Black market made pounds 10m for government

BRITAIN'S wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE) made a profit of more than pounds 10m in 1944 by trading currency on the black markets, in addition to sabotaging and subverting the Axis war effort.

In a document released by the Public Records Office yesterday, Lord Selborne, the Minister for Economic Warfare, told the Prime Minister that 'during 1944, SOE can claim to have been run at a large profit to HMG - a rare achievement in any government department'.

Files on view at Kew also reveal rivalry between the SOE and the Secret Intelligence Service under the legendary 'C', Sir Stewart Menzies. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, considered appointing a High Court judge as a 'permanent conciliator' between the two clandestine organisations which sent agents behind enemy lines. The sniping continued into 1944, when the Germans' penetration of the SOE network in the Netherlands was used as a pretext to prise SOE out of Lord Selborne's control and bring it under military command.