Title:                      Treachery

Author:                 Chapman Pincher

Pincher, Chapman (2012). Treachery: Betrayals, Blunders, And Cover-Ups: Six Decades Of Espionage. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing

LCCN:    2013433919

UB271.G7 P565 2012


  • A momentous message — Duplicity exposed — A spy called Elli — Inauspicious start — Cosmopolitan comrades — Strange interlude — Someone for tennis — Inside MI5 — The Krivitsky “coincidence” — Toxic troika — Traitors to order — In charge of “Soviet espionage” — Secrets by the bagful — Enter Sonia — Another insidious immigrant — “Signing on” — Calling Moscow — An enlightening book — In the city — Flagrant “divergence” — Two-headed colossus — Red light from green — A high-level culprit — Calamitous clearance — An enlightening letter — First atomic spy — Enormoz — The strange behaviour of Roger Hollis — In a new world — A mystery resolved — Blind eye to Elli — The denigration of Igor Gouzenko — Long shot shot down — Protective perfidy — Back in full flood — Another GRU defector — The firs fiasco — Australian assignment — Betraying the superbomb — A brilliant break — Confessions–of a kind — Misleading the Attorney General — Misleading the Prime Minister — Alienating the Americans — Unhampered escape — Volume of deception — Hollis at bay — Italian fiasco — Another volume of deception — Betrayal beyond belief — Rigorous scrutiny–for some — Escape at the double — A more credible scenario? — A list of nine — Reluctant riddance — Suspicious aftermaths — Pamphlet of deception — A ruthless defamation — Master of minimalism — A warning from Hoover — Master of minimalism — Another spy in MI6 — The Penkovsky problem — Another enlightening case — Another naval spy — The strange escape of an archtraitor — “The year that the roof fell in” — Portentous liaison — The fall of Supermac — Irish interlude — A sordid deal — Playing the royal card — Still more cover-ups — Suspect finish — Kid-glove showdown — Overdue cull — A crucial call — Two turncoats — Brush with the police — Missing link? — Sonia resurgent — The Sanden saga, part 1 — The Sanden saga, part 2 — Censure deferred — Conclusion — Appendix: The scroll of anamalies.



  • Originally published: 2011.
  • Updated & uncensored version

Date Updated:  September 1, 2015

In Treachery, noted intelligence authority Chapman Pincher makes a compelling case that Roger Hollis, head of MI5 from 1956 to 1965, was himself a double agent, acting to undermine and imperil the UK and America.

Myriad intriguing case histories are portrayed, including that of Lt Igor Gouzenko, a Red Army cipher clerk whose 1945 disclosure of a mole in MI5 touched off the Cold War. With a mass of new evidence, some from Russian sources, Pincher also provides exciting new perspectives on other infamous operatives, including Kim Philby and Klaus Fuchs. Perhaps most explosively, Pincher posits that long after Hollis stepped down, a cover-up was perpetrated at the highest levels, even involving Margaret Thatcher, to conceal the truth for ever – a deception that continues today.

Treachery warns us to protect our society and institutions from enemy infiltration in the future. It is a revelatory work that puts twentieth-century politics and war into stunning new relief.

Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[1]

The first edition of Treachery (2009) was published in the United States before the appearance of Christopher Andrew’s authorized history of MI5, Defend theRealm.[2] Both dealt with the molehunt that plagued MI5 from the late 1960s well into the 1980s, but they came to vastly different conclusions. In this revised edition, Chapman Pincher has added his analysis of Professor Andrew’s book, stressing the latter’s key omissions and contradictions. In the former category, Pincher points out that Defend The Realm fails to mention the role played by Ruth Kuczynski (SONIA) and the other members of her family who were important GRU agents for the Soviet Union. This is particularly important from Pincher’s point of view since he concludes SONIA was the Soviet agent who handled alleged GRU agent Sir Roger Hollis before and after Hollis became director general of MI5. Other Andrew omissions include a lack of comments on acknowledged Soviet agents, as for example, Tom Driberg (p. 414), Claud Cockburn (p. 508), James MactGibbon (p. 114), Bruno Pontecorvo (p. 349), Yuri Rastvorov (p. 404) and Ernest Weiss, cases that Pincher treats and documents in some detail. Another important omission from Andrew’s book is the failure to include the allegations concerning Hollis contained in a book by Einar Sanden.[3] While unproved, Sanden’s allegations are certainly worth critical scholarly attention. The principal contradiction that Pincher identifies has to do with the identification of ELLI, a Soviet agent mentioned to Pincher by the GRU defector Igor Gouzenko. Pincher concludes ELLI was a GRU agent with links to Hollis, while Defend The Realm maintains ELLI was Leo Long, a KGB agent not involved with Hollis.

The revised edition of Treachery does not resolve the Hollis dilemma, but it does refine the arguments while providing considerable material for counterintelligence scholars. The many questions it raises and the interpretation Pincher provides need to be resolved. This is the stuff of dissertations and should not be ignored.

Some comments by Roy Berkeley:[4]

Midway up a long block on Elsham Road, on the right is 18 Elsham Road. In 1938 a relatively unpromising young man—an Oxford dropout, a failure in his intended career as a journalist, and most recently a. tuberculosis patient—joined MI5 and moved here with his bride. He left Elsham Road for the Oxford area in 1940 when MI5 sought temporary safety at Blenheim Palace. In 1956, having been promoted several times beyond his abilities (as a good many saw it), he became head of MI5, a post he held until his retirement in 196S. The suspicions that dogged his later years stayed with him even after his death in 1973. It is still widely suspected that the late Sir Roger Hollis was a Soviet mole for all of his 27 years in the Security Service.

