Ex-spy chief claims Edith Cavell’s network spied on the Germans

Edith Cavell in Belgium. Picture: Imperial War Museums

Edith Cavell in Belgium. Picture: Imperial War Museums - Credit: Imperial War Museums

She was the Norfolk nurse whose execution by the German military a century ago inspired thousands of men to fight for King and country.

For MI5 chief Dame Stella Rimington will make her claims in a BBC Radio 4 broadcast. Picture: RODNEY

For MI5 chief Dame Stella Rimington will make her claims in a BBC Radio 4 broadcast. Picture: RODNEY SMITH, PHOTOGRAPHERS GALLERY - Credit: Archant

But new evidence unearthed in Belgian archives may suggest the story of Edith Cavell's wartime work may be more complex than previously thought.

In a programme to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday, Dame Stella Rimington, the former director-general of MI5, will claim Cavell's organisation, which helped Allied soldiers escape from enemy territory, was also actively involved in spying.

Dame Stella told the Sunday Telegraph: 'We may never know how much Edith Cavell knew of the espionage carried out by her network.

'Her main objective was to get hidden Allied soldiers back to Britain but, contrary to the common perception of her, we have uncovered clear evidence that her organisation was involved in sending back secret intelligence to the Allies.'


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But Nick Miller, who has been fascinated by the story of the vicar's daughter from Swardeston since he moved to the village in 1993, said that while it was not impossible some people involved in Cavell's network did intelligence work, he doubted she herself did.

He said he would wait to hear Wednesday's broadcast to assess any evidence, but added: 'Edith was very busy and did not really have time to fiddle around getting intelligence for the Brits.

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'Knowing her, as I have working on her for 20 years, I don't think she would be into that, either through circumstances, or from a Christian point of view.'

He said allegations of spying were never put to her, and so she could never answer any claims.

What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

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