Was Countdown’s Richard Whiteley a MI5 agent as Ricky Tomlinson says?

Tomlinson’s suggestion looks a bit potty at first but when you drill down the story becomes very disturbing. He says that the ‘red scare’ programme made by Whiteley and presented by Woodrow Wyatt MP for ITN in 1973 influenced the jury to convict him for charges out of his trade union activity. The programme was broadcast the day before.
I have no idea whether Richard Whiteley was a MI5 asset. I do know about Woodrow Wyatt, once a Labour MP. Have a look at the co-authored book/ Lashmar, P and Oliver. J. (1998) Britain’s Secret Cold War Propaganda War 1948-1977. Stroud: Sutton Pub Ltd.

This is book about the cold war propaganda organisation IRD based in the Foreign Office and that was closely connected to MI6 and MI5. Wyatt was a key external link for IRD and the agencies what we call an agent of influence. He, like a number of establishment figures, was a director of news agencies in an international network of MI6/IRD covert operations. (see page 80). Wyatt was a major outlet for IRD anti-communist material (which of course extended to anti left wing trade unionist activity).

IRD Book Cover

A senior member of IRD Norman Reddaway told us about Wyatt’s importance as (to use E P Thompson’s description of Chapman Pincher) a ‘urinal’ for IRD leaks (see page 106). For an example of Wyatt’s involvement in covert anti left operations channelled through a part of the TUC (which also involved Denis Healey) (see page 111). Wyatt wrote at least one book for an IRD covert funded book series (pg 119) and utilised it secret information channels and connections to push his increasingly rightward views. IRD was a career ramp for many MPs, authors and academics providing them with secret resources denied people they did not agree with.

It would be interesting to know whether Wyatt was paid for his IRD work while  a Labour MP as this would have been illegal (see page 118). Wyatt is a singularly inappropriate person to front a programme (as an ‘objective reporter’) without declaring his long standing covert involvement with intelligence agencies. Wyatt was part of a MacCarthyite anti communist cabal who would have seen any vigorous trade union activity as the work of Stalin’s fellow travellers rather than what was mostly the case the grievances of men working in a badly paid and highly dangerous industry. We also now know that the major construction companies were signed up to secret blacklisting organisations.   Also in the programme was Geoffrey Stewart Smith was for a while an Conservative MP and a famous anti communist and may well have been presented in the programme that way.

IRD ITV mar 2017 (2)

Private Eye this week suggests that IRD actually funded the programme which, even at the time, would have been outrageous and broken all the broadcasting regulations and was probably illegal. It would interesting to see the programme now to see how honourably it’s  presenter Wyatt employed the required levels of objectivity, impartiality and balance.  If anyone can confirm IRD paid for the programme I would be fascinated. I have to take the view that Whiteley was the ITV ‘safe pair of hands’ person assigned to script and edit the programme until there is hard evidence otherwise. Fascinating how, after all these years IRD insidious legacy pops up.



Threats to journalists and their sources a new report (PL involved).

The Institute for Advanced Legal Studies launched their short report on whistleblower and source protection in the House of Lords yesterday: http://ials.sas.ac.uk/research/research-centres/information-law-policy-centre/research/journalists%E2%80%99-sources-surveillance

The Guardian, which supported the research, has covered it here: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/feb/22/whistleblowers-need-greater-protection-digital-age-media-lawyers-say

Includes a response from Government along the lines of nothing to worry about, trust us.


My tribute to Gavin MacFadyen of TCIJ published in Three-D

Three-D Issue 27: Gavin MacFadyen Obituary


Just occasionally a cliché does the job, and as John Pilger said of the late Gavin MacFadyen, at the memorial to Gavin in December: “They don’t make them like that anymore”. Gavin was in every way larger than life and the obituaries which have appeared in the New York Timesthe Guardian and many other publications reveal a man who lived his 77 years to the full. He was a 1960s radical embodied. His adult life was devoted to causing grief to the corrupt, the greedy, and the complacent. Whatever the mission it was conducted as an adventure – with gusto, mischief and a booming laugh.

to read more:


PL in The Conversation: Snoopers’ Charter: why journalists (and the rest of us) should be afraid.

The “Snooper’s Charter mark two” – or Investigatory Powers Act – which has recently passed into law demonstrates again how successful Islamist terrorism has been in changing British society into a secret state.

With the passing of the Act we have taken a step into a new world of permanent surveillance that was not deemed necessary in 30 years of “The Troubles”, four decades of the Cold War or during two world wars. Home secretary Amber Rudd’s comment that it is “world-leading legislation” is worthy of Orwell’s doublethink. One might ask, what part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?

It provides the intelligence agencies with massive new surveillance powers including rules that force internet providers to keep complete records of every website that all of their customers visit. That information will be available to a wide range of other agencies, including the Department for Work and Pensions as well as the Food Standards Agency.

The first impact of the Act is on the freedom of the press. To read more