The case against him is wholly circumstantial, as it is bound to be without confessions, without witnesses, without solid evidence, without firm identification by defectors. But considering all that went wrong on his watch (see Site 54: 6 Campden Hill Square): the British ops that failed, the Soviet ops that succeeded, the many matters on which Hollis gave less assistance to the British than he might have (and more assistance to the Soviets), one is left with the suspicion that Roger Hollis was more than simply “dour” and “uninspiring.”

First, though, came the suspicion that something was amiss generally in MI5. The earliest clue came in 1962 when Philby in Beirut apparently expected the top-secret visit from Nicholas Elliott telling him he was under suspicion (see Site 42: Grove Court, Holly Mews). There was also the accumulating evidence that someone in the upper reaches of MI5 had, for some time, been intentionally furthering Soviet aims. The Soviet defector Golitsyn had seen a card index of MI5 documents in Moscow and also knew of a technical paper by Peter Wright circulating there. Earlier Soviet turncoats (Igor Gouzenko who was successful in defecting and Konstantin Volkov who wasn’t) had pointed to a still-unidentified Soviet asset in MI5 or MI6. Added to this was the growing realization that MI5 had achieved little success in attracting defectors or in running double agents and had only caught “Lonsdale” and Vassall (see Site 88: The White House, Albany Street; and Site 12: Dolphin Square) because they were probably discards. An unprecedented molehunt within MI5 began early in 1963 when MI5’s Arthur Martin dug into the matter and came up with Graham Mitchell and Roger Hollis as his two chief suspects. Quite horrifyingly, these two were also the top two in MI5: Hollis the director-general and Mitchell (see Site 133: 33 South Audley Street) his deputy.

For obvious reasons, Martin went outside his own service—to Sir Dick White, head of MI6—to discuss his findings. White sent him to Hollis, but only to report on Mitchell. Within the week Hollis had ordered Martin to investigate Mitchell. Joining Arthur Martin’s team was Peter Wright.

By September, 1964, Mitchell had been virtually cleared (the charges against him unproven) and he had retired. Where did that leave the larger matter of the almost certain penetration of MI5? Hollis wanted the matter dropped. Wright circumvented him and requested that it be studied by an ad hoc committee from MI5 and MI6. This new committee, code-named “Fluency” and headed by Wright, also included Martin—who had meanwhile been sacked by Hollis and hired by MI6.

Concentrating solely on defectors’ allegations, Fluency took a hard look at material that “pointed in Hollis’s direction for the first time,” Wright relates in Spycatcher[5]. The investigation faltered in 1966, however (Hollis having just retired), while MI5 pursued an investigation of someone else entirely. This new quest was a complete red herring; the Soviets had had Hollis’s help, it is thought, in providing some initially believable disinformation.

The hunt continued. By 1967 the new head of MI5 (Martin Furnival Jones) finally agreed to an interrogation of Mitchell. When nothing conclusive emerged from that event, MI5’s investigating branch (K7) recommended an immediate investigation and interrogation of Hollis as the best candidate. A ten-hour interrogation in 1970 was inconclusive: some people believed Hollis and some people didn’t. Two years later K7 completed its first report on Hollis, finding him the primary suspect but ultimately giving him the benefit of the doubt. A second K7 report (ordered by Michael Hanley, MI5’s new head in 1972) also failed to prove Hollis’s guilt but did not precisely “clear” him.

The molehunters now feared that “the case was being shelved for political convenience,” as Pincher reports[6]. Their efforts to keep it open resulted in an independent enquiry by Lord Trend, the choice of the Prime Minister. This one-man review ended with Hollis once again being given the benefit of the doubt – and the government, once again, considering the case closed.

It wasn’t, of course. Chapman Pincher, with information from Peter Wright and others, wrote Their Trade Is Treachery, from which the daily press in 1981 produced excerpts. (The opening headline: “MI5 CHIEF WAS RUSSIAN SPY SUSPECT.”) Three years later, Pincher’s Too Secret Too Long[7] strengthened the case against Hollis. Peter Wright’s own book, published in 1987 and immediately banned in Britain for breach of confidentiality, was almost an anti-climax.

“For ten long years,” Wright states, “both sides had feuded like medieval theologians, driven by instinct, passion, and prejudice.” My brief recap cannot do justice to the truly wrenching impact of the molehunt. Morale suffered (as Hollis, for one, had predicted). MI5’s reputation suffered. The Anglo-American alliance suffered. Individuals suffered. Some in MI5 judged Wright and the others to be as traitorous as any traitor sought by the molehunters. The matter of the Soviet mole high in MI5 is still unsettled. But I am persuaded, with Chapman Pincher, that “the preponderance of probabilities” points to the enigmatic Hollis.

[1] Hayden Peake, in Intelligencer (19, 1, 2012, pp. 122-123). Hayden Peake is the curator of the CIA Historical Intelligence Collection. He is a frequent contributor to AFIO’s journal and other publications. Most of his reviews were previously released in the unclassified edition of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence.

[2] Andrew, Christopher (2010). Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. New York: Vintage Books. For John Ehrman’s review see Studies in Intelligence (54, 1, March 2010).

[3] Sanden, Einar (1996). An Estonian Saga. Cardiff, Great Britain: Boreas Pub. House

[4] See Berkeley, Roy (1994). A Spy’s London. London: Leo Cooper, pp. 124-126

[5] Wright, Peter (1987) with Paul Greengrass. Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of A Senior Intelligence Officer. NY: Viking

[6] See Pincher, Chapman (1981). Their Trade is Treachery. London: Sidgwick & Jackson

[7] Pincher, Chapman (1984). Too Secret, Too Long. New York: St. Martin’s Press


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