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Stalin's Super Agent

Maverick Spy front jacket


A few years before he died James MacGibbon told his son Hamish that as a British Intelligence officer during World War II, he had spied for the Soviet Union. Further research into restricted Soviet military intelligence records revealed that his reports were of huge value to the Russian war effort. They included detailed plans for D Day.

After the war MI5 discovered what he had done, via a listening device placed in British Communist Party headquarters. A massive surveillance exercise was imposed on MacGibbon and his household. Mail and telephone intercepts, a bug in his house, and extensive tailing by a team of MI5 operatives. And two heavy sessions with the Security Service’s famous senior interrogation officer.

This book tells the extraordinary story.

One of its coincidences concerns John Le Carré. When his great novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was handled by James as his literary agent, from his time in the Security Service Le Carré was aware of James’s espionage although James never knew this.

The spying apart, the MI5 reports of MacGibbon’s private life and intimate conversations at home make compelling, sometimes touching reading.


‘His material was immensely important to the Russian war effort’

Neal Ascherson, historian of World War II and leading journalist.

‘His contribution to the Soviet Union was probably more valuable
than the espionage of Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five’

Magnus Linklater, The Times.

James in Berlin 1933 where he learned fluent German, an accomplishment which led to his recruitment by Military Intelligence in 1941.

James with his girlfriend, second right, in Berlin 1933. During his time in the city he learned fluent German which led to his recruitment by British military intelligence in 1941.

Ivan Kozlov the Soviet Military Intelligence officer in London who probably inducted James as a spy for the Soviet Union in 1942.

Ivan Kozlov the foreign intelligence officer in London who probably inducted James as a spy for the Soviet Union in 1942.
Jim Skardon

Jim Skardon with pipe, MI5’s formidable interrogating officer who grilled James in the 1950s.

Major James MacGibbon in June 1944.

Major James MacGibbon: his passport photograph taken before his departure for Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington, June 1944.

A number of trigger words, phrases and subjects would have been high on any MI5 operatives surveillance exercise, including;



German invasion of Russia – Barbarossa – Stalingrad – Siege of Leningrad – Antony Beevor – David Aaronovitch – My family and other communists – Richard Overy – Vasily Grossman – Comintern – Battle of Moscow – Molotov – Ribbentrop – Soviet  spies – Kim Philby – Donald Maclean – Guy Burgess – Richard Sorge – GRU – Red Army – Red Army Intelligence Corps – Intelligence Corps – MI5 – Security Service – Secret Intelligence Service – MI6 – Sir Stewart Menzies – Sir Vernon Kell – Sir David Petrie – Jim Skardon – Enigma – Ultra – Bletchley – Communist Party of Great Britain – James MacGibbon – Harry Pollitt – Spy Catcher – Chapman Pincher – Peter Wright – Bob Stewart – Jim Skardon – D Day plans – Overlord plans – Rankin – International Brigade

The Author

Hamish MacGibbon and The Maverick Spy

The author was a publisher for fifty years.

After his retirement, he researched and wrote Maverick Spy. He lives with his wife in Hampstead, not far from his son and two daughters.

The picture shows him today outside the house in St John’s Wood, London, where his father and his family were the target of MI5’s massive surveillance exercise in the 1950s.

The author today outside 30 St Ann’s Terrace, the family home which was under intense MI5 surveillance in the 1950s.
The author today outside the house where James MacGibbon and 
his family were the target of MI5’s massive surveillance exercise.

About Maverick Spy

Table of contents


1. Son of the Manse
2. ‘Ma voisine chez Shakespeare’
3. Spain
4. The Party and British Attitudes to the USSR
5. War: James Recruited by the Intelligence Corps
6. The Family in Berkshire, 1940-1941
7. Barbarossa
8. Natasha
9. Code Name ‘Dolly’
10. The Red Army: From Disaster Towards Victory
11. Tehran and the D-Day Plans
12. ‘He’ll be wearing yellow boots’
13. The Good Life in America
14. The Security Service Takes an Interest
15. A New Author; A New Firm
16. ‘Not the way it’s generally done’
17. A Visit from Mr Skardon
18. Mr White Misses the Plane
19. A New Director: Would He Fit In?

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Maverick Spy Back of Jacket

Hamish MacGibbon: