Sunday, February 04, 2007

Was John Stonehouse, former Southamptonian, Labour MP and Minister, a spy?

er...nice curtains.

I have been following the work of Richard Stott, former editor of the Daily Mirror (shock horror!) in uncovering a scandal from yesteryear concerning John Stonehouse. The former Minister for Aviation, is best remembered for doing a Reggie Perrin but it appears that there may have been something more sinister in Stonehouse's life rather than just a trial of womanising, debt and decit.

In October 2006, a Czech file surfaced in which Stonehouse was named as a spy by a defecting Czech agent Josef Frolik. For the journalist Stott this must have seemed old news as he reported this a couple of days before Stonehouse was found in 1974. 'Savaged' ,as he put it, by Harold Wilson for alleging such inaccurate and irresponsible rubbish at the time in the House of Commons, it seems that Stott has been vindicated.

Longtime readers will recall how Stonehouse had faked his own death in the US before turning up in Australia on Christmas Eve. He had used faked identities, stolen from dead, former West Midlands constituents of the MP.

Frolik said that Stonehouse had been run from the Czech embassy in London and in a wave of anticipation the CIA shipped him off to Salisbury to debrief him. All seemed to go quite well 'till Frolik revealed he once tried to defect at Paddington nick where the desk Sergent nodded Sympathetically before asking the Czech embassy to come and pick him up...

Stonehouse naturally denied all this and so when the story was revealed, Wilson could be told that the rumours had been investigated and rejected as spurious...

This was all fine until Stonehouse turned up after his dissapearence sending MI5 into a blind panic. Desperatly they asked the Americans to reinterview Frolik but they were far from obliging, their prize grass having been spurned by the British once already. Stott got to him first and interviewed him but it seems the media were far from keen to publish his revelations, no doubt fearing the consequences of libel.

Within six months of telling Wilson that Stonehouse was clean, the spooks changed their tune and that he was a cold war informant. Stott argues that this effectively covered the security services backs- after all Wilson would not want to publicly change his mind and they had put themselves in the clear. Little wonder Wilson was known to be obsessed with the activities of the British security services!

Then Stonehouse revealed that on a ministerial trip to Prague he met his 'handler' where Stott speculates that the two of them then had an encounter with some Czech ladies of a sexual nature. For a British minister, then involved in negotiating the purchase of aircraft such as the F-111 and the development of the Comet and Concord programmes (yet then to fly), it could of been political dynamite.

Who says that the alumni from Taunton's school tend to be boring ?!!!


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