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Ethel Elizabeth Gee (born 1914 - died before 1992), nicknamed "Bunty", was an Englishwoman who helped her lover spy on their country for the Soviet Union. She was a minor member of the Portland Spy Ring.

Contents

Early life

The daughter of a blacksmith, Ethel Gee lived in Portland, England. She left school at 15 to go to work. In October 1950 she became a filing clerk at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment at Portland. She thus handled top secret documents on Britain's underwater warfare work and HMS Dreadnought, the Royal Navy's first nuclear submarine. A spinster, Gee had little social life, since her spare time was spent looking after aging relatives, including her mother, aunt and uncle.

Life as a spy

In 1958, Gee met Harry Houghton, a former sailor who had become a civil service clerk. Houghton was an alcoholic and his marriage was about to collapse. She began an affair with Houghton, and would pose as his wife when they booked into hotels.

Houghton had been supplying military secrets to spies from Poland and the USSR for some time. Through Gee, he gained accessed to more classified material. In July 1960, Houghton introduced Gee to a man who she claims she only knew as "Alex Johnson", allegedly a commander in the United States Navy. "Johnson" wanted to know how the British handled confidential information provided them by the Americans.

Houghton and Gee were already under surveillance by the British Security Service MI5. A Soviet mole had warned Western intelligence that information was being leaked from Portland. Houghton's extravagance, which went far beyond his salary, made him an obvious suspect.[1]

MI5 identified "Johnson" as Gordon Lonsdale, a Canadian businessman. In reality, he was Konon Trofimovich Molody, a Soviet KGB agent. Gee provided classified material to Houghton, who would photograph it and deliver to Lonsdale in London. On the 6 January 1961 Gee left the naval base with pamphlets that contained details of an ASDIC (sonar) device used to detect submarines.

The following day Houghton and Gee were arrested in London by Special Branch detectives. Also arrested were "Lonsdale", Peter and Helen Kroger (alias Morris and Lona Cohen) - all professional spies working for the Soviets. They were the core members of the Portland Spy Ring.

Trial

Gee at first protested her innocence. Under questioning from the prosecution, however, she finally admitted: "In the light of what transpires now, I have done something terribly wrong, but at that time I did not think I had done anything criminal."

Houghton and Gee were both sentenced to 15 years in prison. The professional spies were exchanged early on for captured British agents and citizens. Gee and Houghton served 9 years, when they were released in 1970.[2] They then married and changed their names. According to research, Gee died sometime between 1981 and 1992.[3]

References

  • Soviet Spy Ring, by Arthur Tietjen, published by Pan Books, (1961)
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