Cowboy Coups

Phillip Knightley

  • Smear! Wilson and the Secret State by Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsay
    Fourth Estate, 502 pp, £20.00, August 1991, ISBN 1 872180 68 X

In the summer of 1975 I was invited by a man I knew had contacts in MI5 to have lunch at the Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge. He wanted me to meet ‘someone from the office’ who had a story which might interest the Sunday Times, where I was then working. There was another guest, an aristocratic young man from the City whose role appeared to be that of prompting the MI5 officer – for that is what I took the man from ‘the office’ to be – when he hesitated over a real or pretended indiscretion. The conversation was all to do with the extent to which the Russian Intelligence Service had penetrated British life. The MI5 officer quickly dispensed with the Wilson Government – its penetration was taken as read – slandered Wilson’s own loyalties and those of several members of his Cabinet, and then moved on to the Royal family.

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