Oxford University student, Goronwys Rees had been recruited by Soviet Intelligence in the 1930s and codenamed FLEET. He knew Burgess, Guy Maclean and Anthony Blunt, all from Cambridge University and that they were Soviet spies. However, when the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed in August 1939, Rees was so sickened he broke off contact with his Russian NKVD (the predecessor of the KGB) contacts.
Burgess, by then working as an MI6 officer, panicked over Rees's action and sent an urgent message to Moscow "Centre" warning that Rees might betray both him and Anthony Blunt. He asked for Rees to be killed. Rees's KGB file, however, records that he did not inform on Burgess and Blunt.
Guy Maclean, another trator in the Cambridge spy ring, was also worried by Rees' "defection".Burgess and Maclean defected to the Soviet Union in 1951. According to the KGB files smuggled out of Russia by Col Mitrokhin and published in a book next week, the NKVD refused Burgess's request to kill his former friend. Goronwys Rees went on to become a British Military Intelligence officer during the war and later an academic.
The book, co-authored with Professor Christopher Andrew, contains a number of further revelations. It details KGB attempts to recruit leading politicians including Harold Wilson, Oskar Lafontaine, Willy Brandt, Giscard d'Estaing, Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brezinzinski.
The KGB files show that London KGB residency tried to inflate it's own influence. For example, it attempted to claim credit for an article in The Guardian by journalist Richard Gott in the mid 1970s attacking the role of the CIA in the overthrow and death of the Marxist president of Chile, Salvador Allende. The KGB even gave Gott the unlikely codename RON. Richard Gott later denied reports he had been a KGB agent. Later he resigned from The Guardian.
The book also details close contacts between the IRA and the KGB in the early 1970s. On the 3 July 1972 the Irish Communist leader, Michael O'Riordan wrote to ask the USSR's Central Committee for arms. This was approved and a shipment of weapons including two machine guns, 70 automatic rifles, 10 Walther pistols, 41,600 cartridges were sent.
The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin. Penguin. pounds 25.00