William Skardon

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Person.png William Skardon   SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
William Skardon.jpg
Died1987 (Age 82)


William Skardon worked for Special Branch during World War 2. After the war Skardon joined MI5 where he distinguished himself as an expert investigator, eventually rising to head section A4 of MI5/A_Branch.


Skardon's expertise at extracting "painless confessions" has been contrasted with the torture used at prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Skardon befriended nuclear physicist Klaus Fuchs to get him into the dock at the Old Bailey.[1]

Peter Wright also claimed that the success of the Fuchs interrogation depended mainly on the detailed brief supplied to Skardon, plus the "listeners" who picked Fuchs' lies to pieces. Skardon's subsequent record in interrogations was considerably less successful, and his success with Fuchs led to these negative results being given too much credence.


Some of Skardon's subsequent failures include:

  • Kim Philby - Who described him as "scrupulously courteous", and was interrogated ten times without result (although apparently never given a free hand)
  • Anthony Blunt - interviewed and cleared 11 times between 1951 and 1964. Finally confessed in 1964 when confronted with incontrovertible evidence.
  • John Cairncross - interviewed and cleared in 1952, despite strong circumstantial evidence being found in Burgess' flat. Left the country very soon after the interrogation but returned in 1967 and confessed when confronted with Blunt's confession.
  • Jim Hill - liaison officer in the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, access was restricted to classified information in 1949 on the basis of VENONA project material, interrogated three times by Skardon in 1959, cleared and access restored. Suspected to be an NKVD agent.


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