Famous stories from The Sunday Times

Spy scandal

In 1967, The Sunday Times recorded one of the greatest coups in journalism, confronting the former MI6 agent Kim Philby in Moscow, and outing him as a Soviet spy. Over three decades, Philby’s duplicity had almost certainly led to the loss of several British agents and Russian defectors, along with the exposure of many state secrets, yet the secret services were strongly suspected of a cover-up. Running over several weeks, the scoop caused a sensation, and rocked the establishment.

Kim Philby story, 1967

Thalidomide investigation

Initially prescribed to pregnant women to treat morning sickness, thalidomide was withdrawn from the market in 1961, following reports that it was linked to a number of birth defects. The Sunday Times spent a decade campaigning for compensation for the victims, providing case studies and evidence of the tragic side-effects of the drug. The tireless efforts of the paper paid off in 1968, when The Distillers Company agreed to a multi-million pound payout for the victims.

Thalidomide scandal, 1972

Hitler Diaries

The Sunday Times was caught up in one of the greatest frauds of the 20th century, when it signed a deal in 1983 with the German magazine Stern to serialise the newly discovered “Hitler Diaries”, which had been acquired by Stern. Although initially authenticated by the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, the diaries were quickly discovered to be crude forgeries. The Sunday Times defended the authenticity of the diaries for two weeks, before eventually conceding that it had been duped. Circulation, however, soared.

Hitler diaries, 1983

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