Long, before the creation of Britain’s Royal Flying Corps , before the heavier-than-air flying machine flown by the American Wright Brothers, before the French Montgolfier Brothers  flight in a Balloon, England was renowned for flights of fancy.

It is tempting to imagine that the country was known as Perfidious Albion before Icarus was a boy.

Britain’s Foreign Office  christened its Lying Corps the Information Research Department  in 1948 when Clement Attlee was Prime Minister and Ernest Bevin Foreign Secretary.

Its function was  to use weaponised  disinformation and fake news to attack socialist and anti-colonial movements. It had apparently a long existence before its christening and I refuse to believe that it died in 1977 when David Owen was Foreign Secretary .It was the largest department within the Foreign Office having 380 staff and was active with British Military Intelligence in Ireland during the 1970s.

It  supported MacCarthyite witch hunts. George Orwell co-operated with it, sending it lists of writers who were not sufficiently anti-Communist to his tastes.

Perhaps the  greatest feather in the IRD’s cap was its engineering of the 1965 coup in Indonesia in which hundreds of thousands of unarmed leftist trade unionists were murdered. British naval vessels ferried the murder gangs from island to island in the archipelago with lists of those to be murdered supplied by the CIA. The vast resources of the country were parcelled out to western multinationals. John Pilger’s Book “The New Rulers of the World” describes that coup and its propaganda mastermind Sir Andrew Gilchrist, British Ambassador to Indonesia at the time.

Gilchrist’s next posting was Dublin where his influence is still with us. Together with Harold Wilson’s favourite fixer he established the oath-bound, secretive, IRISH TIMES TRUST to serve the British Foreign  Office objectives.The story is told in “THE IRISH TIMES -Past and Present by JohnMartin.

In his masterly “The Origins and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland,1920 , Father Brian Murphy , OSB, who died this week (16  May) describes the Dublin Castle operation exactly as that of the IRD of later years has been described.

I had intended to write a longer piece. But it seems to me that the Royal Lying Corps and its less than gallant allies have the airwaves and TV Channels all to themselves today.



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