Introduction

Introduction

This pack offers a brief overview and description of the most interesting and newsworthy files within the latest release of Security Service records. This, the tenth Security Service (MI5) release, contains 203 files, bringing the total number of MI5 records in the public domain to 1,646.

As with previous releases the bulk of records are personal files relating to individuals (KV 2), with a small number of subject files (KV 3), policy files (KV 4), organisation files (KV 5) and a new series, list files (KV 6).

The majority of files are from 1939-45 but there are a considerable number from the inter- and post- war periods, dealing with a range of groups and subjects, including: right-wing extremists (such as British Union of Fascists or BUF and the Nordic League); Russian Communists and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and related groups; Communist intelligence agents; the funding of the Security Service; the vetting system; and Jewish emigration to and terrorism in Palestine after the war.

Some personal files are being released relating to the early Cold War period. Of these, the most notable is that relating to the atom spy Klaus Fuchs (KV2/1247-1270) covering the period 1938-53. Other files relate to the senior British Communist Robert Robson (KV 2/1176-1179), the British representative on Comintern, Robert Stewart (KV 2/1180-1183), and the Russian chief of OGPU from 1938, Lavrenti Beria (KV 2/1236).

The personal files are listed under the following categories:

There are also a number of 'untitled' personal files (KV 2/1271-1274), that is files relating to individuals which do not fit squarely into the above categories. They include files relating to writers Compton MacKenzie and Arthur Koestler.

The few subject files (KV 3/40-56) contain papers on contacts between British, Italian, Belgian and South American Fascists after the end of the Second World War (KV 3/42-49), German espionage activity in Syria during the War (KV 3/40), reports on activities of British Fascists after the War (KV 3/50-52) and the financing of the British Union of Fascists and its links with Germany and Italy (KV 3/53-55). There are also two files concerning Palestine: one relating to Jewish emigration to Palestine after the War and terrorist activity there (KV 3/41) and one about Jewish migration around Europe and into Palestine (KV 3/56).

The policy files deal with a wide range of administrative matters, including the organisation and functions of the Security Intelligence Middle East (SIME) Special Section (KV 4/197) - thought to be the only surviving file of the Special Section, which ran double agent and deception operations in the Middle East against the Abwehr. There are also records relating to the inter-war funding of the Security Service (KV 4/198-200), liaison with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) (KV 4/201) and vetting policy (KV 4/202-204).

One organisation file, KV 5/3, is also being opened, dealing with Security Service investigations into the Anglo-German Fellowship in the years leading up to the Second World War.

This release also sees the opening of the first Security Service list files (KV 6/1-38). These were created when the Service was required to conduct investigations into, or had an interest in, a number of individuals or organisations that had been listed together as being related. For example, the Service was asked to investigate a number of SOE agents who had been in enemy hands and had escaped, or circuits that were under suspicion of having been penetrated. These cases were all part of the SOE 'list' (List 397), and each case had its own list number (and sometimes sub-number) that formed the List series file reference - for instance L397-0027 related to SOE in Belgium, and L397-0027-1, 2, etc to particular SOE agents or circuits in or from Belgium. The List files released consist of investigations into British Fascist Edward Hamm (KV 6/1-7), diplomatic missions (the CICERO case, KV 6/8) and SOE agents and circuits (KV 6/9-38).

An appendix of visual material and other artefacts can be found at the back of this pack. (Please note that this is not comprehensive.)

If you wish to consult other Security Service (MI5) files already in the public domain, please use The National Archives reading rooms in the normal manner.

A few files have been heavily weeded whilst others have been reconstituted from microfilm of the original document, and therefore are in photocopy form. In both cases this is indicated in the press pack.

Most personal files include a minute sheet attached to the inside cover, providing a useful index to the file.

Highlights of the release include:

  • Double Cross agents CHEESE (KV 2/1133), SPRINGBOK (KV 2/1134-1136), COBWEB (KV 2/1137) and SNIPER (KV 2/1138)
  • Atom spy Klaus Fuchs (KV 2/1245-1270)
  • Writer and former British intelligence officer Compton MacKenzie (KV 2/1271-1272)
  • Writer, journalist and communist - later turned anti-communist - Arthur Koestler (KV 2/1273)
  • Leader of the French Nazi party during the German occupation - involved in the deportation of French and émigré Jews - Rudolf Schleier (KV 2/1274)
  • The CICERO case, wartime espionage incident concerning the leak of information from the British Embassy in Ankara to the German Intelligence Service (KV 6/8 and KV 2/1171)
  • Jewish emigration to Palestine and Jewish terrorist activity (KV 3/41 and 56)
  • Ernst Fackenheim, Jew released from Dachau on condition he undertook a spying mission, who handed himself over to the British authorities on being parachuted into Palestine in 1941 (KV 2/1163)
  • August Kraatz, concealed Jew who worked for the Abwehr until his lineage was discovered in 1943 (KV 2/1172)
  • Suspected Second World War resistance traitor Roger Bardet (KV 2/1175)
  • British Communists Robert Robson (KV 2/1177-1179) and Robert Stewart (KV 2/1180-1183)
  • Chief of the Russian NKVD organisation Lavrenti Beria (KV 2/1236)
  • British Communist spy George Whomack, convicted of espionage with Percy Glading and Albert Williams in 1938 (KV 2/1237-1238)
  • SIME Special Section dealing with double cross and deception activities in the Middle East during the Second World War (KV 4/197)
  • The Anglo-German Fellowship, pre-war non-political group interested in building commercial and business links with Germany (KV 5/3)
  • SOE list files on Security Service investigations of SOE security (KV 6/9-38)