16 February 2007

Open letter to Professor Christopher Andrew

Dear Professor Andrew,

You have taken your place amongst historians as a respected academic, but this is a thin disguise for your true vocation, as the Cambridge Parrot. You have a parrot’s loquacity, and you love to repeat the words of your masters; in reality you are merely a pet - a mouthpiece for MI5 and MI6. Your party trick may be to mimic some well rehearsed phrases, but you are also quite happy to repeat unproven sources as evidence, and even material from newspapers as reliable research.

The Cambridge Parrot

In 1993, following my trial under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act, I was sentenced to 25 years in prison based on some very doubtful evidence. I looked around for help to uncover the truth behind the allegations and anomalies in the intelligence, and a friend recommended me to approach you. On 25 March 1996 I wrote a letter asking for your help, but you never acknowledged or even replied to that letter. In hindsight it was hardly surprising that you didn’t reply, as at that time I was unaware you were (literally) in bed with our intelligence services. Also, it was only years later I learned that in the same month of March 1996 you were being groomed as the person who would publicise material from Mitrokhin’s so-called “archive”.

A major Prosecution argument at my trial was an allegation that I had been sent on a KGB training mission to Oporto in 1977. Although in reality this was only a camping and driving holiday with a friend, you must have been aware this was key evidence that led to my conviction - it was well-publicised in all major newspapers at the time of my trial and Appeal in 1993 and 1995. The key exhibit, which the Prosecution claimed supported their KGB story, was a tourist street map marked with various crosses that indicated the bus stops and a restaurant we had used during our stay in Oporto.

So was that the reason why you never replied to my letter in 1996, or why you have never questioned the evidence anywhere in the years since? Because Professor Andrew, that “official” story at my trial does not agree with what you wrote in your book, “The Mitrokhin Archive” (1999). What you are saying is that the Mitrokhin papers contradict the “official” story, when you wrote on pages 551 and 552 that I was sent on training missions to Spain (apparently in 1977), and to Lisbon (again, apparently, in 1979). Where does the city of Oporto come into your version of the story?

In January 2007 the Portuguese journalist Frederico Duarte Carvalho published an article about my case in the Lisbon magazine Focus, and an English language translation of this piece has been published on Cryptome:


It is clear that the Portuguese aspects of the evidence against me were some sort of imaginative creation of MI5.

But then you are not the sort of person who likes to admit you are wrong, you would rather leave us to puzzle over why the Prosecution case at my trial, and your claims in the Mitrokhin Archive, simply do not agree with each other. Your help in correcting that “mistake” about Oporto would have been invaluable to my Defence, but as things stood it allowed the Prosecution evidence to stand. That evidence allowed the Prosecution to call the American witness known as Mr “E”, who was used to introduce damaging material into my trial. Mr “E” had been living in London in the late 1970s, and was recruited to the KGB by Viktor Oshchenko. Documents from the debriefing of this American citizen are published on Cryptome:


I would like to know Professor Andrew, where does this Mr “E” appear in your books, because he seems to be a key player in Soviet spying in the UK? However, you knew that the CPS needed a connection with Portugal to introduce their star witness, Mr E, and the Oporto map provided them with that convenient link. In fact, I believe you have confused Mr E’s story with my case, and that is the reason why he does not appear in your book - I think Mr E’s KGB training missions are being attributed to me.

I have been documenting some of the material about what really happened on my blog:


You would have known that Mitrokhin had been in contact with British Intelligence before my arrest, and that there was no allegation about Oporto having been involved in my case. But then you are a trained parrot, you know when to remain silent!

Even an independent writer on intelligence matters, Trowbridge Ford, has put a question mark over where your true loyalties lie:


I now want to turn to a separate issue, which is my observation that I would not expect an academic historian to be merely a purveyor of dry detail from the past. Even historians are human, and they can interpret the human condition from the past, and empathise with situations that people had to endure at difficult periods in history. This is where I find you to differ from the normal - you are quite devoid of any human feelings.

