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Home - Spying - World War Two - Treachery - Duncan Scott-Ford - The Times Report


The following article appeared in "The Times" newspaper on Wednesday 4 November 1943.

As with the other wartime treachery cases, no account was published until after the convicted person has been executed. Also all their trails at the Old Bailey were conducted in camera for security reasons.

Execution of a seaman




The Home Office announces that a British subject was executed for treachery at Wandsworth Prison yesterday morning He was Duncan Alexander Croal Scott-Ford, and was born at Plymouth in September 4, 1921. He was convicted under the Treachery Act at the Central Criminal Court on October 16 before Mr Justice Birkett (the British Alternate Judge at the IMT Nuremburg trial) and a jury, and was sentenced to death. The trial was heard in camera, and Scott-Ford was represented by eminent counsel. Scott-Ford did not appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal


Scott-Ford, up to the time of his arrest, had been a merchant seaman serving on board a British vessel making more or less regular trips between this country and Lisbon and engaged in a trade vital to the British war effort. When n shore in Lisbon he was approached by a stranger who turned out to be an enemy agent, and who found him ready to supply the enemy with secret information relating to the British Merchant Navy in return for money payments.

Scott-Ford was paid 1,800 escudos by the enemy This sum, which in English currency equivalent only to about 18, was all that Scott-Ford in fact received from the enemy, though promises were held out to him which lured him deeper and deeper into the blackmailing clutches of the enemy. Thus when Scott-Ford returned on his second visit to Lisbon with the information which he had collected, the Germans, instead of honouring their promises, threatened that they would expose him to the British authorities unless he continued to perform further services, to collect more valuable information and to undergo greater risks in their interest.

Some of the information which Scott -Ford ye to the enemy related to his own ship, and thus imperilled the lives of his own ship mates. He also gave away detailed information relating to the movements of convoys between Lisbon and this country.


At the time of Scott-Ford’s arrest certain memoranda were found in his possession. These gave the position and names of the ships and their escorts in the convoy in which he returned for the last time to this country, together with particulars of the speed, course, and distance travelled, a log of the voyage, td a description of the weather conditions and the aircraft protection provided.

After his arrest Scott-Ford volunteered a statement in which he admitted associating with persons whom he knew to be engaged espionage on behalf of the enemy, and also at he had made the notes at the request of these agents in order to hand them to the German espionage service on his return Lisbon.

On his return to England Scott-Ford carried out the Instructions of the German Secret Service agents by touring the public-houses and mixing with seamen and members of the services to pump them for information in their possession.

The moral to be drawn from this case is that British and allied seamen when visiting neutral ports should be constantly on their guard against strangers who may frequently approach them for apparently innocent purposes. Such strangers are apt to be enemy agents who lure their unsuspecting victims into a course of conduct which may dispose them to blackmailing attempts by the enemy, and induce them to betray their countrymen and the allied cause.

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