BBC releases archival documents on KGB spy Guy Burgess

Guy Burgess

Guy Burgess

The BBC’s archive unit has released 24 previously unpublished documents on Guy Burgess, a British-born KGB double spy who defected to Moscow during the early stages of the Cold War. Prior to joining the British Foreign Office, Burgess worked for the BBC as a producer of its Week in Westminster radio program, which covered British Parliamentary activity. The archival documents, some of which date back to 1936, shed light on his activities while at the BBC. They include a reference letter addressed to the BBC from Burgess’ academic mentor, renowned Cambridge University historian Sir George Trevelyan. In the letter, Professor Trevelyan describes Burgess as “a first rate man” and notes that “[h]e has passed through the communist measles that so many of our clever young men go through and is well out of it”. Other documents in the collection reveal complains from Burgess’ supervisors that he spent too much money “making contacts” and refused to travel by second-class rail while on BBC business. Burgess left the BBC for the Foreign Office in 1944, eventually climbing to the post of First Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. By that time, he was an active member of the Cambridge Five, a group of double spies handled by the KGB, which included Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt. He and defected to the USSR in 1951, where he died in 1963, aged 52.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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