Sunday Times – 3 December 2000
Had a former leader of the Conservative members of the European Parliament been exposed as a contact of the propaganda department of a fascist regime, the repercussions would rightly have been substantial. Yet, your recent report Target Britain (News and News Review, last week) that Alfred Lomas – who ousted Barbara Castle to become leader of Labour's MEPs in June 1985 – ended up in this role for East Germany's communists has predictably led to little media interest.
Lomas is quoted as admitting that he supported the totalitarian left: indeed, he could hardly deny it. The Times published a letter in 1985 about his pro-communist record by the late Lord Orr-Ewing, whose researcher I was at the time.
It listed, inter alia, his years of very active membership of the World Peace Council – the principal Soviet-controlled international propaganda front organisation – and his vice-presidency of its British branch, the British Peace Assembly. (The other vice-president, the late Gordon Schaffer, was a proud recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize.)
None of this was denied at the time, even though the World Peace Council had been on Labour's list of proscribed organisations for more than 20 years, until that list of communist and fascist front bodies (which it was forbidden for Labour members to join) was abandoned in the 1970s, with dire consequences for the party.
However, it is important to distinguish between contacts like Lomas, and those leftists who agreed to spy on their countrymen and send information to the Stasi.
The current Labour government has repeatedly declared that no such people should be publicly identified unless they actually conveyed official secrets.
The few whom journalists and researchers have exposed – such as the lecturer and would-be agent recruiter, Dr Robin Pearson – continue to escape prosecution, even when referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by MI5.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP