I knew that Prof Tony Lentin‘s excellent book, Banker Traitor Scapegoat Spy? The troublesome case of Sir Edgar Speyer, would appeal to Iain, and agree with him totally when he concluded. “It really is a terrific story”
This is his full review which was published by Iain last Saturday in his regular Eastern Daily Press column:
Fascinating story of alleged British spy living in Norfolk
I’ve been reading a fascinating book called Banker, Traitor, Scapegoat, Spy by Antony Lentin, about an alleged British spy in the first world war who was rumoured to be sending coded signals to German U-boats from his cliff-top house, Sea Marge in Overstrand.
He was also accused of passing on naval secrets he had picked up while dining with the prime minister Herbert Asquith.
The author of this book on Sir Edgar Speyer has uncovered some fascinating documents from the period which have been released over the last decade.
Looking at the evidence of the time, it is easy to see how, circumstantially, the authorities could have been hugely suspicious of Speyer’s activities. One also has to bear in mind the huge suspicion of anyone who had ever had any links with Germany. Even the monarchy was the subject of some of the scurrilous chatter. Indeed anyone who had a foreign-sounding name aroused suspicion.
Speyer was a successful banker and philanthropist and at the centre of high society. But not long after the start of the Great War he was forced into exile in the United States. In 1920 he stood trial in Britain accused of disloyalty during the war and was found guilty.
He was removed from the Privy Council, a decision which the King was appalled by. He spent his remaining years in the USA.
It really is a terrific story.
*Prof Lentin would be delighted to speak at special events or for clubs interested in knowing more about Sir Edgar’s fascinating life. His contact details can be found here.
*I remember Iain as someone who showed kindness and support to political bloggers, including me, giving us links on his high profile, for which I remain grateful. I am pleased he apologised and hope that he can continue to produce new political titles as a publisher and that his career as an LBC radio presenter will continue to flourish.