Phil Kitchin at Stuff reports:
KGB files smuggled out of Russia reveal a former Labour MP was an informant for the feared Soviet spy agency and was given the codename “Gerd”.
The files say the MP was in contact with Yuri Drozhzhin, the KGB agent who handled former top government official Bill Sutch for several years. …
The Mitrokhin files say an unnamed Labour MP, born in England in 1926, was in contact with Drozhzhin during the KGB agent’s Wellington posting.
He was given the codename “Gerd”, and information passed to the KGB said he was also a member of Labour’s executive committee.
There can’t be that many former Labour MPs born in 1926 in England. A chocolate fish to anyone who can name one or more.
The Dom Post editorial also looks at whether the evidence stacks up to conclude Sutch was a spy. They note:
What are we to make of this? Like all historical documents, this one must be interpreted carefully. The reports of spies to their superiors are like all other bureaucratic reports: they aim partly to impress the boss, to put the best spin on things, to prove the efficiency and value of the underling’s work.
Helen Sutch, the economist’s daughter, dismisses the KGB file for this reason. It was “well-known that KGB agents in general were desperate to talk up any contacts they had because they were under pressure from their superiors”.
Certainly this kind of thing could have happened. Do we know that it happened with Sutch? It needs to be said that the Mitrokhin Files, which are the source of the Sutch entry, have proved reliable in many other cases.
When these reports were written, the authors never imagined the mighty USSR would fall, and these reports would become public one day.
And then there is the circumstantial evidence that brought suspicion on Sutch’s head. His stated reason for meeting a Russian agent on a dark and rainy night in a Wellington suburb was farcical. He wanted to discuss Zionism, he said.
Put all of this together – the entry in the Russian archive, the general reliability of the Mitrokhin material, and Sutch’s extremely dodgy dealings with a KGB agent – and the conclusion seems reasonably clear. Sutch was indeed a Russian spy.
I think that is the most reasonable conclusion.
Some have pointed out the files do not include details of any actual spying activity, which is true. The argument is that he supported the Soviet Union (which is a horrific lapse of judgment in its own right) but never gave them actual classified material that was detrimental to NZ security. It’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure what sort of information he did give them, but regardless my view is that passing any information at all to what was then a totalitarian oppressive state showed he was a man whose ideology got ahead of everything else.
UPDATE: A reader suggests to me that the codename “Gerd” gives a clue to the former Labour MP, even though the exact details of DOB and place of birth do not fit.