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Kim Philby's 11 Tips On How To Become A Double Agent And Steal Secrets From The World's Most Famous Intelligence Service

'That was the most blatant intrigue against a man I rather liked.'

04/04/2016 16:02 | Updated 04 April 2016
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A still of Kim Philby delivering his masterclass on spying in 1981

Never-seen before footage has revealed new insight into the life and times of Britain's most infamous spy, and gives wannabe snoops key insights on how to succeed in the cloak and dagger world of espionage. 

Video of a secret lecture given by Kim Philby in 1981 was unearthed by the BBC and details how the ex-MI6 officer rose up the ranks of British intelligence before defecting to become a Russian spy. 

In the video Philby is seen delivering a masterclass in betrayal. Speaking to the East German Intelligence Service, the Stasi, Philby details the unlikely attributes that saw him picked to become a double-agent, and offers tips on how to rise up the ranks of MI6 while secretly passing on intelligence to Soviet contacts in the KGB.

Here's Philby's 11 top tips:

(story continues below)

 

  • 1 Speak to no one about anything... ever... be invisible
    Getty
    After being welcomed to the lectern in the video, Philby warned those gathered that he was "no public speaker" having, not surprisingly, spent "most of my life trying to avoid publicity of any kind". And he had been successful at it. 

    Previously, the best known video of Philby was of him giving a 1955 press conference in his mother's London flat, and on that occasion he said very little, only denying he was a communist.
  • 2 Keep yourself available for all opportunities by not having any ambition.. or job prospects
    lisafx via Getty Images
    Philby said the most surprising thing about his recruitment was that it happened at all since he had no real job prospects at that time.

    "It was essentially a long range project. No immediate results were expected or could have been expected."

    However, he said his Soviet contact did offer him some direction.

    "It was made perfectly clear to me that the best target in the eyes of the Centre in Moscow would be the British Secret Service."
  • 3 Play up your social status
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    Philby says in the video: “Because I had been born into the British governing class, because I knew a lot of people of an influential standing, I knew that they would never get too tough with me.

    “They’d never try to beat me up or knock me around, because if they had been proved wrong afterwards, I could have made a tremendous scandal.”

    Philby said there were two reasons he got away with his espionage for so long. The first was the British class system, which could not accept one of their own was a traitor, and the second was the fact that so many in MI6 had so much to lose if he was proven to be a spy. 

    Philby did officially leave MI6 but remarkably was soon taken back.

    Philby was the son of a British empire official in India and was privately educated before attending Cambridge University.
  • 4 Find a legitimate way to be nosey and begin passing on information and dropping hints
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    Philby used the cover of journalism, reporting on the civil war in Spain for The Times newspaper, to build up contacts in the establishment.

    While doing so he dropped hints that he wanted to work for the government and filed reports to British intelligence. 

    He was later interviewed and accepted in to the inner sanctum of the British state - the Secret Intelligence Service - SIS (or as it is popularly known MI6).
  • 5 If you want to make friends, buy them drinks...
    Getty
    Philby said he obtained files which had nothing to do with his own job by making friends with the archivists who managed the documents, by taking them out for drinks two or three times a week. 
  • 6 Exploit the incompetence of your colleagues..
    H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock via Getty Images
    Philby explained why it was so easy to obtain the documents: "If there had been proper discipline in the handling of papers in SIS that would have been quite impossible.

    "But there was, in fact, no discipline."
  • 7 Keep it simple
    Jupiterimages via Getty Images
    Long before Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and the Panama Papers were leaked, Philby proved just how simple it was to steal secrets. 

    This is how he did it: "Every evening I left the office with a big briefcase full of reports that I had written myself, full of files and actual documents from the archive.

    "I used to hand them to my Soviet contact in the evening.

    "The next morning I would get the files back, the contents having been photographed and early the next morning I would put them back in their place. That I did regularly year in year out."
  • 8 Encourage your enemies to pursue their hobbies
    Mike Harrington via Getty Images
    In one telling anecdote, Philby revealed how he was able to escape detection as a double-agent after being fingered as a traitor.

    The agent sent to keep an eye on him could not resist going skiing after hearing that fresh snow had fallen on the Lebanese mountains.
  • 9 Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty... rise up the ranks by dethroning the boss
    Holloway via Getty Images
    After being appointed number two in a new MI6 section devoted to countering Soviet espionage, Soviet agent Philby was told by his KGB handler to get the top job - chief of the service’s anti-Soviet department - by removing his boss, Felix Cowgill. 

    Philby asked his handler, "Are you proposing to shoot him or something?" 

    However, he was to use bureaucratic intrigue.

    "So I set about the business of removing my own chief. You oughtn't to listen to this," he told the the audience of secret service officers to considerable laughter.

    "It was a very dirty story - but after all our work does imply getting dirty hands from time to time but we do it for a cause that is not dirty in any way," Philby explained.

    "I have to admit that was the most blatant intrigue against a man I rather liked and I admired but the instructions stood and nothing I could do would alter them."
  • 10 Turn failure into success... spin the truth
    Foto Bureau Nz Limited via Getty Images
    There is one episode which is usually cited to illustrate the human cost of Philby's treachery, the BBC reported.

    When he was posted to Washington DC as MI6's liaison with the CIA and FBI, he was said to have betrayed an operation to secretly send thousands of Albanians back into their country to overthrow the communist regime. As a result many were killed.

    In his lecture, Philby turned spin doctor, claiming he had in fact helped prevent prevent World War Three.

    He claims that if he had not compromised the operation, the CIA and MI6 would have tried it again in countries like Bulgaria, leading to the Soviet Union becoming involved - and ultimately - leading to an all-out war.
  • 11 If caught admit nothing
    Henrik Sorensen via Getty Images
    Philby finished his tutorial with one piece of advice to the spies gathered before him that had served him well: Never confess.

    "If they confront you with a document with your own handwriting then it's a forgery - just deny everything…

    "They interrogated me to break my nerve and force me to confess. And all I had to do really was keep my nerve.

    "So my advice to you is to tell all your agents that they are never to confess."
PA/PA Archive
Philby died in Moscow in 1988 just before the collapse of the Communist ideal which he had spent his life serving

Kim Philby, who was born in Indian in January 1912, was recruited by Britain as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1946.

Eighteen years later, in 1963, he was exposed as a Russian double agent. 

Philby was educated at Cambridge University where he was first drawn to communism by an economics lecturer. He then went on to travel in Austria, where he fell in love with a young communist named Litzi Friedmann.

Philby would later be exposed as a member of the spy ring known as the Cambridge Five - a group educated at Cambridge and recruited by the Soviet Union during the Second World War.

Philby died in Moscow in 1988 just before the collapse of the Communist ideal which he had spent his life serving.

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