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Brian Goold-Verschoyle was born in County Donegal into the Anglo-Irish gentry. After he finished his schooling, he moved to England to work as an engineer. However, after visiting his brother in Moscow, he was recruited into Soviet espionage.
He was said by MI5 to be a "naïve supporter" of the Soviet Union; unaware that he was being used to courier messages for the NKVD while he lived in London. He was controlled by Henri Pieck.
Goold-Verschoyle couriered UK agent's reports, mainly from John Herbert King, a Foreign Office clerk. In 1936 he traveled under an assumed name to Moscow to undergo wireless training. Previously he had worked as an engineer. He fell in love with a German Jewish refugee, Lotte Moos, and took her to Moscow against orders, falling foul of his Soviet masters. He was then sent to the Spanish Civil War (Barcelona) on the condition that he broke off all contact with Lotte. However he disobeyed this order.
The flash point was a disagreement with the Soviet ambassador in Valencia, for whom he was working. His increasing anti-Stalinist views may have been a factor in his split with Moscow, as he quickly realised the Soviet Union had no interest in a world revolution which would be independent of Moscow's control. His letters to his family in Ireland reveal a growing sympathy for the anti-Stalinist Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM).
In April 1937 he was asked to report to Barcelona harbour to repair a ship’s radio. When he embarked he was escorted to the radio cabin and the door was locked behind him. He had in effect been kidnapped and when the ship arrived in USSR he was immediately transferred to the Lubyanka (KGB) prison in Moscow. He was eventually sentenced to eight years for counter‑revolutionary Trotskyist activities.
- Walter Krivitsky, I was Stalin's Spy, pp. 115–16. Ian Faulkner Publishing Ltd, Cambridge, 1992
- Barry McLoughlin, Left to the Wolves: Irish Victims of Stalinist Terror
- International Socialism Journal – "Stalin's Irish Victims"
- Dermot Bolger, The Family on Paradise Pier