Guy Burgess at the BBC | The early career of the Cambridge spy

Memo from Burgess querying his salary

Burgess forgets to sign his BBC staff contract and is unhappy with the salary offered.

BBC ARCHIVE
WRITTEN DOCUMENT
1941

[Page 1 of 1]


BBC Internal Circulating Memo

Subject: [handwritten] Contract

From: [handwritten] Mr Burgess

To: [handwritten] G.E.O. (Mr D. H. Clarke)

17th February, 1941

1. With reference to your request for my signed contract, I must apologise
for having forgotten to sign it. On looking at it, I see that the salary
proposed is £540 per annum.

You will remember that when we originally discussed my re-appointment to the
B.B.C. you told me that this was the scale figure for someone of my age and
grade joining the talks department without previous experience of broadcasting
- or rather that the salary rose with experience, and would have been higher had
my career in the corporation not been interrupted.

2. I made the point then that I had had two years' experience in the job I am
now doing. Further, that I had only resigned to serve in the war office after
my seconding (rather than my resignation) had been unofficially turned down by
the corporation.

3. It is not mentioned in your covering letter to me whether this point, which
it was stated would be raised by you with D.S.A., has been considered and
rejected. It is understood that two years' broadcasting experience in the
talks department would make a considerable difference to the salary offered,
if it was taken into account, - and would in fact bring the salary offered more
in line with what I was receiving from other government departments, including
the Ministry of Information, before rejoining the corporation.

4. I should also like to make the point that my two years' absence from the
corporation has been largely connected with propaganda, broadcasting and
otherwise, in all its aspects and in many countries.

It is submitted that this fact might also be taken into account in
assessing the subdivision of the grade at which my salary should be fixed.
What is meant by this is that instead of my salary being based on the scale
of no experience, it should be based on that of four years.


SEJ

[Signed] G. Burgess


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Document Type | Internal Memo

17 February 1941

Document version

Writtenin

1941

Synopsis

In this memo explaining why he hasn't signed his contract, Burgess sets out his claim for a higher salary than that offered. He argues not only that he is returning to the BBC with an extra two years' experience under his belt, but also that he has spent the last two years working in broadcasting and propaganda for the government. So, obviously, deserves a pay rise.

Did you know?

Guy Burgess first went to work at the Foreign Office in December 1938 when, with war looming, a new section of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was set up. Known as Section D (for destruction), it was concerned with handling subversion and sabotage in enemy-occupied territory. Part of Burgess' job was to arrange for pro-British broadcasts to be made through channels not open to the BBC. He also helped set up a training camp for European civilian saboteurs in Hertfordshire called 'Guy Fawkes College'. Part of the training Burgess introduced there, according to his biographer Tom Driberg, involved watching the Soviet revolutionary film 'Battleship Potemkin'. Burgess was later sacked from the SIS.

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