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Romeo Spy John Symonds
This is the blog of John Alexander Symonds. My aim on this website is to tell my story: why was I charged with being a corrupt police officer when it was not true; why did I go off to Africa and become a mercenary; why did I work for the KGB, and; why did I return to the UK and try to resolve all the issues from my past? These are just some of the issues from my history that I want to clear up on these pages. Read my story.

John Alexander Symonds (born July 13, 1935) was a British KGB agent. He was born in the Soke of Peterborough, and was Commissioned in the Royal Artillery from 1953-56. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1956, becoming a Detective Sergeant at New Scotland Yard, until 1972.
Between 1972-80 he was a KGB agent employed as a "Romeo spy" with the codename SKOT. The role he was allocated by his Soviet masters was the seduction of women working in Western embassies with the aim of obtaining secrets.[1]
In the 1980s Symonds had revealed himself as a spy to the police and security services, and appeared on the front page of the Daily Express (1985) and in the News on Sunday (1987) but was ignored. It was only with the defection of Major Vasili Mitrokhin in 1992, and the subsequent publication of the Mitrokhin Archive in 1999, where Symonds was named as a spy for the Soviet Union, that his claim gained credence. Mitrokhin being the senior archivist for the First Chief Directorate of the KGB and his defection with an archive a major coup for British Intelligence.
Symonds was never prosecuted for any offence related to espionage or spying, and was never interviewed by MI5 or MI6. It was confirmed that Mr Symonds was not being prosecuted for any charge because he had been offered immunity by the Director of Public Prosecutions office in 1984 in connection with a criminal inquiry.[2][3] This related to his assistance with an investigation into the institutionalised corruption of the Metropolitan Police Service, Operation Countryman.[4]
The publication of Mitrokhin's material launched a parliamentary inquiry by the Intelligence and Security Committee. Its report when published referred to the lack of interest shown by the security services to Symonds case:-
The Committee believes that it was a serious failure of the Security Service not to refer Mr Symonds' case to the Law Officers in mid 1993. We are concerned that it took over 9 months to consult the Law Officers after he was identified in the draft book. We believe that the Service could have interviewed Mr Symonds, at least for the intelligence and historical record.[4]
Police Corruption

In 1969 after having been a police officer for 15 years John Alexander Symonds was one of three officers charged with corruption following a newspaper investigation into bribery at Scotland Yard. He skipped bail and fled to Morocco,[5] Symonds claimed later that he had been 'fitted up'[6] and forced to leave under pain of death after having threatened to expose during any trial the endemic and systemic corruption within the Metropolitan Police service at the time.[7]


In Morocco Symonds served as a mercenary, making use of his Police experience and Army expertise and trained African troops to use 25-pound gun Howitzers, which was by this point a defunct old British army gun many of which had been sold off to African countries.[8]

Recruited by the KGB

After a while in Africa Symonds was quite ill suffering often from malaria and having been infected with hepatitis. Embittered and angry at the situation he found himself in Symonds decided on revenge against the Metropolitan Police. Speaking of that time Symonds said:-
And so I renewed the dossier [on other allegedly corrupt police officers] and added to it, and I included everything I ever knew about all the corruption, rottenness, wickedness, duplicity, dastardly acts that I knew about or had taken part in.
Encouraged in this act by a man in the Mercenary camp called Marcel it was at this point that Symonds had effectively been recruited by the KGB.[9]


Marcel arranged for Symonds to go to Bulgaria where he received what he described as 'first class medical treatment' by two doctors and was handed over to a man called Nick who was very interested in the identities of the corrupt officers of the Metropolitan Police.

