Byline: ANDREW ROBERTS
HE WAS one of the most evil men to besmirch the post-war period. His coldhearted, deliberate actions led to the torture and murder of scores of brave men and women, putting him on the same moral plane as the lowest, twisted serial killer.
Yet on Monday, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ordained that British taxpayers' money should be paid to the Communist spy George Blake because Britain has breached his human rights - even though he is a convicted traitor and a fugitive from British justice.
George Blake, who secretly worked for the KGB while serving in MI6, during which time he copied 4,720 pages of secret intelligence for the Russians and betrayed the identities of around 400 MI6 agents, has been living in Moscow since his sensational escape from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966.
He is now 84 and lives on the pension of a colonel in Russian Intelligence.
He is also inordinately proud of having betrayed this country so comprehensively - and for so long.
What possible right, therefore, can Blake have to sue the British Government, and what can the judges of the European Court of Human Rights have been thinking when they awarded him damages against this country?
Moreover, what more will it take before this Government - which invited and encouraged the present flood of absurd human rights cases - puts patriotism, decency and common sense before its obsession with Europe?
The facts of the case are straightforward: born in 1922 to a Dutch mother and Egyptian father, George Blake (born Behar) was educated in Cairo and became active in the Dutch resistance during the Nazi occupation.
He escaped to London, disguised as a monk, and carried on working for Britain's Special Operations Executive, eventually joining MI6.
How he became a Marxist-Leninist is still open to doubt; he claimed it was due to his hatred of British snobbery and racism, and Churchill's socalled warmongering in the 'Iron Curtain' speech of 1946, in which he declared: 'From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent [of Europe].' Yet Rebecca West, in her book The Meaning Of Treason, pointed out that his conversion was likely to have been much earlier than that, probably during the war.
However it happened, by June 1950 Blake was captured by the North Koreans during the Korean War, where he had been sent by the Foreign Office as vice-consul.
He had become highly critical of the U.S. bombing campaign and was ready to sell his services.
Needless to say, Stalin's KGB took up his offer and ordered him to work for them while pretending to be loyal to MI6.
From the moment of his release by the North Koreans in 1953, and especially after he was posted by MI6 to Berlin in 1955, Blake passed everything he knew to his Soviet controllers.
Since his British job was to recruit Soviet officers as doubleagents, he was in the perfect position to damage the intelligencegathering effort of the West.
The MI6 chief Dick White later said that Blake did more damage even than Britain's most notorious Communist spy, Kim Philby.
FOR seven years, Blake systematically destroyed the network of agents who were working to bring democracy to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
Although the exact number is not known, several score of them paid with their lives, many after being tortured.
In 1960 Blake was finally unmasked due to information received from Michael Goleniewski, a Polish intelligence officer, and at his trial the following-year he was convicted of supplying the KGB with information that had led to the arrest and execution of 42 anti-Communist agents, although, in reality, there were many more.
In May 1961 he received a sentence of 42 years, the longest ever handed down by a British court.
Yet on October 22, 1966, aided by an Irishman named Sean Bourke, Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs over the prison wall and made his way to the USSR in the false floor of a camper van driven by two antinuclear activists, Pat Pottle and Michael Randle. …