Entertainment & Arts

'Spycatcher' Harry Chapman Pincher dies aged 100

Harry Chapman Pincher
Image caption Harry Chapman Pincher upset successive governments with his scoops

The veteran investigative journalist, Harry Chapman Pincher, known for unearthing military secrets, has died aged 100.

For more than 30 years, Pincher was the defence and science correspondent for the Daily Express - then Britain's biggest-selling daily.

He went on to publish several books alleging that MI5 had been penetrated at the highest levels by the Soviets.

Pincher celebrated his 100th birthday last March.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Pincher's son, Michael, said his father had died "of old age" and had faced death with "no regrets, no fear and no expectation".

The post described Pincher as "a journalist, author, fisherman, shot and scourge of politicians of all hues".

His last joke, said Michael, was "tell them I'm out of scoops".

Pincher published his last book, a memoir entitled Dangerous to Know, in February this year, and was already working on another.

His most controversial book, Their Trade is Treachery, revealed that Sir Roger Hollis, the head of MI5 until 1965, had been investigated as a suspected Soviet spy.

Image caption Pincher (front left) made contacts while shooting game

Margaret Thatcher was infuriated by the book, but she was not the first prime minister to be angered by Pincher.

In May 1959, Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan wrote a personal minute, marked "secret", to his minister of defence.

"I do not understand," he wrote, "how the Express alone of all the newspapers has got the exact decision that we reached at the cabinet last Thursday on space. Can nothing be done to suppress or get rid of Mr Chapman Pincher?"

Pincher got many of his stories by taking contacts out to lunch at his favourite London restaurant, L'Ecu de France.

It later emerged the place had been bugged, both by British intelligence and the KGB.

Many of his contacts were made when shooting, including Lord Mountbatten, then chief of the defence staff.

In an interview earlier this year, Pincher told the BBC that Mountbatten had even dictated a story to him while driving in his car, although it was published under Pincher's name.

Pincher's son Michael told the Guardian his family would hold a small family gathering next week to celebrate the journalist's life.

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