MOSCOW, September 25 (RIA Novosti) – Legendary British spycatcher Ferguson Smith, responsible for arresting some of postwar Britain’s most notorious Cold War traitors, has died at the age of 98, Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper reported.
Smith’s career in Britain’s Special Branch, which was responsible for catching spies and terrorists, stretched over a 36-year period with an intermission for World War II, during which he served as a navigator on bombing missions over Germany, the newspaper’s obituary said.
As a Cold War spycatcher, Smith exposed and arrested Soviet agents intent on stealing British nuclear secrets during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1961 he assisted in the arrest of George Blake, a double agent in British intelligence who fed the KGB details about secret British operations behind the Iron Curtain, the obituary said.
Smith was also instrumental in capturing the naval attaché John Vassall, who supplied Soviet agents with thousands of classified documents. He also helped break up the Portland spy ring, which was selling British nuclear submarine secrets to the Soviet Union. And he once hid in a cupboard to eavesdrop on Klaus Fuchs, a German-born physicist who provided Moscow with details about British and US atomic weapons, The Telegraph said.
When he wasn’t catching spies, Smith was sometimes assigned as a bodyguard to the former King Edward VIII, after the monarch abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. During one trip to London, the obituary said, Smith declined a gratuity offered by the duke with the terse: “I don’t take tips.”
In 1966, Smith was appointed to lead Britain’s Special Branch. After retiring in 1972, he devoted his time to reading poetry and enjoying a quiet life in the countryside, The Telegraph reported. Smith died on September 15.