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Photograph of the Month - July 2013

Past display archive
1 July - 31 July 2013

Room 31


Kim Philby
by Jimmy Wilds for Keystone Press Agency Ltd,
vintage print,
9 November 1955

This photograph shows Philby at his mother's home where he called a press conference to announce that Harold Macmillan had cleared him from any suspicion of being a spy at this time.

This Photograph of the Month is shown in the context of three additional photographs from the collection.

Fifty years ago, in July 1963, the high-ranking intelligence officer Kim Philby was uncovered as a Soviet double-agent. After developing communist sympathies whilst at Cambridge University, his political convictions were strengthened when he witnessed fighting between socialists and fascists in Vienna in 1933. Shorty after, he was recruited to spy for the Soviet Union along with fellow Cambridge students Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. In 1940, Philby joined MI6 and quickly climbed the ranks to the position of chief intelligence officer in Washington. When Maclean was exposed as a Soviet spy in 1951, Philby was interrogated but was officially cleared. However, in 1962 suspicions were confirmed when Philby was implicated in evidence given by KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn. In January 1963 Philby confessed to being a Soviet spy but escaped to Moscow. His defection was officially announced on the 1July and within the month Moscow had granted him Soviet citizenship.

Previous Photographs of the Month