The portland and other R.N. Spy scandles

#1
8O Calling the old and bold. What are your memories of the Portland Spy ring and the later Lt. Bingham fiasco? :( Did you know any of the accused, or had any dealings with them eg;-when under arrest or at court martial ? I recall at Portland A M.A.A. Harry Houghton and his girlfriend Bunty Gee {I think} were involved and after Lt Bingham was weighed off his wife said she should be tried too. She was obliged and got a hefty slice bird. :!: I will stand corrected on the names but thats how I recall events. 8)
 

xchiefcook

Lantern Swinger
#2
Hope this might help a bit with regards to the Portland Spy Ring.

In 1960 the CIA received letters from a mole, codenamed Sniper (who later turned out to be Michael Goleniewski). Sniper said information was reaching the Russians from the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment at Portland, England, where the Royal Navy tested equipment for undersea warfare. The letters were passed on to MI5, the British security service.

Suspicion fell on Harry Houghton, a former sailor who was a civil service clerk at the base. He had just bought his fourth car and a house and was also a heavy drinker who would buy rounds at the local pubs. Houghton's expenses were far beyond his meager salary.

MI5 put Houghton under surveillance. They also watched his mistress, Ethel Gee. She was a filing clerk who handled documents Houghton himself did not have access to. They often went to London, where they would meet a man identified as Gordon Lonsdale, a Canadian businessman. During these meetings Lonsdale and Houghton exchanged packages.

Lonsdale allegedly dealt in jukeboxes and bubble gum machines. He often traveled abroad and was a lady's man. MI5 promptly put him under surveillance. It was found that Lonsdale often went to Ruislip in north-west London to visit an antiquarian bookseller, Peter Kroger and his wife Helen. The Krogers were also put under close but discreet watch.

And here's a bit about Lt Bingham.
Sub-Lieutenant David Bingham served, as a weapons electronics officer, aboard HMS Rothesay, a modified Type 12 Anti-Air Frigate, F107 commisioned on 23rd April 1960. David Bingham was aged 31 and was married with four children. Maureen Bingham, his wife, was a comfort shopper, a so-called 'shopoholic'. In addition to that she was also addicted to gambling. Sub-Lt Bingham's salary was not sufficiently high to finance his wifes' shopping and betting expeditions and this lack of finance almost certainly motivated Maureen to knock on the door of the Russian Embassy during a trip to London and offer the services of her husband to the KGB.

Whilst at the embassy she met with Russian Consular Officials who invited her to return sometime later to a Tea-Party under the cover of researching a book on "housewives of the world."

It was later disclosed that her husband, Sub-Lt Bingham, was ignorant of the methods used by his wife to secure further funding for her indulgences fired by her peculiar personality traits.

Maureen Bingham had photographed pages from an exercise book used by her husband for notes and deliberately induced 'camera shake' to ensure that the photographic content of the resultant prints were illegible. She was well aware that the 'intelligence' that she was supplying to the Russians was of no use at all and boasted later that she was 'taking them for a ride'.

The debts mounted as Maureen Bingham pursued her self-indulgent and excessive shopping. This expenditure coupled with the gambling debts led to her selling the family car without the knowledge of the Hire Purchase company who had financed purchase. This excessive behaviour led to subsequent arranged meetings with the Russian Naval Attache, Lory Turifmovich resulting in the Binghams receiving GBP 2800 for photographs left in a dead letter box.

Maureen Bingham later stated that David had never wanted to pursue this course and had gone along with her activities because there was no other choice, fearing for the safety of their four children.

Sub-Lt Bingham was terrified of what the eventual outcome of these actions would be, especially aware of the confidence trick being performed on the Russians by his wife.

At Winchester Crown Court, David Bingham confessed to photographing naval documents and as a result was sentenced to imprisonment, a total of 126 years on 12 counts, to run concurrently, a sentence of 21 years.

After her husband's trial Maureen Bingham returned to the Russian embassy, with the Press, and declared that "it was all my fault" and that "the Russians were always very concerned about myself and our four children. They treated us better than the Royal Navy ever did".

Maureen Bingham was subsequently arrested and charged with offences under the Official Secrets Act. She was psychologically examined and the subsequent report stated that she was a pathological liar.

Maureen Bingham was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

During her trial the judge described her as "having opened the door" to her husband's spying activities. He went on to state that she was "a lady of almost disastrous loquacity".
Taken from the ENIGMA2000 newsletter
 
#5
Bingham died 25 years after his conviction when his car hit a tree near Stratford-on-Avon, with no other vehicle involved.
After leaving jail, he ran a hotle in Bornemouth and became vice president of the local Conservative Club, where members were unaware that he had spied for the Russians.
He later opend an alternative healing centre in Stratford-on-Avon.
Hs wife must've been the dumbest spy ever - she turned up at the Soviet Embassy on a Saturday morning, offering her secrets, and Ivan was so astonished he said "the Naval Attache won't be back until Monday can you come back then" - and she did !
 
