26 SEPTEMBER 1998, Page 32

Stone unturned

Sir: Taki is entitled to his opinion of the American journalist I.F. Stone, whom he consigns to hell (High life, 12 September), but he makes a mistake when he says Stone 'turns out to have been on the pay- roll of the Evil Empire'.

The source of this allegation was a state- ment by General Oleg Kalugin, a KGB man in Washington for many years, where he had contacts under his cover as press attach6 with many respectable reporters, that Stone once turned down a free lunch just after the Prague Spring in 1968 saying, `No, I will never take money from your bloody government.'

In his book, General Kalugin makes clear that the KGB 'never said he [Stone] had been our agent', and that Stone was merely a contact. He made similar clarifications, including one to Andrew Brown of the Independent, after some journalists in the US extrapolated the lunch event into Stone once having been an agent.

Jonathan Mirsky

128 Portland Road, London W11