MI5 thought the Odeon cinema chain was a front for Russian spies

The Odeon cinema chain was suspected of a front for Russian agents, according to newly released files.

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MI5 began to worry after it was discovered that Arnold Deutsch – who recruited Cambridge's spy ring – was the cousin of the millionaire owner of the cinema company, Oscar Deutsch.

The extremely secret Security Service file, dated 1940, notes that a number of suspicious Russian spies gave the owner of the cinema chain as a reference when they came to Britain.

& # 39; Now we see that a very important Soviet agent is a cousin of Oscar Deutsch and has been granted permission to stay here through Oscar Deutsch & # 39 ;, he adds.

MI5 began to worry after it was discovered that Arnold Deutsch - who recruited the Cambridge espionage - was the cousin of Odeon's owner, Oscar Deutsch (photo)

MI5 began to worry after it was discovered that Arnold Deutsch – who recruited the Cambridge espionage – was the cousin of Odeon's owner, Oscar Deutsch (photo)

Further memos – released today by the National Archives in Kew, West London – reveal that the Odeon owner had requested permission to hire his cousin as an industrial psychologist at a salary of £ 250 a year.

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He said his cousin & # 39; an intensive study of psychology related to the cinema & # 39; although the files reveal that they had never met.

But the Home Office rejected the application on the grounds that there would be no difficulty in getting a qualified British psychologist for this position and therefore it was not considered that the employment of the foreign national should be recommended & # 39 ;.

Officials also wondered what an industrial psychologist would do in a movie theater. Arnold Deutsch, codenamed Otto, recruited Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess.

Described alternately as Austrian, Czech or Hungarian, he was an academic studying psychology at the University of London as his cover for espionage work.

The top-secret Security Service file, dated 1940, notes that a number of suspicious Russian spies gave the owner of the cinema chain as a reference when they came to Britain (photo: Odeon in Camden in 1937)

The top-secret Security Service file, dated 1940, notes that a number of suspicious Russian spies gave the owner of the cinema chain as a reference when they came to Britain (photo: Odeon in Camden in 1937)

The top-secret Security Service file, dated 1940, notes that a number of suspicious Russian spies gave the owner of the cinema chain as a reference when they came to Britain (photo: Odeon in Camden in 1937)

Oscar Deutsch was born in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, the son of a Hungarian scrap dealer. He opened his first movie theater in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, in 1928, and his chain grew rapidly, but he died of cancer in 1941 at the age of only 48.

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Odeon publicists gladly claimed that the name of the cinemas was derived from his motto, & # 39; Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation & # 39; but it was used in the 1920s for cinemas in France and Italy.

Another memorandum reveals that the Ministry of Information has employed Oscar Deutsch to send a questionnaire to his managers – including suspected Soviet spies – asking how they felt about aliens and fifth columnists.

It adds: & # 39; I sometimes suspect Oscar Deutsch, perhaps not that he exercised Soviet military espionage activity, but deliberately obtained permits for this country for people who were engaged in that work with or without his knowledge. & # 39;

In a report from 1940 addressed to Mr. Turner, it says: & # 39; It may be interesting to know whether (Oscar) Deutsch has offered its services or has been approached by the Ministry of Information. If he offered them, I would distrust him even more. & # 39;

Philby: I was the soldier of the Kremlin

Britain's most insidious spy, Kim Philby, once wrote that the decision to work for Russia was the same as & # 39; joining the army & # 39;
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Britain's most insidious spy, Kim Philby, once wrote that the decision to work for Russia was the same as & # 39; joining the army & # 39;

Britain's most insidious spy, Kim Philby, once wrote that the decision to work for Russia was the same as & # 39; joining the army & # 39;

Newly released classified documents reveal how Britain's most insidious spy helped to recruit countless British fellow communists for the KGB – indicating that the & # 39; Cambridge spy ring & # 39; much larger than could have been thought.

In a list provided to MI6 by Kim Philby when he fled the country to Moscow in 1963, the spy claimed that he had encouraged the KGB to contact many of his contemporaries.

