling's Kim, he was a white child who could pass for an Indian... The seeds of Philby's double life lay in his childhood, his father, his upbringing and the intense ideological conversation that shaped him in early adulthood... Like many late-Empire products of the establishment, he had an inborn faith in his ability, and right, to change and rule the world." (1)
Kim Philby was educated at Westminster School. According to Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy (1988): "He lived in a dormitory and did his studying in a small room containing only a chair, a table and a bookshelf. There was no central heating and the only warmth came from coal fires lit when winter was well advanced." (2)
One of his teachers commented: "I've only happy memories of him. I liked boys who used their wits and didn't shirk the grind of hard work. The regime of (Westminster School) was liberal, and I believe young Philby benefited from that. He probably suffered by missing the guidance of a father whom in some ways he resembled. The boy had no problems of adjustment. I found him intelligent, amusing, charming. He was a rebel at heart, I knew, but he had little of his father's eccentricity." (3)
In 1928 Philby went to Trinity College on a history scholarship. Philby joined the Cambridge University Socialist Society and most of his new friends held left-wing views. This included Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, David Guest and James Klugmann. His biographer, Ben Macintyre, points out: "He (Philby) canvassed on behalf of the Labour Party. But there was no sudden conversion, no revolutionary epiphany when the religion of communism seized his soull. Instead, the student moved slowly leftwards... Unlike many of his friends, Philby never joined the Communist Party. His beliefs were radical, but simple: the rich had exploited the poor for too long." (4)
Philby became disillusioned with the Labour Party when Ramsay MacDonald formed a National Government in 1931. He later recalled in My Secret War (1968): "It was the Labour disaster of 1931 which first set me seriously to thinking about possible alternatives to the Labour Party. I began to take a more active part in the proceedings of the Cambridge University Socialist Society, and was its Treasurer in 1932/35. This brought me into contact with streams of Left-Wing opinion critical of the Labour Party, notably with the Communists. Extensive reading and growing appreciation of the classics of European Socialism alternated with vigorous and sometimes heated discussions within the Society. It was a slow and brain-racking process." (5)
The greatest influence on Kim Philby was Maurice Dobb. A lecturer in economics, he had joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1922, and was open with his students about his communist beliefs. Dobb's friend, Eric Hobsbawm, has pointed out: "He (Dobb) joined the small band of Cambridge socialists as soon as he went up and... the Communist Party. Neither body was then used to such notably well-dressed recruits of such impeccably bourgeois comportment. He remained quietly loyal to his cause and party for the remainder of his life, pursuing a course, at times rather lonely, as a communist academic." (6) According to one of his students, Joan Robinson, not all of his students agreed with his political views. A group of "hearties" seized him and threw him "fully dressed into the River Cam" in a futile effort to teach him sense. This happened to Dobb more than once; but his persecutors became bored and eventually left him alone. (7)
Anthony Cave Brown, the author of Treason of Blood (1995) has argued that it was Maurice Dobb who converted Philby to Marxism: "His message was that of the classless, scientifically run society offered by Marx, the decline of capitalism, the high superiority of the very fashionable dialectical materialism. This, in theory, was meant to provide both a general worldview and a specific method for the investigation of scientific problems. It was the official philosophy of communism. Dialectical materialism captured many men with Kim's disposition; and it is said that when he understood it, he experienced the blinding light of reality and certainty about life, a light similar to that experienced by some religious believers when they first sense the presence of God." (8)
Philby obtained a third class in part one of the history tripos (1931) and a second class (division I) in part two of the economics tripos (1933). Before leaving Cambridge University he went to see Dobb, and asked him how best he might "devote his life to the communist cause". Philby later recalled: "On my very last day at Cambridge I decided that I would become a communist. I asked a don I admired, Maurice Dobb, how I should go about it. He gave me an introduction to a communist group in Paris, a perfectly legal and open group. They in turn passed me on to a communist underground organization in Vienna. Matters were at crisis point in Austria and this underground organization needed volunteers. I helped smuggle wanted socialists and communists out of the country." (9)
Maurice Dobb sent him to meet Louis Gibarti, an agent of Comintern based in Paris. Some historians have suggested that Dobb might have been the man who recruited Philby as a spy. John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, the authors of Deadly Illusions (1993) point out that when Philby asked him "devote his life to the communist cause" Dobb did not then direct his former pupil to the "CPGB headquarters in London. Instead he gave Philby a letter of introduction to an executive of the International Workers Relief Organization known as MOPR." (10) This contact then passed him to the Comintern agent.
However, Phillip Knightley, who later interviewed Dobb, also thinks that this is a possibility: "Dobb may have decided that a recruit of Philby's calibre would be of greater service in Europe than in Britain. Philby, because of his recent experiences in Germany, may himself have expressed a wish to work outside Britain. (He was not forthcoming on this point in our talks.) Or, and this is only speculation, Dobb was a talent-spotter and steered Philby towards the man who recruited him for the Russian intelligence service." (11)
Gibarti sent Philby to Vienna where he stayed with Israel and Gisella Kohlman. Also living in the house was their divorced daughter, Litzi Friedmann. She later recalled: "When I first met Kim he had just come down from Cambridge and had come to Vienna to learn German. He stayed with my parents as a paying guest and we went out together sometimes. He had very leftish views and was very progressive. I was a member of the Communist Party, which was then illegal and worked underground. We had an affair and I was fond of Kim." (12) Philby immediately fell in love with the 23 year old Litzi, who has been described as "dark-haired, Jewish, vivacious, direct to the point of bluntness". "When Philby met Litzi, he was still a virgin and a political naif; she swiftly attended to both deficiencies. Litzi was a fully committed revolutionary... Philby was instantly besotted." (13)
Natasha Walter has argued: "For her, the young Englishman who presented himself at her door in 1933 was, at first, a potentially useful helper and source of funds.... Philby had already been intellectually convinced by communism, but Friedman radicalised him. He began to work with her - begging people for money, acting as a courier for underground organisations, helping hunted militants to get out of Vienna, and seeing what the fight against fascism meant for people risking their lives because of it. As he himself said later, these experiences crystallised his faith." (14) Litzi who was a member of the Austrian Communist Party, was already working with the NKVD and had recently spent two weeks in prison for subversive activities.
Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss instigated the suppression of the left and after banning trade unions ordered the arrest of socialists and communists. It is estimated that in four days 1,500 people were arrested and most of the leaders were executed. Philby realised that a British passport would offer Litzi protection and on 24th February 1934 he married her in Vienna Town Hall. "The police were hunting down active communists, and I found out that they were after me. One way I could avoid arrest was to marry Kim and get a British passport and leave the country. And this is what I did. I wouldn't call it exactly a marriage of convenience. I suppose it was partly that and partly love." (15) A few weeks later the married couple arrived in London. They lived with Philby's mother, who wrote to her husband in Saudi Arabia: "I do hope Kim gets a job to get him off this bloody communism... He's not quite extreme yet, but may become so." (16)
While in London Litzi Friedmann met an old friend, Edith Tudor Hart. She had also been born in Vienna and recently married an Englishman, Alex Tudor Hart. In January 1934 Arnold Deutsch, one of NKVD's agents, was sent to London. As a cover for his spying activities he did post-graduate work at London University. In May he made contact with Edith and Litzi. They discussed the recruitment of Soviet spies. Litzi suggested her husband. "According to her report on Philby's file, through her own contacts with the Austrian underground Tudor Hart ran a swift check and, when this proved positive, Deutsch immediately recommended... that he pre-empt the standard operating procedure by authorizing a preliminary personal sounding out of Philby." (17)
Philby later recalled that in June 1934. "Lizzy came home one evening and told me that she had arranged for me to meet a 'man of decisive importance'. I questioned her about it but she would give me no details. The rendezvous took place in Regents Park. The man described himself as Otto. I discovered much later from a photograph in MI5 files that the name he went by was Arnold Deutsch. I think that he was of Czech origin; about 5ft 7in, stout, with blue eyes and light curly hair. Though a convinced Communist, he had a strong humanistic streak. He hated London, adored Paris, and spoke of it with deeply loving affection. He was a man of considerable cultural background." (18)
Deutsch asked Philby if he was willing to spy for the Soviet Union: "Otto spoke at great length, arguing that a person with my family background and possibilities could do far more for Communism than the run-of-the-mill Party member or sympathiser... I accepted. His first instructions were that both Lizzy and I should break off as quickly as possible all personal contact with our Communist friends." It is claimed by Christopher Andrew, the author of The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009) that Philby became the first of "the ablest group of British agents ever recruited by a foreign intelligence service." (19)
Deutsch reported back to his superiors that Philby was an excellent agent. "His father... is an ambitious tyrant and wanted to make a great man out of his son. He repressed all his son's desires. That is why he is a very timid and irresolute person. He has a bit of a stammer and this increases his diffidence... However, he handles our money very carefully. He enjoys great love and respect for his seriousness and honesty. He was ready, without questioning, to do anything for us and has shown all his seriousness and diligence working for us." (20)
The two men developed a close relationship. Philby said of Arnold Deutsch: "He was a marvellous man. Simply marvellous. I felt that immediately. And the feeling never left me... The first thing you noticed about him were his eyes. He looked at you as if nothing more important in life than you and talking to you existed at that moment.... And he had a marvellous sense of humour." (21)
Deutsch told Philby that he must break of all communist contacts. He should establish a new political image as a right-winger, even a Nazi-sympathiser. "He must become, to all outward appearances, a conventional member of the very class he was committed to opposing." Deutsch told him. "The anti-fascist movement needs people who can enter into the bourgeoisie." Deutsch gave him a new Minox subminiature camera and gave him a codename (Sohnchen). He began to instruct Philby on the rudiments of tradecraft: how to arrange a meeting; where to leave messages; how to detect if his telephone was bugged; how to spot a tail, and how to lose one. His first task was to spy on his father, Harry St John Bridger Philby, as it was believed he had important secret documents in his office. (22)
Philby was told by Deutsch to get a job in journalism as it would give him excellent cover for spying for the Soviet Union. His first job was as a sub-editor at the World Review of Reviews, a literary and political monthly. He then moved to the Anglo-German Trade Gazette, a magazine devoted to improving economic relations between Britain and Germany which was partly financed by the Nazi Germany government. He also joined the Anglo-German Fellowship, a pro-fascist society formed in 1935 to foster closer understanding with Adolf Hitler. Deutsch pointed out that the group offered Philby ideal political camouflage, as well as the opportunity of finding out information that would be of help to Joseph Stalin and the Soviet government. (23)
Philby found playing the role of a keen young fascist "profoundly repulsive" because "in the eyes of my friends, even conservative ones, but honest conservatives, I looked pro-Nazi". (24) Malcolm Muggeridge was one of those who found Philby's conversion to fascism believable: "A born adventurer like Kim, with very little political subtlety and an eye always to the main chance, was almost certainly attracted by this Anglo-German nonsense. It would have been quite in character. He admired Goebbels and once told me he could easily have worked with him. Don't forget at this stage, in 1936, the bandwaggon between London and Berlin hadn't stopped rolling, and Kim would have been quite ready to jump on it for that very reason." (25)
Arnold Deutsch asked Kim Philby to make a list of potential recruits. The first person he approached was his friend, Donald Maclean, who had been a fellow member of the Cambridge University Socialist Society (CUSS) and now working in the Foreign Office. Philby invited him to dinner, and hinted that there was important clandestine work to be done on behalf of the Soviet Union. He told him that "the people I could introduce you to are very serious." Maclean agreed to met Deutsch. He was told to carry a book with a bright yellow cover into a particular café at a certain time. Deutsch was impressed with Maclean who he described as being "very serious and aloof" with "good connections". Maclean was given the codename "Orphan". (26) Maclean was also ordered to give up his communist friends.
