How spies cause the death of journalists – Dr Paul Lashmar research paper now published

Putting lives in danger? Tinker, tailor, journalist, spy: the use of journalistic cover

First Published September 13, 2017


The Anglo-American intelligence agencies’ use of journalists as spies or propagandists and the practice of providing intelligence agents in the field with journalistic cover have been a source of controversy for many decades. This article examines the extent to which these covert practices have taken place and whether they have put journalists’ lives in danger. This article, drawing on various methodologies, examines a number of cases where the arrest, murder or kidnap of journalists was justified on the grounds that the journalist was a ‘spy’. This has been followed through with research, using a range of sources, that shows there have been many occasions when the distinction between spies and journalists has been opaque. The article concludes that widespread use of journalistic cover by spies has put lives in danger, but that the extent is unquantifiable.

This is a subscription only journal obtainable from:

‘The Few’ who saved Britain were even fewer than everyone thought. PL story

Seems like an appropriate day to pull out this story that I wrote for The Independent a while ago.

“The Few” who knocked the Luftwaffe out of Britain’s skies in 1940 were even fewer than anyone previously thought. Six out of 10 RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain never shot down an enemy aircraft, new research indicates.

“The Few” who knocked the Luftwaffe out of Britain’s skies in 1940 were even fewer than anyone previously thought. Six out of 10 RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain never shot down an enemy aircraft, new research indicates.

Christopher Shores, the author of Aces High, says that a relatively small number of pilots were responsible for most of the German aircraft shot down during Britain’s “finest hour”. He says that the top 17 RAF “aces” – less then 1 per cent of “the Few” – shot down 10 per cent of all enemy aircraft. 

But a survey published yesterday shows that many people in modern Britain have a woefully inadequate grasp of the debt owed to these Second World War heroes. An ICM poll to mark the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain found that some were not even sure that Britain was fighting the Germans, saying instead that they thought the enemy was the Romans or Normans – while 10 per cent thought the French were the foe. Some people were also confused as to whether their wartime leader was Winston Churchill or King Alfred.

For the survey, 1,000 people were asked four questions about the Battle of Britain – but fewer than half of those aged between 18 and 24 knew it was an air battle. The RAF pilots, whose victory forced Hitler to abandon his invasion plans, became known as “the Few” after Churchill’s speech in which he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

The Battle of Britain was fought between 10 July and 31 October 1940. RAF pilots claimed to have shot down about 2,600 German aircraft, but figures compiled later suggest that Luftwaffe losses were more likely to be 1,700.

Of the 2,332 Allied pilots who flew fighters in the battle, 38.85 per cent were able to claim some degree of success in terms of enemy aircraft shot down, although the number claiming more than one victim amounted to no more than 15 per cent of the total.

To qualify for the description of “ace”, a fighter pilot has to shoot down or be involved with others in shooting down at least five hostile aircraft. During the Battle of Britain just 188 pilots achieved that performance – 8 per cent of the total involved. A further 233 of those claiming successes during the battle became “aces” later in the war.

Mr Shores says: “It is particularly illuminating that the 17 most successful pilots (0.7 per cent of those involved) claimed 220 victories between them (8-9 per cent of the total claimed) – a quite disproportionate high level of achievement.

The 188 “ace” pilots claimed approximately half of all the victories. The most successful were Sgt Josef Frantisek (from Czechoslovakia) 17; Pilot Officer Eric Lock (England) 16; Flying Officer Brian Carbury (New Zealand) and Sgt James ‘Ginger’ Lacey (England) 15 and 1 shared each; Pilot Officer Bob Doe (England) 15; Flt Lt Pat Hughes (Australia) 14 and 3 shared; Pilot Officer Colin Gray (New Zealand) 14 and 2 shared; Flt Lt Archie McKellar(Scotland) 14 and 1 shared; Flying Officer Witold Urbanowicz (Poland) 14. Eight others claimed 10 or 11 individual victories, with varying numbers of shares.

The findings complement research published in Aeroplanemagazine that examined which were the most effective RAF squadrons during the Battle of Britain. The most prolific were: 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron – a Spitfire squadron based at Hornchurch, Essex – which shot down 57.5 enemy aircraft; 609 Squadron, another Spitfire squadron, based at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, with 51.5 kills; and the Polish-manned 303 Squadron and 41 Squadron, which were nearly equal with 45 and 44.75 credits. Douglas Bader’s 242 Hurricane Squadron achieved 22 kills.

A recent television programme debunked the widely held belief that nearly all the fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain were ex-public school boys from an upper-class background. Of the 3,080 airmen awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp, only 141 (6 per cent) were educated at the top 13 public schools.



Duncan Campbell’s Honorary Doctorate award at University of Sussex. PL as introducer.

Graduation - Duncan and Paul with Chancellor and Vice Chancellor


I am delighted to introduce Duncan Campbell.  Duncan has, for forty years, been one of Britain’s most outstanding investigative journalists. He specialises in privacy, civil liberties and surveillance issues and his best-known investigations have led to major legal clashes with successive British governments.

Duncan is a proud Scot. Born in Glasgow in 1952, he grew up and was educated in Dundee.  With a penchant for the sciences, he won an open scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, graduating with a First Class degree in physics. Duncan’s relationship with Brighton and the University of Sussex goes back to 1973, when he came to study Operations Research.   He is a long-time resident of Kemptown.

Duncan is a major figure among the UK generation of post-Watergate journalists. During the 1970s, the excesses of western intelligence agencies during the Cold War were being made public on a daily basis. Duncan will always been known as the first journalist to reveal the existence of the British electronic intelligence agency GCHQ in a 1976 article “The Eavesdroppers”. This, though, brought him to the attention of the authorities. He became known nationally as the ‘C’ in the ABC official secrets trial of 1978.

On the 20 February 1977, while living in Brighton, Duncan and fellow journalist Crispin Aubrey were arrested after interviewing a former signals corporal called John Berry – thus the ABC case (Aubrey, Berry, Campbell). Duncan’s flat in Brighton was searched by the police. All three were charged under the Official Secrets Act and faced very long prison sentences.   Their trial became a cause celebre for press freedom and while they were convicted, they received a discharge from a High Court Judge critical of the abuse of secrecy laws.

In another run in with government, during the 1987 Zircon affair, Duncan caused the BBC to be raided by Special Branch after his revelations that the government had concealed from Parliament expensive plans to launch spy satellites.

Duncan came out in 1987.  A year later he was one of the six founders of the human rights and equality group Stonewall, along with actors Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman. This April, at the wedding of Duncan with his partner Matt in Edinburgh, the guest of honour Joanna Cherry, the ‘openly LGBT’  Scottish National Party MP, in a moving speech, made special reference to Duncan’s involvement in setting up Stonewall – which she said had been crucial in changing attitudes to being gay in Britain.

Duncan has a formidable intellect and has been at the forefront of enabling the new wave of data journalism leaks. He and his husband recently helped the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists innovate in how to take raw data from a leaked 200 GB computer drive of secret offshore tax haven registers to produce high quality evidence of how the rich and powerful hide their ill-gotten gains.

In 2013, when Edward Snowden leaked documents from the US National Security Agency, Duncan was on hand to interpret the material.   He has continuously provided the most insightful interpretation of the dangers of massive electronic surveillance, and is helping University of Sussex colleagues investigate these issues.  Duncan is also currently critiquing the Law Commission’s proposal for a tougher espionage act that, he warns, would see journalists and their sources jailed.

Duncan’s radicalism, intellect, courage and his advocacy of LGBT rights makes him a natural kindred spirit for The University of Sussex.

Chancellor, I present to you for the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa, Duncan Campbell. “