Right of Reply: John Symonds

The former KGB spy responds to the coverage of his story in the light of revelations made by Christopher Andrew, one of the authors of `The Mitrokhin Archive'
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The Independent Culture
AS THE former Scotland Yard detective turned "KGB spy" whose exploits have so titillated the media for the past two weeks, I write to comment on the claim of Christopher Andrew, co-author of The Mitrokhin Archive, that "every single one of thousands of points in the archive checks out against other sources" and that he has "yet to find anything in it that has been contradicted".

Much of what it says about me is easily contradicted, and I shall expose those contradictions to the Intelligence and Security Committee if it takes up my offer to testify.

In August 1972, for example, I did not "enter the Soviet Embassy in Rabat". I was not a walk-in spy. I was cunningly entrapped. Nor did I ever give the KGB the name of a Special Branch officer guarding the defector Oleg Lyalin. On the contrary, I told them that Lyalin would be guarded not by Special Branch but by the SAS or the security services' own protection squads. And I never gave the KGB the name of Denis Healey.

It gets worse. As the book says, the "sheer volume" of files to which Mitrokhin had access means "that his notes on them are bound to contain significant gaps". In my case, the gaps are colossal. Indeed, they are so huge that I wonder who has created them. Not Mitrokhin himself, I suspect, but his former bosses at the KGB or even his current handlers in British security.

How, for example, can the archive contain no reference to the fact that I disclosed so much information about corruption in Scotland Yard, naming 150 officers, that the KGB had to set up a department to cope with it? Has M15 or M16 chosen to suppress this revelation in order to protect the truly guilty? Why are bit-part players such as myself thrown to the media lions when KGB agents of far greater significance are still being protected, ironically by our own security services? Who are the traitors here?