Former East German police held no files on Jeremy Corbyn, German officials say

Benjamin Kentish
Jeremy Corbyn dismissed allegations over his links to Soviet states as 'ridiculous smears': Reuters

There are no records on Jeremy Corbyn in former East Germany secret police archives, German officials have confirmed.

Berlin authorities took the unusual step of making the announcement in response to widespread speculation about Mr Corbyn’s links to Soviet states in the 1980s. Searches of Stasi archives “have not produced any records” on the current Labour leader, they said.

It follows days of allegations that Mr Corbyn acted as Czech informer during the Cold War, after documents revealed he had met with a Czechoslovakian agent several times in 1986 and 1987.

The Labour leader dismissed the claims as “ridiculous smears” and said that, while he had met the agent, named Jan Sarkocy, he did so having been told the man was a diplomat.

Reports suggested a second file on the now Labour leader had been kept by the Stasi and was now in secure archives, releasable only if Mr Corbyn gave his permission.

He faced calls to request its release, including from Theresa May, who said he should be “open and transparent” on the issue.

However, the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU) has now confirmed that searches produced no records on either Mr Corbyn or Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary. The pair are reported to have travelled around East Germany together in the 1980s.

BStU spokeswoman Dagmar Hovestädt said: “Currently there is a debate in Great Britain about a possible documentation of activities of the Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn in the Stasi records.

“The Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU) usually only releases information with connection to a person to journalists and researchers when records document an official or unofficial collaboration with the Ministry of State Security. Otherwise there is no further disclosure.

“But because speculations have risen because of this policy in the case of Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott, the BStU for this case makes the following statement: ‘The most recent researches in the written records of the Ministry for State Security of East Germany have not produced any records or any other information on Jeremy Corbyn or Diane Abbott’.”

Mr Corbyn had earlier hit out at the “ridiculous smears” and warned owners of the newspapers publishing them that the media would be “opened up” under a Labour government.

Speaking to reporters, the Labour leader’s spokesman claimed the language being used in relation to the story could increase the risk of physical attacks on Mr Corbyn. He highlighted that Darren Osborne, the Finsbury Park terror attacker jailed last month for driving a van into crowds outside a mosque, had said he wanted to kill Mr Corbyn because he thought the MP was a terrorist sympathiser.

The spokesman said: “The coverage of this story has shown little regard for the facts or for the demonstrable absurdity of the allegations being made by an agent who was retired nearly 30 years ago from his job and has now found his five minutes of fame.

“In relation to threats and security, obviously the trial of Darren Osborne in relation to the terror attack after the general election in Finsbury Park, in which he stated that he wanted to kill Jeremy Corbyn and that was his first aim.

“And referring to Jeremy as a terrorist sympathiser and that if he managed to kill him that would be one less terrorist.

He said the row ”highlights the serious dangers of the use of language in some of the reporting and the language used by politicians around Jeremy's leadership, and the importance of framing completely legitimate political debate in ways that don't incite hatred and violence“.

”The constant repetition both by government politicians and sections of the press portraying Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser or as in some way an apologist for terror - which is entirely false - has dangers to it which have been quite clearly demonstrated,” he added. “There needs to be an awareness of the dangers of using that kind of language.“

Mr Corbyn’s lawyers have written to Ben Bradley MP, a vice-chair of the Conservative Party, in relation to a tweet claiming the Labour leader had “sold British secrets to communist spies”.

Mr Bradley deleted the tweet soon after being threatened with legal action, but Mr Corbyn’s lawyers have demanded he cover legal costs, make a donation to charity in lieu of damages and pledge not to repeat what they say is a defamatory statement.

The Labour leader’s office also said diary records showed reports about one of the alleged meetings between Mr Corbyn and Mr Sarkocy in Parliament were clearly false because the day in question was a Saturday, when Mr Corbyn was attending a conference in Chesterfield.