Soviet spy George Blake can't profit from book royalties

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The Independent Online
Soviet spy George Blake has been thwarted in his attempt to gain pounds 90,000 in royalties from his book about his years with the Secret Intelligence Service.

Three Court of Appeal judges, headed by Lord Woolf, the Master of the Rolls, granted the Attorney General, John Morris, an injunction which bars publishers Jonathan Cape from sending any more money to Blake, who escaped from Wormwood Scrubs and fled to Moscow in 1966.

Yesterday's ruling overturns a judgment delivered in the High Court last April, when the Vice Chancellor, Sir Richard Scott, said that lifelong fidelity for spies and other security service members represented "an interference with rights of free expression". Sir Richard also said that the Attorney General could do nothing, because Blake was disclosing information which was no longer secret.

But the appeal judges said that Blake should not profit from his misdeeds. They thought it shocking that Blake, who received pounds 50,000 from his publishers even before putting pen to paper, should get rich on his notorious reputation.

Blake's book, No Other Choice, details alife of espionage very different from the James Bond stereotype. Having worked as a double agent for the former Soviet Union between 1951 and 1960, Blake was rumbled and sentenced to 42 years imprisonment in Britain. In 1966 he made a daring escape and fled via Berlin to Moscow, where he still lives.

Blake, now 74, was held responsible for the deaths of several British agents.

The Attorney General's lawyers suggested that Jonathan Cape donate the remaining pounds 100,000 in royalties to charity.

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