Obituary: Georges Paques

Georges Paques, public relations officer: born Chalon-sur-Saone 29 January 1914; died Paris 19 December 1993.

THE FRENCH used to say that having traitors in high places was essentially a British disease. But the case of Georges Paques changed their ideas, and it is customary now in France to see ex-Soviet agents everywhere.

Paques supplied information to the Russians for many years. It was in 1943 that he was first approached. He was then working in Algiers for the provisional government headed by General de Gaulle in the political section of the French radio station. Doubtless the Russians were interested to learn about the contacts that were then taking place between Algiers and Paris and to learn about possible future developments in France, but it is unlikely that they discovered anything of great value.

Once France had been liberated Paques served several ministers during the Fourth Republic. It seems improbable that he had much secret information to convey, even while working for Georges Bidault in the Quai d'Orsay. But with the coming of the Fifth Republic, he was attached to the military headquarters of the Defence staff. In 1962 he was transferred to Nato.

Although Paques was essentially a public relations man it appears that he was able to supply information that was of some importance. He was able to discover details about the radar positions established in Turkey, about plans for the defence of Berlin and intelligence reports concerning the Middle East and North Africa.

Paques was arrested in August 1963. He had been denounced by a Soviet defector and was caught red- handed handing information to his Russian controller. Rumours grew that a number of agents had infiltrated the top levels of the French administration and it was whispered that de Gaulle's Soviet sympathies were of a very special nature. It was remembered that when de Gaulle was out of power, before 1958, he was kept informed about France's progress towards nuclear weapons and about defence matters by a number of individuals who sympathised with him. French security, it was said, was laughable.

These stories were undoubtedly exaggerated. But the case of Paques showed that they contained a grain of truth. No one had suspected this placid, easy-going man, who had no Communist leanings, and who claimed that his activities had existed only to preserve peace between the United States and the Soviet Union. Doubtless vanity was the real explanation for his actions and doubtless he had convinced his Soviet masters that he was more important than he was. He was given a life sentence in 1964, which de Gaulle reduced to 20 years in 1968. He was freed in 1970.

Paques was a specialist in Italian studies. After his release he translated Italian novels and adapted Italian plays for television. He also wrote an autobiographical novel.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past