Face the music

In 1980, disillusioned and homesick, Symonds returned to the UK. He stood trial at the Old Bailey for the original corruption charges, pleading not guilty. After spending a year in prison he was found guilty on only one of the original charges drawn up in 1972, and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. The offence that of receiving £50 from a petty criminal in a car. He maintains that he was not guilty of this but that they needed to find him guilty of something.[9]


Emerging from prison Symonds attempted to tell his story to anyone who would listen and pressed ahead with trying to expose the systemic corruption and abuse within the Police service. He contacted MI5 and MI6 to try and tell them all he knew about the KGB and their structure, safehouses and personnel. Symonds was however ignored and for the most part dismissed as a fantasist. He appeared on the front page of the Daily Express (1985) and in the News on Sunday (1987) but still the security services were not interested.[10]
John Symonds was interviewed as part of a BBC documentary series called The Spying Game, which was broadcast on BBC2 starting 19 September 1999.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Mitrokhin Archive

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Image: KGB_Symbol.png] The KGB sword and shield emblem appears on the covers of the six published books by Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew.

The Mitrokhin Archive is collection of notes made secretly by KGB Major Vasili Mitrokhin during his thirty years as a KGB archivist in the foreign intelligence service and the First Chief Directorate. When he defected to Great Britain, he brought the Archive with him. Two books, Sword and the Shield and The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, based on the Archive and hundreds other sources were published in 1992 and 2005, which gives details about much of the Soviet Union's clandestine intelligence operations around the world. The books were written by British intelligence historian Christopher Andrew. Their publication provoked parliamentary inquiries in the U.K., India, and Italy.[1][2]

Content of the notes

Information in the Mitrokhin Archive claims, among other things, that more than half of the Soviet Union's weapons are based on U.S. designs, that the KGB tapped Henry Kissinger's telephone, and had spies in place in almost all US defense contractor facilities. In France, some 35 senior politicians were alleged to have worked for the KGB in the Cold War. In Germany, the KGB infiltrated the major political parties, the judiciary, and the police. Moreover, large-scale sabotage preparations were supposedly made against the U.S., Canada and elsewhere, including hidden weapons caches; several have been removed by police per Mitrokhin's information.[3]

Prominent KGB spies in the files

National leaders who cooperated with the KGB

KGB operations revealed in the files

Accused but unconfirmed

Disinformation campaign against the United States

Christopher Andrew described the following active measures against the United States:[23]

Installation and support of Communist governments

According to notes in the Archives, Soviet security organizations played key roles in establishing puppet Communist governments in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. Their strategy included mass political repressions and establishing subordinate secret police services at the occupied territories.
KGB director Yuri Andropov took suppression of liberation movements very personally. In 1954, he became the Soviet Ambassador to Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. After these events, Andropov had a "Hungarian complex":
...he had watched in horror from the windows of his embassy as officers of the hated Hungarian security service were strung up from lampposts. Andropov remained haunted for the rest of his life by the speed with which an apparently all-powerful Communist one-party state had begun to topple. When other Communist regimes later seemed at risk - in Prague in 1968, in Kabul in 1979, in Warsaw in 1981, he was convinced that, as in Budapest in 1956, only armed force could ensure their survival.[32]

Andropov played a key role in crushing the Hungarian Revolution. He convinced a reluctant Nikita Khrushchev that military intervention was necessary.[33] He convinced Imre Nagy and other Hungarian leaders that the Soviet government had not ordered an attack on Hungary while the attack was beginning. The Hungarian leaders were arrested and Nagy was executed.
During the Prague Spring events in Czechoslovakia, Andropov was a vigorous proponent of "extreme measures".[33] He ordered the fabrication of false intelligence not only for public consumption, but also for the Soviet Politburo. "The KGB whipped up the fear that Czechoslovakia could fall victim to NATO aggression or to a coup". At that moment, Soviet intelligence officer Oleg Kalugin reported from Washington he gained access to "absolutely reliable documents proving that neither CIA nor any other agency was manipulating the Czechoslovak reform movement". However, his messages were destroyed because they contradicted the conspiracy theory fabricated by Andropov.[34] Andropov ordered many active measures, collectively known as operation PROGRESS, against Czechoslovak reformers.[35]

