Jeremy Corbyn insists he has 'no regrets' over meeting Czech spy

Posted On: 
26th February 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he has no regrets over his with meeting a Czech diplomat at the height of the Cold War.

Jeremy Corbyn met Jan Sarkocy in 1986.
Credit: 
ITV News

The Labour leader has been criticised for agreeing to the talks with Jan Sarkocy in 1986.

In interviews, Mr Sarkocy claimed Mr Corbyn was one of several Labour MPs who passed on information to the former communist country - allegations dismissed as a "ridiculous smear" by party bosses.

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Conservative vice-chair Ben Bradley was also forced to apologise and make a "substantial" donation to charity after wrongly claiming that Mr Corbyn had sold secrets to communist spies.

Speaking to ITV News, the Labour leader insisted there was nothing untoward about his meetings with Mr Sarkocy.

He said: "I met him as did a number of other people, he was the diplomat working in the Czech embassy and his job was to talk about peace and detente.

"This was a time when (Mikhail) Gorbachev was president of the USSR there was a real chance of detente developing - of more peace within Europe. We spoke about those matters.

"I told him what I thought and he bizarrely discovered that I was opposed to Margaret Thatcher and the Tory government."

Asked if he regretted meeting the spy, Mr Corbyn replied: "Not at all."

"I met him as did many, many other members of parliament I also met a lot of American diplomats during that period," he said. "I went to the US embassy to talk to them about what I thought was their wholly wrong strategy in central America.

"If you're a serious member of parliament and serious about international affairs you meet people, you don't agree with most of them, but you have to meet them to understand what their position is and try and put forward your own view on peace, justice and human rights.

"I don't regret any of it. Why should I?"