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Spy trial man 'joined the Communist Party for sex'

The electronics engineer accused of spying for the Russians told the police he joined the Communist Party in his youth 'for sex' due to his 'lack of success with girls', the Old Bailey was told yesterday, writes James Cusick.

Interviewed after his arrest, Michael Smith dismissed his membership of the Young Communist League as 'a phase I went through'. Mr Smith, 44, from Kingston, south-west London, faces charges under the Official Secrets Act. It is alleged that he was recruited 20 years ago as an agent while a student at Surrey University. Yesterday, the court heard the beginning of more than 11 hours of taped interviews by Special Branch officers. The former GEC employee, who had been made redundant, told police he was planning to move to New Zealand.

Earlier in the trial, a British security officer told how he had faked a foreign accent in a telephone call to Mr Smith's house and mentioned an 'old friend, Victor', a reference to a senior KGB officer. On the interview tape, Mr Smith said 'this foreign guy . . . must have mistaken me for someone else'.

The trial continues today.