Subject of Security Service enquiry

In this release

Robert John Graham Boothby MP

alias Lord Boothby

Catalogue reference: KV 2/4095
Date range: 18 December 1928–2 May 1941
This file has been digitised.

Handwritten note to Boothby pointing out his loud conversation in a restaurant (catalogue reference: KV2/4095)

Handwritten note to Boothby pointing out his loud conversation in a restaurant (catalogue reference: KV2/4095)

This file contains a considerable amount of documentation concerning Boothby’s dealings with Czech financier Richard Weininger, in 1939-40. Boothby was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food in 1940-41. A Parliamentary Select Committee investigated Boothby’s dealings and found him guilty of improper conduct, and there was also an allegation that he was accepting payments from a pharmaceutical company (connected with the issue of fortifying bread with vitamins). Boothby resigned from his junior ministerial position but managed to retain his parliamentary seat. He went on to join the Royal Air Force, remaining as MP.

The file contains transcripts of ‘tapped’ telephone conversations made by Boothby, including calls made to his mother. This tapping and transcribing of phone calls was carried out by wartime censors without Security Service involvement. There are also some extraordinary exchanges of notes between Boothby and Major Sinclair written on restaurant notepaper following an overheard conversation in a London restaurant in March 1939.

Catalogue reference: KV 2/4096
Date range: 9 May 1941–24 August 1951
This file has been digitised.

This file contains further documentation concerning Boothby’s relations with Richard Weininger, including letters which MI5 had intercepted and transcribed. There is an account of a meeting on 11/05/1943 between Sir Oswald Mosley and Boothby, during Mosley’s internment. On 26/02/1948 it is noted that Mosley ‘appears to be on particularly close terms with Boothby’. It is stated that Boothby and Brendan Bracken, Minister of Information, ‘interested themselves’ in Mosley’s application for a British passport in May 1949, with Boothby approaching the Foreign Office over the issue. BG Atkinson writes that Boothby ‘appears to sympathise with the fascist belief of the evil of Jewish control through international finance’.

Catalogue reference: KV 2/4097
Date range: 27 October 1951–16 October 1964
This file has been digitised.

Boothby is understood to be supporting the idea of a Western European movement and it said to be ‘helping Mosley in some way with the Germans’. Reports mention Boothby’s homosexuality. A memo of 10/07/1963 gives details of Boothby’s first exchanges with the Kray brothers. The file includes newspaper cuttings such as the famous Sunday Mirror front page headline of 12/07/1964: ‘Peer and a Gangster: Yard Probe’. MI5 note that the story ‘is hot in Fleet Street’. An MI5 typed report of 15/07/64 gives a detailed account of the story, drawing on information from an inside ‘source’ (described as a ‘self confessed homosexual’), referring to the relationship between Boothby and his chauffeur, Leslie Holt alias Johnny Kid(d), former boxer: ‘they are genuinely attached; this is no fly-by-night affair’.

The report also comments on the activities of the Kray brothers and, referring to Ronnie Kray and Boothby, states: ‘both are hunters (of young men)’. The Kray family house in Vallance Road (Bethnal Green) is mentioned in the context of explaining about the Krays and their background. A note by Roger Hollis reveals that the Home Secretary is concerned about the Sunday Mirror story and a ‘possible Profumo scandal’; however, Hollis sees no security issue. MI5 passed on its information to Special Branch.

When the Mirror dropped the story, an MI5 official comments: ‘they doubt whether Boothby will sue, because he has so much to hide’. On 11/09/64, information received from MI5’s source reveals that Leslie Holt was very angry as Boothby has sacked him. There is a further allegation that Holt was threatened by Ronnie Kray and Boothby is mentioned.

Kurt Robert Herrmann

aliases Robert Edward Alexander von Buttlar Brandenfels, Karl Jensson, Karl Hilger, Robert Hellman, Karl Hjerring, Hjerrberg

Kurt Herrmann (catalogue reference:  KV 2/4099)

Kurt Herrmann (catalogue reference: KV 2/4099)

Catalogue reference: KV 2/40984100
Date range: 31 October 1942–27 August 1964

Files contain 7 photographs of Herrmann and notes on successive interrogations of Herrmann after the war which failed to establish the truth about his wartime activities. It seems likely he was arrested and detained by the German authorities in 1943 and again in 1945. He also claimed, probably falsely, that he had been recruited by Soviet Intelligence for work in Germany during the war. In 1946 he was deported back to Germany and re-interviewed. All who had dealings with his case concluded that he was a compulsive liar with a significant inventive capacity. Images from this file are available on the press preview site.

Tags: espionage, mi5, spies

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