Revealed: British government minister spied for Czechoslovakia

Raymond Mawby
The BBC has uncovered evidence that a Conservative   Party minister was a longtime paid informant for Czechoslovakia’s Cold-War-era secret intelligence service. The discovery was made earlier this month by the BBC’s security correspondent, Gordon Corera, while visiting the declassified archives of the Czechoslovakian ŠtB to investigate an alleged attempt to blackmail British Conservative politician Edward Heath in the 1970s.  Corera’s discovery shows that Raymond Mawby, who was a Tory Member of Parliament from 1955 until 1983, spied for the ŠtB in return for money for nearly a decade, starting in 1961.  The BBC describes Mawby, who served as assistant Postmaster General from 1963 to 1964, and rose to the rank of junior minister in 1963, as “an unusual Tory”, since he was “a working class trade unionist” from Devon. Indeed, his extensive ŠtB file, uncovered by the BBC, shows that he was not as loyal to conservative values as one might think. Mawby was first approached by Czechoslovakian intelligence in November 1960, while attending a cocktail reception at the Czechoslovakian embassy in London. His contacts with his ŠtB handlers became more frequent during the following year when, operating under the codename Laval, he began providing them with political information from the British Houses of Commons, in exchange for regular payments of £100. By 1964, he was on a £400 monthly retainer by the ŠtB, in return for supplying the Czechoslovaks with documents from Parliament, details about the personal lives of his colleagues, and lists of Parliamentary committee members. In one instance, Mawby even supplied his foreign handlers with a hand-drawn floor plan of the office of the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street. Corera reports that the Tory MP offered to ask Parliamentary questions supplied to him by the Czechs, and regularly reported on political infighting in the Conservative Party. Clandestine meetings between Mawby and ŠtB officers took place regularly, sometimes as often as once a week, until late 1971, when contact between the two parties appears to have ended somewhat abruptly. Mawby retired from active politics after he lost his Parliamentary seat in 1983, and died in 1990. The BBC says that it contacted Downing Street, but an official “declined to comment”. The Guardian, on the other hand, reports that the British House of Commons is considering launching an official inquiry into the matter.

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