Tomás Harris

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Tomás Harris
MI5 Case Officer Tomás (Tommy) Harris 1942.jpg
Birth nameTomás Joseph Harris
Born(1908-04-10)10 April 1908
Hampstead, United Kingdom
Died27 January 1964(1964-01-27) (aged 55)
Llucmajor, Mallorca, Spain
Allegiance United Kingdom
BranchSecurity Service

Tomás "Tommy" Joseph Harris (10 April 1908 – 27 January 1964) was a Spanish-speaking MI6 officer who worked with Juan Pujol García, an important double agent for the British during World War II, in what became known as the Garbo deception.

Born of a Spanish mother, Enriqueta Rodriguez, and an English father, Lionel Harris, an art dealer specialising in Spanish paintings, he grew up in a Jewish household in Hampstead, his mother having converted to Judaism at the time of the marriage,[1] Harris continued his father's successful art dealing business, and was essentially an amateur artist himself. Harris had an important collection of Spanish prints, especially those of Goya, which was mostly acquired by the British Museum after his death. In fact, Harris, while still alive, had placed his collection on indefinite loan in the British Museum.[2] The British Museum has 708 objects formerly in his collection, including 22 prints he made himself,[3] and in 1981 published Juliet Wilson Bareau's, Goya's Prints, The Tomás Harris Collection in the British Museum.[4]

He had five siblings: William, Morris, Violeta, Conchita, and Enriqueta Harris (1910—2006), an art historian specializing in Spanish art.

Possible double agent[edit]

In 1962, Flora Solomon – a friend of Kim Philby – told Victor Rothschild, who had worked with MI6 during World War II, that she thought that Philby and Tomás Harris had been Soviet spies,[5][incomplete short citation] since the 1930s. "Those two were so close as to give me an intuitive feeling that Harris was more than a friend."[6]

As a result of this information, MI5 sought to interview Harris. However, Harris was killed in a motor accident at Llucmajor, Mallorca, before an interview could occur.[citation needed] It has been suggested that Harris was murdered.[7][incomplete short citation] For example, Chapman Pincher suggested that Harris was killed by Soviet agents to prevent him speaking to MI5:

The police could find nothing wrong with the car, which hit a tree, but Harris's wife, who survived the crash, could not explain why the vehicle had gone into a sudden slide. It is considered possible, albeit remotely, that the KGB might have wanted to silence Harris before he could talk to the British security authorities, as he was an expansive personality, when in the mood, and was outside British jurisdiction. The information, about which MI5 wanted to question him and would be approaching him in Majorca [a.k.a. Mallorca], could have leaked to the KGB from its source inside MI5.[8]

Pincher pointed out that the most likely source of any leak was Roger Hollis, then director-general of MI5 who Pincher controversially claimed was a Soviet agent.[citation needed]

According to Bill Bristow, Tomas Harris's godson, his father, Desmond Bristow, was a very close friend of Tomas Harris and interviewed Juan Pujol (Garbo) before Tommy became Garbo's case officer. He reveals the fact that Tomas Harris funded Philby's book, which he never wrote. Bill Bristow believes Tommy would have known Philby was a KGB operative but was never involved himself, although it was possible.[9]

In a letter dated 8/September/1981[10] from Brian Sewell to Dick Brewis, Brian Sewell wrote:

I had a very long and confidential conversation with an old friend and contemporary of Tomas H last night. It seems clear that TH was involved in espionage, but for the Americans and not the Russians: at his death MI5 managed to suppress information about work done specifically for Eisenhower details of which were know to one particular obit writer.

The “old friend” was probably Anthony Blunt.

Harris and Pujol[edit]

Together they made up a fictional team of 27 fake sub-agents, who were created in order to convince German intelligence that Garbo was a reliable spy. This resulted in what became known as the Garbo deception.

Pujol's and Tomás' network of fictitious agents[edit]

Juan Pujol García
Agent 1
KLM steward
resigned in 1943
Agent 2
William Gerbers
died in
Bootle in 1942
Agent 3
Venezuelan student
in Glasgow
Agent 4
NAAFI waiter
based in Chislehurst
Agent 5
based in
brother of
Agent 6
Field Security
died in 1943
Agent 7
Ex-seaman in
KLM pilot
and courier
Mrs. Gerbers
(paid a pension
by the Germans)
Pilot OfficerAlmura
radio operator
Cousin of
and "Benedict",
residing in
Buffalo, New York
in British 9th
Armoured Division
Head of
MOI Section
Officer in
British 49th
Infantry Division
based in
Leader of
World Aryan Order
Censor in MOIGreek seaman
and deserter
based in London
in Ceylon
Secretary in
Cabinet Office
Indian fanatic
in Exeter
Welsh fascist
in South Wales
in Harwich


  1. ^ Kauffmann, Michael (15 May 2006). "Obituary: Enriqueta Harris". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  2. ^ British Museum,The graphic work of Goya : an exhibition of etchings and lithographs held in the Department of Prints and Drawings of the British Museum, 12th December 1963 to 29th February 1964 (1963), p. 1
  3. ^ British Museum Collection database
  4. ^ British Museum Publications, ISBN ISBN 0714107891
  5. ^ Biography of Flora Solomon
  6. ^ Solomon, F. Baku to Baker Street (1984) p. 226
  7. ^ Biography of Tomás Harris
  8. ^ Pincher, C. Their Trade is Treachery (1981) pp. 169–170
  9. ^ Bristow, Bill (2012). My Father the Spy, Deceptions of an MI6 Office. WBML ePublishing & Media Ltd. ISBN 978-0957285538.
  10. ^ Paul Mellon Centre, BS/2/3/2, [1]


External links[edit]