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Mr Leo Long

Volume 12: debated on Monday 9 November 1981

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asked the Prime Minister whether she intends taking any new steps in view of recent information about the espionage activities of Mr. Leo Long.

Early in 1964, Leonard Henry Long was named to the Security Service by Mr. Michael Whitney Straight, the United States citizen who identified Mr. Anthony Blunt, as someone else whom Mr. Blunt might have attempted to recruit as an agent for the Russian Intelligence Service. When Mr. Blunt made his confession in April 1964, he admitted to having recruited Mr. Long before the war and controlled him during it.Mr. Long was then seen by the Security Service. He asked for immunity from prosecution; this was refused, but he was told that he was not likely to be prosecuted if he co-operated in the Security Service's inquiries. He then made a detailed confession.

Mr. Long was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, and a member of the Communist Party, before the Second World War. While at Cambridge, he was recruited by Anthony Blunt as a potential Soviet agent. From 1940 to 1944 he served in MI 14, the section of the War Office responsible for analysing German military intentions. He had access to analyses based on intelligence derived from secret sources, but not to the sources themselves. He passed information obtained from these analyses to Anthony Blunt, knowing that Mr. Blunt would pass them to the Russians. He has said, and there is no reason to disbelieve, that he passed information obtained from official documents but not the documents (or copies of the documents) themselves, and that he passed all his information to Mr. Blunt, who was his controller.

After the war, from 1945 until his contract expired in 1952, Mr. Long was an intelligence officer in the Control Commission in Germany. He has all along said that he did not pass information to the Russians during this period. He left the public service in 1952, and has had no access to classified information since then.

Neither the Attorney-General nor the Director of Public Prosecutions was consulted before Mr. Long was interviewed in 1964. It has to be remembered that he had been out of the public service for twelve years; that, in the wake of Mr. Blunt's confession, the Security Service's main concern was to obtain as much information as it could about other possible spies, and in particular about any that might still be in the public service and have access to classified information; and that Mr. Long could not have been expected to co-operate in the Security Service's inquiries if he had believed that he was likely to be prosecuted if he did so.

It is true that a confession obtained as a result of the sort of indication given to Mr. Long would be inadmissible as evidence for the prosecution in court; but the Security Service did not have any other evidence which could be used against him and which would be likely to secure a conviction. There was thus a good deal to gain and little to lose from obtaining Mr. Long's co-operation in the way that was done.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General told the House in the debate on 21 November 1979, the only person who has been granted immunity from prosecution if he confessed to espionage activities and co-operated in the Security Service's inquiries is Mr. Blunt. I am aware of only one case other than that of Mr. Long since the beginning of 1964 (records are not available before that) in which someone suspected of espionage offences was or may have been induced to make a confession by an indication that he was unlikely to be prosecuted if he co-operated in the Security Service's inquiries. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General referred to this matter in his reply of 20 November 1979.

I am satisfied that the present procedures of the Security Service would prevent anything of the sort happening today without the knowledge of the prosecution authorities. In my speech in the House on 21 November 1979 I set out in some detail the procedures for applying the principles governing the relationships between the Security Service and Ministers.

I can assure the House that a person suspected of an espionage offence would not now be interviewed by the Security Service on the basis that he need not fear prosecution unless the case had first been referred to the Attorney-General and permission had been given for the interview to be conducted on that basis.

In the wake of Mr. Long's public admission of his treachery, a number of people are being named in the press as having been suspected of being involved in espionage activities or as having been interviewed in the course of the Security Service's inquiries. I believe that we have to be very careful to avoid the risk of creating a climate of guilt by association. The contacts of those who are known to have acted as agents of the Russian Intelligence Service have been extensively and exhaustively investigated; and many people have been interviewed over the years.

As I said in my statement in the House on 26 March, the fact that somebody has been the subject of investigation or has been interviewed does not necessarily or even generally mean that he has been positively suspected. Many people have been investigated simply in order to eliminate them from the inquiry. Others have been interviewed not because they themselves were suspected but for any information they might be able to give about those who were.

I felt able to make a statement about Mr. Blunt because his guilt was known and admitted, and because there was no question of prosecuting him. I have been able to give this answer today about Mr. Long because he has publicly admitted his guilt.

As a general rule, however, it would in my view be totally wrong for me, under cover of Parliamentary privilege, to name people who were suspected but against whom the evidence available was not sufficient to justify a prosecution; and it would be no less wrong for me to name people who were interviewed in the course of the Security Service's inquiries, when to do so might be held to suggest, often erroneously, that they had themselves been suspected. I do not therefore propose to comment on, either to confirm or deny, the stories which have appeared in the press recently.

Nor have I seen anything in those stories which in my judgment calls for a new inquiry into the events of the past, which have been very thoroughly investigated. None of those named or implicated in recent allegations is still in the public service, and most of them have long since retired or died. We need to concern ourselves with the future, and with making sure that the arrangements for guarding against penetration are as good as they possibly can be. That is the purpose of the review which the Security Commission are now conducting.

asked the Prime Minister what pensions or other emoluments from public funds have been received by Mr. Leo Long since he confessed to being a traitor in 1964.

Mr. Long has received no pensions or other emoluments since 1964 in respect of his wartime service, nor, so far as it has been possible to ascertain the details, in respect of his post-war contract with the Control Commission in Germany. He is entitled to a State retirement pension as provided for under social security legislation.