Vic Allen

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Vic Allen (12 January 1923 – 26 October 2014) was a British sociologist, historian, economist and emeritus professor at the University of Leeds who worked closely with British trade unions, the peace movement and anti-apartheid activists. He was revealed to have been an "agent of influence" for the East German Stasi secret police in 1999.[1][2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Connah's Quay, Flintshire Vic Allen left school at fifteen with no qualifications and became an apprentice bricklayer. He worked as a bricklayer before and after service in the RAF in World War II. During this time, he became an accomplished amateur boxer competing at a national level. While working as a bricklayer, he began to be educated in Marxism and socialism by fellow workers who lent him books. He became more politicised after being sacked from a site for joining a trade union.

Academic career[edit]

Allen went up to the London School of Economics in 1946 and gained a BSc in Economics in 1949 followed by a PhD. His PhD thesis was published in 1954 as "Power in Trade Unions".

Allen was appointed a Lecturer in Industrial Relations in the School of Economic Studies at the University of Leeds in 1959, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 1963, Reader in 1970 and Professor of the Sociology of Industrial Society in 1973.[5] He retired from Leeds in 1988 with the title Emeritus Professor.[6][7]

Other activities[edit]

Allen was the official historian of the British National Union of Mineworkers,[8][9] a confidante of Arthur Scargill, Ken Gill and Mick McGahey and an adviser to British trade unionists for over 40 years. He also aided trade unionists and campaigners in the fight against apartheid in South Africa from the 1960s onwards and, after the fall of the regime, wrote a three-volume history of mineworkers in South Africa on behalf of the South African National Union of Mineworkers.[10] He was a member of the national committee of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) for many years, and in 1985 he came last in a ballot to choose the chair of the organisation running on a pro-Soviet, unilateral disarmament ticket.[11]

He was revealed in September 1999 to have been an "agent of influence" for the East German Stasi secret police, from material contained in the Mitrokhin Archive, possessing the code name "Barber".[1][2][3][4] Allen has admitted "pass[ing] on information about CND's activities ... [but] considered that perfectly legitimate because he belonged to a pro-Soviet, pro-East German faction of the group."[12]


Allen died on 26 October 2014, aged 91.[10][13][14]


  • Power in Trade Unions, Longmans, 1954
  • The Sociology of Industrial Relations, Longmans, 1971. ISBN 978-0-582-44482-9
  • Social Analysis: A Marxist Critique and Alternative. Longmans, 1975
  • The Militancy of British Miners, Moor Press, 1981. ISBN 090769800X
  • The Russians are Coming: The Politics of Anti-Sovietism, Moor Press, 1987.
  • The History of Black Mineworkers in South Africa Volume 1, Moor Press, 1992. ISBN 0850365651
  • Apartheid Repression and Dissent in the Mines. The History of Black Mineworkers in South Africa, 1948-1982, Merlin Press and Moor Press, 2003. ISBN 085036566X
  • Organise or Die. The History of Black Mineworkers in South Africa, 1982-1994, Merlin Press and Moor Press, 2005. ISBN 0850365678


  1. ^ a b Peter Schweizer, Reagan's war: the epic story of his forty-year struggle and final triumph over communism, Doubleday, 2002; ISBN 0-385-50471-3, p. 222
  2. ^ a b Stefan Berger, Norman Laporte, The other Germany: perceptions and influences in British-East German relations, 1945-1990, Wissner, 2005; ISBN 3-89639-485-1, pp. 86–87
  3. ^ a b "I regret nothing, says Stasi spy", BBC News, 20 September 1999
  4. ^ a b Paul Lashmar, et al "Scargill's ally was Stasi agent", Independent on Sunday, 19 September 1999.
  5. ^ University of Leeds, Obituary
  6. ^ University of Leeds, List of Emeritus Professors Archived 26 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Joe MacLaughlin and Mark Rowe, "East German agent with the perfect pedigree", The Independent, 19 September 1999.
  8. ^ Vic Allen, "My secret mission to meet Fidel", Cuba Si, 8 May 2003 Archived 3 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Obituary of Carolyn Baylies" The Guardian
  10. ^ a b Notice of death of Vic Allen,; accessed 31 October 2014.
  11. ^ Ian Hargreaves, "Spies are just not the same class of person as they used to be", New Statesman, 27 September 1999.
  12. ^ "Britain betrayed",, September 1999; accessed 31 October 2014.
  13. ^ 'Professor Vic Allen' - tribute by Alex Beresford, Leeds African Studies Bulletin, 77 (2015-16).
  14. ^ Obituary - University of Leeds