Stephen de Mowbray, last of the great Cold War molehunters – obituary

Stephen de Mowbray, the last of the great “molehunters”, who has died aged 91, ran the MI6 side of a spying operation against senior MI5 officers suspected of being Soviet agents at the height of the Cold War.

De Mowbray, who became unfairly known within MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service) as its “leading conspiracy theorist”, worked with Peter Wright (an expert on bugging who later wrote Spycatcher) and the veteran MI5 officer Arthur Martin in the hunt for a mole at the very top of MI5.

The investigation was prompted by a succession of revelations from Soviet defectors, notably Igor Gouzenko, who defected to Canada in 1945, and Anatoli Golitsyn, a KGB officer who went over to the Americans in 1961, to the effect that there was a Soviet mole in the Security Service, MI5.

The 1950s and early 1960s saw the British establishment rocked by a succession of spy scandals, from the defections of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, the naming of Kim Philby as the so-called Third Man in the Cambridge Spy Ring, to the Profumo scandal.–obitu/

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