John Bingham, 7th Baron Clanmorris

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The Lord Clanmorris
John Michael Ward Bingham

(1908-11-03)3 November 1908
Died6 August 1988(1988-08-06) (aged 79)
Spouse(s)Madeleine Mary Ebel (1934–died 1988)
ChildrenSimon Bingham, 8th Baron Clanmorris (b. 1937)
Charlotte Bingham (b. 1942)
Parent(s)Arthur Bingham, 6th Baron Clanmorris and Mowbray Leila Cloete

John Michael Ward Bingham, 7th Baron Clanmorris (3 November 1908 – 6 August 1988) was a former MI5 spy and an English novelist who published 17 thrillers, detective novels and spy novels.


During the Second World War and for two decades after 1950, Bingham worked for MI5, and had long been said to be the inspiration for John le Carré's character George Smiley.[1][2] In 1999 le Carré confirmed that Bingham had been an inspiration for Smiley[3] 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".[4] John le Carré wrote that Bingham encouraged him to write his first novel, Call for the Dead (1961), while still being an active MI5 officer, and 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 him to write his first two books.

Jack King speculation[edit]

In February 2014, MI5 released files at the National Archives on the "Fifth Column" operation, which aimed to identify British Nazi sympathizers during World War II. Some newspapers named Bingham as the agent at the heart of the operation[5], but the release of more files in October 2014 corrected this, and named the agent as Eric Roberts, a former bank clerk from Epsom.[6]

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.[7]

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.

Bingham's first novel, My Name is Michael Sibley (1952), was unusual for its time in suggesting that the British police might not always play fair.[8]


Crime Fiction[edit]

  • My Name Is Michael Sibley (1952)
  • Five Roundabouts to Heaven (1953) a.k.a. The Tender Poisoner
  • The Third Skin (1954) a.k.a. Murder is a Witch
  • The Paton Street Case (1955) a.k.a. Inspector Morgan’s Dilemma
  • Marion (1957) a.k.a. Murder Off the Record
  • Murder Plan Six (1958)
  • Night’s Black Agent (1961)
  • A Case of Libel (1963)
  • A Fragment of Fear (1965)
  • The Double Agent (1966)
  • I Love, I Kill (1968) a.k.a. Good Old Charlie
  • Vulture in the Sun (1971)
  • God’s Defector (1976) a.k.a. Ministry of Death
  • The Marriage Bureau Murders (1977)
  • Deadly Picnic (1980)
  • Brock (1981)
  • Brock and the Defector (1982)

Non Fiction[edit]

  • The Hunting Down of Peter Manuel (1973) (Written in association with Ex-Detective Superintendent William Muncie)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'Baron in search for Ascot house'[permanent dead link], Evening Press, 28 Feb 2004
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Obituary: The Reverend Vivian Green". The Daily Telegraph. London. 26 January 2005. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  4. ^ John le Carré, Introduction to John Bingham, My Name is Michael Sibley, London: Pan Classic Crime (2000)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Travis, Alan (24 October 2014). "Revealed: the British bank clerk who foiled Hitler's collaborators". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  7. ^ The National Archives, Kew, file no. KV4/227 p. 9.
  8. ^ Keating, H. R. F. (1982). Whodunit? – a guide to crime, suspense and spy fiction. London: Windward. ISBN 0-7112-0249-4.

External links[edit]

Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Arthur Morris Robert Bingham
Baron Clanmorris
Succeeded by
Simon John Ward Bingham