Geoffrey Harrison

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Sir Geoffrey Harrison
British Ambassador to the Soviet Union
In office
27 August 1965 – 1968
Preceded by Sir Humphrey Trevelyan
Succeeded by Sir Archibald Duncan Wilson
British Ambassador to Iran
In office
3 November 1958 – 1963
Preceded by Sir Roger Stevens
Succeeded by Sir Denis Wright
British Ambassador to Brazil
In office
1 October 1956 – 1958
Preceded by Geoffrey Harington Thompson
Succeeded by Geoffrey Wallinger
Personal details
Born Geoffrey Wedgwood Harrison
(1908-07-18)18 July 1908
Southsea, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Died 12 April 1990(1990-04-12) (aged 81)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Amy Katherine Clive (m. 1935)
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Occupation Diplomat

Sir Geoffrey Wedgwood Harrison GCMG KCVO (18 July 1908 – 12 April 1990) was a British diplomat, who served as the United Kingdom's ambassador to Brazil, Iran and the Soviet Union. Harrison's tenure in Moscow was terminated in 1968, when he was recalled to London after his admission to the Foreign Office that he had an affair with his Russian maid, later revealed as a KGB "honey trap" operation.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Harrison was born in Southsea, Hampshire. His parents were Thomas Edmund Harrison, a Commander in the Royal Navy, and Maud Winifred Godman. He was educated at Winchester College in Hampshire and then at King's College, Cambridge. He joined the Foreign Office in 1932 and was posted to Japan and Germany before the outbreak of World War II.[3] On 2 July 1935, he married Amy Katherine Clive (the daughter of Sir Robert Clive, the British Ambassador to Japan) at the embassy in Tokyo.[4]

Diplomatic career[edit]

In October 1932, Harrison was appointed as a Third Secretary in His Majesty's Diplomatic Service,[5] and in October 1937, he was promoted to Second Secretary.[6] In July 1942, he was Acting First Secretary.[7]

As a junior diplomat at the Foreign Office, Harrison drafted a memorandum, "The Future of Austria", which greatly contributed to the notion of Austria as an independent state. Harrison also contributed to the British draft declaration on Austria for the 1943 Moscow Declaration.[8]

He was also the principal drafter of Article XII of the Potsdam Agreement, which concerned the expulsion of ethnic Germans from central and eastern Europe after World War II.[9]

On 1 October 1956, Harrison was granted his first ambassadorship, as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Brazil.[10] On 3 November 1958, he was transferred to Tehran as Ambassador to Iran/Persia.[11] Between 1963 and 1965, Harrison was based in London as Deputy Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office.[12]

On 27 August 1965, Harrison was appointed as Ambassador to the Soviet Union.[13] In 1968, he engaged in a brief affair with a Russian chambermaid who was working at the British Embassy. Harrison recalled not asking or knowing if she worked for the KGB, but he said that it was assumed that every Soviet employee at the embassy worked or was an agent for the Soviet secret service. When security concerns arose over the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, and he had been sent incriminating photographs taken by the KGB,[14] Harrison informed the Foreign Office of his indiscretion, which immediately terminated his appointment and recalled him to Britain. Harrison revealed the affair to The Sunday Times newspaper in 1981.[15]

The journalist and author John Miller, who was part of the British press corps in the Soviet Union at the time of Harrison's ambassadorship, revealed more details of the affair in his memoir All Them Cornfields and Ballet in the Evenings: Miller named the maid with whom Harrison was involved as Galya Ivanov and said he was told that by a Russian contact that she was not only a KGB agent but also the sister of Eugene Ivanov, the Soviet naval attaché in Britain involved in the Profumo Affair.[16]


Harrison was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the New Year Honours of 1955.[17]

In the 1968 Queen's Birthday Honours, he became a Knight Grand Cross of the Order (GCMG).[18]

On 6 March 1961, Harrison was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO).[19]


  1. ^ West, Nigel (2007). Historical dictionary of cold war counterintelligence. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 155. ISBN 0810864630. 
  2. ^ "Journalist Regales With Insider Tales of Soviet Life". The St. Petersburg Times. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  3. ^ International Who's Who 1990–91. Europa Publications. 1990. ISBN 0946653585. 
  4. ^ "Ambassador's Daughter to Marry". The Straits Times. 21 June 1936. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33888. p. 7663. 2 December 1932.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34497. p. 2085. 29 March 1938.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35990. p. 1871. 23 April 1943.
  8. ^ Steininger, Rolf (2008). Austria, Germany, and the Cold War : from the Anschluss to the State Treaty 1938–1955 (English ed.). New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 1845453263. 
  9. ^ Zayas, Alfred-Maurice de (1994). A terrible revenge: the ethnic cleansing of the east European Germans, 1944-1950 (1st pbk. ed. with new material ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312121598. 
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 40930. p. 6575. 20 November 1956.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 41579. p. 7766. 19 December 1958.
  12. ^ Louis, S.R. Ashton, Wm Roger (2004). East of Suez and the Commonwealth: 1964–1971 (1st ed.). London: The Stationery Office, published for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in the University of London. ISBN 011290582X. 
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 43803. p. 10076. 29 October 1965.
  14. ^ Lilleker, Darren G. (2004). Against the Cold War : the history and political traditions of pro-Sovietism in the British Labour Party 1945–89. London: Tauris. p. 9. ISBN 1850434719. 
  15. ^ "Former diplomat admits affair with maid". Lakeland Ledger. 22 February 1981. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  16. ^ Miller, John (2010). All Them Cornfields and Ballet in the Evening. Hodgson Press. pp. 260–261. ISBN 1906164126. 
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40366. p. 5. 31 December 1954.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44600. p. 4. 31 May 1968.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: no. 42305. p. 2057. 17 March 1961.

External links[edit]

  • Wilson Visits Podgorny, 1968, British Pathé film of Sir Geoffrey Harrison with Prime Minister Harold Wilson, meeting Soviet head of state Nikolai Podgorny
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Thompson
British Ambassador to Brazil
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Wallinger
Preceded by
Sir Roger Stevens
British Ambassador to Iran
Succeeded by
Sir Denis Wright
Preceded by
Sir Humphrey Trevelyan
British Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Succeeded by
Sir Duncan Wilson
Government offices
Preceded by
Viscount Hood
Deputy Under Secretary of State
for the Foreign Office

Succeeded by
Sir Bernard Burrows