Originally posted on the BBC News.
One of the UK’s most brilliant wartime spies was poorly treated by colleagues at MI5 in the paranoid years of the Cold War and was left gripped by fear that he was suspected of being a traitor. Now an extraordinary letter and a series of family documents reveal the full story.
In the 1930s, Eric Roberts was a clerk with the Westminster Bank, where he seemed to be an average, unassuming employee.
But Roberts’s real work was espionage. He had been a field agent for MI5 since the 1920s, recruited by famous spymaster Maxwell Knight, and infiltrating first communist then fascist groups.
In 1940, when Churchill became concerned about the activities of potential fifth columnists, Roberts was taken on as a full time agent by MI5.
Working under the alias “Jack King”, Roberts posed as a Gestapo officer, part of the Einsatzgruppe London. For five years he worked with Nazi sympathisers in Britain, who thought they were part of…