In a recently opened KGB archive, the Independent has discovered a confidential assessment of the worth of a British agent, a man by the name of Boot ...
To: British Desk, Moscow Centre, Ysenovo.

Subject: Agent Boot.

Date: September 1977.

Comrades, I have attempted to resume contact with Agent Boot, a source that previous holders of my post made much of during the 1960s. Boot and I went for a long walk on Hampstead Heath - one of our well-known drop zones. I have to warn you that my findings, set out below, do not make good reading.

Quality of material. Boot is certainly talkative. In fact, you cannot stop him. It flows out in perfectly formed paragraphs as if he were rousing a mass meeting. It's moving, but often complete gobbledygook.

You asked me to try to establish the identities of Swift and Hazlitt, the contacts Boot constantly quotes, with the aim of securing them as Moscow assets. Boot's account of the influence of these two led many in Moscow Centre to believe they were secret power brokers at the top of the Labour Party.

Sadly, we seem to have misinterpreted Boot's meaning. I can now reveal that Swift and Hazlitt are 18th-century writers whom Boot is fascinated by: it is virtually all he is really interested in.

The Plymouth Connection. Much was made of Boot's detailed accounts of the comings and goings at Plymouth. Our naval intelligence branch was convinced that his references to "the awful away record" were a judgement on Britain's declining naval power and that "away trips" to places such as Liverpool, Portsmouth and Grimsby were code for sailings of British submarines.

Boot does make regular visits to Plymouth. We assumed that this was to gather his intelligence. Once again, there seems to have been a misinterpretation. Boot is a passionate supporter of a fourth-rate football team called Plymouth Argyle. He talks about Malcolm Allison, its manager, as much as Swift and Hazlitt.

Money. He is not interested in it. I passed Boot an envelope stuffed with £5 notes, as we were having coffee, in an attempt to entice him into service. He looked at it - quoted Pericles - and when we got up from the table he forgot it.

Dress. Before coming to London I got kitted out with imports from Austin Reed and Cordings to allow me to mingle with top-flight people. It is embarrassing for me to be seen with Boot, who dresses in clothes even the Gum department store would not stock. He is much more likely to picked up as a tramp than as a spy.

Conclusion. My colleague Alex Lyalotski has made much of his work in the British labour movement. He appears to have comprehensively misunderstood Boot. We may be good at flying union leaders to Moscow to get compromising pictures of them drunk and naked in a hot tub, but we are yet to make any inroads at the top of the party.