Alex Grant – Sex, Spies and Scandal: The John Vassal Affair

Tickets £11/£9



An explosive tale of sexual violence, betrayal, cover-up, homophobia and hypocrisy that blows open some of the British establishment’s darkest secrets, Sex, Spies and Scandal is the story of John Vassall, the civil servant unmasked as a Soviet spy in 1962. Photographed in compromising positions while working at the British embassy in Moscow, Vassall was blackmailed into handing over secrets from the Admiralty to his Soviet handlers, both in Moscow and in London, for more than seven years. Using newly released MI5 files and interviews with people who knew Vassall from the 1950s until his death in 1996, Alex Grant sheds fresh light on the neglected spy scandal of the early 1960s.

Chaired by Simon Pryde




‘Alex Grant has written an important, illuminating and sympathetic account of a victim of vicious Soviet blackmail and British homophobia.’ – Richard Norton-Taylor, author and former security editor of The Guardian


Booking Information

  • Priority Booking for Festival Friends opens at 08.00 on Friday 1st of March. Tickets go on general sale from Monday 4th March.
  • Hearing loops are available for Theatre and Library events. Carers qualify for free ‘essential companion’ tickets. Wheelchair spaces are limited. In all cases, please call the Box Office on 01434 652477 to book or email:
  • Tickets cannot be refunded but can be exchanged for other Book Festival events.


Hexham Library

Location 2

Queen's Hall Art Centre


05 May 2024


12:45 pm - 1:45 pm

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