IRD, MI6 and the eurocommunists

The stream of revelations from the files of Britain's cold war propaganda unit, the Information Research Department (IRD), continues in the Observer today.

The paper reports on how the IRD worked with MI6 in the 1970s to undermine the Italian Communist Party, in spite of the Eurocommunist trend which saw the party taking a more independent line towards Moscow.

a longstanding agent handled by MI6’s Swiss station chief, Terry O’Bryan-Tear, recruited rightwing Swiss politician Franco Masoni to print anti-Communist material in the Gazzetta Ticinese. Masoni offered to circulate 60,000 copies across the Swiss border, giving IRD a covert media outlet in Italy. O’Bryan-Tear’s “agent” also agreed to print a booklet showing how Communists exploited the democratic process of Czechoslovakia to seize power in 1948.

I would guess this is the same person as Hubert O'Bryan Tear, who served in Berne from 1972 to 1977. If so, he had significant experience of covert operations, including some depressingly familiar trouble-spots. According to Stephen Dorril's history of MI6, he ran agents into Ukraine in the early 1950s, and worked with Saudi-backed royalists in Yemen in the mid-1960s.



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