In May 1934 Philby arranged for Deutsch to meet another one of his CUSS friends, Guy Burgess. (27) At first Deutsch rejected Burgess as a potential spy. He reported to headquarters that Burgess was "very smart... but a bit superficial and could let slip in some circumstances." Burgess began to suspect that his friend Maclean was working for the Soviets. He told Maclean: "Do you think that I believe for even one jot that you have stopped being a communist? You're simply up to something." (28) When Maclean told Deutsch about the conversation, he reluctantly signed him up. Burgess went around telling anyone who would listen that he had swapped Karl Marx for Benito Mussolini and was now a devotee of Italian fascism. (29)
Burgess now suggested the recruitment of one of his friends, Anthony Blunt. According to Blunt's biographer, Michael Kitson: "Blunt - hitherto the image of an elegant, apolitical, social young academic - began to take an interest in Marxism under the influence of his friend the charming, scandalous Guy Burgess, a fellow Apostle, who had recently converted to communism. Blunt's move to the left can be plotted in his art reviews, in which he turned from a Bloomsbury acolyte into an increasingly dogmatic defender of social realism. He eventually came to attack even his favourite contemporary artist, Picasso, for the painting Guernica's insufficient incorporation of communism." (30)
Other friends, John Cairncross and Michael Straight were also recruited during this period. Arnold Deutsch handled recruitment but much of the day-to-day management of the spies were carried out by another agent, Theodore Maly. Born in Timişoara, Romania, he studied theology and became a priest but on the outbreak of the First World War he joined the Austro-Hungarian Army. He told Elsa Poretsky, the wife of Ignaz Reiss: "During the war I was a chaplain, I had just been ordained as a priest. I was taken prisoner in the Carpathians. I saw all the horrors, young men with frozen limbs dying in the trenches. I was moved from one camp to another and starved along with other prisoners. We were all covered with vermin and many were dying of typhus. I lost my faith in God and when the revolution broke out I joined the Bolsheviks. I broke with my past completely. I was no longer a Hungarian, a priest, a Christian, even anyone's son. I became a Communist and have always remained one." (31)
As Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014), has pointed out: "For a spy, Maly was conspicuous, standing six feet four inches tall, with a shiny grey complexion", and gold fillings in his front teeth. But he was a most subtle controller, who shared Deutsch's admiration for Philby." (32) Maly described Philby as "an inspirational figure, a true comrade and idealist." (33) According to Deutsch: "Both of them (Philby and Maly) were intelligent and experienced professionals, as well as genuinely very good people." (34)
Christopher Andrew has argued in his book, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009): "KGB files credit Deutsch with the recruitment of twenty agents during his time in Britain. The most successful, however, were the Cambridge Five: Philby, Maclean, Burgess, Blunt and Cairncross.... All were committed ideological spies inspired by the myth-image of Stalin's Russia as a worker-peasant state with social justice for all rather than by the reality of a brutal dictatorship with the largest peacetime gulag in European history. Deutsch shared the same visionary faith as his Cambridge recruits in the future of a human race freed from the exploitation and alienation of the capitalist system. His message of liberation had all the greater appeal for the Five because it had a sexual as well as a political dimension. All were rebels against the strict sexual mores as well as the antiquated class system of inter war Britain. Burgess and Blunt were gay and Maclean bisexual at a time when homosexual relations, even between consenting adults, were illegal. Cairncross, like Philby a committed heterosexual, later wrote a history of polygamy." (35)
Kim Philby and Litzi Friedmann visited Spain on behalf of the NKVD in February 1934. However, his Soviet controllers began to grow concerned about their marriage. It was a constant reminder that in the past he had held left-wing views. As Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy (1988) has pointed out: "Litzi was a constant reminder to Philby's friends and colleagues that he had spent time in Vienna, that he had rescued this Austrian girl because she was in danger of arrest as a communist, and that he married her to get her a British passport. If, as the Russians wanted, Philby was to establish an impeccable right-wing persona, Litzi, a Jewish communist, was going to be a continuing handicap. There is evidence that Philby's Russian control told him - and perhaps Litzi too - that from now on Philby would operate better alone." (36) Philby told his close friend, Jim Lees, that he would "have to get rid of Litzi". (37)
The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 offered Kim Philby a solution to the problem of how to get away from Litzi. Philby was instructed to go to Spain using freelance journalism as a cover. His main objective was to "spy on the Nationalists and to report back on troop movements, communications, morale, and the military support being provided to Franco's forces by Germany and Italy". (38) Philby quickly ingratiated himself with the people surrounding General Francisco Franco. It also enabled him to get several pro-Franco articles published in The Times to help develop his image as a neo-fascist. Franco was grateful for the support Philby gave to the Nationalists and on 2nd March, 1938, awarded him the Red Cross of Military Merit.
In 1937 Joseph Stalin became concerned that Soviet agents working abroad may be supporters of Leon Trotsky and his theory of World Revolution. Nikolai Yezhov established a new section of the NKVD named the Administration of Special Tasks (AST). It contained about 300 of his own trusted men from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Yezhov's intention was complete control of the NKVD by using men who could be expected to carry out sensitive assignments without any reservations. The new AST operatives would have no allegiance to any members of the old NKVD and would therefore have no reason not to carry out an assignment against any of one of them. The AST was used to remove all those who had knowledge of the conspiracy to destroy Stalin's rivals. One of the first to be arrested was Genrikh Yagoda, the former head of the NKVD.
Within the administration of the ADT, a clandestine unit called the Mobile Group had been created to deal with those considered to be supporters of Trotsky. The head of the Mobile Group was Mikhail Shpiegelglass. By the summer of 1937, over forty intelligence agents serving abroad were summoned back to the Soviet Union. This included Arnold Deutsch, Theodore Maly, Ignaz Reiss, Alexander Orlov Yan Berzin, Artur Artuzov, Elsa Poretsky, Dmitri Bystrolyotov, Boris Vinogradov, Peter Gutzeit, Boris Bazarov, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko and Walter Krivitsky. Maly, Berzin, Artuzov, Vinogradov, Gutzeit, Bazarov and Antonov-Ovseenko were all executed. Reiss refused to return and was murdered in Switzerland.
The task of running the Philby network was taken over by Gregory Grafpen but he was recalled to Moscow in November 1938, where he was arrested and imprisoned. Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014) has pointed out: "Philby's controller in Paris, Ozolin-Haskins, was shot in Moscow in 1937. His successor, Boris Shapak, lasted two more years before he too was ordered home to be killed. A few defected before they could be seized, further fuelling Stalin's paranoia, but most submitted to the inevitable." (39)
Flora Solomon introduced Philby to Aileen Furse at her home on 3rd September 1939. It was the day that Neville Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany. Philby later recalled: "So it was a date well remembered, because it was disastrous for the world and to myself." Solomon commented: "Aileen belonged to that class, now out of fashion, called county. She was typically English, slim and attractive, fiercely patriotic, but awkward in her gestures and unsure of herself in company ." (40)
Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy has argued: "She had shown signs of a self-destructive streak - her family said she sometimes deliberately injured herself to gain attention when she felt she had been neglected.... Philby found that she had an open manner, an easy laugh, and was a good companion. He treated her with sentimental affection, talking to her about his adventures, listening to her stories about her work... They were obviously in love." (41) Solomon commented that "Philby found an avid listener in Aileen and the next I heard they were sharing a flat." (42)
Anthony Cave Brown has suggested that Aileen was the ideal woman for Philby: "She knew little of politics, she was not well read, but she was intelligent, practical, and incapable of disloyalty, either personal or political... Aileen herself had association in the Somerset world of horses and point-to-points. She was just the mate for a progressive conservative, which was the political coloration Kim had assumed at The Times - but not convincingly enough for Aileen's mother; who disapproved of Kim on the grounds that she knew him to have been a communist." (43)
In December 1938 Guy Burgess joined the British secret service. He was appointed to Section D of MI6, dedicated to sabotage and subversion. He became close to Guy Liddell and other senior officers. Burgess had become a member of the establishment. As Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy (1988) has pointed out: "They considered themselves a class apart... Who else would have tolerated the drunken, aggressive, dirty, drug-taking Guy Burgess, seducer of sailors, lorry drivers and chorus boys, except the Bentinck Street clan who saw beyond his appalling facade into a brilliant and original intellect." (44)
It is believed that Burgess suggested to Marjorie Maxse, chief organization officer of the Conservative Party, and chief of staff of MI6 Section D's training school for propaganda, that she should recruit Philby. Maxse agreed and he was given security clearance by Guy Liddell of MI5. Philby points out that Ralph Deakin, the Foreign News Editor of The Times, summoned him to his office and he was told him that the War Office had telephoned to ask whether he was "available for war work".
In his book, My Secret War (1968) Philby described his first meeting with Maxse: "I found myself in the forecourt of St. Ermin's Hotel, near St James's Park station, talking to Miss Marjorie Maxse. She was an intensely likeable elderly lady (then almost as old as I am now). I had no idea then, as I have no idea now, what her precise position in government was. But she spoke with authority, and was evidently in a position at least to recommend me for interesting employment. At an early stage of our talk, she turned the subject to the possibilities of political work against the Germans in Europe. For ten years, I had taken a serious interest in international politics; I had wandered about Europe in a wide arc from Portugal to Greece; I had already formed some less than half-baked ideas on the subversion of the Nazi regime. So I was reasonably well equipped to talk to Miss Maxse. I was helped by the fact that very few people in England at that early date had given serious thought to the subject. Miss Maxse's own ideas had been in the oven very little longer than mine."
A few days later Philby had another meeting with Maxse: "At our second meeting, she turned up accompanied by Guy Burgess, whom I knew well. I was put through my paces again. Encouraged by Guy's presence, I began to show off, name-dropping shamelessly, as one does at interviews. From time to time, my interlocutors exchanged glances; Guy would nod gravely and approvingly. It turned out that I was wasting my time, since a decision had already been taken. Before we parted, Miss Maxse informed me that, if I agreed, I should sever my connection with The Times and report for duty to Guy Burgess at an address in Caxton Street, in the same block as the St. Ermin's Hotel.... I decided that it was my duty to profit from the experiences of the only secret service man of my acquaintance. So I spent the weekend drinking with Guy Burgess. On the following Monday, I reported to him formally. We both had slight headaches." (45)
In July 1940 Section D was taken over by Special Operations Executive. Kim Philby now received training from George Alexander Hill, who had worked against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. While training at Brickendonbury Hall, he met Tomás Harris. Philby later wrote in My Secret War (1968): "Our outstanding personality, however, was undoubtedly Tomás Harris, an art-dealer of great distinction. He was taken on, at Guy's suggestion, as a sort of glorified housekeeper, largely because he and his wife were inspired cooks. He was the only one of us who acquired, in those first few weeks, any sort of personal contact with the trainees. The work was altogether unworthy of his untaught but brilliantly intuitive mind." (46)
Tomás Harris was later transferred to MI5 and in 1940 he established a social group of younger Secret and Security Service officers in both intelligence and special intelligence that met at his home at 6 Chesterfield Gardens. Other members included Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Victor Rothschild, Guy Liddell, Anthony Blunt, Desmond Bristow, Tim Milne, Richard Brooman-White and Peter Wilson. "They were known among themselves simply as the Group, and they met in a magnificent house at 6 Chesterfield Gardens, the home of one Tomás Harris... Tomás had inherited much of his father's artistic talent, as he had inherited the house and his father's fortune." (47)
Philby later explained he was a regular visitor to Chesterfield Gardens and asked his friend if he could get him a job with British intelligence: "It was now more than ever necessary for me to get away from the rhododendrons of Beaulieu. I had to find a better hole with all speed. A promising chance soon presented itself. During my occasional visits to London, I had made a point of calling at Tomás Harris's house in Chesterfield Gardens, where he lived surrounded by his art treasures in an atmosphere of haute cuisine and grand vin. He maintained that no really good table could be spoiled by wine-stains. I have already explained that Harris had joined M15 after the break-up of the training-school at Brickendonbury." (48)
In July 1941, Tomás Harris suggested to his boss, Richard Brooman-White, that Philby would make a good head of M15's Iberian section, which defended Britain against any spies who might come from neutral Spain or Portugal. Brooman-White, in turn, recommended him to Dick White, a senior officer in MI5. White then recommended Philby to the head of Section Five, Major Felix Cowgill, a former officer in the Indian Police. Cowgill approved of Philby but first had to recommend him for the job to Valentine Vivian, because, as well as being deputy chief, Vivian had special responsibilities for counter-espionage. Vivian decided to check Philby out by interviewing his father, Harry St John Bridger Philby. Vivian asked St John about his son. "He was a bit of a communist at Cambridge, wasn't he?" St John replied: "Oh, that was all schoolboy nonsense. "He's a reformed character now." Vivian accepted this assessment of Philby's political past and told Cowgill to go ahead and engage him. (49)
In 1941 Walter Krivitsky, a senior Soviet intelligence officers, who had defected to the West, was brought to London to be interviewed by Jane Archer of MI5. Krivitsky gave details of 61 agents working in Britain. He did not know the names of these agents but described one as being a journalist who had worked for a British newspaper during the Spanish Civil War. Another was described as "a Scotsman of good family, educated at Eton and Oxford, and an idealist who worked for the Russians without payment." These descriptions fitted Philby and Donald Maclean. However, MI5 was not convinced by Krivitsky's testimony and his leads were not followed up. (50)
On Sunday 9th February, 1941, Krivitsky checked into the Bellevue Hotel in Washington at 5:49 p.m. He paid $2.50 in advance for the room and signed his name in the register as Walter Poref. The desk clerk, Joseph Donnelly, described him afterwards as nervous and trembling. At 6:30, he called down for a bottle of Vichy sparkling water. The bellboy considered him a typical foreigner - "quiet and solemn".
