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

The Langham incident - The response from the BBC Management

A concerned Director of Talks reports on his handling of Burgess and the locked door incident.

BBC ARCHIVE
WRITTEN DOCUMENT
1941

[Page 1 of 1]

BBC Internal Circulating Memo
Subject: MR. BURGESS (ATTACHED PAPERS)
31st May, 1941

From: D.T.

To: Talks Ex


I saw Burgess at 6.30 yesterday and asked him for an explanation of what had
happened on Thursday evening. He told me his story, which was in the main the
same as that set out in the accompanying papers. He said that he was not drunk,
and I said that no one had stated that he was. He also said that he had apologised
to the Defence Patrol.

I told him that the matter was a very serious one and that he must learn to
distinguish between his impatience with the system of locking offices at night, about
which he is entitled to complain to the proper authority, and his impatience with
the officers who were carrying out their orders and who were not empowered to
mofidy [sic] those orders. I said that the importance of the papers which he wanted
did not justify him either in being rude to the officers or in taking action into his
own hands by trying to raise the fire alarm and to break down his door.

I said that the only action required of him at present was to apologise immediately
to House Superintendent and to the Defence Patrol.

I told him (a) that if such a situation ever recurred it should be reported to me
on the telephone immediately since he was not yet experienced enough to know the
proper action to be taken, (b) that I was not satisfied that the key had in fact
been delivered by his secretary to the Receptionist and that I wanted a report from
him about this on Tuesday, (c) that C(H) had spoken to me about the matter and had
agreed with me that Producers should be reminded that they are not entitled to use
the Duty Room except when they were taking a speaker there for refreshment and that
I thought it would be advisable in future, if Burgess had to take a speaker to the
Duty Room, that he should confine himself to soft drinks.

[Signed] G R Barnes

GRE/BJW

[Hand-written note:] I rang D.A.B. and told him (a) above and also that our discontent
with the present key system remains. [Signed] N J Luker


ABOUT THE BBC ARCHIVE
The BBC Archive - sharing pictures, documents and programmes from the last 75
years of the BBC's broadcasting history. To find out more, visit:
www.bbc.co.uk/archive

Document Type | Internal Memo

31 May 1941

Document version

Writtenin

1941

Synopsis

This memo, detailing the disciplinary steps taken with Burgess over his altercation at the Langham Hotel, has an air of exasperation and a lack of surprise at events given the person involved. It is difficult not to speculate on the nature of the documents Burgess was so anxious to retrieve from the locked room.

Read the next document in this chain of correspondence.

Did you know?

Guy Burgess' capacity for alcohol remained legendary throughout his life. Tom Driberg records that, as a member of the Pitt Club at Cambridge University, he drank a bottle of Liebfraumilch '21 every day at luncheon. The parties at his flat on Bentinck Street were notorious and, when he was employed in the News Department of the Foreign Office, he wasn't trusted to remain on late-night duty alone.

Contributors

Associated subjects

More like this...

Documents

Letter of recommendation from Cambridge University.

Letter of recommendation from Cambridge University

WRITTEN 1935
2 Pages

The relative merits of three Cambridge graduates are assessed by the university.

Memo quoting a recommendation for Burgess.

Memo quoting a recommendation for Burgess

WRITTEN 1935
1 Page

A Cambridge don provides a reference for Guy Burgess

A letter of reference for Burgess.

A letter of reference for Burgess

WRITTEN 1936
1 Page

An astute assessment of Burgess' strengths and weaknesses by his Cambridge University tutor.

An internal memo about staff photographs.

An internal memo about staff photographs

WRITTEN 1937
1 Page

Burgess is pursued for a photograph by an exasperated BBC administrator.

Letter from Guy Burgess to Anthony Blunt.

Letter from Guy Burgess to Anthony Blunt

WRITTEN 1938
1 Page

Burgess, as a BBC producer, advises Blunt about speaking on the radio

A memo from Burgess about Winston Churchill.

A memo from Burgess about Winston Churchill

WRITTEN 1938
1 Page

Burgess recounts his conversation with a mistrustful Churchill.

Letter to Burgess from the BBC.

Letter to Burgess from the BBC

WRITTEN 1939
1 Page

Burgess fails to clear his desk when he leaves the BBC.

Memo from Burgess querying his salary.

Memo from Burgess querying his salary

WRITTEN 1941
1 Page

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

A report on a disturbance at the Langham hotel.

The Langham incident - A report on a disturbance at the hotel

WRITTEN 1941
1 Page

The case of the locked door.

The Langham incident - The response from the BBC Management.

The Langham incident - The response from the BBC Management

WRITTEN 1941
1 Page

A concerned Director of Talks reports on his handling of Burgess and the locked door incident.

The Langham incident - The response from Burgess.

The Langham incident - The response from Burgess

WRITTEN 1941
2 Pages

Burgess gives his version of events in the case of the locked door.

An expenses claim sheet and covering note from Burgess.

An expenses claim sheet and covering note from Burgess

WRITTEN c. 1943
3 Pages

Burgess insists on travelling first class and claims for visiting the House of Commons.

Internal memo querying a Burgess expense claim.

Internal memo querying a Burgess expense claim

WRITTEN 1943
1 Page

A revealing insight into Burgess' working day from an exasperated administrator.

Memo about Burgess and 'The Week in Westminster'

Burgess and 'The Week in Westminster'

WRITTEN 1943
1 Page

Alarm is expressed at Burgess' profligate use of BBC funds for entertaining MPs.

Memo about Burgess' expenses.

Memo about Burgess' expenses

WRITTEN 1943
1 Page

'MPs are expensive to entertain.'

Memo re Burgess and first-class travel.

Memo re Burgess and first-class travel

WRITTEN 1943
1 Page

Burgess' case for travelling first class is disputed.

Memo from Burgess pursuing expenses claim.

Memo from Burgess pursuing expenses claim

WRITTEN 1943
1 Page

Burgess persists with his claim for first-class travel.

Letter from the Foreign Office to the BBC about Burgess.

Letter from the Foreign Office to the BBC about Burgess

WRITTEN 1944
1 Page

His country needs him: Burgess is required for essential war work.

The BBC considers its response to the Foreign Office about Burgess.

The BBC considers its response to the Foreign Office about Burgess

WRITTEN 1944
1 Page

The head of the Talks Department is reluctant to let Burgess go.

Resignation memo from Burgess.

Resignation memo from Burgess

WRITTEN 1944
1 Page

Guy Burgess plans to leave the BBC to join the Foreign Office.

Memo to the Director General about Burgess' resignation.

Memo to the Director General about Burgess' resignation

WRITTEN 1944
2 Pages

The manner and timing of Burgess' departure from the BBC causes concern.

A note for Burgess' staff record.

A note for Burgess' staff record

WRITTEN 1944
1 Page

A summary of Burgess' strengths, weaknesses and suitability for re-employment.

Memo about Burgess' library books.

Memo about Burgess' library books

WRITTEN 1951
1 Page

The BBC may have uncovered a clue to Burgess' recent movements.

Record of a telephone conversation between the BBC and the Foreign Office.

Record of a telephone conversation between the BBC and the Foreign Office

WRITTEN 1956
2 Pages

The BBC and the Foreign Office are called to account for employing Burgess.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.