London – Notorious British spy Kim Philby is shown in newly uncovered footage telling members of East Germany’s intelligence service that stealing top-level secrets and betraying your country is as simple as having a few drinks with the right person.
The film of his 1981 talk was posted online by the BBC on Monday after the broadcaster located it in the Berlin archives of the East German Intelligence Service known as the Stasi.
It is the first time that footage of the former MI6 agent describing his role during the Cold War has been released to the public. The best known video of Philby previously is from a press conference in 1955 where he denied being a communist, the BBC reported.
Philby, who defected to Russia in 1963, boasts that he simply befriended an archivist with whom he had drinks two or three times a week.
“If there had been proper discipline in the handling of papers in SIS (the Secret Intelligence Service) that would have been quite impossible. But there was, in fact, no discipline,” he said.
“Every evening I left the office with a big briefcase full of reports that I had written myself, full of files and actual documents from the archive. I used to hand them to my Soviet contact in the evening.”
The contents were photographed by his Soviet contact, and returned the next morning, he said.
“That I did regularly year in year out.”
Philby, who died in Russia in 1988, also said he was told by his Soviet handler to get rid of his boss at MI6, so that he could take over the agency’s anti-Soviet department himself.
“So I set about the business of removing my own chief,” he said, achieving that goal in 1944. He then added, to laughter from the room: “You oughtn’t to listen to this.”
After two other British double agents, Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean, defected to Moscow, Philby became suspect and was reassigned in 1951 to duties which didn’t involve intelligence. He was dismissed from MI6 five years later.
In the grainy Stasi video, Philby, wearing a plain suit and large glasses, addresses the group as “comrades” and boasts he spent “30 years in the enemy camp.”
Philby says he was first drawn to communism while at Cambridge University.
The video ends with Philby answering questions, advising the East German spies to “just deny everything” if they’re ever caught.
“They interrogated me to break my nerve and force me to confess,” he said. “And all I had to do really was keep my nerve. So my advice to you is to tell all your agents that they are never to confess.”