New research is challenging the view that a British lord spied for Japan during World War II and passed on secrets from Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

More than 20 years ago, declassified government files led to stories and a documentary claiming William Sempill, an aviator and engineer, betrayed his country but avoided prosecution given his links to high society and Churchill.

But Alex Hardie, an honorary fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, recently presented a new paper in the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence challenging that view.