Peace activist or atomic spy? The curious case of a Cold War nuclear scientist

Australian physicist Eric Burhop (center), with his family at their home in Surbiton, London, 22nd July 1951. Burhop's passport was canceled by the British government over plans to travel to the Soviet Union.

(CNN)The two police officers trailed the university professor as he left his home in the southwest London suburbs and walked to the local railway station.

His name was Eric Burhop. An Australian immigrant who had become one of the United Kingdom's leading nuclear and theoretical physicists, he was also a former member of the team that built the first atomic bomb, a prominent peace campaigner, and the subject of surveillance by security services on at least three continents in the 1950s.
Tall and well built, with thinning hair and a ruddy complexion, Burhop walked "with a slight stoop and takes noticeably short strides," a later report noted. "He usually carries a small brown attache case and raincoat. Wears herring-bone tweed sports coats and grey flannels, brown shoes."
    The officers, members of the UK's national security-focused Special Branch, followed as Burhop took the train to London's Waterloo station, where he was joined by a man of "medium build, oval face, clean shaven, tanned complexion," with whom he proceeded to University College London.
    They watched Burhop all day, as he went about his academic duties, had lunch in the university canteen, visited a local bank, and bought the evening newspaper. Due to the size of the campus, they missed him going home for the evening, expressing frustration in a report that they had "insufficient personnel available to cover all the exits."
    British police kept close watch on Eric Burhop, following him to and from work. Original image altered for clarity.
    In addition to the close surveillance of Bur