How Stasi Spy Gave Our Secrets to the East Germans; Communist Mole Met Thatcher and Passed on Navy Plans

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Byline: MATTHEW BAYLEY

A COMMUNIST spy infiltrated an influential and respected British think tank at the height of the Cold War, it emerged last night.

The mole, who worked for the East German intelligence agency, the Stasi, penetrated the Royal Institute of International Affairs, passing on sensitive information for at least six years during the 1980s.

Codenamed Eckart, he came into contact with the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and many other politicians while supplying his handlers with 27 reports on intelligence gathered from the institute.

This included details of Royal Navy manoeuvres and Nato planning. He also stole and passed on documents from the institute.

Last night the think tank, known as Chatham House after its central London base, launched an investigation into the identity of the Eckart.

The disclosure is said to have dismayed members of the organisation which has enormous influence over British policymakers through its research projects and debates.

The existence of Eckart was made known after German government officials in Berlin unscrambled the code which until now had protected the index to the Stasi files.

Most files were destroyed after the collapse of communism in East Germany in 1989 but the indexes survived, along with its list of titles of reports supplied by British agents. However the files do not reveal Eckart's identity.

Details of the index were given to Anthony Glees, Reader in Politics and Director of European Studies at Brunel University, and one of Britain's experts on the Stasi.

On October 15, 1981, Eckart handed over two documents. The first was entitled by the Stasi 'Chatham House on armaments industry' while the second was filed as 'On a Chatham House study'.

A few weeks later Ekhart, one of the most energetic of the Stasi's British moles, handed over a report 'On the evaluation of the international position of Chatham House'.

In November 1987 Ekhart contacted his handler at the former East German embassy in Belgrave Square, London, to say he believed he was under surveillance by MI5.

The files also reveal that Tory MP Julian Lewis was the target of East German espionage because of his opposition to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament during the early 1980s. …