The young maid, Thelma Jackson, knocked on Krivitsky's room at 9.30. When she did not receive an answer she assumed the room was free for cleaning and inserted her passkey. She opened the door and discovered a man lying on the bed the wrong way round, with his head toward the foot. She noticed he had "blood all over his head". The police were called and Sergeant Dewey Guest diagnosed the case as an obvious suicide. Coroner MacDonald issued a certificate of suicide that afternoon. At first it was claimed that Krivitsky had committed suicide. However, others claimed his hiding place had been disclosed by a Soviet mole working for MI5 and had been murdered by Soviet agents. (51)
At Section V of the SIS Philby worked under Major Felix Cowgill. The unit included some notable figures such as Hugh Trevor-Roper, Victor Rothschild, Gilbert Ryle and Stuart Hampshire. Major Cowgill was not rated highly by this group. Philby later argued: "Cowgill was up against a formidable array of brains... All these men outclassed Cowgill in brainpower, and some of them could match his combativeness. Trevor-Roper, for instance, was never a meek academic; and it was characteristic of Cowgill's other-worldliness that he should have once threatened Trevor-Roper with court martial. It is a tribute to Cowgill that he fought this combination for nearly five years without realizing the hopelessness of his struggle." (52)
Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014) has argued: "Major Felix Cowgill was the model of the old-style intelligence officer: a former officer in the Indian police, he was rigid, combative, paranoid and quite dim. trevor-Roper dismissed him as a 'purblind, disastrous megalomaniac', and Philby, privately, was equally scathing. 'As an intelligence officer, he was inhibited by lack of imagination, inattention to detail and sheer ignorance of the world'. Cowgill was 'suspicious and bristling' toward anyone outside his section, blindly loyal to those within it, and no match for the Philby charm." (53)
Hugh Trevor-Roper knew about Philby's left-wing past and was amazed that he had been recruited by MI6. Trevor-Roper wrote in The Philby Affair (1968): "I admit that Philby's appointment astonished me at the time, for my old Oxford friend had told me, years before, that his travelling companion was a Communist. By now, of course, I assumed that he was an ex-Communist, but even so I was surprised, for no one was more fanatically anti-Communist, at that time, than the regular members of the two security services, MI6 and MI5. And of all the anti-Communists, none seemed more resolute than the ex-Indian policemen, like Colonel Vivian and Major Cowgill, whose earlier years had been spent in waging war on 'subversion' in the irritant climate of the Far East. That these men should have suspended their deepest convictions in favour of the ex-Communist, Philby, was indeed remarkable. Since it never occurred to me that they could be ignorant of the facts (which were widely known), I assumed that Philby had particular virtues which made him, in their eyes, indispensable. I hasten to add that, although I myself knew of Philby's Communist past, it would never have occurred to me, at that time, to hold it against him. My own view, like that of most of my contemporaries, was that our superiors were lunatic in their anti-Communism. We were therefore pleased that at least one ex-Communist should have broken through the net and that the social prejudices of our superiors had, on this one occasion, triumphed over their political prejudices." (54)
Philby was put in charge of fighting German espionage in the Iberian Peninsula. Philby claimed that a high proportion of German intelligence operations against Britain were mounted from the Iberian Peninsula, the biggest expansion, from two officers to six, was planned for the sub-section dealing with Spain and Portugal." (55) The unit was based in St Albans and Kim Philby and Aileen Furse, rented a cottage on the outskirts of the town.
In 1942 Philby met James Jesus Angleton, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer sent to England for his training. It was the start of a long friendship: "Once I met Philby, the world of intelligence that had once interested me consumed me. He had taken on the Nazis and Fascists head-on and penetrated their operations in Spain and Germany. His sophistication and experience appealed to us... Kim taught me a great deal." (56)
Kim Philby explains in his book, My Secret War (1968) that he was instructed from Moscow to do what he could to arrange a transfer to Section IX (Soviet Affairs). "My Soviet contact asked me if I would be offered a senior position in the section. I thought I would be offered a senior position in the section. I thought I probably would... We talked around the subject for several meetings before he posed what was to be a fateful question. What would happen if I was offered the post instead of Cowgill? I answered that it would mean a significant promotion and improve my chances of determining the course of events, including my own postings... Headquarters had informed him that I must do everything, but everything, to ensure that I became head of Section IX, whether or not it merged with Section V." (57)
Philby plan was to get Major Felix Cowgill removed. Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014) points out that the removal of "Cowgill was carried out with surgical detachment, and no remorse." Philby "stoked the antagonism between Cowgill and his senior colleagues" including Lieutenant Colonel Claude Dansey and Colonel Valentine Vivian and "manoeuvred himself into a position as prime candidate to take over Section IX". The plan worked and in September 1944, he was summoned to see Major General Stewart Menzies, Director-General of MI6. Philby was told by Menzies that he was to be placed in charge of Section IX (Soviet Affairs). When Cowgill discovered he had been passed over for the top job, he immediately resigned. (58)
Philby was now in charge of Britain's anti-Soviet intelligence operations and was now in a position to inform Moscow not only of what Britain was doing to counter Soviet espionage, but also of Britain's own espionage efforts against the Soviet Union. As Robert Cecil pointed out: "At one stroke he got rid of a staunch anti-communist and ensured that the whole post-war effort to counter communist espionage would become known in the Kremlin. The history of espionage offers few, if any, comparable masterstrokes." (59) Another historian put it another way: "The fox was not merely guarding the hen house, but building it, running it, assessing its strengths and frailties, and planning its future construction." (60)
In August 1944, Konstantin Volkov, a consular official in the Soviet embassy in Istanbul, sent a letter to Chantry Hamilton Page, the vice consul in the British embassy, requesting an urgent appointment. He decided the letter was a "prank" and ignored it. A few days later, on 4th September, Volkov, accompanied by his wife Zoya, arrived in person and asked for a meeting with Page. This was granted and Volkov explained that before coming to Turkey he had been working for several years on the British desk at the headquarters of NKVD in Moscow. (61)
Page did not speak Russian and so he brought in John Leigh Reed, first secretary at the embassy, to translate what Volkov had to say. Reed later reported: "I was serving in our embassy in Turkey in 1945.... One morning this Russian walks into reception looking very nervous and asks to see the acting consul-general, Chantry Page. The Russian is Konstantin Volkov, Page's opposite number in the Soviet embassy. I'd done my Russian exams so I get the job as interpreter. Anyway, it turns out that Volkov is really an NKVD officer and he has decided to defect. He says he wants a laissez-passer for himself and his wife to Cyprus and £27,500. In return he is offering the real names of three Soviet agents working in Britain. He says two of them are working in the Foreign Office, one the head of a counter-espionage organization in London." (62) Volkov also asked for political asylum in Britain under a new identity. Volkov told Page: "I consider this sum as a minimum considering the importance of the material given to you, as a result of which all my relatives living in the territory of the USSR are doomed." (63)
The British ambassador to Turkey, Sir Maurice Peterson, refused to deal with Volkov and told John Leigh Reed to pass the information to British intelligence. As Volkov told them that the Russians could read some British ciphers, had pleaded that all communications about him should go to London by bag. (64) This meant that it took ten days before it reached the desk of Major General Stewart Menzies, Director-General of MI6. He immediately summoned Kim Philby and handed him the report.
Philby was shocked by the information in the report. He wrote in My Secret War (1968): "In support of his request for asylum, Volkov promised to reveal details of the headquarters of the NKVD, in which apparently he had worked for many years. He also offered details of Soviet networks and agents operating abroad. Inter alia, he claimed to know the real names of three Soviet agents working in Britain. Two of them were in the Foreign Office; one was head of a counter-espionage organization in London. Having delivered himself of his shopping list, he stipulated with the greatest vehemence that no mention of his approach should be relayed to London by telegram, on the grounds that the Russians had broken a variety of British cyphers.... What proved to be of some importance later was that the Embassy had respected Volkov's stipulation about communications, and had sent the papers home, securely but slowly, by bag. Thus it was over a week after Volkov's approach to Page that the material was examined by anyone competent to assess its importance."
Philby realised he needed time to arrange the elimination of Konstantin Volkov: "I rejected the idea of suggesting caution in case Volkov's approach should prove to be a provocation. It would be useless in the short run, and might possibly compromise me at a later date. The only course was to put a bold face on it. I told the Chief that I thought we were on to something of the greatest importance. I would like a little time to dig into the background and, in the light of any further information on the subject, to make appropriate recommendations for action. The Chief acquiesced, instructing me to report first thing next morning and, in the meanwhile, to keep the papers strictly to myself." (65)
Kim Philby convinced Stewart Menzies that he should go to Istanbul to meet Konstantin Volkov. Philby then took as much time as possible to reach his destination. Philby knew that if he failed to prevent Volkov's defection, he would be arrested as a spy. Other members of his network such as Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross and Michael Straight, were also in danger.
Philby did not arrive in Turkey until 26th September 1945, twenty-two days after Volkov's initial contact. John Leigh Reed asked him why MI6 had taken so long to sort the issue out. Philby lied by claiming: "Sorry, old man, it would have interfered with leave arrangements." Reed was shocked by this response and later recalled: "I thought he was just irresponsible and incompetent." (66)
It was only when Philby got to the British embassy that he gave permission for Chantry Hamilton Page to telephone the Soviet embassy to arrange a meeting with Konstantin Volkov. Eventually he was put through to someone who called himself Volkov. Page knew at once that it was not Volkov: "It wasn't Volkov, I know Volkov's voice perfectly well. I've spoken to him dozens of times." (67)
Page tried again the following day. This time he was told that Konstantin Volkov was in Moscow. "Then there was a sort of scuffle and slam, and the line went dead." Page then went around to speak to the Soviet consulate-general in person. He was back in an hour. "It's no bloody good. I can't get any sense out of that madhouse. Nobody's ever heard of Volkov." Philby told Page that it was Volkov's own fault because he had insisted on diplomatic bag communication. Reed rejected this argument suggesting that the real problem was the time it took MI6 took to send someone to Turkey. (68)
Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014), has pointed out: "Konstantin Volkov left no traces: no photograph, no file in the Russian archives, no evidence about whether his motives were mercenary, personal or ideological. Neither his family, nor that of his wife, have ever emerged from the darkness of Stalin's state. He had been right to assume that his relatives were doomed. Volkov was not merely liquidated, he was expunged." (69) Philby showed no sympathy for Volkov, describing him as "a nasty piece of work" who "deserved what he got". (70)
On 5th September 1945, Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the Russian Legation in Ottawa, Canada, went to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and claimed he had evidence of Soviet spies working in the West. The next morning Norman Robertson, Undersecretary of State for External Affairs, had a meeting with Prime Minister Mackenzie King. He explained that Gouzenko had claimed that he had documents showing that the Soviets had spies in Canada and the United States and that "some of these men were around" Edward Stettinius, the U.S. Secretary of State. King wrote in his diary that "Robertson seemed to feel that the information might be so important both to the States... and to Britain that it would be in their interests to seize it no matter how it was obtained." King was worried that taking these documents might cause political problems in the future. "I said to Robinson... that I thought we should be extremely careful in becoming a party to any course of action which would link the government of Canada up with this matter in a manner which might cause Russia to feel that we had performed an unfriendly act. That to seek to gather information in any underhand way would make clear that we did not trust the Embassy... My own feeling is that the individual has incurred the displeasure of the Embassy and is really seeking to shield himself." (71)
Amy W. Knight, the author of How the Cold War Began (2005), has pointed out: "King would later be criticized for not immediately grasping the importance of what the defector had to offer and for his naivete in trusting the Soviets. But his reaction was understandable. Apart from wishing to avoid a diplomatic debacle, King also questioned the motives of the potential defector. The man was quite possibly lying to save his own skin, or because he wanted to live in Canada and needed a means to gain asylum. Whatever the case, King was not about to allow a Soviet code clerk to disrupt the cordial diplomacy that had characterized Ottawa's relations with Moscow." (72)
It was later pointed out that William Stephenson, the head of British Security Coordination, was involved in Gouzenko's defection. He "argued strongly against King's view that Gouzenko should be ignored. The Russian, he said, would certainly have information valuable not merely to Canada but also to Britain, the United States, and other Allies. Furthermore, Gouzenko's life was almost certainly in danger. They should act, and do so immediately, by taking Gouzenko in." (73)
Stephenson arranged for Gouzenko to be taken into protective custody. He was then transfered to Camp X, where he and his wife lived in guarded seculusion. Later two former BSC agents interviewed him. He claiming he had evidence of an Soviet spy ring in Canada. Gouzenko provided evidence that led to the arrest of 22 local agents and 15 Soviet spies in Canada. This included Agatha Chapman, Fred Rose, Sam Carr, Raymond Boyer, Edward Mazerall, Gordon Lunan, and Kathleen Willsher. Information from Gouzenko also resulted in the arrest and conviction of Klaus Fuchs and Allan Nunn May.
