A British writer brought diamonds from Russia into the UK disguised in a box of chocolate creams to help fund communist propaganda after World War One, secret files show.
Britain’s national security agency (MI5) found that poet Francis Meynell had been channelling Russian funds into Britain to support his left-wing Daily Herald newspaper where he was a director, Reuters reports.
Meynell’s file is among 140 secret files released by Britain’s National Archives that detail stories of German intelligence officers, communists and soviet agents.
The MI5 collection, which includes files from Hitler’s deputy Martin Bormann and American actor Sam Wanamaker, covers subjects from the pre-war period, World War Two and the post war period.
“For any file, if the story is an interesting one, it is part of a bigger jigsaw,” said Professor Christopher Andrew, official historian of the Security Service.
Secret files on Wanamaker, who was responsible for the recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, show detailed material from his theatre projects which were viewed as vehicles for spreading left-wing ideas in Britain.
The files also reveal intimate details of British architect Graeme Shankland’s homosexual relationship after the MI5 intercepted his personal mail in 1956.
Shankland, a member of the British communist party since 1941, was recorded as living with his partner Peter Thomas.
“Thomas has a small bedroom, adjoining that of Shankland, but this is seldom used, both men occupying the large bed in Shankland’s room,” a letter from the police said.
Through secret telegrams, landing cards and letters, the MI5 documents reveal individuals’ appearance and personal habits.
Soviet intelligence officer Ivan Bolshakov had a complexion described as “ruddy” and was known to walk with a very “erect posture” while American journalist Anna Strong was described as “the American crank extremist.”
Files on Strong, rumoured to be Trotsky’s mistress, show her as one of the most important couriers for the communist movement in the Soviet Union and China.
In a letter to Chinese leader Mao Zedong she wrote: “I wish to spend the rest of my life in spreading the news of the Chinese people’s revolution and especially of you personally and your ideas and methods as widely as possible in the world.”
The MI5 files are the 23rd batch released to the public. Howard Davies of the National Archives said the MI5 only releases material more than 50 years old.
Pic: Random diamonds