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‘A Faithful Spy’ by Jimmy Burns to be published by Chiselbury on 1 October 2023

Cover of 'A Faithful Spy'

Walter Bell and Jimmy Burns in 1994

Author Jimmy Burns

A remarkable insight into the working of British Intelligence

A rare look behind the scenes of British Intelligence, this story is not only well-told but also true”
— Nicholas Reynolds, former CIA officer
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, September 13, 2023/ -- Chiselbury, the independent publisher, is pleased to announce that ‘A Faithful Spy’ by prize-winning author Jimmy Burns will be published on 1 October 2023.

Drawing on previously undisclosed personal papers, this biography of Walter Bell gives a remarkable insight into the working of British Intelligence.

Bell’s long career in government service had him working as an MI6 and MI5 officer. He inhabited the shadowlands of secret intelligence straddling the Atlantic during World War Two before serving in the UK embassy, Washington, during a critical period in the post-war Anglo-American relationship. There were subsequent postings in Kenya, India and the Caribbean, where he keenly observed the challenging politics of the twilight of the British Empire. Since these were largely covert assignments, his high-level contacts with key historic figures such as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, UK wartime MI6 chief in the US, Bill Stephenson, the Russian spies Donald Maclean and Kim Philby, British spy chiefs Dick White and Roger Hollis, and post-colonial independence leaders Jomo Kenyatta, Jawaharlal Nehru and Norman Manley have remained both undiscovered and undisclosed. Until now.

Back home he was intimately involved in operations to limit the reputation damage provoked by the media outcry over the Cambridge Five affair and suspected KGB misinformation about further alleged Soviet agents at the highest level of the British state. He was rewarded for his service with a CMG and the US Medal of Freedom.

‘A Faithful Spy’ also charts Bell’s fascinating personal life. He developed close relationships across a wide spectrum.

His sister married a cousin of Lord Beauchamp - part of the Lygon dynasty immortalised by Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited. His circle of friends included people as diverse as Oliver Baldwin, the radical homosexual son of the Tory prime-minister, senior Labour party figures like Harold Laski and Herbert Morrison and the long- serving Conservative minister, Julian Amery, right through to author Karen Blixen and Hollywood actress Constance Cummings while serving in New York. He went on to marry Katherine, the eldest daughter of General Carl Spaatz, the first Chief of Staff of the newly formed US Air Force and former head of US Strategic Air Forces in Europe during WW2.

Bell’s personal correspondence show that while he never betrayed his country , he could be critical of the decisions of his political masters, showing extraordinary prescience in his judgement of people and situations. Part of Bell’s story was belief vs ideology and dogma, and a life-long commitment to finding his true faith in a Christian God . The son of an Anglican vicar, he went through periods of agnosticism before converting to Roman Catholicism during his first posting in Kenya in the 1950’s where he was impressed by the self-less work of Irish missionaries among the African poor.

Walter Bell’s legacy is that of an intelligence and security officer who remained patriotic left- until the end, but never betrayed his country. He could have been tempted to become a communist spy, but remained a defender of Western ideals of democracy and justice and rediscovered his belief in a Christian God without feeling the need to be earnest about it. This is his inspiring story.

‘A Faithful Spy’ is available for discounted pre-purchase here. It will be published in hardback (ISBN 978-1-916556-09-6) and Kindle/ePub on 1 October 2023 priced £22 (or local equivalent). For a review copy please contact


About the author

Jimmy Burns OBE is a prize-winning author, with his books published in English and multiple translations, and contributes to international media across print, TV & radio.

He is a former Financial Times journalist where he worked as a foreign correspondent and a senior reporter covering security and intelligence, and formed part of the newspaper’s prize-winning investigative unit which won a national newspaper award for its coverage of Robert Maxwell business dealings and death. He was also part of an FT team that won the NetMedia European Online Journalism Awards for its ground-breaking report on weapons of mass destruction. Educated at Stonyhurst College, University College, London and the London School of Economics, Burns has contributed to several academic conferences on security and intelligence.

Stuart Leasor
Chiselbury Publishing
+44 7703 537721
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Introducing 'A Faithful Spy' by Jimmy Burns