October 06, 2009

MI5 put union leaders and protesters under surveillance during cold war

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Richard Norton-Taylor on the new book about MI5 Link to this audio

The extent to which the Security Service suspected trade union leaders and protesters of being potential subversives during the cold war has been revealed with the publication of the official history of MI5. Targets for surveillance included Jack Jones, the doyen of the Labour movement, and the Greenham Common women's peace camp.

The book, The Defence of the Realm, suggests that leaders of both main political parties were often more keen than MI5 to monitor the activities of their MPs or trade union leaders.

The authorised history, by the Cambridge historian Christopher Andrew, says Jones, who the Guardian has been told was the subject of more than 40 volumes in MI5 archives, was not "being manipulated by the Russians". But Andrew says MI5 was "right to consider the possibility that he was".

Britain's top spy in the KGB, Oleg Gordievsky, said Moscow "regarded Jones as an agent" and he provided it with Labour party NEC documents, Andrew writes. He adds that Jones received some money from the KGB, though the trade union leader broke contact with Moscow after the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

read more:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/06/mi5-union-leaders-surveillance


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