Bill Sutch

It has been interesting to see the debate on whether or not Bill Sutch was a spy for the Soviet Union. I amgoing to on that, but think that debate misses some crucial issues.

On the issue of whether or not he was a spy, I of course don’t know. The verdict of not guilty appears to be the correct one on the basis it was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. If one was deciding on balance of probabilities, it would possibly be a different outcome (especially as he lied denying there were any meetings and then claimed they were al to discuss Zionism!), but for criminal issues the is beyond reasonable doubt so Sutch was not criminally a spy for the Soviet Union – mainly it seems because while there was proof of multiple clandestine meetings – there was no proof about what information was exchanged at them..

However he was an apologist and supporter of a murdering Stalinist regime. That makes him a man of incredible flawed and warped judgement regardless of whether or not he was a spy.

The SIS files on him are worth a read. He once described himself as a “Stalinist” and opposed NZ entry into WWII (the speculation being because of the German-USSR peace treaty) until the USSR became an ally.

Even after Stalin was denounced by Krushchev, Sutch defended Stalin’s actions on the grounds of economic necessity. He also disregarded instructions from the NZ Govt and voted in bodies with eastern bloc countries against his own Government’s wishes. He also thought the USSR invasion of Hungary was justified.

The SST reported:

He was considered to be a communist fellow traveller while working for New Zealand at the United Nations in the late 1940s, and drafted three radio talks about eastern Europe “in which he described the Soviets as liberators and generally welcomed communism in Eastern Europe”, the files say.

So as I said, he may or may not have spied for the USSR. But he was a dedicated supporter of it and apologist for it. In my eyes that is like the difference between having worked for the Nazis, or defending what the Nazis did – neither are testaments of good character.

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