Letter : Footnote

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The Independent Online
From Mr John Witherow

Sir: James Fenton's attempt to belittle the Sunday Times' report about KGB contacts with Michael Foot was a piece of polemic that would not have disgraced the Disinformation Department of the First Chief Directorate at the height of its powers ("Spy story that fails the credibility test", 20 February).

Though it may be uncomfortable for Mr Fenton, we reported the fact that the KGB regarded Mr Foot as an agent of influence in the 1960s, paid him money for Tribune and tried to reactivate him in the late 1980s. That the former leader of the Labour Party was regarded in Moscow, rightly or wrongly, as an agent strikes me as a story of some importance.

The KGB cultivated Mr Foot in the hope of getting information about the Labour movement and clearly believed it had acquired a valuable source. That was their assessment, and as such is worthy of coverage. Perhaps Mr Fenton would have preferred that it was all tidily swept under the carpet. As for his belief that the General Election is upon us, that's news to me.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN WITHEROW

Editor

Sunday Times

London, E1

20 February

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