The Timeline: Russian spies

Anthony Blunt, 1940s

Anthony Blunt, the angular art historian and second cousin once removed of the Queen Mother, was exposed as the "Fourth Man" in the Cambridge Spy Ring by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. The former Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures had, in 1964, and after the defection of his former lover Guy Burgess, confessed to passing secrets to the Soviets during the 1940s. He was granted immunity from prosecution and his career flourished. In contrast to other Russian agents exposed at the time, Blunt's life was little changed by his confession; he remained on friendly terms with the Queen Mother, who was aware of his treachery.

Melita Norwood, 1950s

The "spy behind the privet hedge", Melita Norwood, who spent the latter years of her life buying copies of The Morning Star and pushing them through the letter boxes of her neighbours in Bexleyheath, passed her formative years passing secrets across park benches to Soviet agents. A secretary at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, she had access to high level nuclear secrets which she faithfully passed to her Russian handlers. Exposed in 1999 and besieged by reporters, Norwood, then 87, said she did not regard herself "as a spy, but it is for others to decide". The Attorney General decided she was, but decided not to prosecute the grandmother of two.

John Symonds, 1970s

John Symonds, was unmasked as the "Romeo" agent par excellence in 1999, when the BBC gained access to previously classified KGB records. Active throughout the 1970s, he seduced the wives of various officials in the West German government and passed the secrets they spilt on the pillow to the KGB. Despite attempting to confess in 1985 and 1987, he was dismissed as a fantasist, the authorities perhaps thinking it unlikely that the bearded stout drinker was ever a "Romeo" for anyone.

Aldrich Ames, 1980s

Ames, an American CIA counter-intelligence officer, was convicted of spying for the Russians in 1994. His career as a Russian agent began after a day's work at CIA headquarters when, somewhat improbably, he walked into the Russian embassy in Washington and simply offered his services. Despite having a fleet of Jaguar cars, a wardrobe of bespoke suits and a house beyond the means of a normal CIA agent, it took the CIA nine years to decide something was amiss. He is serving a life sentence without parole.

Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko, 2010

The arrest of the latest "deep-cover" Russian agents in the US will prove a further boon to writers of hackneyed spy fiction. Apparently eschewing the modern intelligence gathering techniques seen in the latest James Bond films, the pair would meet their handlers on park benches with the exchange of information preceded with: "Didn't we meet in California last summer?" "No, I think it was the Hamptons". The FBI have yet to confirm whether they wore trilby hats and carnations in their button holes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral