Press cutting

Another exposure -by Tass

Hella Pick, Guardian, 31 January 1978, page 5

TASS has taken advantage of the Guardian's account, on January 27, of the now defunct Foreign Office Information Research Department to claim that "another political scandal" has been exposed in Britain.

Tass, in its own highly selective summary of the Guardian article, describes the tasks of IRD as "counter-propaganda against the Socialist States and the developing States," conducted "in parallel with the CIA." In spite of the fact the IRD's secret existence, as well as its demise, has been brought to light in the Guardian, Tass claims that "the IRD's carefully concealed activities" demonstrate that "the freedom of the press, which the defenders of Western democracy so persistently vaunt, has again failed to withstand a confrontation with reality."

It adds that "the Guardian has admitted that its functions have been expanded." In fact, the Guardian's report said that the new Overseas Information Department was a "much smaller" unit that its predecessor, with a "much wider brief to support British interests in general."

Nor has the Soviet public been told that the Guardian added a "reliable report from Whitehall" that Dr Owen, the Foreign Secretary, is now considering whether to declassify these background briefs and make them generally available.

Clarion notes

The name Hella Pick on the above article also appeared in secret IRD lists “of approved journalists and trade unionists to whom material was offered if not always accepted”, according to the Guardian report on IRD dated 27 January 1978. See related article “David Leigh recounts the 30-year history of the Foreign Office's covert propaganda operation”.

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