Names on the list of his recommendations to the group were fellow Cambridge students Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, as well as previously unidentified individuals such as two scientists, a journalist and the son of a Labor politician.

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Appear on the list; scientists Denis Stott, a prominent child psychologist, and Wilfred Leslie Stevens, a statistician; Journalist Fred Pateman, reporter and editor for The Dailyworker, a communist newspaper; David Haden-Guest, the son of Labor MP Leslie Haden-Guest.

Although it is mentioned in the file, no further information is available to suggest whether those individuals have been successfully recruited by the KGB – all four men above probably died.

The list was handed over to MI6 officer Nicholas Elliott in January 1963 as a partial confession after the intelligence service confronted Philby in Beirut with evidence of his betrayal to Britain.

Only 11 days later he escaped from Lebanon to a Soviet cargo ship from the port of Beirut to Moscow, where he lived for the remaining 25 years.

Philby also wrote in the file with the mention & # 39; Philby & # 39; s notes & # 39; that the decision to work for Russia according to information files if & # 39; join the army & # 39; used to be.

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Kim Philby tried to justify his decision to spy on the enemy by comparing it to performing tasks as a soldier.

The files show how the then university student was recruited in the 1930s as one of the Cambridge spies.

The & # 39; self-proclaimed Russian intelligence agent & # 39; wrote about his recruitment: & # 39; None of the OGPU (Soviet secret police) officials I was dealing with ever tried to win my full acceptance of the party line.

& # 39; The only thing they needed was strict compliance with instructions at the technical level. In short, I joined the OGPU as someone joined the army. & # 39;

The file dates from 1963, the year Philby, a former MI6 officer, fled to Russia. He was the most damaging of the Cambridge spy ring and is believed to be responsible for hundreds of deaths.

Missed opportunities to stop maritime espionage

MI5 missed crucial opportunities to close a Russian espionage stealing British naval secrets, four years before it was discovered, the files reveal.

Agent Harry Houghton's ex-wife had informed his employers that he was revealing & # 39; secret information to people who shouldn't get it & # 39 ;.

But despite her formal complaints to the Admiralty, she was fired as a & # 39; jealous and dissatisfied woman & # 39 ;, according to the files released by the National Archives.

If they had responded to her concerns, the infamous Portland espionage would have been closed and prevented important naval intelligence from being sent to Russia, according to high figures in MI5.

Agent Harry Houghton's ex-wife had told his employers that he revealed & # 39; secret information to people who shouldn't get it & # 39; (photo: Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee)
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Agent Harry Houghton's ex-wife had told his employers that he revealed & # 39; secret information to people who shouldn't get it & # 39; (photo: Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee)

Agent Harry Houghton's ex-wife had told his employers that he revealed & # 39; secret information to people who shouldn't get it & # 39; (photo: Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee)

According to the Admiralty, the intelligence from the KGB of the Portland Underwater Detection Establishment would have helped the Soviet Union to build a new, quieter class submarine.

But the Admiralty did not succeed, despite the fact that certain secret files went missing and then & # 39; secretly & # 39; were sent back in 1956 – some of which were thought to have been seen on Houghton & # 39; s desk.

The files reveal: & # 39; In the course of recent welfare investigations, it is understood that Mrs. Houghton claimed that her husband revealed secret information to people who should not receive it.

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& # 39; No further action is currently being taken other than discreet surveillance. Until now there was no question of his integrity. It is considered impossible that all these accusations are nothing but the outpouring of a jealous and dissatisfied woman. & # 39;

Mrs. Houghton said she saw Houghton with documents marked as & # 39; top secret & # 39 ;. She also found cameras & microfilm hidden under the stairs.

A letter from E M Furnival Jones, MI5 & # 39; s head for counter espionage, said in 1961: & # 39; I now look at it sober and sober, I think we should have done some research in 1956. & # 39;

In 1961 Houghton was imprisoned for 15 years. He was released in 1970 and died in 1985.

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