Tory minister Raymond Mawby 'spied for Czechs'

 

When Raymond Mawby went on the BBC’s Late Night Line-Up talk show in 1967 to debate whether homosexuality should be legalised he came across as a quintessential traditional Tory right winger.

“It looks as if I’m the odd man out,” he said. “I think this is dealing with a twilight area of abnormal people and it’s something that should not be open for public discussion.”

As the Conservative MP for Totnes for nearly three decades, Mawby was a dyed in the wool Tory. But in many ways he really was the odd man out. Even as he railed against socially progressive causes he was in fact selling out his country to a foreign power. 

New papers unearthed in Prague have revealed that the working-class born politician spied for the Czech secret services providing them with reams of sensitive political information including a hand drawn floor plan of the prime minister’s office.

The new revelations, uncovered by the BBC in the dusty archives of the Czech Security Services, shine a new spotlight on how Communist spy agencies looked to recruit British parliamentarians. It has long been known that the Czechs had proven themselves adept at turning Labour politicians, who were politically closer aligned to them. But this is the first time proof has been unearthed of Prague successfully turning a Conservative politician.

According to the files, Czech spies approached Mawby in November 1960 at a cocktail party and persuaded him to begin supplying political gossip on a regular basis for cash payments.  He was known to be a gambler and the spies hoped they could exploit that particular weakness.  “His leisure time he spends in bars…and also loves gambling,” an anonymous handler writes at one point in the case notes. “While playing roulette and other games he is willing to accept a monetary ‘loan’ which was exploited twice.”

To begin with the Czechs played Mawby cautiously, asking him for relatively unhelpful gossip on trade unions before requesting that he start supplying more sensitive information.  Each time he handed over details he was paid £100 – a handsome regular income on the side at a time when the annual MP’s salary was around £3,200.

“Mawby has also promised to carry out tasks such as asking questions in Parliament according to our needs,” one Czech handler wrote in a plan on how to use him in 1962.

The relationship had become so lucrative for Prague that their spies began to worry when Mawby was promoted to become a junior minister in 1963. The new job meant an extra £2,000 to his salary and his handlers feared he would no longer need the spare cash they gave him for spying. Nonetheless Mawby continued to supply data. Following a meeting in November 1965 Mawby handed over a piece of paper with the names of three new officials on the Conservative Party. His handlers asked him for more information, including a floor plan of the Prime Minister’s office at Number Ten.

“Laval fulfilled this task before our next meeting,” the Czech spy wrote, referring to Mawby’s code name.

The sketch which accompanies the spy’s note is crudely drawn showing doorways, desks and corridors surrounding the PM’s offices. The BBc speculated that it might have proved useful for any spy agency hoping to install bugs or wires in the office.

Mawby’s relationship with the Czech spy service appeared to continue up untikl November 1971 when his file as closed. Two months earlier Britain expelled more than 100 Soviet diplomats from London on a clampdown on Russia intelligence assets.

“Considering the worsening operational conditions in Great Britain and after evaluating dangerous signals… we are forbidding all contacts with him,” one of the last case notes reads.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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 Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor