PROFESSOR VIC ALLEN is a classic man of the British left. He was an influential figure in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a passionate supporter of the 1984-85 miners' strike.
He was a friend of Arthur Scargill and, from the early 1970s, a committed member of the Communist Party.
But now the Leeds University lecturer has been accused of going several steps further and working as an "agent of influence" for the Stasi, the East German secret police.
Last night he was totally unrepentant about his role. He claimed that, as an avowed Communist, he was doing no more than obeying his conscience in providing information on the political scene in Britain to his comrades in East Germany.
Professor Allen is not accused of passing on state secrets in the classic spy manner but rather of being an "agent of influence".
By this the East Germans and the Russians meant someone they believed to have the ability to influence events in Britain in a manner beneficial to them.
In the 1960s and 1970s Allen was an influential figure in the powerful trade union movement. His area of academic expertise was Labour and union history, and his passion was the miners. It was no surprise that he was to become a friend and confidant of the young Arthur Scargill, then himself a member of the Communist Party.
There is little doubt that he was a highly respected figure on the left, boasting working-class origins and academic pedigree. Later in life he even returned to his bricklaying origins, taking up dry- stone-walling as a hobby.
Professor Allen was born in 1923 in Wales. He left school at 15 to train as a bricklayer, served with the RAF during the war and, in 1946, went to the London School of Economics, where he eventually gained a PhD. In 1959 he was given a lectureship at Leeds University and he became a professor in 1973.
He was involved with the CND from its earliest stages, taking part in the first Aldermaston march, in 1958. …