I refer particularly to the case of Nelli Genkova. It was your false conclusions that caused this completely innocent and harmless Bulgarian woman extreme suffering. When your flawed work was pointed out to you, Professor Andrew, you tried to deny you had done anything wrong, and you had to be dragged to court in order for Nelli to correct the lie you had published in your book, “The Mitrokhin Archive”. It might be perceived that you were a misogynist, or that you hold some grudge against the Bulgarian people, but you do not come out of that episode particularly well.

I print below the statement made on behalf of Nelli by her sister. None of Nelli’s family or friends could understand why she had been singled out by you, and denounced in the way she was. The only explanation that makes any sense is that she was made to suffer in order to indirectly punish John Symonds, and that it was British Intelligence who were ultimately behind The Parrot.

Justice for Nelli

I am writing this statement in the hope that British justice will prevail and that the ordeal of these past terrible months during which the health of my sister Nelli has severely deteriorated and her good reputation has been destroyed, will come now to an end.

The period of time between 17-23rd Sept. 1999 was a nightmare for our family. The Bulgarian media “uncovered” and denounced my sister as a KDS agent during the 70s when the KDS (Directorate for State Security) was the main instrument of the communist repression in our country. At the first moment I could not believe that such an absurdity could be printed. This is an extremely serious accusation for all honest and intelligent Bulgarians. Such a libel can ruin a sensitive person like my sister. I am happy now that she has managed to recover enough to start her fight for justice.

My sister is a fighter in the mould of our father who was a respected professor and the rector of the Institute of Agriculture, Sofia. As a student he came to believe in the socialist idea, for a world of better justice, beguiled by the communist ideal, as were many other intelligent people all over the world in the 1930s.

Our father was one of those highly educated people who could make their children and students believe that words like honesty, dignity, incorruptibility, patriotism and national pride are not hollow and devoid of meaning. This was during that time when only someone who was living in Bulgaria could understand the morass of utter baseness and lies which encompassed us all. Our father gave us courage and faith that whilst there were people like him, there was hope that Bulgaria would find a way to democracy.

Our father had realized that the ideals of his youth had nothing to do with what happened when the dictator Todor Zhivkov came to power. That was why he started to oppose him with all the means he had. There was not a single occasion at the meetings of scientific and academic councils when he did not stand by his principles on the discussed scientific and political issues, without being afraid, and without worrying about whom of the men in power he might offend. I personally witnessed this.

Our father’s professionalism and his solid scientific career formed the basis of this stance, for example he published more than 120 scientific papers, he authored students’ manuals and books of instruction, he also wrote scientific books and contributions to encyclopaedias.

In connection with this example, and as I myself am a person with a career in science, I must express my doubts about the professionalism of this professor from Cambridge because I have before me the example of our father. A scientist by vocation researches and publishes only facts which have been checked and re-checked to ensure their authenticity beyond doubt.

In the case of my sister Nelli instead of dealing with the alleged “facts” in such a way, this Cambridge professor took the liberty to write an unchecked (or invented) base libel worthy of appearing in the “yellow” press but not in any so-called “authoritative” book.

I gather that for this gentleman Bulgaria is a country populated by all sorts of riff-raff and dregs of society. For that reason it is of no consequence for him to besmear the honourable name of one of us. “What does it matter, so what - she is only some Bulgarian woman.”

Our country is small, but it has been established for more than one thousand and three hundred years, its people are dignified and proud. As to the fact we are now poor, for our father and scores of people like him, money was not of great consequence. For him (and he brought us up to believe in this too) it is more important for a man to hold his head high and not to bend his back to any creature lacking in intelligence, but having a solid position in the Communist Party thus enjoying material wealth and power.

When I learned from the newspapers that my sister was declared an agent of the KDS I could not believe my eyes. For I had observed the whole difficult life of Nelli. It was in a way quite a lonely life because any relationship with her was not always safe for her acquaintances. This was because she also never bent her back. Wherever she worked she would not accept injustices silently. For that reason she often lost her job. Twice she was not awarded good posts after successfully winning open competitions for them.

