Another day, another Soviet spy revealed in the heart of the British establishment. The spy this time is James MacGibbon, who in the war worked in a special department of the War Office and passed documents to his Soviet handler in London. A Russian historian, Svetlana Chervonnaya, has been exploring the relevant files. At the same time, MacGibbon’s son, Hamish, has published an article in the London Review of Books, a left magazine that rejoices in anything harmful to Britain.
This article explains how James MacGibbon had been a member of the Communist party before the war but still passed the War Office vetting, like so many other dubious figures. German intelligence had penetrated parts of the Soviet secret service, and MacGibbbon could have given away information that exposed Ultra, the code name for British interception of German radio traffic unknown to the Germans. In that case, as Ben Macintyre, a specialist in these matters, points out in The Times, the Germans could have known in advance the details of D-Day, and the invasion would have ended in disaster. MacGibbon is thought to have received the Order of Lenin for his services.
After the war MacGibbon became a publisher, and it was easy to meet him in literary London. Suave and amiable, he seemed the standard fashionable lefty. As a matter of fact, he looked very like Kim Philby, and had much the same deceptive charm. In itself, his treachery hardly matters now, but it is yet one more illustration of the Soviet Britain that was taking shape in the shadows. Here was a failure of morals and intellect affecting a significant part of the elite, and you have only to read the London Review of Books to realize that the British are still paying for it.