A federal Labor MP was among a list of secret KGB informants, according to newly released Russian intelligence archives.

The former Labor member for the NSW electorate of Hunter, Albert James, is listed as an informant of the Soviet intelligence service in the papers of former KGB archivist and defector Vasili Mitrokhin, which were released by the Churchill College Archive in the United Kingdom last month.

The late Mr James, a former NSW policeman and Labor MP who served in Federal Parliament from 1960 to 1980, is one of a number of Australians recorded in Mitrokhin's list of KGB agents and informants active in Australia during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mitrokhin's notes do not reveal what information James may have passed to the Soviet Union, but they do confirm his status as a KGB informant, albeit with the insecure codename of ''Albert''.

James was highly critical of the United States, strongly opposed Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War and praised Fidel Castro's communist regime.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation records, mainly phone intercept transcripts, reveal James was in regular contact with the Soviet embassy in Canberra in the early 1970s.

In an oral history recorded in 1984, James declared that ''the greatest threat to world peace is USA imperialism'' and claimed that the US Central Intelligence Agency had tried to remove Prime Minister John Gorton from office.

James died in 2006, aged 92. He has not previously been the subject of allegations of involvement with Soviet intelligence activity.

Mitrokhin's notes shed new light on KGB activities, including the revelation that Australia's 1963 expulsion of Soviet diplomat Ivan Skripov severely disrupted Soviet intelligence operations, which had to ''start over from scratch''.

The KGB's priorities in Australia included information on Australian politics, international affairs in Asia and the Pacific, and ''infiltrating the embassies of England, USA, the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs … [as well as] counterintelligence operations to infiltrate intelligence and counterintelligence agencies.''

Mitrokhin's papers show the KGB exploited academic exchanges with Australia to infiltrate agents into Australian universities, including Leonid Stupin, agent ''Gatsky'', a Soviet academic who taught Russian at the Australian National University from 1968-70.

The notes also record the KGB's recruitment of an informant, codenamed ''Silver'', a Russian-born professor at a Melbourne university. Recruited by the KGB in Moscow in October 1963, ''Silver'' had the task of providing information about persons linked with Australia's intelligence services and ''for investigating the Australian student K in Moscow''.

ANU archives show that ''student K'' was most likely Katerina Clark, daughter of historian Manning Clark, who was then studying in Moscow under academic exchange arrangements between the ANU and the Moscow state university.

Professor Clark was in frequent contact with the Soviet embassy and was viewed by ASIO as a Soviet ''agent of influence'' - an assessment that has generated enduring controversy. Katerina Clark is now Professor of Comparative Literature and Slavic Languages at Yale University.

Biographical details indicate agent ''Silver'' was most likely Reginald de Bray, Professor of Russian at Monash University from 1963 to 1966.

A KGB archivist, Mitrokhin defected to the United Kingdom in 1992.