Story of a Man Called Scarlett

By Tony Barber East Europe Editor | The Independent (London, England), April 2, 1994 | Go to article overview
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Story of a Man Called Scarlett


Tony Barber East Europe Editor, The Independent (London, England)


THE DIPLOMAT expelled from Russia for alleged spying, John McLeod Scarlett, was a political counsellor at the British embassy in Moscow who had risen smoothly up the Foreign Office hierarchy.

A father of three daughters and one son, Mr Scarlett, 45, joined the Foreign Office in 1971 and within two years was working as a third secretary in Nairobi.

After a spell as a language student, he was posted in 1976 to Moscow, where he was promoted from second secretary to first secretary. However, this assignment proved to be unusually short. Most diplomatic postings last for several years, but by 1977 Mr Scarlett was back in London.

If he was already working for MI6 at this stage, this may explain the brevity of his first stint in Moscow. Either the then Soviet authorities may have suspected the nature of his real duties, or his masters may have decided to limit his spell in Moscow for other reasons.

According to the official Diplomatic Service List, which records the movements of Foreign Office staff, he was not assigned abroad again until 1984, when he was posted to Paris.

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