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Espionage

Volume 12: debated on Monday 9 November 1981

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asked the Prime Minister (1) whether, in view of her reply to the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire on 18 January 1979, Official Report, columns 869–70, and of recent information about the espionage activities of Mr. Leo Long and the fact that he was not prosecuted, how many people still living have not been prosecuted after confessing to having been involved in espionage activities;(2) how many people who, since 1945, have confessed to espionage activities have been prosecuted, and how many have not been prosecuted; and whether she will name them.

asked the Prime Minister (1) what is the total number of those who having confessed to spying for a foreign Power were either given immunity from legal action or informed that such action was not likely to be taken; and if she will make a statement;(2) if it has been the consistent practice for Law Officers to be notified when immunity from legal action has been given or when persons have been informed that such action was not likely to be taken in cases where individuals confessed to spying for a foreign Power.

Since 1945, 32 people have been prosecuted for offences contrary to section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. Their names are, of course, on record, but I do not propose to list them, since some of them were acquitted. It would not be possible without disproportionate effort to extract information about how many of those found guilty had previously admitted some involvement in espionage activities.It would not be in the public interest to disclose the number or names of people who have admitted to the security authorities some involvement in espionage activities, but have not been prosecuted.