British Diplomat Spy Ring Had ‘Fifth Man,’ Ex-KGB Agent Says : Espionage: Such a person’s existence was suspected. But the retired colonel won’t tell who helped Philby, Maclean, Burgess and Blunt.
A former Soviet undercover agent in Britain said Thursday there had been a “fifth man” in the spy ring of British diplomats who worked for the Kremlin from the 1930s until three of them fled to Moscow.
“There was definitely a fifth man. I knew him personally,” Yuri Motin, a retired KGB colonel, told a news conference.
He made the remarks after a press showing of “A Cambridge Graduate,” a film about the life of Harold (Kim) Philby, the main figure in the ring.
British and American intelligence chiefs have agonized for years over whether there was a fifth member of the group, which included Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt.
Maclean and Burgess, also graduates of Cambridge University in the early 1930s, fled to Moscow in 1951 after Philby told them they were about to be arrested.
Philby was retired from the intelligence service under heavy suspicion but he was officially exonerated after years of intermittent interrogation. He finally fled in 1963 to Moscow, where he helped train other Soviet agents.
Blunt, who was a senior adviser on art to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II for many years, was publicly revealed to have been part of the ring in 1979. He died in Italy in 1983, just a few weeks before Maclean’s death in Moscow.
Burgess died in Moscow in 1963.
Motin told foreign reporters he had been one of Philby’s controllers in Britain.
His phrasing at the news conference and in interviews during the film, made in the Soviet Union and Britain, indicated the mysterious figure is still alive.
“He is an interesting person, with his own strong character and personality. I don’t want to say any more about him to avoid giving any reason for him to be persecuted,” he told a Soviet interviewer in the 90-minute documentary.
The film, which will be shown on Soviet television Friday night on the second anniversary of Philby’s death in Moscow, says the spy provided the Kremlin with vital information on German military plans during World War II.
He also passed on news to Moscow in May, 1941, of the secret flight of Rudolf Hess, deputy to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, to Britain on a mysterious mission apparently aimed at negotiating peace.