‘Misdefending the Realm’

May 27, 2018

In its May 22 issue, the Times Literary Supplement published a joint review, by Mark Seaman, of Richard Davenport-Hines’s ‘Enemies Within’ and my ‘Misdefending the Realm’.

I reproduce it here.


November 28, 2017

Henry Hardy, the chief editor of the works of Isaiah Berlin, and the creator and past webmaster of the website dedicated to him (http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk/), has very patiently read the chapters in my book that discuss Berlin, and has drawn my  attention to passages that, he believes, misrepresent his (Hardy’s) role, or contain factual inaccuracies, such as in Berlin’s dealings with Jenifer Hart, Stephen Spender, and Guy Burgess. I take the comments of Henry (who has been exceedingly helpful during my researches) very seriously, and apologise to him for any such errors. I shall not list or debate them here, but do commit to revise the text in the light of his comments, should a second impression be called for, and I shall note some changes under  ‘Errata’ below. Some aspects of Isaiah Berlin’s life are very difficult to verify, as the evidence for them comes largely from Berlin’s interviews by Michael Ignatieff. I do not believe that any errors have any effect on my overall conclusions.

November 3, 2017

The Palamedes PR agency has completed its campaign on my behalf, helping to place articles in the media. They can be seen at:







October 27, 2017

My book was published by the University of Buckingham Press on October 26, 2017. (See https://ubpl.buckingham.ac.uk/ and https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=misdefending+the+realm).  It will be available in the USA in March-April of 2018.

The Palamedes PR Agency is responsible for publicity, and has carried out  a very energetic campaign. Please see http://www.palamedes.co.uk/book-pr-national-exposure-for-historian-antony-percy/

My collaborator and friend, Grant Eustace, has written a screenplay based on the central episode of the book. Information on it can be viewed at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/learning-from-less-than-glorious-past-grant-eustace .

I am using this section of my website primarily to inform readers of corrections to errors in the first edition. I shall also raise and discuss less cut-and-dried issues that may arise out of my arguments and conclusions, since, in the world of intelligence, nothing is as it appears, the practice of disinformation thrives, and controversy is always alive. Lies and subterfuge are the emblems of the business, even when the sources are supposed to have an impeccable reputation. One must accept that some facts are undeniable: others are questionable. As for broader truths, they frequently are bathed in a misty haze. As I concluded in the Preface to ‘Misdefending the Realm’: “This book uses this methodology to present an alarming hypothesis about the corrosion of defence mechanisms against Communist subversion during the later 1930s and the first years of the war. It will not constitute the last word. The research process will continue. The hope is expressed here that other historians, with access to other sources, will pick up the threads of this argument, and extend it, improve it – even demolish parts of it – in an attempt to discern what the truth was behind the very puzzling events of 1940.”

Readers are encouraged to contact me at antonypercy@aol.com. If you wish to point out an error, it would help me very much if you provided the authority from which you derived the correct fact.

I take responsibility for all errors in the book, and regret them. The creation of ‘Misdefending the Realm’ was essentially a two-man show. Apart from the advice from my supervisor, and comments made by my examiners at the time I defended the thesis, all work of editing and compilation was effectively undertaken by my publisher Christopher Woodhead and me. We did not have the luxury of research assistants, fact-checkers, indexers, librarians, archivists, readers, personal assistants, or even professional colleagues and friends with expertise in the subject to check the text before publication. My residence in North Carolina does not allow me easy access to reputable and useful libraries and archives, except for those sources that may be available on-line. I received no external funding for my travels and research. I created the Affinity Charts, Index and Biographical Index (containing details on almost 300 persons) myself. When the text was distributed for review shortly before publication, some errors were pointed out, which will be fixed in the Second Edition. (I also spotted some myself, too late in the day.)  I am confident, however, that none of the errors identified has any material bearing on the main planks of my argument. Should we be fortunate enough to run to a second edition, the errors will be fixed therein. I sign off here with the following quotation:

“If intelligence officers dislike a book, for its tone, revelations, or simply because the find that one or two facts in it may prove compromising (for which, also read embarrassing), they may let it be known that the book is ‘riddled with errors,’ customarily pointing out a few. Any book on intelligence will contain errors, given the nature and origin of the documentation, and these errors may then be used to discredit quite valid judgments and conclusions which do not turn on the facts in question.” .” (Robin W. Winks, in Cloak & Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961, p 479)


P 12 (and several places thereafter, including Biographical Index and Index): ‘Dennis Pritt’ should appear as ‘Denis Pritt’

P 21 (and Index): ‘William Macartney’ should appear as ‘Wilfred Macartney’

P 25     Basil Thomson was head of the Criminal Investigation Division of Scotland Yard, not of MI5

P 28     Jack Profumo was Secretary of State, not Minister of State

P 47     ‘Neill McDermott’ should appear as ‘Niall McDermott’

P 55     Oswald (‘Jasper’) Harker was Deputy Director-General of MI5, not Assistant-Director

P 59 (and Index): ‘Jerome Labarthe’ should appear as ‘André Labarthe’

P 59, Note 44 on p 78, p 99, Note 80 on p 111 (and Bibliography): ‘David Cameron Watt’ should appear as ‘Donald Cameron Watt’

P 72     Lord Hankey was not Head of Treasury, but Cabinet Secretary

P 168  In Endnote 98 to Chapter 6, the text suggests that Andrew Lownie, in his 2015 book Stalin’s Englishman, supports the notion that Guy Liddell had been a spy. This is definitely not Lownie’s opinion, but that of the author of The Last Temptation, David Mure, as Lownie indicates in his text

P 297  John Archer married Jane Sissmore in September 1939, not 1940