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.

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

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice