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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Wartime spy files revealed
Spy file
Light is shed on some of MI5's more mysterious spies
Revealing documents which chart the secret lives of spies, double agents and war heroes have been released to the public.

For the first time the detailed work of some of Britain's most mysterious spies is on show in 212 MI5 files at the Public Record Office in south London.

Everything from the formula for secret ink to the champagne lifestyle of a double agent described as an "international playboy" has been written down in notes, letters, restricted documents and telegrams.

While the majority of the files relate to the 1939-45 period, there are a number detailing the inter-war period and some dating back to World War I.

Agent Tricycle's passport
Agent Tricycle's life was a colourful one

One reveals that Stalin may have used the excuse of ill health to "elude dangerous responsibilities" while others outline the underground work of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Another charts the colourful life of Agent Tricycle - so-called for his love of ménage a trois relationships.

With his semi-permanent room at the Savoy, string of women and membership of London's most exclusive clubs, the twists and turns of Dusko Popov's life make fascinating reading.


So-called 'Ace of Spies' Sidney Reilly also has a large file which discusses his suitability for intelligence work, carries copies of his marriage certificate to second wife and actress Pepita Bobadilla and deals with his early investigations.

Reilly worked for British Intelligence in Russia after the revolution there but in 1925 he was lured back to the USSR, arrested and executed.

The heroic work of British nurse Edith Cavell is also unveiled for the first time.

During World War I, she was executed by the Germans despite never formally being charged with espionage.

The public opening of the documents is the ninth and largest Security Service (MI5) release.

They are held at the Public Record Office in Kew.

The BBC's Linden Kemkaren
"It looks as if this trend of openness is set to continue"
MI5 expert Andrew Cook
"Sidney Reilly was one of a number of names he used"
See also:

01 Jan 01 | UK Confidential
Unlocking the secrets of government
20 Dec 99 | Britain betrayed
Spies who betrayed Britain
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