According to Stevenson, a love affair that Thorpe conducted with the Italian naval attaché Admiral Alberto Lais was especially productive and gained western Allied leaders early strategic insight into Axis war plans in the Mediterranean. In 1967, however, the Admiral’s heirs sued British author, H. Montgomery Hyde, in an Italian court for defamation, insisting that Lais (who had died in 1951) had not betrayed military secrets, and won. In 1988, Lais’ two sons protested publication of the seduction account in David Brinkley‘s best-selling Washington Goes to War and persuaded the Italian defense ministry to publish denial ads in three leading East Coast newspapers.
The Italian Naval Enigma message leading to Italian defeat at the Battle of Cape Matapan was broken at GS&CS, Bletchley Park using Dilly’s rodding method without a codebook. This debunks Hyde’s theory that a codebook obtained from Admiral Alberto Lais was responsible.
Thorpe is reported to have later said about her sexually active war years:
Ashamed? Not in the least, my superiors told me that the results of my work saved thousands of British and American lives….It involved me in situations from which ‘respectable’ women draw back–but mine was total commitment. Wars are not won by respectable methods.