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Britain: 'mole' hunt.

Although retired and operating a stud farm in Australia, Peter Wright is proving vexatious to his former employer, Britain's staid M15. Formerly a high-ranking official in the internal security organization, Wright prepared a 150-page report titled "The Security of the U.K. against the Assault of Russia's Intelligence Service," in which he claims that from 1958 to 1975 the Soviet Union had between 200 and 300 spies in Britain, some of them inside M15. He is threatening to expand his paper into a book to force the government to investigate his charges.

Wright knows what he is talking about. For seven years he headed M15's cryptically named Fluency Working Party, a special committee set up to root out Soviet penetration of the service. His most sensational claim, uttered over British television in July, is that the late Sir Roger Hollis, director general of M15 from 1956 to 1965, was a Soviet "mole." It should be noted that those charges have been made and denied before. The conservative newspaperman Chapman Pincher first carried them in his 1981 book, Their Trade Is Treachery, which caused Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to rise in Parliament to defend Hollis. Pincher has a sequel coming out this fall, Too Secret Too Long: The Great Betrayal of Britain's Crucial Secrets, and it is widely believed in London that Wright is Pincher's major unidentified source, as he was for the earlier book.

Wright may or may not be proved wrong, but he represents a powerful school of thought that is dividing the service. His role is reminiscent of that played by James Angleton, the C.I.A.'s counterintelligence chief, whose allegations of Soviet penetration so paralyzed the agency that Director of Central Intelligence William Colby had him fired. (Angleton's suspicious were said to extend to Colby himself.)

Although many of Wright's fellow spooks in M15 concur with his assessment of Hollis's ultimate loyalties, they are shocked that he made his beliefs public. And Margaret Thatcher's government has let it be known that if Wright ventures home from Australia, he could be prosecuted for violating the Official Secrets Act.

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Title Annotation:former head of British MI5 was Soviet spy
Publication:The Nation
Date:Oct 27, 1984
Words:351
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