Stella Lonsdale was described as a "champagne-loving brunette" by friends and a "liar" with a "cesspool mind" by MI5 (Image: CROWN COPYRIGHT)
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An enigmatic WW2 spy who was branded a "sex-fanatical" nymphomaniac by MI5 and suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser has had her name cleared in a new study.
Schoolteacher turned spook Stella Lonsdale was recruited by German agents while she lived in France with her husband, British Expeditionary Force soldier and ex-Mayfair playboy John Lonsdale.
Born in Solihull in 1913, Lonsdale was known for telling stories about her colourful private affairs, which purportedly included marriages to a White Russian prince and a French conman.
She was arrested by the Nazis during the German occupation in France and agreed to work for German intelligence – claiming she only did so to avoid harm.
British intelligence dismissed her in official reports as a "liar" with a "cesspool mind".
But historian David Tremain has now delved into previously classified files and found no evidence that she did anything to thwart Britain's war effort.
Declassified files have revealed Stella made efforts to help the Allied forces
(Image: Getty Images)
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In fact, Lonsdale actually warned UK agents of the Channel Dash – when a fleet of German battlecruisers left France to strike at Britain's supply lines.
Tremain says Lonsdale likely ended up working for a renegade arm of the German intelligence service that was anti-Nazi and out to sabotage its own side.
And in 1941 she began working for the "Pat Line" – an escape network for stranded Allies soldiers – before returning to the UK to be questioned by British intelligence.
She told MI5 that her handler and lover Siegfried Rauch had even ordered her to pass on information to the British, The Times reports.
Officers who quizzed her rejected the answers she gave and described her in now-declassified files as "utterly unscrupulous".
One read: "Much of Mrs Lonsdale’s conversation cannot possibly be submitted in a report owing to its indescribably filthy nature".
Lonsdale was accused of siding with the Nazis after the German occupation of France
(Image: Getty Images)
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But Tremain says that while Lonsdale, who died in 1994 aged 81, might well have been an unreliable eccentric she was wrongly accused of having worked for the Gestapo.
Following a probe MI5 could not find the evidence to charge her with wrongdoing, according to the historian.
Agent Provocateur for Hitler or Churchill?: The Mysterious Life of Stella Lonsdale can be pre-ordered on Amazon and will be released on June 30.