Today brings a fresh reminder of a national disgrace, the failure to prosecute Melita Norwood for treason. Newly released files from the Mitrokhin archive make clear how vital a KGB source Norwood was; Moscow regarded her as an even more valuable asset than Kim Philby.

Norwood’s treason was exposed in 1999 when she was still alive. But she was, absurdly, not prosecuted. This was a failure of national nerve. She might have been an old woman by the time her spying was revealed, but she was an agent of one of the most unpleasant authoritarian regimes in history and one which this country was involved in a decades-long struggle against. She should, as a matter of principle and honour, have been subject to the full force of the law.

The failure to prosecute the KGB’s longest serving UK agent sent out an awful message about this country and the loyalty it expects from its citizens.

Tags: Communism, Espionage, Soviet Union, Spies