Cambridge Spies - the Guy Burgess tape

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  4. When Reporters Cross the Line
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  7. Media coverage
    1. Resources
    2. Events timeline
    3. History
    4. When Reporters Cross the Line
    5. Meet the team
    6. Download files
    7. Media coverage

Cambridge Spies - the Guy Burgess tape

The only known recording of Guy Burgess, one of the Cambridge Spies, made just before he defected to Russia in 1951, has been recovered from US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files by researchers at City University London.

Guy BurgessIn March 2013, Professor Stewart Purvis and Jeff Hulbert, researchers from City University London's Department of Journalism, published a collection of true stories of moments when the worlds of media, propaganda, politics, espionage and crime have met, casting journalism into controversy. The book, entitled When Reporters Cross the Line (Biteback Publishing 2013), includes a chapter on how Old Etonian Guy Burgess had worked at various times, often simultaneously, for the BBC, MI5, MI6 and the KGB.

After his defection the FBI, who were investigating Burgess's time as a diplomat in the US, found the audio tape and made a transcript for their files. When Purvis and Hulbert discovered the existence of the Burgess tape, they made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI asking for the secret tape to be released 'unclassified'. Nine months later their request was agreed to by the FBI.

During the eleven-minute, studio-quality, recording Burgess recounts the day in 1938 that he visited Chartwell, the Kent home of Winston Churchill, then a Conservative backbencher. Burgess even recreates Churchill's side of the story with a number of amusing impressions.

Listen to the recording

Channel 4 News report

Michael Crick announced the discovery of the Burgess tapes in an exclusive report on Friday 17th January 2014.

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