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… a few months before Ms. Park died in 2010. “That’s the conversation I had with her and that’s what she told me. I have nothing more to add,” he said when asked if he had any other independent confirmation of Ms. Park’s claim.

Ms. Park was a career intelligence officer who served in Kinshasa (then Leopoldville) between 1959 and 1961. On retirement, she was made a Life peer as Baroness Park of Monmouth. Her fellow peers in the House of Lords referred to her as a spokesperson for the Secret Intelligence Service. She was also briefly head of Somerville College, Oxford University.

There has been no comment from MI6 on Lord Lea’s revelation. “We don’t comment on intelligence matters,” an official said.

Lumumba, hailed as “the hero of Congolese independence” from Belgium in 1960, was shot dead on January 17, 1961 after being toppled in a US-Belgian backed military coup barely two months after being in office.

Lumumba had been sheltered by Rajeshwar Dayal — the Indian diplomat who was the UN Secretary General’s representative in the Congo — for several days but was captured and killed soon after he chose to leave the compound. “This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed,” wrote Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, a specialist on African and Afro-American studies and author of The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People's History.

Declassified American documents from the time have established Washington’s role in covert assassination plots — the most famous being a CIA plot to poison Lumumba’s toothbrush by smuggling poisoned toothpaste into his bathroom.

“The toothpaste never made it into Lumumba’s bathroom. I threw it in the Congo River,” Larry Devlin, the CIA station chief in Leopoldville, later said.

Not much is publicly known about UK role. But, in 2000, the BBC reported that in the autumn of 1960 — three months before Lumumba was murdered — an MI5 operative in the British embassy in Leopoldville suggested “Lumumba’s removal from the scene by killing him.”