The case was passed on to Kim Philby. He later recalled: "The first information about Gouzenko and Elli came from Stephenson. "C" (Stewart menzies) called me in and asked me my opinion about it. I said Gouzenko's defection was obviously very important and we treated it as such. But it was a disaster for the KGB and there was no way I could help. The Mounties had Gouzenko so well protected that it was impossible for the Russians to do anything about him, bump him off or anything like that. So he was able to give away a big Canadian network, and the telegrams he brought with him when he defected would have been of great help to Western decrypters." (74)
By 17th September Philby was reporting what Gouzenko was telling BSC. "Stanley (Philby) reports that he managed to learn details of the information turned over to Canada by the traitor Gouzenko... As a result of these affairs the British intelligence and counter-intelligence organs are undoubtedly going to take effective measures soon against illegal activity by fraternal and Soviet intelligence." (75)
Philby was expected to go to Canada but instead he sent Roger Hollis. It has been argued by Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014), the reason for this was that he feared Gouzenko was about to expose him as a Soviet spy. "He (Philby) waited anxiously for the results of Gouzenko's debriefing. Philby may have contemplated defection to the Soviet Union. The defector exposed a major spy network in Canada, and revealed that the Soviets had obtained information about the atomic bomb project from a spy working at the Anglo-Canadian nuclear research laboratory in Montreal. But Gouzenko worked for the GRU, Soviet military intelligence, not the NKVD; he knew little about Soviet espionage in Britain." (76)
Aileen gave birth to Josephine (1941), John (1943) and Tom (1944). Kim Philby divorced Litzi Friedmann on 17th September 1946. He married Aileen Furse a week later. He was thirty-four; she was thirty-five and seven months pregnant with their fourth child, Miranda. The witnesses were Tomás Harris and Flora Solomon. It is claimed by Phillip Knightley that "Aileen had got over her suspicions at his long absences from the house, which he never explained except to say that they had to do with his work. She was ignorant even of the exact nature of his job; only that he it had something to do with the Foreign Office and the war effort. Her contribution to the marriage was to provide a relaxed domestic atmosphere, to bear Philby's children, and to accept his dictum that they should not receive any sort of religious education." (77)
Over the next few years her mental health deteriorated. Aileen Philby suffered from a psychiatric disorder, later known as Münchausen syndrome, that manifested itself in episodes of self-harm and bouts of pyromania in order to attract sympathy and attention. Aileen was described as "awkward in her gestures and unsure of herself in company". (78) Ben Macintyre has suggested that "perhaps Aileen's distress reflected the first stirrings of doubt; she may already have begun to wonder whether her husband was really the charming, uxorious, popular, straight-batting bureaucrat that he seemed." (79)
In 1947 Yuri Modin was sent to London and became the main contact of Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Modin told Philby that "his position was becoming increasingly endangered through an intensification of the Security Service's inquiries about him." (80) At first Modin feared that Philby was still working in the interests of British intelligence: "He (Philby) was so completely, psychologically and physically, the British intelligence officer that I could never quite accept that he was one of us, a Marxist in the clandestine service of the Soviet Union." (81)
Modin was told by Moscow to be very careful with him: "We were forbidden to eat with him, or drink with him, or sit in armchairs together... You cannot take the measure of a man under these circumstances. You can judge such a spy only by his performance. His intelligence was consistently high-level, important, the sort that the opposition was not likely to want out, the sort that we could not get by other means... Only Deutsch's early estimates of him spoke of his ideological loyalty. But men change, especially with men such as Philby, who before 1951 and his partial exposure could have had anything he wanted out of his life. He was psychologically the complete British Secret Service officer. He looked like one. We thought he could never be anything else." (82)
In 1949 Kim Philby became SIS representative in Washington, as top British Secret Service officer working in liaison with the CIA and FBI. He also handled secret communications between the British prime minister, Clement Attlee and President Harry S. Truman. According to Ray Cline, it had been left to the Americans to select their preferred candidate and it was James Jesus Angleton who was the main person advocating appointing Philby. (83) Philby wrote in My Secret War (1968): "At one stroke, it would take me right back into the middle of intelligence policy making and it would give me a close-up view of the American intelligence organisations." (84)
On his arrival in America he was told about Meredith Gardner and his team at Arlington Hall, Virginia, had broken the code used by Soviet spies. The project was named Venona (a word which appropriately, has no meaning). (85) Gardner and his fellow code-breakers were able to work out that more than 200 Americans had become Soviet agents during the Second World War. (86) They had spies in the State Department and most leading government agencies, the Manhattan Project and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Gardner later recalled that Philby was a regular visitor to Arlington Hall. He observed the strange intensity with which Philby had observed the decryption teams at work: "Philby was looking on with no doubt rapt attention but he never said a word, never a word." (87)
Aileen Philby and the children also moved to America and the Philby's took a spacious, ramshackle two-storeyed place at 4100 Nebraska Avenue. They gave a lot of parties. As Phillip Knightley pointed out: "As the months passed the drinking - not only Philby's but Aileen's too - seemed to get heavier, and the birth of a fifth child, Harry, who suffered from convulsions, produced tensions in the family that Aileen seemed to have difficulty in handling." (88)
Kim Philby was able to discover that SIS planned to overthrow Enver Hoxha, the communist dictator of Albania. Philby was able to communicate this information to the Soviet Union and the Albanians involved in the conspiracy were arrested and executed. Modrin later recalled: "He gave us vital information about the number of men involved, the day and the time of the landing, the weapons they were bringing and the precise programme of action... The Soviets duly passed on Philby's information to Albanians who set up ambushes." (89)
Philby's home in Nebraska Avenue became a gathering place for Washington's intelligence elite. This included Walter Bedell Smith (Director of the CIA), Allen Dulles (Deputy Director of the CIA), Frank Wisner (head of the Office of Policy Coordination), James Jesus Angleton (head of staff Office of Policy Coordination), William K. Harvey (CIA counter-intelligence) and Robert Lamphere (FBI Soviet Section). Philby made a point of dropping in on the offices of American intelligence officers in the late afternoon, knowing that his hosts would sooner or later "suggest drifting out to a friendly bar for a further round of shop talk." (90) As one CIA officer pointed out: "Intelligence officers talk trade among themselves all the time... Philby was privy to a hell of a lot beyond what he should have known." (91)
Philby was especially close to Angleton. Philby later explained they had lunch at Harvey's Restaurant every week: "We formed the habit of lunching once a week at Harvey's where he demonstrated regularly that overwork was not his only vice. He was one of the thinnest men I have ever met, and one of the biggest eaters. Lucky Jim! After a year of keeping up with Angleton, I took the advice of an elderly lady friend and went on a diet, dropping from thirteen stone to about eleven in three months. Our close association was, I am sure, inspired by genuine friendliness on both sides. But we both had ulterior motives. Angleton wanted to place the burden of exchanges between CIA and SIS on the CIA office in London - which was about ten times as big as mine. By doing so, he could exert the maximum pressure on SIS's headquarters while minimizing SIS intrusions into his own. As an exercise in nationalism, that was fair enough. By cultivating me to the full, he could better keep me under wraps. For my part, I was more than content to string him along. The greater the trust between us overtly, the less he would suspect covert action. Who gained most from this complex game I cannot say. But I had one big advantage. I knew what he was doing for CIA and he knew what I was doing for SIS. But the real nature of my interest was something he did not know. (92)
In 1950 Stewart Menzies and John Sinclair discussed the possibility of Philby becoming the next Director General of the MI6. Dick White was asked to produce a report on Philby. He instructed Arthur Martin and Jane Archer to carry out an investigation into his past. They became concerned about how quickly he changed from a communist sympathizer to a supporter of pro-fascist organizations. They also discovered that the description of the mole provided by Walter Krivitsky and Igor Gouzenko was close to that of Philby's time in Spain as a journalist. It was now decided that Philby could in fact be a double-agent. However, he was not recalled from America.
In 1950 Guy Burgess was appointed the first secretary at the British embassy in Washington. Philby suggested to Aileen Philby that Burgess should live in the basement of their house. Nicholas Elliott explained that Aileen was completely opposed to the idea. "Knowing the trouble that would inevitably ensue - and remembering Burgess's drunken and homosexual orgies when he had stayed with them in Instanbul - Aileen resisted this move, but bowed in the end (and as usual) to Philby's wishes... The inevitable drunken scenes and disorder ensued and tested the marriage to its limits." (93)
Meredith Gardner and his code-breaking team at Arlington Hall discovered that a Soviet spy with the codename of Homer was found on a number of messages from the KGB station at the Soviet consulate-general in New York City to Moscow Centre. The cryptanalysts discovered that the spy had been in Washington since 1944. The FBI concluded that it could be one of 6,000 people. At first they concentrated their efforts on non-diplomatic employees of the embassy. In April 1951, the Venona decoders found the vital clue in one of the messages. Homer had had regular contacts with his Soviet control in New York, using his pregnant wife as an excuse. This information enabled them to identify the spy as Donald Maclean, the first secretary at the Washington embassy during the Second World War. (94)
Kim Philby was told of the breakthrough. Philby took the news calmly as there was no real evidence, as yet, to connect him directly with Maclean, and the two men had not met for several years. MI5 decided not to arrest Maclean straight away. The Venona material was too secret to be used in court and so it was decided to keep Maclean under survelliance in the hope of gathering further evidence, for example, catching him in direct contact with his Soviet controller. Philby relayed the news to Moscow and demanded that Maclean be extracted from the UK before he was interrogated and compromised the entire British spy network.
Philby made the decision to use Guy Burgess to warn Maclean that he must flee to Moscow. The two men dined in a Chinese restaurant in downtown Washington, selected because it had individual booths with piped music, to prevent any eavesdroppers. Burgess said he would return to London in order to receive details of the escape plan. Before he left Philby made Burgess promise he would not flee with Maclean to Moscow: "Don't go with him when he goes. If you do, that'll be the end of me. Swear that you won't." Philby was aware that if Burgess went with Maclean, he would be suspected as a member of the network. (95)
He arrived back in England on 7th May 1951, and immediately contacted Anthony Blunt, who got a message to Yuri Modin, the Soviet controller of the Philby network. Blunt told Modin: "There's serious trouble, Guy Burgess has just arrived back in London. Homer's about to be arrested... It's only a question of days now, maybe hours... Donald's now in such a state that I'm convinced he'll break down the moment they arrest him." (96)
After receiving instructions from his superiors, Modin arranged for Maclean to escape to the Soviet Union. Modin was informed that Maclean would be arrested on 28th May. The plan was for Maclean to be interviewed by the Foreign Secretary, Herbert Morrison. "It has been assumed that Morrison held a meeting and that someone present at that meeting tipped off Burgess." (97) Another possibility is that a senior figure in MI5 was a Soviet spy, and he told Modin of the plan to arrest Maclean. This is the view of Peter Wright who suspects it was Roger Hollis who provided Modin with the information. (98)
On 25th May 1951, Burgess appeared at the Maclean's home in Tatsfield with a rented car, packed bags and two round-trip tickets booked in false names for the Falaise, a pleasure boat leaving that night for St Malo in France. Modin had insisted that Burgess must accompany Maclean. He later explained: "The Centre had concluded that we had not one, but two burnt-out agents on our hands on our hands. Burgess had lost most of his former value to us... Even if he retained his job, he could never again feed intelligence to the KGB as he had done before. He was finished." (99)
Maclean and Burgess took a train to Paris, and then another train to Berne in Switzerland. They then picked up fake passports in false names from the Soviet embassy. They then took another train to Zurich, where they boarded a plan bound for Stockholm, with a stopover in Prague. They left the airport and now safely behind the Iron Curtain, they were taken by car to Moscow. (100) On his arrival in the Soviet Union Maclean issued a statement: "I am haunted and burdened by what I know of official secrets, especially by the content of high-level Anglo-American conversations. The British Government, whom I have served, have betrayed the realm to Americans ... I wish to enable my beloved country to escape from the snare which faithless politicians have set ... I have decided that I can discharge my duty to my country only through prompt disclosure of this material to Stalin." (101)
When Donald Maclean defected in 1951 Philby became the chief suspect as the man who had tipped him off that he was being investigated. The main evidence against him was his friendship with Guy Burgess, who had gone with Maclean to Moscow. Philby was recalled to London. CIA chief, Walter Bedell Smith ordered any officers with knowledge of Philby and Burgess to submit reports on the men. William K. Harvey replied that after studying all the evidence he was convinced that "Philby was a Soviet spy". (102)
James Jesus Angleton reacted in a completely different way. In Angleton's estimation, Philby was no traitor, but an honest and brilliant man who had been cruelly duped by Burgess. According to Tom Mangold, "Angleton... remained convinced that his British friend would be cleared of suspicion" and warned Bedell Smith that if the CIA started making unsubstantiated charges of treachery against a senior MI6 officer this would seriously damage Anglo-American relations, since Philby was "held in high esteem" in London. (103)
On 12th June, 1951, Philby was interviewed by Dick White, the chief of MI5 counter-intelligence. Philby later recalled: "He (White) wanted my help, he said, in clearing up this appalling Burgess-Maclean affair. I gave him a lot of information about Burgess's past and impressions of his personality; taking the line that it was almost inconceivable that anyone like Burgess, who courted the limelight instead of avoiding it, and was generally notorious for indiscretion, could have been a secret agent, let alone a Soviet agent from whom strictest security standards would be required. I did not expect this line to be in any way convincing as to the facts of the case; but I hoped it would give the impression that I was implicitly defending myself against the unspoken charge that I, a trained counter-espionage officer, had been completely fooled by Burgess. Of Maclean, I disclaimed all knowledge.... As I had only met him twice, for about half an hour in all and both times on a conspiratorial basis, since 1937, I felt that I could safely indulge in this slight distortion of the truth." (104)
White told Guy Liddell that he did not find Philby "wholly convincing". Liddell also discussed the matter with Philby and described him in his diary as "extremely worried". Liddell had known Guy Burgess for many years and was shocked by the news he was a Soviet spy. He now considered it possible that Philby was also a spy. "While all the points against him are capable of another explanation their cumulative effect is certainly impressive." Liddell also thought about the possibility that another friend, Anthony Blunt, was part of the network: "I dined with Anthony Blunt. I feel certain that Blunt was never a conscious collaborator with Burgess in any activities that he may have conducted on behalf of the Comintern." (105)
Nicholas Elliott was one friend who remained convinced that Philby was not a spy. "Elliott was wholeheartedly, unwaveringly convinced of Philby's innocence. They had joined MI6 together, watched cricket together, dined and drunk together. It was simply inconceivable to Elliott that Philby could be a Soviet spy. The Philby he knew never discussed politics. In more than a decade of close friendship, he had never heard Philby utter a word that might be considered left-wing, let alone communist. Philby might have made a mistake, associating with a man like burgess; he might have dabbled in radical politics at university; he might even have married a communist, and concealed the fact. But these were errors, not crimes." (106)
CIA chief, Walter Bedell Smith, had been convinced by the report produced by William K. Harvey and wrote directly to Stewart Menzies, the head of MI6, and made it clear that he considered that Philby was a Soviet spy and would not be permitted to return to Washington and urged the British government to "clean house regardless of whom may be hurt". Burton Hersh, the author of The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA (1992), has claimed that the underlying message was blunt: "Fire Philby or we break off the intelligence relationship." (107) Dick White also wrote to Menzies suggesting that MI6 take action as a matter of urgency.
