Blunt Treason Revealed
The 16th of November 1979 AD
Before WWII younger members of the British establishment divided over their attraction to the pomp and supposed pragmatism of fascist dictators Hitler, Mussolini and Franco or the supposed Marxist idealism of the USSR. Among the latter camp was Anthony Blunt , a brilliant scholar and fellow of Trinity College Cambridge since 1932. Blunt became a member of the largely Marxist Apostles group at Cambridge , either recruited by Guy Burgess , or more plausibly recruiting Burgess and perhaps Kim Philby , Donald Maclean and John Cairncross, all of whom went on to spy for Russia from within the British security services.
Blunt later called his decision to spy for the Soviets the worst of his life; but his conscience didn’t prick him enough to reveal the fact in 11 interviews after he fell under suspicion in 1951. He was finally confirmed a traitor in 1964, but this was to be kept secret for another 15 years as part of a deal struck with the authorities, and Blunt was given immunity from prosecution in return for his confession, a deal that adds to suspicions Roger Hollis, head of MI5 in 1964 when Blunt was outed, was also a traitor.
Prosecuting Blunt would have been embarrassing for the British establishment, particularly the royal family: he was a third cousin of the Queen Mother ; and in 1945 had been sent on a mission to post-war Germany to recover incriminating letters from the fascist-sympathising Duke of Windsor to Hitler, their contents thus known to Blunt. In 1945 Blunt had been made Keeper of the King’s Pictures, and was awarded a knighthood with regard to that role in 1956; he was Professor of Art History at London University; and a former director of the Courtauld Institute. Sir Anthony Blunt was part of the fabric of the British arts elite and the upper reaches of British society.
Already widely suspected in intelligence circles, Blunt was portrayed as the character Maurice in Andrew Boyle’s Climate of Treason early in 1979, throwing the spotlight on him. On November 16 1979 Margaret Thatcher , never herself perhaps part of the establishment, confirmed him as a one-time double agent in a written reply to a Commons question. His knighthood was rapidly removed and he faced public disgust at his past deeds and hypocrisy, dying disgraced in 1983.
More famous dates here
3272 views since 16th November 2009
On this day: