Born in Australia in 1895, C. H. “Dick” Ellis joined the Secret Intelligence Service in Paris in 1923, after graduating from the Sorbonne. He was posted to Istanbul briefly and then was attached under Passport Control Office cover to Berlin, where he also wrote articles for the Morning Post. In 1938 he was brought back to Great Britain to supervise the technical coverage of the German embassy’s telephone lines. Curiously, within a short period of his appointment, Ribbentrop’s staff began to exercise uncharacteristic discretion in their telephone conversations. He was later dispatched to Liverpool to establish a mail censorship center, and in 1940 was appointed deputy to William Stephenson at British Security Coordination in New York.
After the war Ellis acted as controller Western Hemisphere and controller Far East, and upon his retirement in 1953 returned to Australia to advise on the creation of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. However, in 1966, following a lengthy investigation codenamed EMERTON, William Steedman confronted him with the allegation that he had sold SIS secrets to the Nazis through a contact in Paris before the war. Ellis made a limited confession, admitting his links to the Germans and claiming to have been kept impossibly short of money, but denying that he had ever succumbed to pressure from the Soviets, although he acknowledged it was likely they had learned of his treachery.
The fact that the SIS had first learned from Walter Schellenberg in 1945 that a man named Ellis had betrayed the organization, but had failed to identify him for two decades, was a major embarrassment for the SIS. Ellis was never charged with any offense and died at his home in 1975.