Subjects of Security Service enquiry

In this release

Hastings Walter Kamuzu Banda

Catalogue reference: KV 2/40664077 (KV 2/4066 has been digitised)
Date range: 14 December 1943–19 June 1963

Banda opposed the creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, or Central African Federation (CAF), which was established in 1953. A Home Office Warrant on Banda’s communications was granted in November 1952 at the request of the Colonial Office, even though stronger grounds would usually be required (KV 2/4066). It was rare for the Security Service to use its resources at the request of another department. Banda was also not thought to be a communist or even anti-British. He returned to Nyasaland (Malawi) in 1958, becoming the country’s first prime minister on independence five years later.

These files contain material on Banda’s correspondence with the journalist George Padmore (KV 2/4068), notes on his relations with other African independence leaders including Kenneth Kaunda (Kenya), Joshua Nkomo (Southern Rhodesia) and Harry Nkumbula (Northern Rhodesia) (KV 2/4075). There are also intercepted personal letters to Ghanian president Kwame Nkrumah (KV 2/4066, 4076). There is a history of Banda’s life up to 1963 compiled by Nyasaland Police Special Branch (KV 2/4077).

Harold Joseph Laski

Catalogue reference: KV 2/40784079
Date range: 1 October 1930–1 April 1950

Laski was an active socialist with Marxist views in the 1930s and a committee member of the Friends of the Soviet Union in 1936. A Communist Party of Great Britain circular from October 1937 welcomes the election of Laski and others to the Executive Committee of the Labour Party as a ‘considerable advance towards the goal of affiliation to the Labour Party.’ Laski later abandoned his communist sympathies.

The files include a copy of a pamphlet written by Laski titled: ‘What is this crime of unity?’ and various newspaper cuttings.

Oginga Odinga

Catalogue reference: KV 2/40804090 (KV 2/4089 has been digitised)
Date range: 18 April 1958–1 April 1964

Odinga was a tribal chieftain who became a prominent figure in Kenya’s struggle for independence. In 1948, Odinga became a member of the Kenya African Union (KAU) and in 1960 joined the Kenya African National Union (KANU).

When Kenya became a republic in 1964, he was its first vice-president. Odinga became of interest to the Security Service due to his numerous communist contacts including the receipt of foreign aid from eastern bloc countries. It was believed that Odinga was the leader of the ‘extremist wing’ of KANU and was planning to align Kenyan foreign policy along Soviet and/or Chinese lines. In 1960, Odinga was the subject of an operation to photograph his address book and correspondence during a stop over at Nairobi airport. The background to the operation, including a list of names and contacts obtained from Odinga’s luggage, is found in KV 2/4089.

Edith Tudor-Hart

Alias Suschitsky, White, Betty Grey, codename Edith

Catalogue reference: KV 2/40914093 (KV 2/4091-4093 have been digitised)
Date range: 24 October 1951–16 July 1965

Austrian-born Tudor-Hart was a communist who first came to the UK around 1925 and was later nationalised. Forced to return to Vienna in 1931 on account of her political activities, she married Alexander Tudor-Hart, an English doctor who was also a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and a fellow Russian Intelligence Service (RIS) recruit. The couple returned to London but separated. Tudor-Hart set herself up as a professional photographer. Having joined the CPGB in 1927 she remained associated with it for the rest of her life, sometimes using an alias to disguise her membership.

Theses files include material from her later life. It was thought that she had fallen out of favour with the CPGB and was considering joining the Roman Catholic Church. It notes concern about her links to Kim Philby (KV 2/4092). A source believed that it was Tudor-Hart who first recruited Philby and referred to her as likely to be ‘the grandmother of us all’, but the Security Service believed her role to be more that of a courier (KV 2/4093).

Security Service records on Tudor-Hart’s earlier life can be found in the previously released files KV 2/10121014.

Tags: africa, colonial office, espionage, spies

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