Search

Hampstead man was MI5's "missing part"

PUBLISHED: 17:30 09 April 2011 | UPDATED: 16:40 12 April 2011

File photo dated 05/02/1999 of harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, who played with Elton John and Sting, was investigated by MI5 for his alleged communist sympathies, newly released files disclosed.

File photo dated 05/02/1999 of harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, who played with Elton John and Sting, was investigated by MI5 for his alleged communist sympathies, newly released files disclosed.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

AN Austrian psychologist who recruited the Cambridge Five spies is just one of a number of Hampstead and Highgate residents revealed to have been on MI5's radar.

Secret files released for the first time this week show that Dr Arnold Deutsch, famed for ‘talent spotting’ the post-war spy ring, was being investigated by secret service agents.

Deutsch, who lived at 7 Lawn Road, Hampstead, is described as the “missing part of a jigsaw of an extraordinary group of pre-war communists and left-wing intellectuals who lived as part of Hampstead’s chattering classes.”

He came to the attention of MI5 through his activities as a Soviet spy during the 1930s.

Operating under the codename Otto, Deutsch was the controller of the Cambridge spies from 1933 to 1937.

The five spooks – who included Donald McLean, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Anthony and a fifth man, thought by some to be John Cairncross – passed information to the Soviet Union during the Second World War and into the 1950s.

Deutsche is also revealed to have lived just down the road from Agatha Christie, although she had nothing to do with Soviet intelligence.

Dr Jacob Bronowski, the Highgate presenter of the landmark science TV series, The Ascent of Man, was named as another suspected communist during the 1950s.

The brilliant scientist was branded a ‘security risk’ for 20 years and was closely tracked by MI5 after a tip-off by a ‘casual informant’ in 1939 – it was revealed when his secret file was declassified on Monday.

His daughter, Professor Lisa Jardine, a historian at Queen Mary, University of London, told the BBC following the revelation about her father: “I can’t tell you how shocking it is for me. It’s just like a Stasi file. It’s scary. It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious for a man’s life.”

Perhaps the biggest Hampstead name to be disclosed through the files is harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, who played with Elton John and Sting.

He was investigated by MI5 for his alleged communist sympathies.

Intelligence officials were asked to look into his background because of government fears the British Communist Party would exploit his popularity if he was allowed to settle in the UK.

But a senior MI5 officer rejected calls for the Home Office to take a tough line on Larry’s immigration status, noting that he had never done anything to arouse suspicion during 15 years of visits to Britain.

US-born Larry, who moved to the UK after he was branded a communist and blacklisted in his native country, recorded songs with Kate Bush, Cher, Elvis Costello and Catatonia’s Cerys Matthews during a long and varied career.

In 1950 he brought a 200,000-dollar libel suit against a woman in Connecticut who accused him of communist leanings but the jury was hung and the case was dismissed.

In November the following year, the US embassy in London asked MI5 if Adler had come to “adverse notice” during his time in Britain, papers made public by The National Archives show.

A British intelligence officer wrote back to say the harmonica player had not come to their attention but he would keep the Americans informed if he did.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Hampstead Highgate Express

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists