The collective term applied to Harry Houghton and his mistress, Ethel Gee, who both worked at the British Admiralty’s Underwater Weapons Research Establishment at Portland in Dorset until their arrest in January 1960. Originally recruited by the KGB while attached to the British embassy in Warsaw, Houghton had been caught dabbling in the local black market and pressured into espionage.
Betrayed by the Polish defector Michal Goleniewski, Houghton was placed under surveillance by MI5 and was seen to be in contact with Konon Molody, alias Gordon Lonsdale. He in turn led his watchers to Morris and Lona Cohen, alias Peter and Helen Kroger, and all five were arrested on the same day following a rendezvous at which Houghton passed classified documents to Molody in return for cash. All were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, although Molody and the Cohens were later released and exchanged in a spy swap.