(MENAFN -Arab News) LONDON: British author John Le Carre said Wednesday he was paying tribute to his friend and top spy John Bingham when he used him for inspiration for the character George Smiley, after accusations Bingham was hurt by the portrayal
New details have emerged recently about Bingham?s glittering career at the MI5 domestic spy agency, notably in pretending to be a German agent during World War II to dupe British sympathizers of the Nazis into revealing their secrets
The revelation led a prominent historian, Alistair Lexden, to complain that Bingham ?was not treated as respectfully as he deserved? in Le Carre?s spy novels and ?was hurt by the portrayal of his secret world.
But in a letter to The Daily Telegraph newspaper on Wednesday, Le Carre, author of ?Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? and ?The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,? rejected the criticism
Writing under his real name, David Cornwell, the author said he and Bingham were ?close friends and colleagues,? referring to his own time with MI5 and the MI6 foreign spy agency during the 1950s and 1960s
?I had, and shall always have, unqualified admiration for his intelligence skill and achievements. He was a most honorable, patriotic and gifted man, and we had wonderful times together,? Le Carre said
?And surely there can be few better tributes to a friend and colleague than to create ? if only from some of his parts ? a fictional character, George Smiley, who has given pleasure and food for thought to an admiring public.
The 82-year-old added, however, that he and Bingham, who died in 1988, were from different generations and they viewed the intelligence agencies differently
?Where Bingham believed that uncritical love of the Secret Services was synonymous with love of country, I came to believe that such love should be examined,? Le Carre wrote
?And that, without such vigilance, our Secret Services could in certain circumstances become as much of a peril to our democracy as their supposed enemies.
According to newly declassified intelligence files released by the National Archives last week, Bingham monitored and secretly controlled the activities of hundreds of would-be traitors during World War II. He was identified in the documents only by the alias ?Jack King? but was outed as Bingham by the Telegraph.