Guy Burgess at the BBC | The early career of the Cambridge spy
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BBC Internal Circulating Memo
Subject: MR. BURGESS (ATTACHED PAPERS)
31st May, 1941
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
[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
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Document Type | Internal Memo
31 May 1941
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.
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.
The relative merits of three Cambridge graduates are assessed by the university.
A Cambridge don provides a reference for Guy Burgess
An astute assessment of Burgess' strengths and weaknesses by his Cambridge University tutor.
Burgess is pursued for a photograph by an exasperated BBC administrator.
Burgess, as a BBC producer, advises Blunt about speaking on the radio
Burgess recounts his conversation with a mistrustful Churchill.
Burgess fails to clear his desk when he leaves the BBC.
Burgess forgets to sign his BBC staff contract and is unhappy with the salary offered.
The case of the locked door.
A concerned Director of Talks reports on his handling of Burgess and the locked door incident.
Burgess gives his version of events in the case of the locked door.
Burgess insists on travelling first class and claims for visiting the House of Commons.
A revealing insight into Burgess' working day from an exasperated administrator.
Alarm is expressed at Burgess' profligate use of BBC funds for entertaining MPs.
'MPs are expensive to entertain.'
Burgess' case for travelling first class is disputed.
Burgess persists with his claim for first-class travel.
His country needs him: Burgess is required for essential war work.
The head of the Talks Department is reluctant to let Burgess go.
Guy Burgess plans to leave the BBC to join the Foreign Office.
The manner and timing of Burgess' departure from the BBC causes concern.
A summary of Burgess' strengths, weaknesses and suitability for re-employment.
The BBC may have uncovered a clue to Burgess' recent movements.
The BBC and the Foreign Office are called to account for employing Burgess.
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