Was it simply a case of a bit of “bragging” then? Was the former MI6 boss, Daphne Park, “dissembling” when she reportedly claimed that the British government was behind the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, in 1961?

“We did…I organised it,” Ms. Park, who was head of MI6 in Congo, was reported to have boasted to Labour peer David Edward Lea over a leisurely afternoon tea shortly before her death in 2010.

But now a counter-version has emerged with American journalist Caroline Alexander claiming that in an interview with her Park insisted that it was the CIA who did it.

“I recall clearly her response when I asked who was responsible for his [Lumumba’s] death. She looked at me sharply and said, with an edge of anger [possibly directed at my ignorance]: ‘The CIA, of course’,” writes Ms. Alexander in a letter to the Editor in the latest issue of the London Review of Books ( LRB ) pointedly recalling Park’s remark that after her mother’s death she missed having “someone to brag to a little”.

It was also in the letters pages of LRB that Lord Lea revealed Park’s claim about MI6’s role.

He was shot dead on January 17, 1961 after being toppled in a U.S.-Belgian backed military coup because of his pro-Moscow leanings.

Ms. Alexander writes: “In 1988, I interviewed Daphne Park for the New Yorker [the profile appeared in the issue of 30 January 1989].

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.