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1 July 1963: Philby Confirmed as 'Third Man'

 

Former Foreign Office official Harold Philby admits he was the "third man" in the case of British diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.

Security services are by now aware that using information he gained while working for MI6 in Washington, Mr Philby warned the pair that intelligence services were on their trail. This information enabled them to escape to the Soviet Union.

It now becomes apparent Philby was a double agent working for the Soviet authorities during his time with the foreign office. The news was announced in the House of Commons by the Lord Privy Seal Edward Heath.

"This information, coupled with the latest message received by Mrs Philby, suggests that when he left Beirut he may have gone to one of the countries of the Soviet Block" he said.

British authorities had always suspected there was a "third man" and asked if this new evidence confirmed it to be Mr Philby the reply from Mr Heath was, "yes".

Harold Philby, often known as Kim, had been working as a journalist in Beirut when he disappeared. When Burgess and Maclean defected to the Soviet Union in 1951 Philby was singled out as someone who could have warned them. As a result of this he was forced to resign from his post at the Foreign Office by the then Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden.
The investigation into the case was never closed.

The revelations of 1 July were ridiculed by Burgess, speaking from Moscow he maintained that Maclean had been alerted when "over-eager MI5 sleuths" bumped into his car. Maclean refused to comment.