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MI5 tapped lines of king

Britain’s spy agency MI5 tapped the phones of King Edward VIII and his brother, the Duke of York, at the height of the 1936 Abdication Crisis in Britain, a new book has claimed.

world Updated: Jan 08, 2012 00:37 IST

Britain’s spy agency MI5 tapped the phones of King Edward VIII and his brother, the Duke of York, at the height of the 1936 Abdication Crisis in Britain, a new book has claimed.

According to the biography of Tommy Robertson, architect of Britain’s wartime counter intelligence operations, MI5 did listen in on to the deliberations of the king and his brother. In fact, in the constitutional crisis, then UK Premier Stanley Baldwin called in Sir Vernon Kell, head of MI5.

Author Geoffrey Elliot has claimed that Robertson —recruited by Kell in the early 1930s — tapped into the royal conversation. Edward VIII’s infatuation with American divorcee Wallis Simpson had become a cause that ended in the abdication in December 1936.

The shy, stammering Duke of York then became King George VI.

In a four-page note to author Geoffrey Elliot, Robertson’s brother, Major General Ian Robertson, wrote that his brother told him how, under cover of darkness, he had slipped into London’s Green Park, just off Piccadilly, and listened in to the king and future king’s conversation via a GPO telephone junction box in the bushes.