LONDON—A former spy from Soviet-era Czechoslovakia claims that several hard-Left British politicians—including current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn—were paid up to $15,000 each to hold secret meetings and pass information to Communist agents during the Cold War.
The claims have been dismissed as the fabrications of “a fantasist” by a Labour spokesman, although a newly uncovered dossier first published by The Sun last week showed that Czech intelligence officials had a file detailing their meetings with Corbyn, who they had vetted and listed among their sources and agents.
The Labour leader says he did hold meetings with a Czech diplomat in the 1980s but he denied having any knowledge that the man was linked to Prague’s Statni Bezpecnost (StB) intelligence agency. According to translations by The Sun, the 1986 Czech files say Corbyn’s attitude to Eastern Bloc countries was “positive” while he was “negative towards USA” as well as "supporting the Soviet peace initiative.”
Corbyn has always prided himself on holding meetings with a wide-range of Left-wing advocates, radicals and dissidents but the former Czech agent told The Daily Telegraph on Monday that the Labour MPs had been paid for their contributions.
Jan Sarkocy, who worked in London for the Czechs under the alias Lieutenant Jan Dymic, claimed that Corbyn and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone were among his “good sources.”
“It was big money. Some Labour MPs were asking more and more money, they wanted it,” he said.
Sarkocy alleged that the 15 Labour politicians he worked with were typically paid between $1,000 and $15,000 for their help depending on “what kind of information we have ordered from Prague or Moscow.” He claimed the payments were made in cash but said he did not handle them personally and said he had no record of who was paid or when.
The Czech claimed that John McDonnell, Labour’s current shadow chancellor, held regular meetings with a KGB agent but said he was not one of his regular paid sources.
Sarkocy claims he was so popular with this band of left-wing Labour politicians that they threw him a “farewell party” when he was eventually kicked out of the country by Margaret Thatcher in 1989. He was one of three Czech embassy staff deported after a spying row.
A spokesman for Corbyn said it was “entirely false and a ridiculous smear” to claim that the Labour leader was an agent, asset or informer for any foreign nation.
“Jeremy neither had nor offered any privileged information to this or any other diplomat,” the spokesman said in a statement. “During the Cold War, intelligence officers notoriously claimed to superiors to have recruited people they had merely met. The existence of these bogus claims does not make them in any way true.”
Livingstone and McConnell also deny the claims.