Nelli was not afraid to collect and tell political jokes, such jokes were an important vent for us. I think that for the people from the west this may sound ludicrous but at that time the situation in Bulgaria was frightful. For listening to and spreading such jokes, which were considered treasonous against Todor Zhivkov’s rule you paid a very high price, and you could be even killed. For telling such a political joke Alexander - “the sweet”, one of the most talented and loved musicians in Bulgaria was taken to a labour camp and killed for this “crime”.

When I read the newspapers mentioning my sister I immediately went to see her. She categorically refused to talk to me. I tried everything but she would not say a word. It was obvious that she was in a state of severe shock. I could not convince her to go to her doctor. I would like to explain to Professor Andrew that the accusation “an agent of KDS” is extremely serious for Bulgarian people. During all those long and oppressive years the three letters KDS inspired terror. We associated these letters KDS with repression, breaking peoples lives and to the people carrying out these activities with the utmost baseness.

And so, according to this dubious author Andrew, my sister was an agent of that oppressive machine. I would like to point out to him that if that had been true, my sister would not have had to endure the hard life which she had chosen for herself.

After Nelli refused to talk with me about the newspaper publications I got in touch with some of her close friends. They were very reserved and more than cool. I realized that they did not want to have anything to do with her. Nelli lost most of her private students for the same reason, My sister continued to keep silent. She refused to see anybody including myself. And she was visibly getting thinner and thinner.

My nephew, Nelli’s son, was also suffering and he even tried to defend his mother’s name by using his fists. Sometimes I even think that it was better that our father did not live long enough to read what was written in the newspapers for it would have surely killed him.

Nelli met John twenty-five years ago. He was an Englishman working in Bulgaria and they undoubtedly fell in love. This relationship was not approved of by our authorities, and I remember how my sister was summoned to the militia station several times. There she was threatened and intimidated in order to stop her relationship with John, but Nelli never gave in to them. I was so much afraid that some day Nelli would disappear and I would never learn what had happened to her. At that time many people disappeared without trace after answering summons to the militia station. After John left the country my sister never took any interest in any other men and devoted her life entirely to work and caring for our mother and her son.

Not so long ago Nelli asked me to become her witness. I felt a great relief that she was now determined to fight for justice and to clear her name. I cannot but feel rage towards the authors of the book who smeared my sister’s good reputation, harmed her health and deprived her of her friends. The fact that we come from a small and poor country destroyed by a totalitarian communist regime does not give the right to anybody to hurt the feelings and dignity of a Bulgarian woman, even less to a pseudo scholar tempted by the financial gain from exploiting cheap and dishonourable sensationalism.

Dr. Iva Genkova

You finally had to apologise in 2003, didn’t you Professor Andrew? You conceded that you were wrong.

Professor Christopher Andrew's letter of apology

Who’s a pretty boy now then?

I will not say what I think of you. I think that is really for John Symonds to say:

“In my opinion Professor Andrew does not fit the popular conception of a Cambridge Don; he is a pseudo historian. I am sure he will be despised by the real historians of our time. He has sold his integrity in the public market place, and he is an attention-seeker.

The apology to Nelly must destroy the myth of the ‘infallible historian’ that he has built up around himself. No real historian would write a definitive book without being allowed to see the core material, which was all written in Russian, of which Andrew understands not a word. All he was given were summaries prepared by the KGB, or rather spun summaries by MI5 of KGB summaries, of the actual documents - it was really a three-stage process of hearsay, a classic case of Chinese whispers.”

Yes, one would expect a true academic to be very thorough in conducting research, to go back to the original sources, and talk to those with first hand evidence. However, I get the impression that for Professor Andrew he thinks it satisfactory to conduct his research in newspapers, and to use hearsay from other second-hand sources; after all it is much easier to do that. No wonder he has got it so wrong. I do not think this way of working would be acceptable when writing fiction, but it is inexcusable when one realises we are here concerned with historical fact.

Professor Andrew, I apologise for comparing you to a parrot, that is quite an insult to parrots, because they are more intelligent than you.

And finally, isn’t it is about time the original text of Mitrokhin’s so-called “Archive” was available to be read by the British public.

Yours sincerely,
Michael John Smith