Saturday, October 23, 2004

M16 ladder used by Blake to escape Wormwood Scrubs?

UK: George Blake, sentenced to 42 years' imprisonment for spying for the Russians, has by now probably made good his escape. The chances of his being recaptured seemed very remote, 24 hours after he had been missed from Wormwood Scrubs.

Police interviewed former prisoners with whom Blake had come into contact. A special watch was being kept at ports and airports. Blake's escape was almost in the manner of a James Bond. It was learned yesterday that only one bar covering a second storey window in "D" block, where he was housed, had been forced, but this would have been sufficient to allow him to drop the 20 ft. to the ground. Then he would cross the prison road to the outer wall, which is nearly 20 ft. high.

The rope ladder later found hanging inside the prison wall was home made. Each of its 20 rungs consisted of a knitting needle. The needles were covered with grey plastic, with a number 13 at the top. They were manufactured in Britain.

Pot of flowers

Another possible clue was a pot of pink chrysanthemums in green wrapping paper found in Artillery Row, a narrow lane between the Scrubs and Hammersmith Hospital. The wrapping paper bore the name F. Meyers, Gypsy Corner, W 3, and the flowers were fresh. One police theory is that the flowers might have been placed in Artillery Row as a marker for the rope ladder. Alternatively, they might have been used by an accomplice pretending to be a flower seller or to be visiting a patient at Hammersmith hospital.

Blake, who had served 5 1/2 years, was one of 320 long-term prisoners housed in single cells in "D" wing. He had been talking with other prisoners during Saturday's "free period" from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.. He answered the 5.30 p.m. roll call. During the free period prisoners are not under constant supervision. It is therefore the best time to try to escape.

Three theories

A description of Blake, aged 44, emphasises that he is clean-shaven at the time of his trial he wore a beard. The description issued to harbours, airports and police was : 5 ft, 8 in; proportionate build; oval face; swarthy; hazel eyes. When he escaped he was wearing either prison grey or blue overalls and a blue jacket.

There were three theories last night as to how Blake managed to escape:

1 That he got away by himself with the aid of his fellow prisoners. In spite of the home-made rope - ladder, this seems unlikely since the escape was too well organised.

2 He could have been allowed to escape by the British to be employed as a double agent against the Russians.

3 His escape was engineered indirectly by the Russians, and he is now well on the way to, if not yet behind, the Iron Curtain. This is the most likely one.

Blake was sentenced in May 1961 - to the longest prison term recorded in Britain - after pleading guilty to five charges of spying. At his trial at the Old Bailey he admitted to having passed all official documents to which he had access to the Russians over 9 1/2 years. Blake's conversion to communism came during the Korean War when, as British vice-consul in Seoul in 1950, he was captured by the North Koreans and subjected to 17 months' brainwashing. After his release in 1953 he was sent by the Foreign Office to Berlin.

The Home Office ordered an inquiry as soon as the escape was known.

A "Keep Blake Free" committee was formed in London. It felt that it was "sheer hypocrisy" for governments to condemn as traitors those who spied against them.

By Keith Harper posted 25 October 04

Ed: Sounds to me like they let him escape? "The chances of his being recaptured seemed very remote, 24 hours after he had been missed from Wormwood Scrubs."? Since when do authorities make statements like that in relation to an escaped prisoner? M16 writing this article for sure.


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