Menzies refused to believe Philby was a Soviet spy but realised he would have to dismiss him. He agreed to give him a generous payoff, £4,000, equivalent to more than £32,000 today. Philby was not happy with the settlement: "My unease was increased shortly afterwards when he told me that he had decided against paying me the whole sum at once. I would get £2,000 down and the rest in half-yearly instalments of £500." (108) Nicholas Elliott still continued to support Philby and argued that he had been treated very badly and believed that a "dedicated, loyal officer had been treated abominably on the basis of evidence that there was no more than paranoid conspiracy theory." (109)
Prime Minister Winston Churchill became involved in the case and suggested that Kim Philby was interviewed again about the possibilities of him being a Soviet spy. This time he was cross-examined by Helenus Milmo, MI5's legal adviser and an experienced barrister. Milmo accused Philby of spying for the Soviets since the 1930s, sending hundreds of agents to their deaths, betraying Konstantin Volkov and tipping off Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. Milmo pointed out that the volume of radio traffic between London and Moscow had jumped dramatically after Volkov's offer to defect, suggesting a tip-off to Moscow Centre, followed by a similar leap in traffic between Moscow and Istanbul.
The interrogation lasted for over four hours. In the next room, a posse of senior intelligence officers, including Dick White, Guy Liddell and Stewart Menzies. Liddell wrote in his diary: "The interrogation of Philby has been completed without admission, although Milmo is firmly of the opinion that he is or has been a Russian agent, and that he was responsible for the leakage about Maclean and Burgess... Philby's attitude throughout was quite extraordinary. He never made any violent protestation of innocence, nor did he make any attempt to prove his case." (110) Milmo reported to White: "I find myself unable to avoid the conclusion that Philby is and has been for many years a Soviet agent... There's no hope of a confession, but he's as guilty as hell." (111)
Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014), points out that by 1952 Aileen Philby was convinced that her husband was a Soviet spy: "Aileen knew that her husband had lied to her, consistently and coldly, from the moment they first met, and throughout their marriage. The knowledge of his duplicity tipped her into a psychological abyss from which she would never fully emerge. She confronted Kim, who denied everything. The ensuing row, far from dissipating her fears, merely confirmed her conviction that he was lying." (112)
Kim Philby struggled to find work after being dismissed from MI6. Eventually a friend found him work in an import-export firm in London. The salary was £600 a year. Aileen's mother provided funds for the family to move into a large Edwardian house in Crowborough. Philby's Soviet controller, Yuri Modin, reported that he was being constantly followed by MI5 officers. "Several times our counter-surveillance teams reported the presence of MI5 agents hovering in his vicinity." (113) After eighteen months Philby lost his job and relied on handouts from his father. Modin also arranged for Anthony Blunt to pass £5,000 in cash to Philby.
In July 1955, Major General Sir John Sinclair, wrote to Dick White claiming that Philby's interrogation by Helenus Milmo had been "biased" and that the former MI6 officer had been the "victim of a miscarriage of justice". (114) On 7th October, Philby was called in to be interviewed again. At the end of the session he was told: "You may be pleased to know that we have come to a unanimous decision about your innocence". Philby was delighted and wrote: "The fact that I had made no attempt to escape over a long period was beginning to tell heavily in my favour." (115)
When he heard the news J. Edgar Hoover was furious. He leaked a story to a journalist that Philby was a Soviet spy who had arranged for Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to flee to the Soviet Union in 1951. The journalist published the story in the New York Sunday Times on 23rd October 1955. Two days later Marcus Lipton asked Anthony Eden in the House of Commons: "Has the prime minister made up his mind to cover up at all costs the dubious third-man activities of Mr. Harold Philby". Eden refused to reply but, Harold Macmillan, the foreign secretary, issued a statement a couple of days later: "While in government service he (Philby) carried out his duties ably and conscientiously, and I have no reason to conclude that Mr Philby has at any time betrayed the interests of his country, or to identify him with the so-called 'Third Man', if indeed there was one." (116)
Conservative Party MP, Richard Brooman-White, made a ferocious attack on Lipton, and accused him of being like Joseph McCarthy: "He (Lipton) is in favour of acting on suspicion, of smearing on suspicion, by directing public suspicion on to an individual against whom nothing at all has been proved. We must leave it to his own conscience to straighten out what that may cost in personal suffering to the wife, children and friends of the person involved. The only thing that has been proved against Mr Philby is that he had Burgess staying with him and he had certain Communist friends." (117)
Philby now held a press conference at his mother's flat in Drayton Gardens. Ben Macintyre has pointed out: "What followed was a dramatic tour de force, a display of cool public dishonesty that few politicians or lawyers could match. There was no trace of a stammer, no hint of nerves or embarrassment. Philby looked the world in the eye with a steady gaze, and lied his head off." (118) Philby denied he was a spy. He added that "I have never been a communist and the last time I spoke to a communist knowing he was one, was in 1934". The Soviet intelligence officer Yuri Modin, who was based in London, watched the press conference on the evening television news. He described his performance as "breathtaking". He later recalled: "Kim played his cards with consummate cunning. We concluded, just as he had, that the British government had no serious evidence against him." (119)
During the press conference Philby accused Marcus Lipton of lying and challenged him to repeat his claims outside the protection of the House of Commons. Lipton was forced to issue a statement where he withdrew his comments about Philby. He said his evidence had been based on information from within MI5: "My evidence was insubstantial. Although I knew the name of the security officer... I could not produce it. It would have ruined the man's career. Members of MI5 had strict orders not to make contact with politicians. So when it came to a showdown my legal advisers counselled me to retract." (120)
In 1956 Nicholas Elliott arranged for Kim Philby to work for MI6 in Beirut. His cover was as a journalist being employed by the Observer and the Economist: "The Observer and Economist would share Philby's services, and pay him £3,000 a year plus travel and expenses. At the same time, Elliott arranged that Philby would resume working for MI6, no longer as an officer, but as an agent, gathering information for British intelligence in one of the world's most sensitive areas. He would be paid a retainer through Godfrey Paulson, chief of the Beirut MI6 station." (121)
Yuri Modin later pointed out that Philby provided some very important information to the Soviet Union. "Philby was by no means our only asset in the Middle East, and the KGB had its own experts here in Moscow and in the capitals, highly trained Arabists all. But I can say that Philby sent us excellent results that attracted much attention at the top, although occasionally there was criticism of him concerning his tendency to send us hard news wrapped up in beautifully-written political evaluations. We did not need this because we had our own people to make evaluations. What we needed from Philby was not his views but his news. But in all he served as well." (122)
Aileen Philby did not go with her husband to Beirut. Her friend, Flora Solomon, became increasingly concerned about her mental state and claimed that she had been "abandoned by her husband." (123) Solomon wrote to Philby complaining about the treatment of his wife. Philby replied that Aileen's claims were "hooey" and "that I had made a clear arrangement with her that she should pay the household bills and forward me the receipts, whereupon I would refund her." So far, he had not had a single receipt. "So, no receipts, no money." Philby added that if she could afford "the luxuries of risking her neck at point-to-points, she can damn well send me the receipts." He finished his attack on his wife with the comment that he was "fed up with her idleness". (124)
Kim Philby had become involved with Eleanor Brewer, the wife of Sam Pope Brewer, a journalist working for the New York Times. She later recalled: "What touched me first about Kim was his loneliness. A certain old-fashioned reserve set him apart from the easy familiarity of the other journalists. He was then forty-four, of medium height, very lean, with a handsome heavily-lined face. His eyes were an intense blue... He had a gift for creating an atmosphere of such intimacy that I found myself talking freely to him. I was very impressed by his beautiful manners. We took him under our wing. Kim soon became one of our closest friends." (125)
Anthony Cave Brown, the author of Treason of Blood (1995) has argued that within two weeks of meeting they became lovers, meeting secretly at little cafes, in the mountains, at the beaches, anywhere they would not be seen" by friends. "He showered her with little love notes written on paper from cigarette packages... Brewer had long since ceased to concern himself with his wife's fidelity and kept the marriage in place only for the sake of their daughter, Annie." Brown believes that there is evidence that Wilbur Crane Eveland, the CIA station chief in Beirut, had asked Eleanor to spy on Philby. "Certain letters shoe Eveland advising a CIA officer about the relationship, suggesting that she was his controlled informant in the Philby case." (126)
On 12th December 1957, Aileen Philby was discovered dead in the bedroom of her house in Crowborough by her eldest daughter. Her friends believed she had killed herself, with drink and pills. However, her psychiatrist suspected, that she "might have been murdered" by Kim Philby because she knew too much. "The coroner ruled she had died from heart failure, myocardial degeneration, tuberculosis, and a respiratory infection having contracted influenza. Her alcoholism undoubtedly accelerated her death." (127) Flora Solomon blamed Philby for the death of Aileen. She wrote: "I endeavoured to strike him from my memory." (128)
Richard Beeston and his wife, Moyra, were shopping in Bierut's Bab Idriss, when they met Philby: "I have wonderful news darlings, I want you to come and celebrate." In a bar he produced a telegram from England informing him of Aileen's death. It was, he said, a "wonderful escape", as he was now free to marry "a wonderful girl." (129) However, Philby complained to another friend, that he was annoyed that she had died in a way that raised questions about his involvement: "She can't even die in an uncomplicated way, it has to be all crumbled up with problems." (130)
It took another seven months before Eleanor Brewer to obtain her divorce. She at once sent a telegram to Kim Philby who was still in Bierut. He immediately went out to find Sam Pope Brewer. According to Eleanor he told him: "I've come to tell you that I've had a cable from Eleanor. She has got her divorce and I want you to be the first person to know that I'm going to marry her." They married in Holban registry office in London on 24 January 1959. (131)
In December 1961, Anatoli Golitsin, a KGB agent, working in Finland, defected to the CIA. He was immediately flown to the United States and lodged in a safe house called Ashford Farm near Washington. Interviewed by James Jesus Angleton Golitsin supplied information about a large number of Soviet agents working in the West. Arthur Martin, head of MI5's D1 Section, went to to interview Golitsin in America. Golitsin provided evidence that suggested that Kim Philby had been a member of a Ring of Five agents based in Britain. The same spy ring that had included Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. (132)
An old friend, Flora Solomon, was also feeling hostile to Philby. She disapproved of what she considered were Philby's pro-Arab articles in The Observer. She recalled in her book, Baku to Baker Street (1984): "The despatches he sent from the Middle East to the Observer were causing me distress. To anyone with eyes to see they were permeated with an anti-Israel bias. They accepted the Soviet view of Middle East politics... The thought occured to me that Philby had, after all, remained a Communist, notwithstanding his ascent in the Foreign Service and his clearance by MI5 of possible complicity in the Burgess-Maclean scandal." (133)
It has been argued that "her love for Israel proved greater than her old socialist loyalties." In August 1962, during a reception at the Weizmann Institute, she told Victor Rothschild, who had worked with MI6 during the Second World War and enjoyed close connections with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service: "How is it that The Observer uses a man like Kim? Don't the know he's a Communist?" She then went on to tell Rothschild that she suspected that Philby and his friend, Tomas Harris, had been Soviet agents since the 1930s. "Those two were so close as to give me an intuitive feeling that Harris was more than a friend."
