PC Spooks? II: The Godsons, the IRD and Fr Denis Faul

My post on Dean Godson’s critique of ‘PC spooks’ yesterday was inspired by a Slugger thread on this Times piece about the late Fr Denis Faul, in which Godson makes the presumably unverifiable statement that Faul told him five years ago that Martin McGuinness was a British agent.

I have since been reading a bit more of Godson’s stuff for The Times. Something clicked when I came across this:

During the Cold War, organisations such as the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office would assert the superiority of the West over its totalitarian rivals. And magazines such as Encounter did hand-to-hand combat with Soviet fellow travellers. For any kind of truly moderate Islam to flourish, we need first to recapture our own self-confidence. At the moment, the extremists largely have the field to themselves. (The Times, 5 April)

At the mention of these long defunct propaganda outfits, I realised that the name Godson was familiar. It was the Irish Democrat which confirmed my intuition:

Dean Godson’s late father, Joseph Godson, was for more than 30 years, the labor attaché at the United States embassy in London. Joseph aided SDP founder Shirley Williams and Alan Lee Williams MP, a former Labor defense expert. Dean’s brother, Dr Roy Godson, director of the International Labor Program at Georgetown University in Washington DC., organized "educational visits" for British trade unionists to visit the U.S. during the Reagan administration "to broaden international education about Western democratic values." (Irish Democrat)

Funnily enough, the best authorities on the elder Godson’s role are Stephen Dorril and Robin Ramsay, whose book Smear! I quoted in my previous post.

Joseph Godson, Kaiser’s predecessor as the US labour attaché, got so close to Hugh Gaitskell that in the climactic struggle with the Bevanites, Gaitskell was planning strategy with Godson, running between Godson and the National Executive Committee. (The influence of intelligence services on the British left, Robin Ramsay)

Harold Wilson was outside this Gaitskellite circle, so much so that paranoid elements in the CIA and MI5 were prepared to believe that Gaitskell was murdered by the KGB to make way for Wilson, a presumed Soviet agent.

The resulting MI5 campaign against Wilson was conducted in the 1970s partly by an extension of the Clockwork Orange disinformation campaign, originally targeted at the IRA.

The younger Godson shares several traits of the hardline wing of the 1970s British secret state, notably his positive estimation of the IRD and suspicion of MI6’s willingness to negotiate with insurgents.

This is interesting because the other sources of the claim that McGuinness was a British agent all point to another section of the hardline wing – RUC/PSNI Special Branch. For example:

A senior member of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin is a long-serving British spy, according to a document which former British intelligence officer Martin Ingram is circulating.

Ingram, who outed Freddie Scappaticci as Stakeknife, says the document was given to him by a serving Special Branch officer. He claims it is a transcript of a meeting between the Provisional leader and his British intelligence handler about the human bomb tactic the IRA developed in 1990. (Sunday Tribune, via Nuzhound)

All over Northern Ireland people are reassessing McGuinness’s career in the wake of newspaper claims by Martin Ingram, a former military intelligence officer, that the man once regarded as an IRA hawk had been controlled by MI6 for at least two decades. A retired RUC special branch officer believes McGuinness was the MI5 agent code-named “Fisherman”, though others maintain that this agent may have been a person close to McGuinness. (Sunday Times)

The final irony of all this is that Fr Faul was himself smeared as a ‘Provo Priest,’ and one of the sources of this claim was the British Army’s Information Policy unit, which was working closely with the Information Research Department at the time. I came across the proof of this myself in the National Archives some weeks ago.

I don’t know whether the document in question has been published previously. It is from 1971 so it would have been in the public domain for several years. I will try and post the relevant extracts later today.

PC Spooks? – Index to posts







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