Report: Ex-British minister sold secrets to Czechs

Jun 28, 2012, 2:26 PM

LONDON (AP) – The British government said Thursday it would investigate claims an ex-minister sold information to communist spies for a decade during the Cold War in clandestine meetings in cocktail lounges and swank restaurants.

The BBC reported that files in the archive of the Czech Security Service show that Raymond Mawby, an ex-Conservative Party lawmaker who briefly served as a junior minister in the mid-1960s, provided intelligence to spies working for Czechoslovakia _ then a communist state _ for a decade from around 1961 to 1971.

According to the files, Mawby offered information on his colleagues and even provided a sketch of the layout of the prime minister’s office at No. 10 Downing Street.

“Mawby has also promised to carry out tasks such as asking questions in Parliament according to our needs,” the BBC reported his handler as writing.

George Young, leader of the House of Commons, told legislators that the government would make “appropriate inquiries to see how we might get the full picture in the public domain.”

Young, who said he had known Mawby, insisted that “only one side of the story” had been put forward.

According to the BBC report Thursday, the files claim Mawby was first approached at an embassy cocktail party, and later met with Czech intelligence officials in upscale London venues. He had been targeted as a result of his fondness for gambling, with the Czechs correctly assuming he would accept their offer of payments in return for information.

Mawby did not have access to prized intelligence or secret papers. He left the House of Commons in 1983 and died in 1990.

Britain’s most famous lawmaker spy was Labour Party legislator John Stonehouse, a former communications minister who also acted as an informant to the Czechs through the 1960s. Papers released in 2010 by the National Archives show that, after he had been exposed, Britain’s government covered up his activities as there was too little evidence to put him on trial.

Stonehouse faked his own suicide in 1974, leaving a bundle of his clothes on a beach in Miami. He was discovered less than a month later hiding out in Melbourne, Australia.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Report: Ex-British minister sold secrets to Czechs