Rothschild arranged for Solomon to be interviewed by Arthur Martin. Another MI5 agent, Peter Wright, was also involved and later wrote about it in his book, Spycatcher (1987): "I monitored the interview back at Leconfield House on the seventh floor. Flora Solomon was a strange, rather untrustworthy woman, who never told the truth about her relations with people like Philby in the 1930s, although she clearly had a grudge against him. With much persuasion, she told Arthur a version of the truth. She said she had known Philby very well before the war. She had been fond of him, and when he was working in Spain as a journalist with The Times he had taken her,out for lunch on one of his trips back to London. During the meal he told her he was doing a very dangerous job for peace - he wanted help. Would she help him in the task? He was working for the Comintern and the Russians. It would be a great thing if she would join the cause. She refused to join the cause, but told him that he could always come to her if he was desperate. Arthur held back from quizzing her. This was her story, and it mattered little to us whether she had, in reality, as we suspected, taken more than the passive role she described during the 1930s." (134)
Wright reports that Flora Solomon was very scared. She pointed out that she told Victor Rothschild about Tomás Harris about her suspicions that Philby's friend, was a Soviet spy. He had recently died in a mysterious car accident in Spain. "I will never give public evidence. There is too much risk. You see what has happened to Tomás since I spoke to Victor... It will leak, I know it will leak, and then what will my family do?" Although Solomon never provided any hard evidence against Harris, who was also a close friend of Guy Burgess, he had already been under suspicion that he was a Soviet spy. "Solomon could not have known it was Harris who had been instrumental in rescuing Philby from operational oblivion in SOE... Just how Harris himself managed to jump to MI5 has never been accounted for. Burgess, who was responsible for obtaining Harris's semi-official MI6 status, had no direct office contact with Liddell." (135)
Andrew Lownie is one of those who believes Harris might have been murdered: "One afternoon driving along a familiar stretch of road in Majorca, where he lived, Harris' new Citroen inexplicably veered off the road. He had not been drinking or speeding and the suspicion has always been that someone had tampered with the car." (136) Chapman Pincher, the author of Their Trade is Treachery (1981), agrees that it is possible that Harris had been eliminated by the KGB: "The police could find nothing wrong with the car, which hit a tree, but Harris's wife, who survived the crash, could not explain why the vehicle had gone into a sudden slide. It is considered possible, albeit remotely, that the KGB might have wanted to silence Harris before he could talk to the British security authorities, as he was an expansive personality, when in the mood, and was outside British jurisdiction. The information, about which MI5 wanted to question him and would be approaching him in Majorca, could have leaked to the KGB from its source inside MI5." (137) Pincher goes onto argue that the source was probably Roger Hollis, the director-general of MI5.
Armed with information from Anatoli Golitsin and Flora Solomon, both Dick White for MI6 and Roger Hollis of MI5 agreed that Philby should be interrogated again. Initially they selected Arthur Martin for the task. As Peter Wright has pointed out: "He (Arthur Martin) had pursued the Philby case from its beginning in 1951, and knew more about it than anyone." However, at the last moment Philby's close friend, Nicholas Elliott was chosen to go. "Elliott was now convinced of Philby's guilt, and it was felt he could better play on Philby's sense of decency. The few of us inside MI5 privy to this decision were appalled... We in MI5 had never doubted Philby's guilt from the beginning, and now at last we had the evidence we needed to corner him. Philby's friends in MI6, Elliott chief among them, had continually protested his innocence. Now, when the proof was inescapable, they wanted to keep it in-house. The choice of Elliott rankled strongly as well. He was the son of the former headmaster of Eton and had a languid upper-class manner." (138)
Nicholas Elliott flew out from London on 10th January 1963 to confront Philby in Beirut. Elliott taped the conversation he had with Philby. However, Elliott made a major error before the interview took place. "Shortly before Philby's arrival, he opened the apartment windows and as a result, much of their dialogue is obscured by the sounds wafting up from the busy Beirut street below. One of the most important conversations in the history of the Cold War takes place to the accompaniment of car horns, grinding engines, Arabic voices and the faint clink of china teacups." (139)
Arthur Martin, head of the Soviet counter-espionage section, and Peter Wright spent a great deal listening to the confession that Kim Philby had made to Nicholas Elliott. Wright later argued: "There was no doubt in anyone's mind, listening to the tape, that Philby arrived at the safe house well prepared for Elliott's confrontation. Elliott told him there was new evidence, that he was now convinced of his guilt, and Philby, who had denied everything time and again for a decade, swiftly admitted spying since 1934. He never once asked what the new evidence was." Both men came to the conclusion that Philby had not asked about the new evidence as he had already been told about it. This convinced them that the "Russians still had access to a source inside British Intelligence who was monitoring the progress of the Philby case. Only a handful of officers had such access, chief among them being Hollis and Mitchell." (140)
Elliott told Philby: "I can give you my word, and that of Dick White, that you will get full immunity; you will be pardoned, but only if you tell it yourself. We need your collaboration, your help." Philby still refused to confess. Elliott then threatened him with having his passport taken away and his residence permit revoked. He would not be able to to open a bank account. He would be prevented from working as a journalist. "If you cooperate, we will give you immunity from prosecution. Nothing will be published." Philby was given 24 hours to make a decision. (141)
According to Philby's later version of events given to the KGB after he escaped to Moscow, Elliott told him: "You stopped working for them (the Russians) in 1949, I'm absolutely certain of that... I can understand people who worked for the Soviet Union, say before or during the war. But by 1949 a man of your intellect and your spirit had to see that all the rumours about Stalin's monstrous behaviour were not rumours, they were the truth... You decided to break with the USSR... Therefore I can give you my word and that of Dick White that you will get full immunity, you will be pardoned, but only if you tell it yourself. We need your collaboration, your help." (142)
Philby did provide a two-page summary of his spying activities but it included several inaccuracies. He claimed he had been recruited by his first wife, Litzi Friedmann, in 1934. He then recruited Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess. Philby lied when he said he had "seen the error of his ways" and stopped spying for the Soviet Union in 1945. He admitted that he had tipped off Maclean in 1951 as "an act of loyalty to a friend" and not as one active spy protecting another. Philby gave a list of the codenames of his early Soviet handlers but made no reference to those he worked with after the war. (143)
Elliott told him that this was not enough: "Our promise of immunity and pardon depends wholly on whether you give us all the information that you have. First of all we need information on people who worked with Moscow. By the way we know them." (144) Elliott was lying about this but of course Philby did not know how much information MI6 had about his activities. For example, he did not know if another member of the network had confessed. Peter Wright, who later listened to the tapes, commented that "by the end, they sounded like two rather tipsy radio announcers, their warm, classical public school accents discussing the greatest treachery of the twentieth century." (145)
The following day Elliott had another meeting with Philby. Elliott gave him a list of around twelve names who MI6 suspected of being spies. This included Anthony Blunt, Tomás Harris, John Cairncross, Guy Liddell and Tim Milne. Philby later told Phillip Knightley that there were several names on the list "which alarmed me". (146) However, he only named one person, Milne, as a spy. In fact, he was the only name on the list who was completely innocent.
After four days of interrogation Elliott told Philby that he was travelling on to the Congo and that another officer, Peter Lunn, would take over the debriefing process in Beirut. The head of MI5, Roger Hollis, sent a memo to J. Edgar Hoover: "In our judgement Philby's statement of the association with the RIS (Russian Intelligence Service) is substantially true. It accords with all the available evidence in our possession and we have no evidence pointing to a continuation of his activities on behalf of the RIS after 1946, save in the isolated instance of Maclean. If this is so, it follows that damage to United States interests will have been confined to the period of the Second World War." (147)
Philby was now aware that he was in danger of being arrested and therefore on 23rd January, 1963, Kim Philby fled to Moscow. Nicholas Elliott later claimed that he and MI6 were surprised by the defection. "It just didn't dawn on us." (148) Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014) argues: "This defies belief. Burgess and Maclean had both defected... Philby knew he now faced sustained interrogation, over a long period, at the hands of Peter Lunn, a man he found unsympathetic. Elliott had made it quite clear that if he failed to cooperate fully, the immunity deal was off and the confession he had already signed would be used against him... There is another, very different way to read Elliott's actions. The prospect of prosecuting Philby in Britain was anathema to the intelligence services; another trial, so soon after the Blake fiasco, would be politically damaging and profoundly embarrassing." (149)
Desmond Bristow, MI6's head of station in Spain, agreed with this analysis: "Philby was allowed to escape. Perhaps he was even encouraged. To have him brought back to England and convicted as a traitor would have been even more embarrassing; and when they convicted him, could they really have hanged him?" (150) Yuri Modin, who was the man the KGB selected to talk to Philby before he defected, also believes this was the case: "To my mind the whole business was politically engineered. The British government had nothing to gain by prosecuting Philby. A major trial, to the inevitable accompaniment of spectacular revelation and scandal, would have shaken the British establishment to its foundations." (151)
James Jesus Angleton, who had been loyal defender for many years was extremely embarrassed. Philby and Angleton had thirty-six meetings at CIA headquarters between 1949 and 1951. Every one of the discussions that they had were typed up by Angleton's secretary Gloria Loomis. This was also true of the weekly meeting they had at Harvey's Restaurant in Washington. Angleton was so ashamed about all the CIA secrets he had given to Philby he destroyed all these documents. Angleton told Peter Wright: "I had them burned. It was all very embarrassing." (152)
CIA agent, Miles Copeland, was aware of these regular meetings. He later commented: "What Philby provided was feedback about the CIA's reactions. They (the KGB) could accurately determine whether or not reports fed to the CIA were believed or not... what it comes to, is that when you look at the whole period from 1944 to 1951, the entire Western intelligence effort, which was pretty big, was what you might call minus advantage. We'd have been better off doing nothing." (153)
In March 1963, under intense pressure from the media, the British government was forced to acknowledge that Philby was missing. Three months later, Edward Heath, issued a statement, declaring: "Since Mr Philby resigned from the Foreign Service in 1951, twelve years ago, he has had no access of any kind to any official information." (154) Soviet newspapers disputed this and Izvestia, the official government newspaper, claimed that Philby had been divulging British secrets, and those of her allies for thirty years. (155)
Kim Philby was giving a luxury flat in Moscow and given a salary of £200 a month. Guy Burgess died from a heart attack following liver failure, in the Botin Hospital, Moscow, on 30th August 1963. Burgess left his 4,000 book library to Philby. Eleanor Philby joined Philby in the Soviet Union on 26th September 1963. A few weeks later Philby wrote to Nicholas Elliott: "I am more than thankful for your friendly interventions at all times. I would have got in touch with you earlier, but I thought it better to let time do its work on the case. It is invariably with pleasure that I remember our meetings and talks. They did much to help one get one's bearings in this complicated world! I deeply appreciate, now as ever, our old friendship, and I hope that rumours which have reached me about your having had some trouble on my account, are exaggerated. It would be bitter to feel that I might have been a source of trouble to you, but I am buoyed up by my confidence that you will have found a way out of any difficulties that may have beset you." (156) Philby suggested the two men should meet in East Berlin. Elliott wanted to go but Dick White rejected the idea.
