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UK Spying: Ripping Yarns

  • August 26th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

le-carre-cover-1.jpgA fresh burst of spy drama in Britain where an MI6 man has been found dead, while documents just out of archives reveal tales of treachery involving a leggy blonde ballerina, and snooping around after Australian and New Zealand atom scientists, during the Cold War.

News this week also from the UK sees the poor, unremarkably, early losers under austerity budgeting; and International Students, also unremarkable in this world era, boosting the immigration figures.


London police are making tests on the body of an employee of the intelligence agency MI6,found in a carry bag, in the bathtub of his Pimlico flat, not far from the headquarters of the agency.

They say Gareth Williams, 30, may have been killed, perhaps two weeks ago, because of something to do with his job, but they are also going into his personal affairs.


le-carre-cover-2.jpgAt the National Archives a release of intelligence papers has produced a story that the Nobel Prize winning scientist, Professor Maurice Wilkins, acclaimed for his work on DNA, was being watched as a possible Russian  spy.

The files show that in 1951 the American FBI passed on to the British, suspicions it had that one of the Australians or New Zealanders working on the Manhattan project, to build the atomic bomb, had passed on  information about it to the Soviet Union.

Professor Wilkins, British but originally from New Zealand, was put under watch with agents reading his mail.

He was eventually cleared on the affirmation of colleagues, some pointing out that he had to be alright as he read The Times newspaper every morning.


james-bond.jpgThe security files have also come up with the curious story  of “bonde, tall, languid”  Marina Lee, a ballerina who evidently slinked her way into the British command centre in Norway, early in World War II, and stole the battle plans.

As the story goes, the German general in charge of the invasion of Norway was impressed enough that he cancelled thoughts he was entertaining, of pulling out, and went on to occupy the country.

Marina was born in Russia, married to a Norwegian, and possibly a spy for Stalin as well as for the Nazis – the two despotic powers at the time linked together under a non-aggression pact.


Other vestiges of tradition have emerged in the UK with a report of advancing inequality on the economic front.

The Guardian says that the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), described as Britain’s leading independent tax experts, has called the impacts of the British austerity budget “clearly regressive”.

Despite government claims to have shielded working families on the lowest incomes, with various forms of exemption, the Institute says changes to housing benefits, disability allowances and tax credits will still leave them as the biggest losers.

See also, on budgets, EUAustralia Online: “Battle of the Budgets”, 18.7.10; “UK Vote: Sorted”, 12.5.10.


For whatever reasons, British people were staying at home over the last year, with the number leaving to reside overseas down by 13%; a factor contributing to a jump in net immigration of 20% — according to the Office for National Statistics.

The other key factor was the phenomenon of overseas students studying in England, which boosted the net figure to 196000, up by 33000 over the year before.


AFP, Paris, “Police conduct tests in MI6 death probe”, 26.8.10., (26.8.10).

Alan Travis, “Nobel-winning British scientist accused of spying by MI5, papers reveal”, The Guardian, Manchester, 26.8.10., (26.8.10).

Alan Travis, The Guardian, Manchester, “Figures show 20% increase in net migration to UK”, 26.8.10., (26.8.10).

BBC News, London, “Blonde Nazi ballerina ’caused war setback'”, 26.8.10., (26.8.10).The Guardian, Manchester, “Poor families bear brunt of coalition’s austerity drive”, 25.8.10., (26.8.10).