#7
Whilst on the Rothesay in 1972 we had to attend a security briefing/lesson.
The security bod started telling us about the tricks the russkies use etc.
There were also a few 'home' movies to watch showing how they trap you into giving secrets away.
He couldnt understand why we thought all this was highly amusing until the penny dropped!

Apparently Bingham was a likeable officer by those who had served with him.
 
#8
xchiefcook, you did exactly the same as i did. You googled Lt Bingham, clicked on the very first article and copy and pasted the whole thing. Mine of info my arse.
 
#9
There are some who cannot/will not use Google and there are some who can but do not admit it. 8O


Best include your source next time, xcc, there is always someone lurking & ready catch you out :wink:
 
#10
rod-gearing said:
Whilst on the Rothesay in 1972 we had to attend a security briefing/lesson.
The security bod started telling us about the tricks the russkies use etc.
There were also a few 'home' movies to watch showing how they trap you into giving secrets away.
He couldnt understand why we thought all this was highly amusing until the penny dropped!

Apparently Bingham was a likeable officer by those who had served with him.
8) The Prison Service used the same films as part of basic training at the Prison Service Training Centre Wakefield. :eek:
 
#11
i new david bingham quite well. i lived near stratford on avon and was on leave 6 months after working in turkey.
we met one day in stratford and became very friendly. he said he was on leave and was based at portland
he seemed pretty affluent and had a lot of friends who were associated with the shakespeare theatre.
this friendship led to a joining of an exclusive club in stratford on avon called the theatre and press club.
i remember that we spent many nights there with members of the players ,including peter otoole and dinsdale landen.
non of us i am sure were aware of his activities.
i left the area and we lost contact.
 

Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#13
Sorry about thread drift but Hayden's solicitor was an ex-Pusser Lt Cdr who went to jail in his turn for impropriety in his professional role & has I think now been struck off.
 
#14
As I recall Bingham's name was on the honour board at St George's Division at BRNC Dartmouth as having come top of his SD Officers course. So, he must have got something right in his life if not his choice of woman!
 

xchiefcook

Lantern Swinger
#15
BreathingOutOnTheWayUp said:
There are some who cannot/will not use Google and there are some who can but do not admit it. 8O


Best include your source next time, xcc, there is always someone lurking & ready catch you out :wink:
Ha Ha you sussed me...although in my defence i do remember it, but used google just to ensure i didnt get owt wrong !!!
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
#16
Seaweed said:
Sorry about thread drift but Hayden's solicitor was an ex-Pusser Lt Cdr who went to jail in his turn for impropriety in his professional role & has I think now been struck off.
Ditto with regard thread drift...

Yep, David Lancaster was caught-out in a BBC 'sting': http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/6062168.stm Some would say was the victim of entrapment.

He was the bane of the (then) Regulating Branch as he often managed to discredit their unethical antics, somewhat ironically. If I remember correctly, he was one of the barristers instrumental in getting compensation awarded to pregnant servicewomen who were until then, routinely dismissed. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/ruling-curbs-mod-payouts-to-sacked-pregnant-women-1417006.html

I quite liked the bloke and saw him overturn a feeble attempted MoD Plod prosecution rather successfully, five years earlier. The weirdy thing about it was the presiding judge, Andrew Chubb (also an ex-Naval Barrister) died in a mysterious blaze onlya month after the case I saw. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukn...led-in-blaze-on-day-he-asked-for-divorce.html

Possibly, now the "double jeopardy" rule is defunct, it's time to re-open the investigation. Doubtless his widow would welcome "closure" on his peculiar and untimely death. Some would say the reason there was never a prosecution was because the police permitted the scene of the blaze to be bull-dozed before a forensic examination had taken place.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2645630.ece
 

janner

MIA
Book Reviewer
#17
Lennie Burt one of the CID officers involved in investigation of the Portland spy ring went onto to high rank (either ACC or DCC) of the Dorset Police and was for a time in charge of the investigation into corruption in the Metropolitan Police "Operation Countryman."
 
#20
Ninja_Stoker said:
If I remember correctly, he was one of the barristers instrumental in getting compensation awarded to pregnant servicewomen who were until then, routinely dismissed. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/ruling-curbs-mod-payouts-to-sacked-pregnant-women-1417006.html
I'm not sure if he was involved in the overturning of the rule (which flew in the face of a ruling in the late 1970s and should never have been allowed to carry on as long as it did - the MoD only had themselves to blame - although that wasn't my opinion at the time!) but he was certainly heavily involved in representing former Wrens. He had by far the largest casebook of any solicitor.

I was surprised to see him get into trouble as he seemed a decent guy, though he did use former service contacts to the full.
 

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