Some of his old friends went public with their criticism of Philby. This upset Philby and he told Phillip Knightley: "Friendship is the most important thing of all... I have always operated on two levels, a personal level and a political one. When the two have come into conflict I have had to put politics first. The conflict can be very painful. I don't like deceiving people, especially friends, and contrary to what others think, I feel very badly about it." (157)
Eleanor and Kim Philby spent a great deal of time with Donald Maclean and his wife, Melinda Maclean. They got on very well together and soon settled into a pattern of meeting two or three times a week to dine, play bridge or visit the theatre or ballet. In 1964, Eleanor returned to the United States to renew her passport and to see her daughter. She was away for five months and in her absence, Kim and Melinda started an affair. As Ben Macintyre pointed out: "It was a fitting liaison: Philby was secretly sleeping with the wife of an ideological comrade, and cheating on his own wife, repeating once again the strange cycle of friendship and betrayal that defined his world." (158) On her return she discovered the affair and decided to leave him. In May, 1965, Eleanor Philby left Moscow. She sent him a letter that she would be willing to return, but not to any city in which Melinda Maclean was also living. (159)
Eleanor Philby wrote a memoir of her relationship with Philby, entitled. Kim Philby: The Spy I Loved (1968): "He (Philby) betrayed many people, me included. Kim had the guts, or the weakness, to stand by a decision he made thirty years ago, whatever the cost to those who loved him most." Eleanor insisted that she was totally unaware that Kim was a Soviet spy and after her experiences she concluded: "No one can ever really know another human being." (160)
Kim Philby continued his relationship with Melinda but resented the claim that "the old deceiver, marooned in Moscow with no secrets left to steal, stole instead his friend's wife". Philby told Phillip Knightley: "The Macleans' marriage was over in 1948, and although they tried again it didn't work. In 1951 Donald came here without her. Four months later she arrived with the children. She couldn't really explain why she had come. Sometimes she'd say that she felt the children needed a father and that it was worth yet another try. Other times she'd say that the very moment she saw Donald at the airport she knew it wasn't going to work. They never really got things together again and she was a free agent when we began our affair. There was no question of stealing her from anybody." (161)
The Soviet Union used Kim Philby as a propaganda tool. In 1968, with KGB approval (and editing) he published a memoir, My Secret War. According to one of his biographer's, Ben Macintyre, it was a "blend of fact and fiction, history and disinformation, which depicted Soviet intelligence as uniformly brilliant, and himself as a hero of ideological constancy." (162) In his book Philby admitted that he had been a Soviet spy for over thirty years but did not name other members of the network who had not already been exposed as spies.
After living with Philby for a couple of years Melinda Maclean returned to Donald Maclean. In 1970 he began living with Rufina Ivanova, a Russian woman twenty years his junior. (163) They married in 1972 and the KGB sent him a tea set of English bone china as a wedding present. Rufina, later recalled: "Kim... was tortured by his life of deceit. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, tormented by a recurring nightmare in which he imagined himself being caught red-handed. Kim did not get a kick out of the danger and risk. Far from it. It was against his nature. To the end of his days he openly talked about how the hardest and most painful thing for him had been the fact that he had lied to his friends. Until the very end it is what tortured him most." (164)
His granddaughter, Charlotte Philby, used to visit Philby in Moscow when she was a child. She later recalled: "One thing I have gleaned from conversations I've had with my own father and others who knew Kim, is that for good or for bad, he was a proud man, and one who chose to publicly stand by his actions. While he made a choice that few – if any – can really claim to fully understand, and one which had dire consequences for the friends and colleagues he betrayed, Kim was prepared to face the repercussions of what he did – either because he felt that was the right thing to do or because it was about saving face. Either way, I'm not sure that it matters. Whether, when at the end of it all he sat back and reflected on the choices he'd made during his life, he did feel any doubt about the decisions he'd made, we will never know, but one thing is for sure: he would never have asked for absolution, so I should never expect that on his behalf." (165)
Kim Philby lived in the Soviet Union until his death on 11th May 1988. He was given a grand funeral with a KGB honour guard and in his official obituary was lauded for his "tireless struggle in the cause of peace and a brighter future." (166) Nicholas Elliott recommended to MI6 that Philby should be awarded the CMG, the order of St Michael and St George, the sixth most prestigious award in the British honours system, awarded to men and women who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country. Elliott suggested that he should write an obituary saying: "My lips have hitherto been sealed but I can now reveal that Philby was one of the bravest men I have ever known." The intention was to suggest that Philby was not a valiant Soviet double agent, but a heroic British triple agent. However, MI6 turned the idea down. Maybe because they believed that the British public would no longer be fooled by old-style deception operations. (167)
I've only happy memories of him. I liked boys who used their wits and didn't shirk the grind of hard work. The regime of (Westminster School) was liberal, and I believe young Philby benefited from that. He probably suffered by missing the guidance of a father whom in some ways he resembled. The boy had no problems of adjustment. I found him intelligent, amusing, charming. He was a rebel at heart, I knew, but he had little of his father's eccentricity. Perhaps he strove too slavishly to imitate him later when the maggot got into his brain at Cambridge.
It was the Labour disaster of 1931 which first set me seriously to thinking about possible alternatives to the Labour Party. I began to take a more active part in the proceedings of the Cambridge University Socialist Society, and was its Treasurer in 1952/35. This brought me into contact with streams of Left-Wing opinion critical of the Labour Party, notably with the Communists. Extensive reading and growing appreciation of the classics of European Socialism alternated with vigorous and sometimes heated discussions within the Society. It was a slow and brain-racking process; my transition from a Socialist viewpoint to a Communist one took two years. It was not until my last term at Cambridge, in the summer of 1933, that I threw off my last doubts. I left the University with a degree and with the conviction that my life must be devoted to Communism.
A born adventurer like Kirn, with very little political subtlety and an eye always to the main chance, was almost certainly attracted by this Anglo-German nonsense. It would have been quite in character. He admired Goebbels and once told me he could easily have worked with him. Don't forget at this stage, in 1936, the bandwaggon between London and Berlin hadn't stopped rolling, and Kim would have been quite ready to jump on it for that very reason.
It is feared that the conflagration destroyed much of the evidence of its origin, but it is felt here that enough remains to support the Nationalist contention that incendiaries on the Basque side had more to do with the razing of Guernica than General Franco's aircraft. . . . Few fragments of bombs have been recovered, the facades of buildings still standing are unmarked, and the few craters I inspected were larger than anything hitherto made by a bomb in Spain. From their positions it is a fair inference that these craters were caused by exploding mines which were unscientifically laid to cut roads. In view of these circumstances it is difficult to believe that Guernica was the target of bombardment of exceptional intensity by the Nationalists or an experiment with incendiary bombs, as it is alleged by the Basques.
As an undergraduate at Oxford I had heard admiring accounts of him from a friend who often travelled with him in vacations. And, sure enough, while we were still waiting for Philby, my old Oxford friend himself appeared in Section Five as a herald of the coming Messiah. I admit that Philby's appointment astonished me at the time, for my old Oxford friend had told me, years before, that his travelling companion was a Communist. By now, of course, I assumed that he was an ex-Communist, but even so I was surprised, for no one was more fanatically anti-Communist, at that time, than the regular members of the two security services, MI6 and MI5. And of all the anti-Communists, none seemed more resolute than the ex-Indian policemen, like Colonel Vivian and Major Cowgill, whose earlier years had been spent in waging war on 'subversion' in the irritant climate of the Far East. That these men should have suspended their deepest convictions in favour of the ex-Communist, Philby, was indeed remarkable. Since it never occurred to me that they could be ignorant of the facts (which were widely known), I assumed that Philby had particular virtues which made him, in their eyes, indispensable. I hasten to add that, although I myself knew of Philby's Communist past, it would never have occurred to me, at that time, to hold it against him. My own view, like that of most of my contemporaries, was that our superiors were lunatic in their anti-Communism. We were therefore pleased that at least one ex-Communist should have broken through the net and that the social prejudices of our superiors had, on this one occasion, triumphed over their political prejudices.
He rarely spoke about politics, though one assumed he took the vaguely Leftist position fashionable among the bourgeois intelligentsia of his generation. Far stronger in him than anything of this kind, as it seemed to me, was his romantic veneration for buccaneers and buccaneering, whatever the ideological basis, if any, might be. Boozers, womanizers, violence in all its manifestations, recklessness however directed, he found irresistible. Hence his, and many others', otherwise unaccountable love for Burgess, and tolerance of his preposterous and unlovely ways. On this showing he would have been more at home among Nazi bully-boys than the pedantic terrorists of the USSR. He actually said to me once that Goebbels was someone he felt he could have worked with.
I found myself in the forecourt of St. Ermin's Hotel, near St James's Park station, talking to Miss Marjorie Maxse. She was an intensely likeable elderly lady (then almost as old as I am now). I had no idea then, as I have no idea now, what her precise position in government was. But she spoke with authority, and was evidently in a position at least to recommend me for "Interesting" employment. At an early stage of our talk, she turned the subject to the possibilities of political work against the Germans in Europe. For ten years, I had taken a serious interest in international politics; I had wandered about Europe in a wide arc from Portugal to Greece; I had already formed some less than half-baked ideas on the subversion of the Nazi regime. So I was reasonably well equipped to talk to Miss Maxse. I was helped by the fact that very few people in England at that early date had given serious thought to the subject. Miss Maxse's own ideas had been in the oven very little longer than mine.
I passed this first examination. As we parted, Miss Maxse asked me to meet her again at the same place a few days later. At our second meeting, she turned up accompanied by Guy Burgess, whom I knew well. I was put through my paces again. Encouraged by Guy's presence, I began to show off, name-dropping shamelessly, as one does at interviews. From time to time, my interlocutors exchanged glances; Guy would nod gravely and approvingly. It turned out that I was wasting my time, since a decision had already been taken. Before we parted, Miss Maxse informed me that, if I agreed, I should sever my connection with The Times and report for duty to Guy Burgess at an address in Caxton Street, in the same block as the St. Ermin's Hotel.
The Times gave me little difficulty. Deakin huffed and sighed a little, but he had nothing spectacular to offer me. So I left Printing House Square without fanfare, in a manner wholly appropriate to the new, secret and important career for which I imagined myself heading. I decided that it was my duty to profit from the experiences of the only secret service man of my acquaintance. So I spent the weekend drinking with Guy Burgess. On the following Monday, I reported to him formally. We both had slight headaches.
The organization to which I became attached called itself the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). It was also widely known as MI5, while to the innocent public at large it was simply the secret service. The ease of my entry surprised me. It appeared later that the only enquiry made into my past was a routine reference to MI5, who passed my name through their records and came back with the laconic statement: Nothing Recorded Against. Today, every new spy scandal in Britain produces a flurry of judicial statements on the subject of "positive vetting." But in that happier Eden positive vetting had never been heard of. Sometimes, in the early weeks, I felt that perhaps I had not made the grade after all. It seemed that somewhere, lurking in deep shadow, there must be another service, really secret and really powerful, capable of backstairs machination on such a scale as to justify the perennial suspicions of, say, the French! But it soon became clear that such was not the case. It was the death of an illusion. Its passing caused me no pain.
Guy first took me to the office that had been assigned to me. It was a small room with a table, a chair and a telephone, and nothing else. With a snort of annoyance, Guy disappeared down the corridor and came back with a sheaf of foolscap which he laid on the table. Satisfied that I was now fully equipped for my duties, he told me that my salary would be the same as his: £600 per annum, paid monthly in cash and no nonsense from the Inland Revenue. No snooping after a single secret shilling! In fact, the secrecy of pay-scales concealed gross inequalities. Each contract was theoreticallv a private, secret one between the Chief and his subordinate. And if the Chief could get A cheaper than B, whatever their respective merits, he would be silly not to do so. However, I was quite happy with the arrangement, and I was then taken off to be introduced to some of my future colleagues. As they play no substantial part in my story, I shall not embarrass them by mentioning their names.
The section of SIS in which I found myself was known as Section D (for Destruction). I never saw its charter if it had one. From talks with my colleag-ues, I gathered that the object of the section was to help defeat the enemy by stirring up active resistance to his domination and destroying, by non-militarv means, the sources of his power. The head of the section was Colonel Lawrence Grand, to whom I was introduced a few days after joining his staff. Tall and lean, he looked startlingly like the dream-figure who should have approached me in Germany or Spain. The difference was that his mind was certainly not clipped. It ranged free and handsome over the whole field of his awesome responsibilities, never shrinking from an idea, however big or wild.
Late in 1942 my office had come to certain conclusions - which time proved to be correct - about the struggle between the Nazi Party and the German General Staff, as it was being fought out in the field of secret intelligence. The German Secret Service (the Abivehr) and its leader. Admiral Canaris, were suspected by the Party not only of inefficiency but of disloyalty, and attempts were being made by Himmler to oust the Admiral and to take over his whole organization. Admiral Canaris himself, at that time, was making repeated journeys to Spain and indicated a willingness to treat with us: he would even welcome a meeting with his opposite number, 'C'. These conclusions were duly formulated and the final document was submitted for security clearance to Philby. Philby absolutely forbade its circulation, insisting that it was 'mere speculation'.
He afterwards similarly suppressed, as 'unreliable', a report from an important German defector. Otto John, who informed us, in Lisbon, that a conspiracy was being hatched against Hitler. This also was perfectly true. The conspiracy was the Plot of 20 July 1944, and Canaris, for his contribution to it, afterwards suffered a traitor's death in Germany.