Assassinations attempts and plots

Penetration of Churches

The book describes establishing the "Moscow Patriarchate" on order from Stalin in 1943 as a front organization for the NKVD, and later, for the KGB.[44] All key positions in the Church, including bishops, were approved by the Ideological Department of CPSU and by the KGB. The priests were used as agents of influence in the World Council of Churches and in front organizations such as World Peace Council, Christian Peace Conference, and the Rodina ("Motherland") Society founded by the KGB in 1975. The future Russian Patriarch Alexius II said that Rodina has been created to "maintain spiritual ties with our compatriots" and to help organize them. According to the Archive, Alexius worked for the KGB as agent DROZDOV, and received an honorary citation from the agency for a variety of services.[45]

Support of international terrorism

The Andrew and Mitrokhin publications briefly describe the history of the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, who established close collaboration with the Romanian Securitate service and the Soviet KGB in early 1970s.[46] Secret training for PLO guerrillas was provided by the KGB.[47] However, the main KGB activities and arms shipments were channeled through Wadie Haddad of the DFLP organization, who usually stayed in a KGB dacha BARVIKHA-1 during his visits to the Soviet Union. Led by Carlos the Jackal, a group of PFLP fighters carried out a spectacular raid on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries office in Vienna in 1975. Advance notice of this operation "was almost certainly" given to the KGB.[46]
Many notable operations are alleged to have been conducted by the KGB to support international terrorists with weapons on the orders from the Soviet Communist Party, including:

Italian Mitrokhin Commission

Main article: Italian Mitrokhin Commission
In 2002 the Italian Parliament, then led by Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing coalition, the Casa delle Libertà, created a commission, presided over by Senator Paolo Guzzanti (Forza Italia) to investigate alleged KGB ties to opposition figures in Italian politics. The commission was shut down in 2006 without having developed any new concrete evidence beyond the original information in the Mitrokhin Archive.[50] However, former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko said that he had been informed by FSB deputy chief, General Anatoly Trofimov (who was shot dead in Moscow in 2005), that "Romano Prodi is our man [in Italy]".[51] A British Member of the European Parliament for London, Gerard Batten of United Kingdom Independence Party, demanded a new inquiry into the allegations.[52]

Preparations for large-Scale sabotage in the West

Notes in the Archive describe extensive preparations for large-scale sabotage operations against the United States, Canada, and Europe in the event of war, although none were recorded as having been actually carried out beyond creating weapons and explosives caches in assorted foreign countries.[53] This information has been corroborated in general by GRU defectors, Victor Suvorov[54] and Stanislav Lunev.[55] These operations included the following:
  • A plan for sabotage of Hungry Horse Dam in Montana.[56]
  • A detailed plan to destroy the port of New York (target GRANIT). The most vulnerable points of the port were determined and recorded on maps.[56]
  • Large arms caches were hidden in many countries to support these planned terrorism acts. Some were booby-trapped with "Lightning" explosive devices. One such cache, identified by Mitrokhin, exploded when Swiss authorities tried to remove it from the woods near Berne. Several other caches (probably not equipped with "Lightnings") were removed successfully.[57]
  • FSLN leader Carlos Fonseca Amador was described as "a trusted agent" in KGB files. "Sandinista guerrillas formed the basis for a KGB sabotage and intelligence group established in 1966 on the Mexican US border".[58]
  • Disruption of the power supply across New York State by KGB sabotage teams, which were to be based along the Delaware river, in Big Spring Park.[56]
  • An "immensely detailed" plan to destroy "oil refineries and oil and gas pipelines across Canada from British Columbia to Montreal" (operation "Cedar") was prepared; the work took twelve years to complete.[59]


