Andrew Roth is known mainly as the US-born compiler of Parliamentary Profiles, the journal on British MPs' interests and voting traits. Roth is also a contributing obituary editor for The Guardian, and a confidant of leftwing activists, in particular Guardian journalists David Leigh & Mark Hollingsworth, and former Labour MP (now Lord) Dale Campbell-Savours.
Apart from all of the above having key roles in The Guardian's 'cash for questions' affair, over the years Roth, Leigh, Hollingsworth and Campbell-Savours have also demonstrated an abiding common interest in matters relating to the British and American intelligence services.
In his 1999 book Venona: the greatest secret of the cold war author Nigel West (aka former Conservative MP Rupert Allason) reveals that Roth is actually the former U.S. Naval Intelligence officer Lieutenant Andrew Roth, who fled a Grand Jury indictment issued in August 1948 after he was caught by the FBI passing classified documents to a Russian spy named Philip Jaffe, who edited a magazine entitled Amerasia based in offices on 225 Fifth Avenue, New York. Roth only escaped immediate incarceration because the FBI had used illicit surveillance methods.
In 1948 Roth fled the US Navy after being caught passing secrets to the Russians, whereupon he settled in England to work for The Guardian. He subsequently became a confidant of Left-wing journalists and Labour MP Dale Campbell-Savours.
Shortly after settling in England Roth was taken on by The Guardian as the parliamentary correspondent for its sister paper The Manchester Evening News. In tandem Roth published a political newsletter entitled "Westminster Confidential", which in 1963 broke the sensational story that the Conservative Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, had shared the favours of a prostitute with a Russian Naval Intelligence officer by the name of Eugene Ivanov. Given his own contacts with the Soviets it is open to speculation as to how Roth came by the story.
But of all his activities Andrew Roth is most famous for producing Parliamentary Profiles, listing all MPs' registered interests, political hobby-horses, and tittle-tattle. In this regard Roth also compiles and supplies detailed dossiers on MPs for clients to special order as a sideline. Most interestingly, research undertaken during 1994 of the KGB's archives in Lubyanka Square, Moscow, revealed that Roth had supplied the KGB during the 1960s with at least one such dossier on a British MP -- a 9,000 word profile of the Labour MP and publisher Robert Maxwell. Though Roth later admitted supplying the dossier, he denied knowing his client's identity.
Roth's crucial involvement in The Guardian's 'cash for questions' campaign began following the publication of Adam Raphael's Observer article of April 1989 implying that lobbyist Ian Greer paid MPs to table questions at £200 a time. This prompted Roth to make inquiries, whereupon he discovered that Greer had given commission payments to the chairman of the Conservative backbench trade and industry committee, Michael Grylls MP, for introducing new clients to his lobbying company. Roth subsequently developed the hypothesis that Greer's commission payments were a cover for passing bribes to Tory MPs to reward them for delivering parliamentary services, such as tabling parliamentary questions, in support of his clients.
Accordingly, in the next issue of Parliamentary Profiles published in November 1989, Roth insinuated that Michael Grylls's commission payments from Ian Greer were really bribes to support the very clients whom Grylls had introduced to Greer. According to Roth's letter to Sir Gordon Downey, following publication Dale Campbell-Savours visited him, whereupon Roth convinced him of his theory, following which the Labour MP then persuaded his fellow members of the Members' Interests' Committee that Ian Greer's commission payments to Grylls should be investigated.
On 3 April 1990 Ian Greer appeared before the committee to answer questions whereupon Dale Campbell-Savours immediately suggested that his commission payments were actually to reward MPs for 'delivering parliamentary services'. Greer denied the insinuation but acknowledged giving introductory commissions to two other MPs besides Grylls. Campbell-Savours then barracked Greer with a stream of questions in an attempt to elicit the names of the two other MPs, but Greer refused to provide them on the grounds that it was not his position to do so.
Roth's theory that Greer's commissions were bribes subsequently became the bedrock of The Guardian's original 'cash for questions' article of 20 October 1994, accusing Greer of paying MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith, and provided the theme for the book on the affair written by David Leigh, Sleaze: the corruption of Parliament.
Most tellingly, after Tim Smith resigned his ministerial post as a consequence of The Guardian's article, in the next issue of the New Statesman Roth boasted that Smith's resignation proved that he was one of the two unnamed MPs whom Greer had acknowledged giving commissions. In other words, Roth had surmised that Smith's resignation was confirmation that a) Smith had received a commission from Greer and b) the commission was really a bribe to table questions.
In fact, Tim Smith had not received a commission payment from Ian Greer. However, Roth and The Guardian did not discover this until two years later, just ten days before the first due day of Neil Hamilton's and Ian Greer's libel actions. The news caused mayhem with The Guardian's planned defence for the trial, and prompted the last-minute coercion of three close employees of Mohamed Al Fayed into testifying to a new allegation that they had processed 'cash in envelopes' for the lobbyist and the MP [see "The concise true story of the 'cash for questions' affair" and "The brainwashing of a democratic state", both in Section Two].