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1971: 'I arrested a KGB superspy'

KGB spy Oleg Lyalin was arrested on 30 August 1971 for drink driving.

Mr Lyalin had already been recruited by MI5. The arrest led to his defection to Britain and the expulsion of 105 alleged Soviet agents from the country.

Charles Shearer was the police officer who triggered the sequence of events.

My duties that evening were to drive the Panda car with George Paterson as my radio operator. It was a normal night shift - quite boring.

But as we came into Tottenham Court Road we saw a Hillman Saloon car in front of us. We noticed its lights weren't on so we decided to follow it to find out why.

The car was also weaving about all over the road. We thought he must be drunk or unwell, and we managed to pull him into the side of the road near Warren Street Tube station.

We told him to switch off the ignition as we normally do.

He was quite belligerent when he got out the vehicle, very unsteady on his feet and obviously drunk.

There was a blonde woman inside the car. They had a short conversation and then she wandered off - I think she got into a minicab eventually.

'I am a KGB officer'

After we arrested him we put him in the back seat of the Panda car. I was the driver. Before we drove off he was lying back in the seat with his feet up on my shoulder.

I turned round and said, "What are you playing at? Take your feet off the back of my seat".

And he replied, "You cannot talk to me, you cannot beat me, I am a KGB officer."

We have people claiming all sorts of things so we didn't put much credence on it at the time.

At the police station, he refused to give a breath test or any samples of blood or urine and he was placed in a cell.

He was later charged with driving while drunk and was in custody from 0130 BST until the time he got to court at 0900 that morning.

Police guard

We attended the court for the hearing - it was very brief. There were Russian people there from the trade delegation who put the money up for his bail.

At this point I wasn't quite sure who he was bailed to, because somehow I felt he didn't want the Russian representatives to take him.

Shortly after the arrest the police had to provide an officer to guard my house so I and my family weren't interfered with - there were reporters all over the place.

I wasn't scared the Russians knew I had arrested him, because it was nothing to do with me.


"I just threw a spanner in the works"

I thought we just pre-empted the government - forced their hand to act quicker than they would have.

There were all sorts of rumours flying that I was put in place to stop him - that was nonsense because he was Joe Bloggs as far as we were concerned.

I just threw a spanner in the works.

In Context
Charles Shearer retired from the Metropolitan Police in 1990 after 30 years of service, but worked for the force as a civilian for another three years.

He then became a County Court bailiff before starting work at a local pharmacy and acting as the "fourth emergency service" for his children and grandchildren.

Although the Russian trade delegation paid for Oleg Lyalin's bail he was taken to a safe house by MI5.

He assumed a new identity and remained in hiding until his death in 1995.


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