The FBI described Mitrokhin Archive as "the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source".[60] Historian Joseph Persico described the revelations as "far more sensational even than the story dismissed as impossible by the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki)" when the first dismissed early reports of the existence of the archive and commented that Mitrokhin's archives may be the only references to a large volume of material that has since been destroyed by the KGB.[61]
The Central European Review described Mitrokhin and Andrews work as
"fascinating reading for anyone interested in the craft of espionage, intelligence gathering and its overall role in 20th-century international relations," offering "a window on the Soviet worldview and, as the ongoing Hanssen case in the United States clearly indicates, how little Russia has relented from the terror-driven spy society it was during seven inglorious decades of Communism".[62]
David L. Ruffley, from the Department of International Programs, United States Air Force Academy, said that the material
"provides the clearest picture to date of Soviet intelligence activity, fleshing out many previously obscure details, confirming or contradicting many allegations and raising a few new issues of its own" and "sheds new light on Soviet intelligence activity that, while perhaps not so spectacular as some expected, is nevertheless significantly illuminating."[63]
The Intelligence Forum commented that the text of the book
"is remarkably restrained and reasonable in its handling of Westerners targeted by the KGB as agents or sources. The individuals outed by Mitrokhin appear to be what he says they were, but great care is generally taken to identify those who were unwitting dupes or, in many instances, uncooperative targets."[64]
Jack Straw, (then Home Secretary to the British Parliament (1999) stated,
"In 1992, after Mr. Mitrokhin had approached the UK for help, our Secret Intelligence Service made arrangements to bring Mr. Mitrokhin and his family to this country, together with his archive. As there were no original KGB documents or copies of original documents, the material itself was of no direct evidential value, but it was of huge value for intelligence and investigative purposes. Thousands of leads from Mr. Mitrokhin's material have been followed up world wide. As a result, our intelligence and security agencies, in co-operation with allied Governments, have been able to put a stop to many security threats. Many unsolved investigations have been closed; many earlier suspicions confirmed; and some names and reputations have been cleared. Our intelligence and security agencies have assessed the value of Mr. Mitrokhin's material world wide as immense."[3]
Author Joseph Trento commented that
"we know the Mitrokhin material is real because it fills in the gaps in Western files on major cases through 1985. Also, the operational material matches western electronic intercepts and agent reports. What MI6 got for a little kindness and a pension was the crown jewels of Russian intelligence."[65]
Historian J. Arch Getty of UCLA, in the American Historical Review (106:2, April 2001): found Mitrokhin's material to be "fascinating," but he also questioned plausibility that Mitrokhin could have smuggled and transcribed thousands of KGB documents, undetected, over 30 years.[66] Former Indian counter-terrorism chief Bahukutumbi Raman pointed out that Mitrokhin did not bring either the original documents or photocopies. Instead, he brought handwritten/typed notes of the contents of the documents. [4]
Scholar Amy Knight described the book as "the latest example of an emerging genre of spy histories based on materials from the KGB archives." She believes that the book does not reveal anything really new and significant:
"While "The Sword and the Shield" contains new information ... none of it has much significance for broader interpretations of the Cold War. The main message the reader comes away with after plowing through almost a thousand pages is the same one gleaned from the earlier books: the Soviets were incredibly successful, albeit evil, spymasters, and none of the Western services could come close to matching their expertise. Bravo the KGB."[67]

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

Report into the Security and Intelligence Agencies'
handling of the information provided
by Mr Mitrokhin
Contents Letter from Tom King to The Prime Minister Intelligence and Security Committee Introduction
Report Structure
How Mr Mitrokhin reached the UK
What happened next
Summary of key events Prosecution of Spies
Mrs Melita Norwood - HOLA
Mr John Symonds - SCOT
Recent Changes to the arrangements Publication Method and Handling
Why was The Mitrokhin Archive published?
Why was Professor Andrew chosen?
How was the publication project managed? Ministerial and Senior Official Oversight
Briefing the ISC Conclusions and Recommendations Annexes
List of Annexes
Annex A - Home Secretary's Statement
Annex B - ISC Questionnaire
Annex C - Home Secretary's Letter
Annex D - Witnesses
Annex E - Details of Events
Annex F - What happened in the SIS
Annex G - What happened in the Security Service
Annex H - Security Service Procedures for Handling Investigative Leads
Annex I - Standard practice for dissemination of information about investigations in the Security Service
Annex J - Security Service Assessment of Mrs Norwood
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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