Sunday Times

  • March 23, 1997, p. 41

    Bennett’s Beat: "Playing it straight"

  • by Rob Bennett (topped by photos of Michael Straight and Anthony Blunt)

    What did deceased University of WA academic David qvvrindos and noted Russian spies Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess have in common?

    Ties with the man who dobbed in Blunt and threatened to blow the whistle on Burgess.

    But unlike two of Britain's most famous traitors (the others were Donald Maclean and Kim Philby, who with Burgess, defected to Moscow), Rindos was linked through marriage to the person, American author Michael Straight.

    Dave married one of Straight's daughters and the couple had a son and daughter.

    Anyone looking at the kind of resolve shown by Dave, who fought his denial of tenure at UWA until his untimely death in December, would have found it in Straight, who went to Cambridge University, where the communist spy ring was spawned in the 30s.

    Like Rindos, Straight became a whistleblower.

    But not before he kept secret for 26 years Blunt's involvement with the KGB.

    Blunt, who became Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, remained a sleeper long after it was known the other three were traitors.

    Straight furnished the info that compelled Blunt to confess. He also threatened to turn Burgess in if he didn't leave his British Foreign Office job.

    Soon afterwards, Burgess fled behind the Iron Curtain.

    Despite suspicions about Burgess, Straight supplied the first hard evidence that he was a traitor.

    Like the others, Straight became an apostle for communism while at Cambridge.

    Unlike the others, he did not supply information to the other side and worked for presidents Roosevelt, Nixon and Ford.

    The Times Literary Supplement once compared him, as a novelist, to one of America's greatest writers, Herman Melville.

    Some of Dave Rindos' friends were surprised this week to learn he was the son-in-law of Straight, who now spends his time painting.

    However, his wife, who lives in the US with their kids, did not hesitate in giving a Perth caller her famous dad's postal address.

    The caller wants to get in touch with her father to find out more on an interesting incident recounted in his book, After Long Silence, which also gives a blow-by-blow account of how he sprang the Cambridge moles.

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