HAROLD WILSON was being monitored by MI5 worried he may have had KGB connections throughout the time he was Labour Prime Minister, a new book has revealed.
Mr Wilson, who was born in Milnsbridge, was viewed a Communist sympathiser because of his relationships with Eastern European businessmen, most notably Huddersfield textile magnate Joseph Kagan.
The new book, Defence of the Realm – an authorised history of the Secret Service – claims that Wilson had known contacts in the KGB and when he made Kagan made a peer he invited a KGB officer to his investiture at Buckingham Palace.
Lithuanian-born Kagan’s company made the Gannex macs that became one of Wilson’s trademarks and he was made a peer by Wilson.
But in 1980 Kagan was jailed for tax evasion and stripped of his knighthood.
Other names on MI5’s list of Wilson’s contacts were Rudy Sternberg, who had made a fortune out of trading with the Soviet bloc and was suspected by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of being a Soviet spy and Harry (later Lord) Kissin, a Wilson confidant who had also made a fortune from East-West trade.
The report, published to mark the centenary of MI5, also revealed the Huddersfield born leader was the only serving Prime Minister to have a permanent Security Service file.
But Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said he found the accusations “totally unbelievable.”
Mr Sheerman said: “The Security Service was very hostile to the Labour Government at that time.
“Until this has been sifted through by a reputable historian I would take it with a large pinch of salt.
“Anything that would suggest he was not a patriot I would not believe.
“I know he had a great interest in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Soviet Union but you have to remember there’s no doubt that the Second World War was won on the Eastern Front so I’m sure he could have been sympathetic to Russia.
“It was only during the Cold War that attitudes changed and we found out what Stalin had done.”
Wilson’s MI5 file was opened in 1945 when he became an MP and remained one of the Security Service’s most closely kept secrets throughout his premierships in 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.
But it was never used to undermine him according to The Defence of the Realm, a report published this week.
The authorised history also reveals that the existence of the file was so secret that Wilson was given a cover name.
Because of its unusual sensitivity, his file was kept under the pseudonym Norman John Worthington.
Peter Wright, a former MI5 officer, alleged in his book Spycatcher, that there had been a Security Service plot against Wilson involving a number of intelligence officers.
But Wright himself later admitted in a television interview that the plot only involved one person — him.
The revelation that MI5 had kept a personal file on Wilson since 1945 will reignite the question of whether the former Prime Minister had any grounds for his increasingly obsessive belief that the Security Service was bugging his office and plotting against him.