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Monday, 7 February 2011

Oswald Rayner

Oswald Rayner studied modern languages at Oriel College (1907-1910) and during this period he met Felix Yusupov who was at University College. According to Richard Cullen "their friendship lasted a lifetime... one is drawn to conclude, given Yusupov's homosexual/bisexual tendencies, that he and Rayner may well have at sometime been sexually involved".

In 1910 Rayner was called to the Bar and became a barrister in the Inner Temple. On 15th December 1915 he was commissioned into the British Army and sent to the British Secret Intelligence Service in Petrograd, where he served under Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Hoare. Other members of the unit included John Scale and Stephen Alley. Hoare became friendly with Vladimir Purishkevich and in November 1916 he was told about the plot to "liquidate" Grigory Rasputin. Hoare later recalled that Purishkevich's tone "was so casual that I thought his words were symptomatic of what everyone was thinking and saying rather than the expression of a definitely thought-out plan."

Grigory Rasputin was assassinated on 29th December, 1916. Soon afterwards Prince Felix Yusupov, Vladimir Purishkevich, the leader of the monarchists in the Duma, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov, Dr. Stanislaus de Lazovert and Lieutenant Sergei Mikhailovich Sukhotin, an officer in the Preobrazhensky Regiment, confessed to being involved in the killing.
Samuel Hoare reacted angrily when Tsar Nicholas II suggested to the British ambassador, George Buchanan, that Rayner, was involved in the plot to kill Rasputin. Hoare described the story as "incredible to the point of childishness".

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