Monday, September 21, 2009

The Sunday Times and Kim Philby

In the News Review section of the Sunday Times today there is an extract from that newspaper's erstwhile editor's memoirs. Sir Harold Evans's My Paper Chase may well be very interesting, especially for people who can put up with the self-importance of hacks.

The extract in today's is genuinely fascinating, as it deals with the long and complicated saga of the Sunday Times publishing in 1967 the real story, or as much as they could find out, about Kim Philby who had by then been living in Moscow for some years.

So much is known about Philby's treachery and the incompetence at best and treachery at worst that allowed him not only to operate but to rise to an extremely high position in the security services that it is hard to recall the sensation the story caused and even harder to comprehend the difficulties placed in the path of Harold Evans and Bruce Page by the various authorities, secret and open.

What were they covering up? Probably just extreme incompetence but it is not hard to understand how various theories could have sprung up about many more men and women in the security services who were really working for the Soviet Union.

Incidentally, I know of only one person who in my hearing has wondered about the role played by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who exonerated Philby in the House of Commons in 1955. What did the old buffer really know?

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