He who betrays his wife, betrays the state.

True Cold War story: Because the British did not trust his wife, the most efficient Russian spy was able to depart.

Because British intelligence misinterpreted the intriguing features of his ex-wife’s comments as jealously, they ignored a message that may have revealed one of the most experienced Soviet operatives, Harry Houghton.

Money was wasted

Harry Houghton, who worked in the Royal Navy’s scientific research lab for undersea warfare on the island of Portland, is the focus of this story. Ethel Gee, Hutton’s sweetheart, was also employed at the base as a secretary.

According to Russian Foreign Intelligence Service data, Hutton and Ji delivered over 17,000 sheets of secret documents to Moscow.

There were higher-level orders, outlines of the center’s most important research, specifications of English port defensive systems, and detailed battleship weapon reports.

There were more details about the “Dreadnought” nuclear submarine, sonar stations, and submarine defence systems.

In 1956, Alice Hutton began to have reservations about her marriage. She thought something was wrong in 1952, when Harry dropped a wad of money in front of her and scattered them around the room.

As she gathered the fluttering notes, Alice realised she had £150 in her hands, which is equivalent to almost £6,000 today.

Alice also noticed some brown-wrapped document bundles on her husband’s desk. When she opened one of the documents, she saw a “top secret” stamp.

“You know too much!”

Then Alice noticed a small camera beneath the steps of the house. According to his wife, when Hutton learned about it, he stayed mute and did not respond to her scathing words.

According to the evidence shown thus far, Harry repeatedly beat her and attempted to murder her.

She also claimed that her husband drove her to the Portland Bill rocks and attempted to push her off the cliff on one occasion.

“I have to get rid of you,”

he proclaimed while he was heavily intoxicated.

“You know far too much.”

Alice attempted to notify Harry’s management about his strange behaviour.

She informed a personnel officer at a military base in 1956 that her husband was distributing critical information to people who should not have it.

Her statement was conveyed to MI5. They covered up the incident in accordance with military installation management’s advice.

They claimed that Hutton had an affair and split from his wife in 1955, before divorcing a year later. The police eventually concluded that Ellis “made the statements under the influence of emotions and out of pure malice.”

“It is not excluded that all these accusations could be nothing more than the reaction of a jealous and embittered woman.”

He was arrested

Harry Hutton was eventually captured. Michal Goljenjewski, a Polish secret service agent who began secret work for the CIA before fleeing to the United States, revealed it.

In April 1960, Goljenjewski stated that communist Poland was seeking a candidate to work in the office of the British naval attaché in Warsaw. When the agent returned to Britain, the Soviet foreign intelligence service established contact with him.

A background check determined that the man was most likely Harry Houghton. He worked at the British embassy in Warsaw, but was recalled before the end of his term due to excessive alcohol consumption.

The MI5 investigation determined that Houghton began working with the Poles in 1951, most likely at his own initiative.

The British Naval Service decided that the sensitive papers provided by Hutton allowed the USSR to build a new generation of submarines. They were significantly less visible on NATO countries’ radars.

For nearly ten years, Hutton collaborated with the Polish and Soviet secret agencies.

The documents also show that the MI5 service acknowledged that “there is a high probability that they could have discovered Hatton four years earlier,” and that they solely listened to his wife’s comments.

MI5 arranged for Hatton to be traced after discovering he was an enemy secret service agent. As a result, the counterintelligence service saw extraordinary success.

Lovers and James Bond

MI5 was successful in exposing not only Hatton and his mistress, Ethel Gee, who was also a spy, but also other members of the “Portland Spy Network,” including an undercover Soviet foreign service agent named Conan Molodog, who lived in England under the alias Gordon Lonsdale.

A wiretap of Lonsdale’s home revealed that he lived the life of James Bond. In England, a Soviet spy became a successful businessman, constantly switching ladies and expensive automobiles.

Lonsdale was caught while carrying a rucksack containing confidential documents from Ethel G. Leontina Cohen, a British surnamer known as Kroger, and Morris, two other members of the “Portland Spy Network,” were also arrested that day.

They enabled Moscow to receive previously gathered classified intelligence.

It turned out that their small home in a remote part of London was full of spy equipment.

A radio transmitter, a microfilm printer and reader, a lighter with a secret compartment, encryption codes, and seven passports were discovered buried in the floor during the search.

The Cohens each earned 20 years in prison, Hatton and Ethel Gee received 15 years, and Maladog-Lonsdale received a 25-year sentence.

The “Portland Spy Network” revelation drastically affected MI5 activities.

The British Secret Service found for the first time that its adversaries were not only KGB officers acting under diplomatic cover, but also people impersonating Western nations.

Covert intelligence personnel assumed false identities, but their genuine documents and histories were seamlessly integrated into American and British culture.

It was very hard to count such agents.

Negotiations with MI-5

Hutton was 56 years old, and Ji was 47 when they were arrested.

Ji’s letters suggest that she still had feelings for Hatton. “My dear Harry” was the first line of every letter she sent him. “The short time I spent with you was the happiest period of my life,” she said in one of the letters.

The duo was under pressure as they served their sentences.

Mail between agents in prison reveals that Houghton even suggested Ji negotiate with the counterintelligence agency in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Ji, on the other hand, responded by labelling the MI5 officials who read their letters as scoundrels and claiming she would not “scrutinise” it.

Hutton even made the decision to meet Ji once. She then gave another admonition to be quiet: “Don’t discuss anything with them.”  Ji reprimanded Harry for being cowardly and inconsistent, stating, “If not, I’ll have to do another sentence.”

This couple’s story has a happy conclusion. Following their release from prison in 1970, they married shortly thereafter.

Following their exchange for British secret agents, Maladoi and the Cohen couple, both Soviet secret service officers, moved to the USSR.

In the end, will love triumph?

This post was written by Mario Bekes