The Lockhart Plot was alleged to have taken place in the immediate aftermath of World War One. It was/is said that the Lockhart Plot was an assassination attempt on Vladimir Lenin sanctioned, though denied, by the British government. To this day there is no evidence that the Lockhart Plot even existed as nearly 90 years after the era many documents assumed to be relevant are still being held under the Official Secrets Act. It is for this reason that some believe that the Lockhart Plot actually occurred as it is argued that if it never occurred why are documents on the Lockhart Plot still held in secret?
The October/November Bolshevik Revolution in Russia had a major impact on World War One. Lenin had stated that the war was the result of capitalism and that the workers were those who suffered the most while the rich manufacturers and industrialists made money at the expense of the working class. Russia had suffered as much as any nation in World War One and it was for this reason that Lenin did what he could to pull Russia out of the war. The result was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war in Eastern Europe and allowed the Germans to move her men from the Eastern Front to the Western Front. Such a massive influx of men greatly worried the leaders of the armed forces on the Western Front.
The British government was desperate to get Russia back into the war and it was for this reason that they sent Robert Bruce Lockhart to Moscow. Ostensibly, Lockhart was simply the British government’s representative in Moscow to allow for communication between the new government and London. Those who believe in the Lockhart Plot, claim that Lockhart had an ulterior motive for being in Moscow – to get Russia back into the war. This would have meant removing the newly created Bolshevik government under Lenin and coordinating some form of alliance with the opponents of the Bolsheviks.
In March 1918, after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, it is thought that Lockhart decided that the only course of action he had left was to remove Lenin and hope that the whole Bolshevik edifice would fall as a result. In June 1918, Lockhart requested money be sent to him in Moscow. This would be used to fund an attempt to remove Lenin and overthrow the Bolsheviks. Documents seem to indicate that Arthur Balfour, Foreign Secretary, approved of the money being sent.
By the summer of 1918, Lockhart had teamed up with Sidney Reilly. Despite his name (the result of a name change), Reilly was a Russian who worked for the British Secret Service. He had been a successful entrepreneur and as such would have had a lot to lose with the creation of a Bolshevik government.
What happened next is clouded in denials and doubt. What is known is that a Russian lady tried to kill Lenin. The Cheka almost immediately arrested Lockhart and Reilly fled the country. The Cheka claimed that under interrogation, Lockhart clearly stated that the government in London sanctioned the attempted assassination and that Lockhart’s role was to facilitate it. In October 1918 Lockhart was freed from prison in an exchange with a Russian diplomat named Litvonov who was being held in London. Reilly stayed out of the newly named USSR but was tempted back in the early 1920’s. He was murdered in circumstances that have never been explained but many believe that it was the Cheka meting out their form of ‘justice’.
In the 1930’s Lockhart wrote ‘Memoirs of a British Agent’ in which he categorically denied any part in the assassination attempt of Lenin. He blamed the whole thing on Reilly, who he claimed had got out of control. Reilly, of course, was not alive to defend himself. Many years later Lockhart’s son claimed that his father had told him that he was much closer to Reilly than he let on in public.