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The dark side of the media

Secret service penetration of British media (and attempts to infiltrate one Irish medium)

The British media is aghast at revelations that a man called David Floyd was a Soviet spy. Floyd worked for the Foreign Office in the 1950s and was assigned to a string of Eastern European embassies. He confessed his treachery shortly after the defection of Guy Burgess and Donald McClean to Moscow. Rather than admit to the Americans that yet another British official was a traitor, the British establishment hushed Floyd’s treachery up and MI5 set about finding a job for him. Malcom Muggeridge, the Deputy Editor of the Daily Telegraph, obliged – by providing a post for him at his paper. Muggeridge was an ex-MI6 officer, as was his editor, Sir Colin Coote.

Floyd spent three decades at The Daily Telegraph where he reported on communist affairs and became known as ‘Pink’ Floyd. It is likely that having repented, he was obliged to do the bidding of MI5 (home Office) and MI6 (Foreign Office) to keep his post at the Telegraph. As such he joined the ranks of a legion of British journalists and broadcasters who have secretly worked for the various branches of British intelligence.

The World is your lobster

Lobster, a radical underground British publication, printed a special edition entitled ‘A Who’s Who of the British Secret State’ in the late 1980s pinpointing hundreds of British spies, a huge number of whom had worked at the Dublin Embassy and the Northern Ireland Office. Lobster’s research was based on published materials and can only have brushed against the tip of the intelligence-media iceberg. To its credit, it named about ten Daily Telegraph hacks including David Floyd. Lobster reported that Floyd had disseminated propaganda prepared by the Information Research Department (IRD), which was attached to the Foreign Office, during his time as a specialist on Soviet affairs at the Telegraph and also at the Daily Mail, a fact that the mainstream British media is now ignoring.

Overall, the Lobster special edition gave an insight into the disturbing depth of the media iceberg. In particular, it listed more than 30 individuals with strong connections to the British intelligence community who had worked for the BBC. The corruption of the BBC as an independent body stretched from head to toe. One of MI6’s most senior officers, Dame Daphne Park, (the ‘Dragon Lady’) sat on the BBC’s Board of Governors. While in MI6 she had acted as an adviser and ‘sounding board’ to the Chief of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield, on Irish affairs. Her father came from Belfast.

At a lower level, MI5 had a team based in room 105 at the BBC’s HQ in London. They vetted journalists seeking entry to the corporation and promotion for those already employed by it. They also monitored the activities of broadcasters and producers. Don’t expect MI5 to divulge the content of the files they accumulated on the likes of Jimmy Savile, Russell Harty or the other paedophiles at the Beeb to the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sex Abuse in London or to anyone else.

Did all of this result in the BBC serving as an instrument of the intelligence community? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is an emphatic ‘yes’. The BBC’s now acknowledged role in assisting the CIA and MI6 topple the government of Iran in 1953 has become a severe embarrassment to it. The reverberations of that operation are still being felt in Iran today where no one trusts anyone from the BBC. This fact has been ignored by the British media in its ongoing coverage of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, formerly of the BBC World Service trust who is currently serving a term of imprisonment for allegedly attempting to undermine the present Iranian administration.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

The BBC’s toxic relationship with MI6 has done a lot more than bring it into disrepute. In 1983 Amnesty International declared that the “government-instigated killings in Indonesia … rank among the most massive violations of Human Rights since the Second World War. A conservative estimate of the number of people killed in Indonesia is 500,000”. The BBC helped create an atmosphere conducive to the slaughter.

The British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland from 1966 to 1970 was Andrew Gilchrist. His last post before Dublin was as Ambassador to Indonesia. At the time the British Government of Harold McMillan was involved in a conspiracy to manipulate events in Indonesia. In 1965 Gilchrist informed the Foreign Office that a “little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change”. Gilchrist proceeded to work hand in glove with the IRD. Together they planted stories in the media claiming that communists were planning to slaughter the citizens of Jakarta. There was no truth in the allegation which was beamed into Indonesia by the BBC and helped provide justication for the massacre that followed.

Commenting on Gilchrist’s propaganda success via the BBC, Norman Reddaway of the IRD commented: “I wondered whether this was the first time in history that an Ambassador had been able to address the people of his country of work almost at will and virtually instantaneously”.

Network television

MI5 and MI6 were like two giant octopi with tentacles which reached into every pore of the media. Frank
Steele, the former head of MI6’s Belfast Station, became the Chairman of network television after his ‘retirement’ from MI6. Steele was a real charmer. He once told Peter Taylor of the BBC that some good had come of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972. The militant Loyalists, were “cock-a-hoop”, that the “Brits” had finally got “tough”, he opined; also that “it did us quite a lot of good with the more bloody-minded of the Protestant community. The good thing that came out of it was that it enabled Direct Rule to be brought in”.

Irish Times

The tentacles reached over to Ireland where Major Thomas McDowell, a former officer in the British Army, and Chief executive and Chairman of the Irish Times during much of the troubles was an ex-MI5 officer. Declassified UK files reveal that the Major, born in Belfast in 1923, dubbed his editor Patrick Gageby “a white nigger” during his clandestine conversations with his colleagues in Whitehall, all behind the back of his readers. The unexpurgated MI5 and MI6 files on him would make for interesting reading.

British-Irish association 

A typically shrewd MI6 tactic to influence Irish journalists (and politicians) was to infiltrate the British-Irish Association. Ostensibly, it was set it up by a group of well- meaning figures led by David Astor. Astor was an MI6 asset who owned the Observer. The BIA was run for years by Daphne Park from her lair at Oxford. While the BIA undoubtedly did some good, it was nonetheless frequented by an array of British spooks who got to rub shoulders with the likes of Garret FitzGerald who was an avid attender of its conferences. Conor Cruise O’Brien was a regular invitee too, and a close friend of Astor. Astor appointed O’Brien as Editor-in-chief of the Observer after he lost his Dáil seat.

George Blake 

The russians – no strangers to media manipulation then or now – were wise to the penetration of the British media by its intelligence community.9 In 1968 Izvestia, the official Soviet newspaper (and propaganda conduit), published a series of articles claiming that a string of journalists and editors at The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and the BBC were working directly for MI6. They even produced top secret British documents to support their contention. Izvestia published the names of the corrupt journalists and their handlers. There is now little doubt that the files had been copied by George Blake of MI6, yet another traitor, and then passed to the KGB. Blake was caught later and sentenced to 42 years imprisonment but escaped with the aid of Limerickman Sean Bourke. The British media files were not released until after his escape.

Corbyn Smear Campaign 

It now appears that little has changed. Else- where in this edition we look at the similarities between the frothy smears being spat out by the right-wing media in the UK claiming that Jeremy Corbyn was a Czech and KGB agent in the 1980s. How many of the journalists pushing this particular piffle are doing so at the behest of MI5/6? They can’t all the credulous buffoons. MI5 and MI6 certainly have a lot to fear from Corbyn who has promised to ‘look’ at the intelligence services if he becomes PM. The fact that a former MI6 Chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, 1999-2004, has stated publicly that Corbyn has questions to answer over the affair, will hardly have instilled any confidence in Corbyn about the intelligence of the espionage services that might soon fall under his control.

Czech documentation being misrepresented as proof that Jeremy Corbyn was a Soviet agent

Joseph de Burca