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If Britain’s most famous double agent had given himself up, what would have happened?

In 1977, some 14 years after he fled to Moscow, double agent Kim Philby gave a lecture to KGB officers at The Centre, Soviet intelligence headquarters. The lecture, delivered in English, ranged widely over Philby’s long and astonishing career as a communist mole within MI6, but its thrust was a piece of heartfelt advice on a specific aspect of spycraft: the dangers of making a confession.

What, Philby asked rhetorically, should a spy do if he…

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