SPY SCANDAL: HOME SECRETARY'S STATEMENT

The following are edited extracts from a statement by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary on issues relating to information supplied by Vasili Mitrokhin:

In 1996 the previous government decided that the story which Mr Mitrokhin's information revealed, should be placed in the public domain. It was decided by the previous government that the best way was by way of a proper historical analysis. The material was made available to Professor Christopher Andrew of Cambridge University, whose book, co-authored with Mitrokhin, will be published this week. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, then foreign secretary, has told me that these decisions were made with his consent.

[Melita] Norwood was first vetted in 1945 for access to government secrets while she worked for the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. The Security Service raised doubts about her communist associations, but further investigation by the Service and the police did not substantiate these doubts and she was given clearance for access to sensitive documents.

The Security Service kept her case under review and further investigations raised new concerns. She did not have authorised access to government secrets after September 1949 and her vetting clearance was revoked in 1951. She was vetted again in 1962 but was again refused clearance.

In 1965 the Security Service mounted an extended investigation of Mrs Norwood. The investigation left the service with the view that she had been a spy in the 1940s but it provided no usable evidence to support that view. The home secretary of the day, the Rt Hon Sir Frank Soskice QC, was informed of the service's suspicions. The service decided not to interview her because that would have revealed the service's knowledge which was relevant to other sensitive investigations then under way.

There is no reason to doubt the detail of the material drawn from Mr Mitrokhin, nor that the KGB regarded Mrs Norwood as an important spy. However the vetting system prevented her from having authorised access to government secrets after 1949.

When Mr Mitrokhin's notes of the KGB archive material became available to British Intelligence in 1992, they confirmed suspicions about Mrs Norwood's role. The view was taken by the service that this material did not on its own provide evidence that could be put to a UK court. Moreover, a judgement was made by the Agencies that material should remain secret for some years as there were many leads to more recent espionage.

I was made aware in general terms about the Mitrokhin material in 1997. I was first made aware of the role of Mrs Norwood in a minute in December 1998 which informed me of the plans to publish the book. The minute informed me the Security Service were then considering whether to recommend the prosecution of Mrs Norwood. The Attorney General was made aware of Mrs Norwood's case earlier this year.

The Attorney General's position was explained to me more fully in a note of 29 June which reported that 1992 represented the last opportunity for the authorities to proceed by way of a criminal investigation/possible prosecution. In a minute dated 31 August I was told that the Security Service legal adviser had written to law officers to ask whether Mrs Norwood's alleged admissions to the BBC changed the position on possible prosecution. In a reply to the Security Service earlier this month, the law officers reflected the Attorney General's view that the position was unaffected by the interview.

So far as the Symonds case is concerned, I was not personally briefed on this case until this weekend, though officials in my Department have been aware of it. I understand that his case and claims were investigated at the time. The Law Officers have now been made aware of the case and will be studying the transcript of the forthcoming BBC programme.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
people
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction
music
Sport
Today's Liverpool Echo back page
football
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

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 General

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?