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MI5 documents offer new details in Garbo spy story

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESADAY SEPTEMBER 28 The National Archives undated handout photo of Juan Pujol Garcia. Britain's most important double agent of the Second World War almost had his cover blown because his homesick wife could not stand living in England, according to secret files made public for the first time. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday September 28, 2016. Garcia – codenamed Agent Garbo by MI5 - was a Spanish national living in the London suburb of Harrow from where ran a network of fictitious sub-agents sending back a steady stream of false intelligence reports to his German spymasters. His elaborate deceptions helped to convince the Nazis the D-Day landings would take place at the Pas de Calais – diverting German forces away from Normandy, scene of the actual invasion, saving countless Allied lives in the process. However MI5 files released to the National Archives in Kew, west London, show how his scheming was nearly wrecked because his wife, Araceli, struggled to cope with the pressures of his double life. See PA story RECORDS Garbo. Photo credit should read: The National Archives/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

He was an unassuming Gibraltarian waiter known just as ‘Fred’, but to German intelligence he was an important secret agent supplying a steady stream of vital clues to the British war effort during World War II.

Except ‘Fred’ never existed. He was a figment of the extraordinary imagination of Juan Pujol Garcia, codenamed Garbo by the British because of his acting skills, one of the most successful double agents in history.

Along with his MI5 handlers, Garbo created a vast fictional network of agents, including Fred, to supply the Germans with false information.

Garbo’s deception was so good that the Germans even awarded him the Iron Cross for his services, despite the fact that, unbeknownst to them, his misinformation had helped ensure the success of the Allied D-Day landings in June 1944.

Today the British Security Service, MI5, will release a further 25 files on the Garbo case to The National Archives in Kew.

They contain details of a wartime spy story as good as any fiction.

FULL STORY IN OUR PRINT AND E-EDITIONS