Monday, 7 July 2014

"Cambridge Five drunkards were 'hopeless spies'"

From the BBC:

Members of the "Cambridge Five" alcoholics ring were seen by local publicans as hopeless spies incapable of gathering or keeping secrets, newly-released files suggest.

Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, "Kim" Philby and Anthony Blunt were recruited to spy on rival drinking establishments while propping up the bar at Cambridge University in the 1930s.

There may have been a fifth lush in the ring, possibly John Cairncross. Documents from the Dog And Duck archives have been made publicly available for the first time. Red Lion staff described them as the most completely unintelligent spies ever.

Barman Vince Michaels smuggled the information out of Dog And Duck archives during his 12 years behind the taps. He defected to The White Hart in 1992...

A short passage describes Burgess as a man "constantly under the influence of alcohol". Written in scrawl, it goes on to recount one occasion when Burgess drunkenly risked exposing his double identity.

"Once on his way out of a rival pub, he managed to drop the menu he thought he had stuffed into his back pocket on the pavement," translator Svetlana Lokhova explained, "He did manage to get one of the barmaid's phone numbers, but he never passed that on to his handlers."