Shedding light on Cold War escape

May I correct one statement in Richard Fitzpatrick’s article (Features, Feb 16) on the escape of the double-agent George Blake from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966 with the collaboration of Seán Bourke and assistance from Pat Pottle, my wife Anne, and myself.

He relates how Anne and I, with our two young children, drove Blake in the hidden compartment of a camper van to East Germany, and states: “They made it safely, managing to hand over Blake to KGB operatives in East Berlin.”

This gives the impression that we had some direct dealings with the KGB. In fact, at no time did we have any contact, direct or indirect, with the KGB, and would not have assisted in the escape if it had involved that. We dropped George Blake off on the side of the road within sight of the East German checkpoint to West Berlin while we drove on into the city and booked into a hotel there. As Blake recounts in his autobiography, No Other Choice, he then walked to the checkpoint without any papers or means of identification and was accommodated overnight until his KGB minder arrived and identified him the following morning.

Pat Pottle, Anne and I were completely opposed to Blake’s espionage activities, whether for the West or the Soviet Union, but were prepared to help him because the 42-year prison sentence appeared to us to be disproportionate and inhuman. Both sides in the Cold War engaged in espionage and both carried out indefensible criminal activities. On the side of the West in the 1950s, for example, when Blake worked for MI6, the CIA and MI6 jointly engineered a coup in Iran in 1953 which overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 100 people, and having disastrous long-term consequences which continue today.

And we now also know, notably from documents that came to light after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, that MI6 in recent decades has colluded with the CIA in the illegal abduction and rendition of terrorist suspects to countries ruled by some of the vilest regimes in the world, including Gaddafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria, where they were imprisoned without trial and tortured.

Michael Randle

Shipley

West Yorkshire, England

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