Another View : Too awful to be true?

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The Independent Online
Your editorial, "Michael Foot's tainted accuser", resorted to the discredited tactics used by the Guardian in December of last year: shooting the messenger when you don't like the message. The tone of the column was one of anger, and it displayed little knowledge of history; such rude and insulting language is unworthy of a reputable newspaper.

Your leader writers allege that my intention, in revealing certain KGB connections, was to make money. Undoubtedly their judgement is based on what they would do themselves.

They seem to have forgotten that I worked secretly for the British for 11 years, in the very worst period of the Cold War. My life was at considerable risk throughout that period; I was eventually caught by the KGB.

Throughout those 11 dangerous years I refused to accept payment for my underground work. I was anxious that my controllers in London understood that I was working for them because I believed in the cause, not because I wanted to be rich.

It was sometimes disillusioning, while this was going on, to see numerous British journalists, politicians and trade unionists enjoying lavish lunches, paid-up trips to the Black Sea, even the occasional cash hand-out, all courtesy of the intelligence officers of a hostile nuclear dictatorship.

Your other accusations - that I am an "unreliable" figure and that I have "gone back to what [I know] best: telling stories" - are ridiculous.

I supplied the British and American governments with first-class information for more than a decade. There was not one single case of my intelligence being wrong or inaccurate, and it played a crucial role in the making of the West's foreign and security policies.

If anything, it is the editorial that is untrustworthy. Contrary to what it said, I never smeared Neil Kinnock. Indeed, I defended him, and publicly so. Moreover, I never claimed (as your newspaper reported in February 1992, and have now re-reported) that all post-war contacts between Communist officials and British public figures - Labour politicians included - were innocuous.

The revelation that John Cairncross was the Fifth Man, and the information about Richard Gott, the Guardian journalist, have been convincingly confirmed. Sooner or later the same will undoubtedly happen with other episodes from my forthcoming book.

It seems to me that the British have lost their traditional courage: they cannot bear to face up to the unpalatable truth. Meanwhile, the Communist system has left many skeletons in both Russian and British cupboards. The archives of the Stasi have still not been fully researched. The GRU - the Soviet/Russian military intelligence service - still exists. It has been operating in this country for 70 years, and is well known for its busy cultivation of political figures. Further embarrassing revelations are surely on the way. The Independent must have the stomach to cope with them.