Leslie James Bennett
Leslie James Bennett
|Died||2003 (aged 82–83)|
|Occupation||counter-intelligence official in the United Kingdom and Canada|
|Known for||accused of being a KGB mole|
Leslie James Bennett (1920 — October 18, 2003) was a British/Canadian citizen who spent most of his working life as a counter-intelligence official, first for Britain's GCHQ, and later for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Security Service. He took an early retirement and moved to Australia.
Bennett was born in Wales, served with the British signals intelligence organization GCHQ during World War II. According to the Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations, Bennett met Kim Philby during World War II, when they were both stationed in Turkey.
While living in Australia in 1950 Bennett married an Australian woman. Later that year he and his wife moved to Canada when he began his 22-year employment as a civilian employee of the RCMP
According to the Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations in 1962 the Central Intelligence Agency's chief of counter-intelligence James Jesus Angleton trusted Bennett to interview a key Soviet defector Anatol Golitsyn. However, Angleton, who was known for being highly suspicious, began to suspect that Bennett might himself be a mole. Angleton opened a dossier on Bennett in 1967. By 1970 Angleton's suspicions grew to the point the RCMP had to conduct an investigation into Bennett. They put him under surveillance, tapped his phone, and bugged his house—including his bedroom. This operation, codenamed "Operation Gridiron" culminated in taking Bennett to a safehouse for a humiliating five-day interrogation. During his interrogation his interrogators asked Bennett embarrassing personal questions about his sex life based on comments captured from the bug in his bedroom. The investigation did not find any evidence that Bennett was a double agent, but his clearance to have access to top secret information was withdrawn, to satisfy American concerns. According to the Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations, when Angleton was removed in 1974, it turned out he never had any real evidence Bennett had ever been disloyal.
After he left the RCMP his wife left him, and returned to Australia with their two daughters. The Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations asserted that he was only able to get menial work.
In 1977 Ian Adams published a short novel entitled S: Portrait of a Spy, about a senior RCMP security official who was a mole. Other commentators would assert that many of the novel's character seemed to be thinly veiled descriptions of real individuals—starting with "S", the titular character, who Paul Hellyer and Peter Worthington would identify as Bennett.
Worthington contacted Bennett, strongly encouraging him to sue Adams. During the civil suit the judge required Adams to name his sources, but allowed Bennett to refuse to testify on the grounds that doing so might reveal secrets that would put national security at risk. Adams and Bennett reached an out of court settlement.  Bennett was paid $30,000—reported to be barely enough to pay his legal expenses.
In 1985 another Soviet defector, Vitali Sergeyevich Yurchenko confirmed there was a Soviet mole in the RCMP, but identified him as another official. According to the Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations the actual mole was Sergeant Gilles G. Brunet. In 1993 The Fifth Estate, an investigative journalism television program from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, profiled Bennett, and interviewed a former KGB director of foreign counter-intelligence, General Oleg Kalugin, who also confirmed another RCMP official was the mole, and that he had never heard of Bennett. The Fifth Estate also identified the mole as Gilles G. Brunet.
According to Dan Mulvenna, a colleague of Bennett, in 1993, after The Fifth Estate profiled Bennett, the then Solicitor General "exonerated" Bennett, and he was given a $100,000 payment. Bennett had been a civilian employee of the RCMP, he was not officially a Mountie, but, according to Mulvenna, due to his long service and the respect felt for him, the organization of retired Mounties made him an honorary member.
"Editor urged Mountie to sue spy novelist". Windsor Star. 1980-12-17. p. 26. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
Toronto Sun editor Peter Worthington was told he had ground for suing novelist Ian Adams in 1977 but instead suggested to former RCMP counter-intelligence chief Leslie James Bennett that he sue Adams for libel, it has been disclosed.
Paul Hellyer (1977-11-27). "Characters are thinly veiled in our very own spy thriller". Ottawa Citizen. p. 12. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
But Kling is a minor figure in the book, which is a fascinating, mischievous and sometimes dangerous mixture of fact, fiction and innuendo. "Au" as author Adams describes himself, uses poetic license and the practice of putting words into other people's mouths as subtle vehicles to discredit the RCMP and especially the CIA.
Richard C. S. Trahair, Robert L. Miller (2013). Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations. Enigma Books. pp. 20–21. ISBN 9781936274253. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
In 1974, when James Angleton was forced to retire from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and inquiry was made into Bennett, it was found that there was no evidence that he had ever been a mole for the KGB and that his loyalty to Canada had always been unquestionable.
"Adams get support". The Sherbrooke Forum. 1980-09-22. p. 16. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
In court, Adams has been ordered to reveal his sources for the book, while Bennett was allowed to hide behind the Official Secrets Act to avoid talking.
Brian Busby (2010). Character Parts: Who's Really Who in CanLit. Random House. ISBN 9780307368584. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court in December 1980. Bennett received $30,000, little more than enough to cover his legal costs, in exchange for dropping the suit. He also signed a release not to launch further actions against the book and any theatrical or film adaptations.
- John Sawatsky (1982). For Services Rendered: Leslie James Bennett and the RCMP Security Service. Doubleday Canada. ISBN 9780385176606. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
"Of Moles and Molehunters: Spy Stories". Center for the Study of Intelligence. October 1993. Archived from the original on 2012-09-27. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
Leslie James Bennett, a longtime civilian employee of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Security Service, was impugned by Clare Petty, then a major conspiracy theorist on Angleton's staff. Angleton could have stopped the ensuing investigation but instead lent it impetus by suggesting that the Mounties consult Golitsyn. That sealed Bennett's doom and in due course brought his dismissal from the service in 1972, even though there was no substantial evidence against him, and he passed his polygraph tests. The case tore the Mounties apart and gave ammunition to those who argued that the internal security service should be removed from the RCMP. Within a few years, Canada had a civilian security service. Sawatsky's book drew considerable attention in Canada but little in the United States.
David Wise (1993-08-15). "A Labyrinth Of Spies: One Victim's Story -- The CIA Thought Canadian Agent Was Really A Mole". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
The day after the TV program aired, Canada's present solicitor general, Doug Lewis, arose in the House of Commons and said: "I want to assure Mr. Bennett and the House that the government of Canada believes that Mr. Bennett was never a KGB mole." Twenty-one years after his dismissal, Bennett had finally been officially cleared by Ottawa.
Dan Mulvenna (2004-04-01). "Old Age Claims RCMP "Mole" of Cold War Era". Archived from the original on 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
Later in 1993 the then Solicitor General of Canada finally and fully exonerated Mr. Bennett in the House of Commons. Subsequently the Government awarded him a lump sum, reportedly around $100,000 CDN, by way of compensation.
"The Fifth Estate EPISODE: 39". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
Leslie James Bennett, wrongly accused of spying for the Soviets, was thrown out of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.