“If you’re talking about people who had a serious idea of a military coup, yes, they would be fairly senior people.”
According to the Independent, in 1964, when Alun Gwynne Jones (Lord Chalfont) was defence correspondent of the Times, after a visit to see Harold Wilson in Downing Street he was made Minister for Disarmament, and had been told to think up his title as a life peer. The report, from 1995 noted that the former minister for disarmament had become chairman of VSEL (builder of nuclear submarines and warships) and stated:
It is easy to see why Lord Chalfont has been characterised as yet another idealist socialist who has slipped steadily to the right. Labour government minister in the Sixties; journalist on the New Statesman and Guardian in the early Seventies. Then the slippage began —board of IBM, a venture in the City, writing for the Times, then the job at VSEL and associations with free-market organisations. No wonder his old employer the Guardian slammed into him with a potted biography in 1993 that ended: “Most likely to say — ‘Bloody BBC pinkos’. Least likely to say — ‘Ban the Bomb’.”
Chalfont’s membership of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies is rarely mentioned.
From 1941 to 1944 he fought in Burma, staying on to take part in a series of anti-terrorist (anti-communist) campaigns. In 1961 he was a colonel and had been writing a series of articles on Soviet strategy in the Royal United Services Institute journal. After his brief career, which also involved negotiating the UK’s entry into the EEC, he became foreign editor of the New Statesman and a columnist for the Guardian, joining the board of IBM,a director of Lazard Bros., deputy chairman of the IBA (and since 1991, chairman of the Radio Authority), Computer Sciences Corporation and president of the UK Committee for the Free World, a propaganda organisation.
Chalfont became a contributer to the (1981) International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, by Benjamin Netanyahu and Mekhon Yonatan, published by Transaction Publishers, along with Shimon Peres (then leader of the Ma’arakh opposition), Paul Johnson (who attacked Sartre and compared Franz Fanon to Hitler and quotes Dostoievsky, without noting he was put on trial for terrorism and blames the media) Hugh Fraser (Chalfont had been invited onto the board of Lonrho), Menachem Begin (then Prime Minister, who argued that the New Left were a western terrorism problem, that: “The New Left is one of the darkest reactions in human history, the evidence he gives for this is that he was a former “underground fighter”, who often tried to decide things by the “ballot” and when that failed “the bullet”), Henry Jackson, Richard Pipes (who traced terrorism to Nechayev for little other reason than he was Russian and served as a starting point for the idea that the Soviets were directing just about all terrorism), Brian Crozier (then the director of the Institute for the Study of Conflict, which by the time the book had been published had turned into the IEDSS, who also blamed the Soviets for funding all terrorism, Ray Cline, Robert Moss, Edward Teller, norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, George Bush, Vladimir Bukovsky and several other ‘terrorism experts’. The collection was based on the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, organised by Netanyahu’s Jonathan Institute in 1979. The task of the conference was to “define the terrorist”.
Chalfont’s contribution is echoed in that quoted in Neil J. Smelser’s (2007) The faces of terrorism, (p. 111) whereby he stated the “depressing fact” that “newspapers, radio, and television have probably done more than the terrorist organizations themselves …” The next step from this as Chalfont argued is control of the media: “that such control is regarded as normal and acceptable in wartime”. These thoughts are supported by the ideas of Margaret Thatcher (her ‘oxygen of publicity’ remark), Ronald Reagan and extended ‘academically’ to include “representatives and sympathisers” by Paul Wilkinson. Reagan is quoted as arguing that:
If the nation’s television assignment news directors would take a collective deep breath and declare a moratorium on live coverage of terrorist events during the commission of the crime, they would be cutting off the source of inspiration for an untold number of loose nuts who harbor crazy ideas.
The arrangement of argument that appears in Smelser’s book reflects the Jonathan Conference definition, even after such a long time-span.
Chalfont— like many IEDSS members — resigned from the Labour Party saying there was too much power in the hands of non-elected bodies, meaning not the monarchy, or the House of Lords, but the trade unions, arguing that real power and political influence passing out of the hands of government and into the hands of extra-parliamentary institutions. He also stated that “giant industrial concerns and big business were organising themselves to meet a threat to their very existence’.
Robin Ramsay’s and Stephen Dorril’s (1994) Smear, Wilson and the Secret State, (p.281) mentions Chalfont’s1976, documentary in this context:
The anti-subversive lobby’s Brian Crozier was among those who appeared in Chalfont’s television psy-war programme, It Must Not Happen Here. Broadcast in January 1976, it ‘purported to show that the Communist Manifesto was being implemented bit by bit in Britain. Bert Ramelson, Stuart Holland, Ken Gill and others were named and Frank Chapple, Reg Prentice, Lord Hailsham, Brian Crozier of the Institute for the Study of Conflict, Woodrow Wyatt and Chalfont himself all spoke in support of this view.’
