The death of Jack Jones at the age of ninety-six in April prompted claims that he worked in the Soviet cause for much of his life.
The death of Jack Jones at the age of ninety-six in April prompted claims that he worked in the Soviet cause for much of his life. The evidence cited to support the allegation comes from Josef Frolik and Oleg Gordievsky.
Both were intelligence defectors, and both were said to have had personal knowledge that Jones had been a long-term KGB asset. Frolik was a Czech StB officer who had served in London and, in 1969, following Alexander Dubcek’s ‘Prague spring’, defected, together with another StB colleague, Frantisek August.
There is absolutely no doubt that Frolik identified Jones as a potential recruit whom he had attempted to cultivate before he had been warned off by the local KGB rezidentura in London, being informed that Jones was “a horse run by a different stable”.
Frolik, who was resettled with a new identity in the United States, returned briefly to England to give evidence against Will Owen, a corrupt Welsh Labour MP who had been put on the StB’s payroll.
Although acquitted at his trial, mainly because he insisted that his membership of the Commons Defence Estimates Committee had never given him access to classified information, he later admitted to MI5 that he had sold his Czech handler whatever information he thought would be of interest.
Frolik had been astonished when he had seen Jack Jones on television, apparently unaffected by the damning details of his KGB role that he had given his MI5 debriefers the previous year. Mystified, he had reluctantly agreed to delete the incriminating reference to Jones in his book, The Frolik Defection, which was subsequently published by Leo Cooper.
While Frolink could understand that no action had been taken against the late Sir Barnet Stross MP, who had also worked for the StB, the defector could not understand why Jones continued at the very pinnacle of the Trades Union Congress, exercising huge influence across the labour movement.
Sixteen years later, Oleg Gordievsky underwent a very similar experiences. As the KGB’s rezident designate in London in 1985 he had been briefed on the KGB’s local assets, and named various Labour MPs and trade union leaders as “confidential contacts” of the rezidentura he had been appointed to head.
Such an individual does not necessarily have access to secret information, but their utility is as an “agent of influence” and someone who could be relied upon to take, and follow, instructions from the KGB.
Unaware that Jones had already been denounced by Frolik years earlier, Gordievsky had named him and then had been surprised when apparently no action had been taken against him. Gordievsky believed he was making quite a revelation when he told the Daily Telegraph of his contacts with Jones, but what is the real explanation?
The remarkable truth was that, although Jones had been a left-wing firebrand all his life, and had fought with the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, he had been deeply patriotic and had been very offended when he had been first approached by the Soviets.
He had reported the ‘pitch’ immediately to the Security Service and had agreed to act as a double agent, submitting reports to his MI5 case officer. Although during his long career in the Transport & General Workers Union Jones had not ever seen classified papers, he was able to tip off MI5 to the various KGB officers he encountered.
This information assisted MI5 to identify the professional intelligence personnel working under diplomatic, consular, journalistic and consular cover, and helped build up the all-important ‘order-of-battle’ which is the foundation of all counter-intelligence operations.
Naturally, Jones’ identification by Frolik as a KGB asset had been mildly embarrassing for MI5, but as the KGB continued relationship, apparently unaware that their mole in the British trade union movement was actually a double agent, MI5 continued the game.
This, then, was the reason why Jones was mistakenly accused, after his death, of having betrayed his country. On the contrary, despite his leftist politics, he was the epitome of the loyal Briton.