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LETTER: The truth or propaganda?

G R URBAN'S comment (Letters, 5 March) on my article on the Foreign Office's Information Research Department misses the point. Of course, the IRD was "an important source of information" for Western media in the Cold War.

However, if that "information" was merely "reflections of high intellectual quality", why was the British public never told of the IRD's covert links with the BBC, the press and trade unions? Why did the BBC European Services never disclose that its "analyses" came directly from the IRD? Why did Radio Free Europe, where Mr Urban was a director, conceal not only the source of its material but also the fact that it was almost wholly funded by the CIA?

I am not persuaded that the IRD, with its descriptions of Moscow's plans for the Third World War and its estimates of the Soviet slave state, was only "speaking the truth in the face of falsehoods". I am not convinced that the IRD was "a mild, gentlemanly, elective and very British institution"; it smacks more of a secret organisation to match the Soviets in the propaganda battle.

Is it not time the Government released the files on the department to set the record straight?

Dr Scott Lucas

University of Birmingham