Guy Burgess abused BBC expenses

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Guy Burgess, one of the Cambridge Five traitors, lived a life of big bar bills and first class travel tickets on the BBC expenses system, according to documents made public by the corporation.

Burgess, who passed British secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, worked for the BBC as a radio producer in two spells between 1936 and 1944 before joining the Foreign Office.

Entertainment expenses were frowned upon by his superiors, with one memo saying: "The entertainment to Captain Harrison at 6s. 6d is heavy for what amounted to 'a drink at 6.45'. MPs are expensive to entertain and doubtless Burgess likes the Corporation to give as full measure as the Press.

"It requires a very strong character to reduce this expenditure but the attempt should certainly be made".

On another occasion, when the Eton-educated Burgess was questioned about his claim for a first-class return train fare to Cambridge, costing 18 shillings, he replied: "I normally travel first class and see no reason why I should alter my practice when on BBC business, particularly when I'm in my best clothes."

One memo signed by the administrative assistant in the talks department said of Burgess's timekeeping: "Office hours are very flexible – he is rarely here before 10.45am and spends most of the rest of the day out of the office making contacts."

Jean Seaton, official BBC historian, believes that Burgess, who was producer on The Week in Westminster, was using his time at the BBC to build up contacts for spying...

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