Many believed Roth to have been Canadian, a view he often encouraged, but in reality he was steeped in Soviet espionage
The death of Andrew Roth has gone unremarked in the media, although his career amounted to rather more than the editor of Parliamentary Profiles, the biographical analysis of members of the House of Commons. He achieved some notoriety when he was the first to disclose details of Jack Profumo’s clandestine affair with a callgirl, ChrIstine Keeler, prompting one of the era’s great political scandals, and one that would seriously undermine Harold Macmillan’s government.
Many believed Roth to have been Canadian, a view he often encouraged, but in reality he was steeped in Soviet espionage and in 1945, when he was serving in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer, he had been indicted as a spy, the source of classified information that were found in possession of a Communist Party activist, Philip Jaffe.
The pro-Red Chinese periodical run by Jaffe, under an alias, was Amerasia, and Roth was one of four defendants who were arrested after an article was published which included references to secret British documents, but the charges against him were dropped because Jaffe’s editorial offices in New York were searched without a warrant, and telephones were tapped illegally, thereby compromising any prosecution.
When Jaffe pleaded guilty to the charges against him, he was unaware of the illicit surveillance, but Roth was luckier and escaped trial, moving permanently to London where he reinvented himself as a journalist concentrating on collecting information, often scurrilous, about Members of Parliament. Roth’s editions became essential works of reference for lobby correspondents, but there were some in the intelligence community who suspected he received a covert subsidy for his research.
Roth was fiercely defensive about his own background and threatened to sue anyone who attempted to link him to the U.S. Naval Intelligence officer who had been implicated in the Amerasia affair. Surprisingly, that reluctance even survived his death, from prostate cancer, last week at the age of ninety-two.