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The Spy Scandal: The Old Spies' Club - Cold war of words at spy convention

THE FIRST great reunion of the second oldest profession took place in the shadow of events unfolding in Bexleyheath. While "Hola" was addressing the world's media in her suburban south London garden, many of her Cold War colleagues, from both sides, gathered at a disused listening station in the Berlin woods

Reunited for a weekend, former spies from East and West poured scorn on their rivals, trumpeted their double agents and pitted their intelligence against the other side.

Oleg Kalugin, a former head of KGB Counter-Intelligence, who attended the reunion, said: "I never heard of this lady before. But I knew from some sources that there was a lady involved in atomic espionage."

The former controller of the British traitor, George Blake, did, however, say that he believed there were dozens more KGB agents still living in Britain.

The convention, organised in West Berlin by the CIA and its affiliates, had set out to prove Western superiority. Agents of the CIA, KGB, MI5 and other related organisations were brought together for a discussion about the intelligence war in Berlin before the Wall was built. The CIA regards that era as its "Golden Time", when its agents roamed East Berlin unhindered, mining the rich seam of Communist secrets.

"The fact that we're sitting here points to which side had the most developed spy network," crowed Burton Gerber, the former CIA station chief. Mr Gerber and his colleagues cited their triumph during the blockade, the tank confrontation in the autumn of 1961, and other episodes when only Western intelligence averted a global war.

The Russians listened for a while to all this triumphant talk, and then retaliated with a barrage of boasts of their own. "In terms of deception and disinformation, we were the best," said Mr Kalugin. "No one could lie the way we did. The British came close, but we were better."

None of that generation works any more. Technology is taking over the agents' work, and increasingly, their sights are shifting to industry and commerce. And with that happy thought, the class of 1961 dispersed and returned to their desks and sinecures.