Alan Clark MP, the spy who loved us

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The Independent Culture
THE REVELATION that the late Alan Clark MP had been a Soviet spy for the last 40 years of his life has come as a tremendous shock to those who didn't know about it, to people like Jack Straw, for instance, and MI5 and MI6, writes Chapman Homer, our Intelligence Correspondent. But in a forthcoming TV programme called Yes, It's True - Alan Clark MP Had Been a Soviet Spy for the Last 40 Years of his Life!, it will be revealed that KGB files brought out of Soviet Russia by a top-level defector, the archivist Yassili Litmusov, seem to show that Clark had been on the payroll of the Soviet government since 1950.

"It still isn't 100 per cent certain that Alan Clark was a Soviet spy throughout that period," says the BBC TV producer Neville Shrimp. "The papers are a bit vague on this point. He might equally well have been just someone they were keeping their eye on. So what we have done in our controversial programme, called Yes, It's True - Alan Clark MP Had Been a Soviet Spy for the Last Forty Years of his Life!, which goes out this Sunday at 8pm, what we have done is to say very carefully at the start of the programme that Alan Clark may well have been a spy for the Russians, and thereafter act on the assumption that he was a spy. This is a common technique used in documentary TV, technically known as `docufraud'. But I am 100 per cent sure that everything we say in the programme cannot be disproved. It all makes sense when you look at the facts..."

It all makes sense when you look at the facts, writes Norma Thesaurus, our Social Correspondent. In a sense, it was almost impossible that Alan Clark was not a spy. He had the classic background of all the great modern British spies. He was well-born and well off, went to Oxbridge, served in a posh regiment and was completely above suspicion. What else does a well-born spy need? Well, a motive, perhaps, but the idea of a motive may itself have been quite alien to Alan Clark, who was too nouveau noble to want one. Perhaps there was something perverse in Clark's cool, ironic nature which made him desire to be the first spy without a motive...

"The first spy without a motive". It is the sort of verdict which Clark would have loved, writes our Obituaries Grandmaster, Simeon Heaven. And yet in a strange way it made sense. He did not need the money, so it was not for gain. He was passionately anti-Communist, so it was not on ideological grounds. One can only suppose that he did out of sheer devilment. "Alan loved to do the unexpected," says one of his close friends. "This is exactly the sort of jape he would have excelled at. He did it for kicks..."

"He did it for kicks". Ah, that is exactly the kind of epitaph that Alan Clark's ennobled father would have shuddered at, writes Jasper Conway, our Snobbery Consultant. Lord Clark was a fastidious man who was horrified by the thought that anyone actually watched his TV programmes. He would certainly have been horrified if he had known that his son, Alan Clark, was feeding the Russians with prior knowledge of every objet d'art that was about to be featured in the Civilisation series, thus allowing the Soviets to invest in the very art that was about to shoot up in value.

Lord Clark was such a private person that he in fact wanted to call his book on the nude in art "Some Statues With Not Very Many Clothes On". But his publishers prevailed, and Lord Clark was the author of a book called The Nude...

Lord Clark was the author of a book on The Nude. His son, Alan Clark, was famously attracted to the naked female. There we have it: father in love with naked statues, son in love with naked women... what can we learn from this? asks the popular psychology expert Dr Aloysius Perrier.

Don't forget - you can find out this Sunday at 8pm.

Other controversial films due to come from the BBC will show how Ronnie Barker was forced into retirement when he was unveiled as a Soviet spy, after sending all the BBC's comedy plans to Moscow, and how Sir John Birt was a Soviet plant in the British media world, entrusted with the mission to paralyse the BBC by inflicting unworkable business plans on it and sacking all the creative people...

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