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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'