Dozens more Stasi spies are identified

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Indy Politics

US security services are holding the names of several dozen Stasi "moles" who betrayed British security secrets during the Cold War.

US security services are holding the names of several dozen Stasi "moles" who betrayed British security secrets during the Cold War.

The agents, whose details have yet to be passed to M15, were part of a spy ring which gathered details of Britain's nuclear defences for the East German intelligence agency.

Last week, details from newly decoded files in Berlin were published which showed that a Stasi spy, known as "Agent Eckart" and part of the same ring, worked at Chatham House, the London HQ of Royal Institute for International Affairs, for at least six years during the 1980s.

He is thought to have supplied the Communist leadership with details of Britain's nuclear weapons and assessments of attitudes to disarmament.

Anthony Glees, Reader in Politics and Director of European Studies at Brunel University, was the British expert given access to the decoded index of the Stasi's cold war files in Berlin.

Last night, he said he intended to publish more details of the Stasi spy ring, and that the US government already had a list of names. "You would be entitled to expect not just one or two people," he added.

His revelations will increase the pressure on the Government to prosecute those people who have already been investigated by MI5 for spying.

Last year, Melita Norwood escaped prosecution after being unmasked as a Soviet spy of 40 years' standing.

The 88-year-old great-grandmother was named in a huge archive of files brought out of Russia in 1992 by a defector, Vasili Mitrokhin.

Last night the Home Office refused to confirm whether any "mole hunt" had been ordered at Chatham House.

"The security services actively investigate espionage cases from whatever source the information comes and, in particular, there has been a lot of effort put into the Stasi archives and any cases which could lead to prosecutions will be handed to the law officers," said a spokeswoman

"As Jack Straw and Mike O'Brien have indicated in Parliament, there is a clear distinction between unsubstantiated information found in the files of former Communist regimes and evidence that could be brought before a court."

The decoded files also show that two Conservative MPs, Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, and Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, were targeted by the Stasi because of their opposition to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Dr Lewis, a former historian, said there was no reason for the Government not to accept the information in the decoded files because it was in its original form. "The laid-back attitude of the Home Office smells to high heaven," he said. "MI5 is covering up any embarrassment for left-wingers in this country by doing a deal with the Government."

The Shadow Home Secretary, Ann Widdecombe, called for a full statement.