At the time we were baffled by Philby's intransigence, which would yield to no argument and which no argument was used to defend. From some members of Section Five, mere mindless blocking of intelligence was to be expected. But Philby, we said to ourselves, was an intelligent man: how could he behave thus in a matter so important? Had he too yielded to the genius of the place?
Taking the line that it was almost inconceivable that anyone like Burgess, who courted the limelight instead of avoiding it, and was generally notorious for indiscretion, could have been a secret agent, let alone a Soviet agent from whom strictest security standards would be required. I did not expect this line to be in any way convincing as to the facts of the case; but I hoped it would give the impression that I was implicitly defending myself against the unspoken charge that I, a trained counter-espionage officer, had been completely fooled by Burgess. Of Maclean, I disclaimed all knowledge.... As I had only met him twice, for about half an hour in all and both times on a conspiratorial basis, since 1937, I felt that I could safely indulge in this slight distortion of the truth.
He (Donald Maclean) never liked spying. Philby and Burgess were attracted to the adventure and the secrecy of belonging to a small group of people with inside knowledge and they enjoyed the small amount of danger. Maclean didn't like that, but he felt he should do it as that was how he was of most use.
One thing which I have learnt from knowing Philby is that he was not the womaniser he was portrayed to be. You see, he married all the women and not every man marries all his girlfriends. In fact most of them don't. His women were always in trouble in some way and by marrying them he got them out of trouble.
I liked him. I've often asked myself what I would have done if I'd discovered he was a secret agent at that time. I think, perhaps, if in a drunken moment he had slipped a hint, I would have given him twenty-four hours to get clear and then reported him.
I could not claim (Dick) White as a close friend but our personal and official relations had always been excellent, and he had undoubtedly been pleased when I superseded Cowgill. He was bad at dissembling but did his best to put our talk on a friendly footing. He wanted my help, he said, in clearing up this appalling Burgess-Maclean affair.
Mr Philby had been a friend of Burgess from the time when they were fellow undergraduates at Trinity College, Cambridge. Burgess had been accommodated with Philby and his family at the latter's home in Washington from August 1950 to April 1951 . . . and, of course, it will be remembered that at no time before he fled was Burgess under suspicion. It is now known that Mr Philby had Communist associates during and after his university days. In view of the circumstances, he was asked in July 1951 to resign from the Foreign Service. Since that date his case has been the subject of close investigation. No evidence has been found ... to show that he was responsible for warning Burgess or Maclean. While in government service he carried out his duties ably and conscientiously, and I have no reason to conclude that Mr Philby has at any time betrayed the interests of his country, or to identify him with the so-called "Third Man', if indeed there was one.
One night last January, Harold Adrian Russell Philby, 51, a British journalist based in Lebanon, headed off for an appointment, telling his wife Eleanor that he would join her later in the evening at a dinner party at the Beirut home of a British embassy official. Philby not only did not show up at the party, but dropped out of sight in Beirut altogether.
In a city from which journalists are always fading into the desert for weeks at a time, the prolonged absence of a correspondent seldom creates much of a stir. But last week Philby's disappearance had become the subject of international investigation and was rattling a twelve-year-old skeleton in the closet of Britain's Foreign Office. For Philby had been accused in the House of Commons of being the "third man" in the 1951 defection to Russia of Communist Spies Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess.
Guest Room for Guy. Son of St. John Philby, the famed desert explorer and Arab scholar, "Kim" Philby carried on an undergraduate flirtation with Communism at Cambridge, where he first knew Burgess. After covering the Spanish Civil War for the London Times, he joined M.I.6 - Britain's overseas intelligence branch - during World War II, won the Order of the British Empire for his espionage work. After the war, he transferred to the Foreign Service, in 1949 was posted to the British embassy in Washington as first secretary and chief of security. Though crowded in a house with his second wife and five children, Philby welcomed as a boarder his old Cambridge friend, Guy Burgess, now a junior embassy officer - and a full-fledged Soviet undercover agent.
A year later, with an investigation pending. Burgess and Maclean danced out of Britain a step ahead of the British police. Rumors persisted that the pair had been warned by a government official that the heat was on, and in 1955 a Labor M.P. rose in the House of Commons to accuse Philby of being the tipster. Admitting that Philby had been asked to resign from the Foreign Office because of his friendship with Burgess, Harold Macmillan, then Foreign Secretary, otherwise completely cleared him of any charge of treason or of being the "socalled 'third man,' if indeed there was one." But despite the official exoneration, doubts remained, which were in no way dispelled by Kim Philby's refusal to disavow his friendship with Burgess. "There are fair-weather friends and foul-weather friends," he said, "and I prefer to belong to the second category."
Cables from Cairo. Out of the Government and divorced from his wife, Philby returned to newspapering; seven years ago he went to the Middle East for the Economist and the Observer and married his third wife, Eleanor, whose former husband is Sam Pope Brewer, once the New York Times's Middle East correspondent. Shy and mild-mannered, Philby sometimes drank heavily, last Christmas took a tipsy fall, gashing his head so badly that 24 stitches were needed to close the wound.
After his disappearance, Philby's wife first notified Beirut police, then called them off after receiving the first of several letters and cables from her husband sent from Cairo. Though she maintained that Philby was off on a story, neither the Observer nor the Economist knew anything about an assignment. Finally, the two papers asked the Egyptian and Lebanese authorities to investigate. Officials of both countries reported that there was no record either of Philby's leaving Lebanon or entering Egypt. To quiet the trackers, Eleanor Philby last week displayed another cable, sent from Cairo's Cosmopolitan Hotel. "All going well," it read. "Arrangements our reunion proceeding satisfactorily. Letters with all details following soon. All love. Kim Philby."
Eleanor Philby claimed that the "reunion" was for their wedding anniversary - which, however, was last Jan. 24. In Cairo, authorities said that Philby had not registered at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and that the signature on the telegraph blank did not match his.
A Beirut paper reported that Philby had been seen in Prague. In Moscow, Guy Burgess said he had not seen his old friend.
In the 1930s a number of young men at Cambridge University were recruited as Soviet spies. They became known by the KGB as the 'magnificent five' but were better known in Britain as the Cambridge spy ring.
They were not motivated by financial gain but by the belief that capitalism was corrupt and that the Soviet Union offered a better model for society.
The Cambridge spy ring was informally led by Harold 'Kim' Philby. He and his friends later moved into jobs in British Intelligence and the Foreign Office where they had access to top secret information. They spent their working lives passing valuable information to the Soviet Union.
Like many Catholics who, in the reign of Elizabeth, worked for the victory of Spain, Philby has a chilling certainty in the correctness of his judgement, the logical fanaticism of a man who, having once found a faith, is not going to lose it because of the injustices or cruelties inflicted by erring human instruments. How many a kindly Catholic must have endured the long bad days of the Inquisition with this hope of the future as a riding anchor. Mistakes of policy would have no effect on his faith, nor the evil done by some of his leaders.
Kim was never a double-agent. He always only worked for the Russians. Even when he began working for British intelligence, he was already spying for the KGB.
He was tortured by his life of deceit. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, tormented by a recurring nightmare in which he imagined himself being caught red-handed.
Kim did not get a kick out of the danger and risk. Far from it. It was against his nature. To the end of his days he openly talked about how the hardest and most painful thing for him had been the fact that he had lied to his friends. Until the very end it is what tortured him most.
I spent many months last year researching the British secret service for my novel Restless - the story of a young woman working in the lower echelons of the British espionage business - and I found this dry and acerbic analysis particularly helpful and revealing. Not least because this was the organisation that had admitted into its ranks at least five double agents for the Soviet Union: Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross, Anthony Blunt and the "super spy" Kim Philby, whose near-effortless rise through the secret-service hierarchy resulted in him being groomed, postwar, for the ultimate top job - that of "C" itself. It would have been an unrivalled coup for Moscow to have their man running the British secret services. And it very nearly came off.
In the course of writing the novel I became very curious about this covey of British double agents and what united them, apart from their betrayal of their country. All were middle class or upper-middle class, all well educated with solid professional careers in the great institutions of the state. They were members of "the establishment" in every degree - their background, their ostensible values, their speech, their clubs, their dress, their pastimes and pleasures. There was nothing on the surface to distinguish them from the thousands of other privileged, Oxbridge-educated young men working in the Foreign Office or the diplomatic service or the BBC. Yet each chose to become a traitor.
One can understand how in the 1930s, when these agents were first recruited by the Soviets, the ideological appeal of communism presented the only real alternative to the seemingly inexorable rise of fascism in Europe. Yet the more I looked at these men and read about their double lives, considered their fallibilities and their anxieties (Burgess and Maclean in particular), their luck and their unremarked incompetence (Philby excepted) - I began to feel that ideological zeal simply couldn't explain their many years of successful and fatal duplicity. There had to be some other motivation other than the allure of communism - especially after the devastating shock of the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939. Once Stalin and Hitler became allies, only the most perverse reasoning could maintain that there was one true enemy of fascism and that it was Soviet Russia. The tortuous double-think of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) is both revealing and risible in this regard. The Daily Worker, the party's newspaper, had been virulently pacifist and anti-Nazi, but after the 1939 pact all criticism of Hitler virtually ceased in the paper. Then, when Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941, the CPGB became virulently anti-Nazi again. No person of intelligence could take such policy about-turns seriously.
Furthermore, these British traitors both lived in and flourished in a democratic society, each one benefiting from the privileges offered to its educated elite. They were not hounded or embittered, nor victims of repression or state corruption, nor thwarted in ambition, blocked at every turn - so why did they become traitors?
The case of Kim Philby is perhaps the most interesting. Philby was a man universally liked, a highly respected professional - competent and industrious, decorated after the war - and a charming and amusing companion. His wife regarded him as a "divine husband" and classed their marriage as "perfect". He existed at the highest levels of the secret service for 10 years, between 1941 and 1951, without attracting the slightest suspicion. Hugh Trevor-Roper (the author of the caustic judgment on his colleagues above) knew Philby during the war and described him as "an exceptional person: exceptional by his virtues, for he seemed intelligent, sophisticated, even real".
In 1951, after the flight of Burgess and Maclean to Moscow, Philby was obliged to resign from the service, to the regret of his colleagues, because of his close association with Burgess, a friendship that he refused to disown. Even this was regarded as a symbol of his fundamental decency and good fellowship. It was not held against him and he was reintroduced to the service after some years in a minor role (in Beirut) before eventually fleeing to Moscow in 1963 - possibly because a Soviet defector was about to reveal his identity.
No one really knows how many deaths and imprisonments Philby was responsible for. The number is probably in the hundreds. For example, British agents and couriers sent to Albania and Ukraine to foment anti-communist revolution after the war were routinely intercepted and executed thanks to Philby's advance warnings. In Washington in the late 1940s he passed on all secret material that crossed his desk to the Russians - most usefully analysis of America's nuclear capability. One can argue that Philby's information was instrumental in the prosecuting of the Korean war and the Cuban missile crisis. He was an extremely effective and important double agent.
William Boyd's investigation of the rationale for the allegiance to Moscow of the Cambridge spies hovers around an obvious reason without actually landing upon it. They were scions of Britain's ruling elite, and as, counter to Boyd's implication, that elite was very unsure of its future in the 1930s, they looked to a country in which a new elite was creating a modern, dynamic society. They looked to Moscow because they wished to emulate Stalin's ruthless programme of development in Britain, with themselves in the driving seat. Their conversion to Stalinism did not signify a rejection of their elitism, but was a direct expression of it.
Kim Philby was a "Soviet agent", as the sub-heading identifies, not a "double-agent" as William Boyd claims ("Old-school spy", September 23). Crucially, Boyd omits Philby's anti-fascist activities in his reasons for the betrayal. He believed that "England" had been betrayed by a ruling class that had made alliance with fascism. Yes, there were psychological reasons, but you can't totally dismiss this from the analysis.
Furthermore, because I had been born in to the British governing class, because I knew a lot of people of influential standing, I knew they would never get too tough with me.
They would never try to beat me up or knock me around because if they had been proved wrong afterwards I could have made a tremendous scandal.
You have probably all heard stories that the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) is an organisation of mythical efficiency, a very very dangerous thing indeed.
Well in time of war, it honestly was not. Every evening I left the office with a big briefcase full of reports that I had written myself, full of files and actual documents from the archive. I used to hand them to my Soviet contact in the evening.
The next morning I would get the files back, the contents having been photographed and early the next morning I would put them back in their place. That I did regularly year in year out...
I set about the business of removing my own chief (Felix Cowgill)... I have to admit that was the most blatant intrigue against a man I rather liked and I admired but the instructions stood and nothing I could do would alter them.... It was a very dirty story. But after all, our work does imply getting dirty hands from time to time, but we do it for a cause that is not dirty in any way...
If they confront you with a document with your own handwriting then it's a forgery - just deny everything. They interrogated me to break my nerve and force me to confess. And all I had to do really was keep my nerve. So my advice to you is to tell all your agents that they are never to confess.