John Bingham, 7th Baron Clanmorris
|Born||John Michael Ward Bingham
3 November 1908
Haywards Heath, Sussex, England
|Died||6 August 1988(aged 79)|
|Spouse(s)||Madeleine Mary Ebel (1934–1988)|
|Children||Simon Bingham, 8th Baron Clanmorris (b. 1937)
Charlotte Bingham (b. 1942)
|Parents||Arthur Bingham, 6th Baron Clanmorris and Mowbray Leila Cloete|
During the Second World War and for two decades after 1950, Bingham worked for MI5 and was reportedly the inspiration for John LeCarre's character George Smiley.  In 1999 le Carré confirmed that Bingham had been an inspiration for Smiley and in 2000 went further, writing in an introduction to a reissue of one of Bingham's novels that "He had been one of two men who had gone into the making of George Smiley. Nobody who knew John and the work he was doing could have missed the description of Smiley in my first novel". John LeCarre in a BBC Radio "Front Row" interview in 2009 said that Bingham's successful thriller novels, published when the two men worked together at MI5 in the 1950s, inspired LeCarre to write his first two books.
However, newly released documents in the UK National Archives have now shown that Bingham (a "genius spy") not only worked for MI5, but during World War 2 ran a hugely dangerous and very successful deception. From 1942, using the pseudonym "Jack King", he had direct contact with six men and women who believed he was working for the Gestapo and they gave him information on "scores and probably hundreds" of Nazi sympathisers in the UK. Hardened spies were "astonished" by the treachery he unearthed. The plan had been to penetrate Siemens Schuckert (GB) Ltd, the British arm of the German industrial company that was believed to be involved in espionage, until Bingham met a "crafty and dangerous woman" called Marita Perigoe. Of mixed Swedish and German origin, she was married to a member of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, but saw them as "insufficiently extreme". MI5 reported that "She was found to be so violently anti-British and so anxious to do anything in her power to help the enemy that it was felt that special attention should be paid to her." One Nazi sympathiser, Hilda Leech, passed on reports about secret research being undertaken to develop a jet aircraft. An astrologer, Edgar Whitehead, gave details about secret trials on a new amphibious tank. The sympathisers’ hatred for Britain, driven by anti-Semitism and the propaganda of Mosley’s group, was so strong that they "applauded" women and children being killed by German bombs, Bingham's reports show.
Although Bingham is named as the agent running the double cross in the diary of Guy Liddell, MI5’s then head of counter-intelligence, Prof Christopher Andrew, the former official historian of the Security Service, is quoted as saying that he could not comment on "Jack King’s" true identity, as it will never be officially revealed.
Bingham was recruited into MI5 by Maxwell Knight to work in the counter-intelligence and political infiltration based M Section. He had volunteered to serve in the army but a sight defect prevented him from serving in the field. Prior to his service in MI5, Bingham had been the Art Editor of the Sunday Dispatch.
Bingham was the son of Arthur Bingham, 6th Baron Clanmorris and Mowbray Leila Cloete. He was educated at Cheltenham College, and married Madeleine Mary Ebel, daughter of Clement Ebel, on 28 July 1934. He fought in the Second World War, with the Royal Engineers and attached to the General Staff. He succeeded to the title of 7th Baron Clanmorris on 24 June 1960.
- My Name is Michael Sibley (1952)
- Five Roundabouts to Heaven (1953) aka The Tender Poisoner
- The Third Skin (1954) aka Murder is a Witch
- The Paton Street Case (1955) aka Inspector Morgan’s Dilemma
- Marion (1957) aka Murder Off the Record
- television version: Captive Audience episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962)
- Murder Plan Six (1958)
- Night’s Black Agent (1961)
- A Case of Libel (1963)
- A Fragment of Fear (1965)
- film version: Fragment of Fear (1970)
- The Double Agent (1966)
- I Love, I Kill (1968) aka Good Old Charlie
- Vulture in the Sun (1971)
- God’s Defector (1976) aka Ministry of Death
- The Marriage Bureau Murders (1977)
- Deadly Picnic (1980)
- Brock (1981)
- Brock and the Defector (1982)
- The Hunting Down of Peter Manuel (1973) (Written in association with Ex-Detective Superintendent William Muncie)
- 'Baron in search for Ascot house', Evening Press, 28 Feb 2004
- Michael Jago, The Man who was George Smiley: The Life of John Bingham (2013), reviewed by the former Director General of MI5, Stella Rimington, in The Spectator, 2 March 2013, p. 36.
- "Obituary: The Reverend Vivian Green". The Daily Telegraph (London). 2005-01-26. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
- John le Carré, Introduction to John Bingham, My Name is Michael Sibley, London: Pan Classic Crime (2000)
- The National Archives, Kew, file no. KV4/227 p. 9.
- Keating, H. R. F. (1982). Whodunit? – a guide to crime, suspense and spy fiction. London: Windward. ISBN 0-7112-0249-4.
- John Michael Ward Bingham, 7th Baron Clanmorris of Newbrook at thepeerage.com
- John Bingham at the Internet Movie Database
|Peerage of Ireland|
Arthur Morris Robert Bingham
Simon John Ward Bingham