Stasi files obtained by Guido reveal that a peace group run by Jeremy Corbyn was infiltrated by East German spies and was encouraged by East German officials into promoting GDR policies at Labour conference and in the House of Commons. The group was also infiltrated by a spy from the Czech security service who stood as a Labour candidate.
Files in the Stasi records archive marked “Streng geheim” – “Top secret” – show that German spies and officials closely monitored and influenced “Labour Action for Peace” (LAP) during the 1980s. Corbyn was an officer of the group in the ’80s, attended their meetings, authored pamphlets, was its vice chairman at the height of the Stasi’s interest, going on to become the group’s president. The Stasi concluded: “The position of leading representatives of the LAP coincides with that of the socialist countries: The blame for the escalation of the nuclear arms race is borne by the US and its NATO allies.”
The Stasi records released to Guido show East German officials met with Labour MP members of LAP, encouraged them to support GDR policies and were delighted with the results of their lobbying efforts. Stasi officers infiltrated LAP meetings and reported that East German officials were sent on a “mission” to convince Labour MPs to back their policies. In a Stasi report about an LAP delegation’s visit to East Germany dated 21 February 1987, a Stasi officer writes:
“The main objective of the mission is to further consolidate the traditionally good relations with the LAP and to continue the exchange of views and information”
Following the meetings, the Stasi officer concluded that “representatives of the LAP take up positions on fundamental issues that are largely in line with those of the socialist states”. This was at time of great tension between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries. The Stasi reports claim that following their lobbying attempts a Labour MP on the delegation proposed a Commons motion in support of East German policies:
“The proposal for a framework program for the creation of chemical free zones in Europe prepared by the SED and the SPD received considerable attention among UK Labour MPs. William McCelvey MP, who is also chairman of the LAP, initiated a signature campaign in the House of Commons in support of the SED and SPD initiative.”
The files show the Stasi took a keen interest in resolutions at Labour Party conference, believing they could influence the policies of the next UK government. The Stasi said this meant Corbyn’s LAP group was of “special importance” to East German spies:
“Under the present conditions, with resolutions at the Labour Party’s annual conference from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 preparing for the upcoming election campaign and focusing on the party’s security policy and a future Labour government, the Activity of the LAP of special importance.”
The Secretary of LAP, Cynthia Roberts, who stood as a Labour parliamentary candidate, was outed as a spy for the Czechoslovakian secret service Statni Bezpecnost (StB). After the KGB’s London head of station Oleg Gordievsky defected in 1985, Roberts fled to Prague, presumably because she feared she was about to be exposed.
It is well known that spies for Warsaw Pact regimes targeted the British peace movement in the ’80s, Ján Sarkocy’s key role was to infiltrate and directly influence the peace movement in order to weaken NATO. It was a sensible strategy – Corbyn and his LAP fellow travelers would not have taken much convincing of the merits of the East German and Czech positions on unilateral disarmament. There are several questions for Corbyn to answer;
- Was he aware that a group which he helped run had been targeted and infiltrated by the Stasi and the StB?
- What information did LAP representatives “exchange” with East German officials?
- Why did Labour MPs in Corbyn’s group push the policies of the GDR in the House of Commons and at Labour conference?
Most of all, why was a group with which Corbyn had considerable involvement so close to spies for two hostile totalitarian regimes at the height of the Cold War?