Story of a man called Scarlett

THE DIPLOMAT expelled from Russia for alleged spying, John McLeod Scarlett, was a political counsellor at the British embassy in Moscow who had risen smoothly up the Foreign Office hierarchy.

A father of three daughters and one son, Mr Scarlett, 45, joined the Foreign Office in 1971 and within two years was working as a third secretary in Nairobi.

After a spell as a language student, he was posted in 1976 to Moscow, where he was promoted from second secretary to first secretary. However, this assignment proved to be unusually short. Most diplomatic postings last for several years, but by 1977 Mr Scarlett was back in London.

If he was already working for MI6 at this stage, this may explain the brevity of his first stint in Moscow. Either the then Soviet authorities may have suspected the nature of his real duties, or his masters may have decided to limit his spell in Moscow for other reasons.

According to the official Diplomatic Service List, which records the movements of Foreign Office staff, he was not assigned abroad again until 1984, when he was posted to Paris. Three years later, and before he had even reached his 40th birthday, Mr Scarlett was awarded an OBE.

The fact that he received this honour when he was still only a first secretary - a respectable but middle-ranking position - suggests that he may well have been performing other services that merited official recognition. In any event, he returned to Moscow in October 1991, just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Foreign correspondents in Moscow who mix with British embassy staff at diplomatic functions and other social occasions say they cannot recall ever having met Mr Scarlett. This in itself proves nothing, but it is rather unusual in the tightly knit foreigners' circles of Moscow, where most people get to know each other very quickly.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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 Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
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'
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