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.

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice