The Daily Mail's Annabel Venning looks at the secrets exposed by Michael Smith in his new book SIX: A History of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service:
The Rolls-Royce sped along the road through the woods outside Meaux, northern France. It was October 1914, two months after the start of World War I.
Driving the car was Alastair Cumming, a 24-year-old intelligence officer. Beside him sat his father, Mansfield Cumming, head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, who had come out to France to visit him. As well as their intelligence work, they shared a love of fast cars. Then, in an instant, the Rolls suffered a puncture. The car veered off the road, smashed into a tree and overturned, pinning Mansfield by the leg and flinging his son out onto his head. Hearing his son moaning, Mansfield tried to extricate himself from the wreckage and crawl over to him. Despite struggling, he couldn't free his leg. And so, taking out his penknife, he began hacking through the tendons and bone until he had severed his lower leg and freed himself. He then crawled over to where Alastair lay and managed to spread his coat over his dying son. He was found, some time later, unconscious, by the body of his son. This act of extraordinary bravery, sacrifice and a willingness to use whatever means necessary, however unpleasant, to achieve an end, was to become a secret service legend...
To read more (and to find out how Rasputin really met his end) visit the Daily Mail website here.
SIX: A History of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service by Michael Smith is available to buy here.
Richard Cullen's own investigation into the murder of Rasputin - Rasputin: The role of the British Secret Service in his torture and murder is also available to buy here.