Did Several Prominent Kiwis Work for Soviet Cause?

From the NZ Herald

By Kit Bennetts, former SIS officer involved in the surveillance of William Ball Sutch.

In the early days of Operation Kitbag, the obvious questions that were on all of our minds were: “If Sutch is meeting clandestinely with the Russians, which he is, what is he giving them and where is he getting it from?” or alternatively, “What are the Russians giving him and who is he passing it on to?”

Inquiries were under way to determine what, if any, access he might still have to sensitive information, such as international negotiation bottom lines, commerce and trade information, insights into government policies and strategies. However, given the fact that he was semi-retired, it seemed more likely that Dr Sutch’s role was now, whatever it had been once, that of an agent of influence.

To succeed at this game, one needed to be exceedingly well-connected and Dr Sutch was well-connected indeed. The circles in which he moved included people such as the economist Jack Lewin and Ronald Smith and Geoffrey Datson, all with the Department of Trade and Industry; Sir Guy Powles, Chief Ombudsman; Sir Robert Falla, retired director of the Dominion Museum; Jack Shallcrass, educator; and Professor John Roberts, of Victoria University. And the list went on.

Dr Sutch had had a long and distinguished career at the apex of government bureaucracy and his list of friends, associates and contacts was spectacular.

And then there were the politicians: Philip Holloway, former minister and diplomat; Warren Freer, the Minister of Trade and Industry; Dr Martyn Finlay, Minister of Justice; Gerald O’Brien MP; Sir Arnold Nordmeyer, retired Labour Party leader; Bob Tizard, Minister of State Services and Minister of Health; Margaret Hayward, secretary to the Prime Minister, and, indeed, the man himself, Prime Minister Norman Kirk.

Bennets has claimed that several prominent NZers worked for the Soviets but other than saying that Jack Lewin was a possible spy, has declined to name names.

Some British spy writers in the past have used the trick of dropping names, or even phrases into a story, knowing that a “clued up” reader will get the hint.

One writer used such an obscure technique to hint that Leo Long, an associate of Burgess and McLean was a likely spy. He admitted his little ruse, if memory serves me correctly after Long had died.

Is Bennetts doing this with the above list?

Discounting Kirk and Nordmeyer, several of those named have communist or “communist front” backgrounds.

It is well known now that the Soviets had highly placed agents in virtually every Western government. Why should NZ be any different?

I hope Bennetts’ revelations about Sutch start the ball rolling in exposing other “prominent NZers” who worked for the Soviet cause.

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1 thought on “Did Several Prominent Kiwis Work for Soviet Cause?

  1. Yes, Lewin, Findlay, Sutch, Costello and Milner were all on the payroll. And in the case of Lewin it seems to be genetic and to have been inherited. Maybe also a factor for the Sutch clan…

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