A similar venture was the Television programme ‘Disarmament and Jimmy Carter‘, hosted by William F. Buckley, that was filmed in London and included interviews with Chalfont and Brian Crozier. A copy based at the Hoover Institution gives this summary:
Our two guests approach things from different political angles, but both are serious students of the Soviet Union and of disarmament, and both are informatively apprehensive about America’s new President. Mr. Crozier: “I think he may be tempted to follow a path … of considering the strategic relations between the two superpowers in terms of military hardware and of nuclear technology, and of ignoring the other factors at work, including Soviet subversion … and the Soviet involvement by proxy, the most striking example of which is undoubtedly the Angola affair, in which some 15,000 or perhaps more Cuban troops were there simply to carry out Soviet foreign policy.” … Lord Chalfont: “I think perhaps the greatest reason for concern was the remark which you quoted,… that he proposed to eliminate nuclear weapons from the earth…. Arms control and disarmament is a highly complex business, highly technical, requiring a great deal of intellectual application, a great deal of experience, and quite frankly, anybody who thinks that he’s going to eliminate nuclear weapons from the earth in four years or eight years is, I think, living in some kind of fool’s paradise.”
Drawing on his work which (most likely prompted by Crozier) attempted to expose left-wing bias in television news and current affairs programmes, some sites have examined Chalfont’s social network by a focus on the organisational ties and memberships (although the IEDSS connection is ignored) of the organisations presented below:
*The Pilgrims Society: Executive
*Conservative Monday Club
*Foreign Affairs Research Institute: council member (with Brian Crozier, Julian Amery, and Robert Moss)
*Institute for the Study of Terrorism: Chair (with IEDSS’ Caroline Cox)
*Committee for a Free Britain
*Committee for a Free World (recommended by John Lehman)
*Media Monitoring Unit
*Zeus Security Consultants: Consultant
*Jonathan conference: Chairman
*Independent Broadcasting Authority: Deputy Chairman
We could also add his involvement with the New Atlantic Initiative as a member and also participant in their Congress of Prague, a similar venture to the jonathan Institute’s Conference in many ways and also an offshoot of the IEDSS, indeed Chalfont mentions the organisation, and that he is vice president of the European Atlantic Group and a fellow of the Atlantic Council.
According to David Teacher in Rogue Agents (p. 58-59):
With a new hard right leader at the helm of the Conservative Party, the counter-subversion lobby’s campaign continued. On 26th February, two weeks after Thatcher’s election as Conservative leader, a House of Lords debate on “Subversive and Extremist Elements” which again aired the Frolik allegations was initiated by Lord Chalfont (Alun Gwynne-Jones), a former military intelligence officer and Times defence correspondent. [...] Chalfont would leave the Labour Party ten years later and rapidly veer rightwards to become a significant player in the anti-Wilson counter-subversion lobby. Allegedly “the CIA’s man in the House of Lords”, Chalfont certainly had been a member of the Executive Committee of the CIA-funded European Movement.
One of Crozier’s 61’s campaigners was Paul Mercer, whose book Peace of the Dead was a denunciation of CND. It carried a forward by Chalfont, whose other more direct work with the IEDSS included the October 1984 campaign with the IEDSS’ Sir Peter Blaker who charged that the ‘Generals for Peace’ organisation was a ‘danger to Western security’. (Daily Telegraph 25th September 1984; reply by Michael Harbottle, Telegraph 5th October 1984; Chalfont/Blaker reply Telegraph 9 October 1984). On this Lobster No.7 (1985) added:
Assumptions that this was just a routine piece of scare-mongering by Chalfont/Blaker, who are inclined to see the hands of the USSR pretty well everywhere on the left and in the ‘peace’ movement might be tempered by the review of the ‘Generals for Peace’ book, The Arms Race to Armageddon published in the New Statesman (26 October 1984) by Martin Ryle [one of the British 'peace' movement's bigger names], writes: “The authors not only endorse Soviet negotiating positions.. they endorse the official Warsaw Pact line almost in its entirety … (they) present recent Soviet missile deployments in Poland, Czechoslovakia and the GDR as legitimately defensive ” etc.
Chalfont is also mentioned in the Guardian, November 23, 1984, which stated that since the USA served notice to quit Unesco, their ‘combative’, right-wing Republican ambassador to the organisation, Jean Gerard, “found herself at somewhat of a loose end':
Until the White House decided that Britain should pull out too, and Ms Gerard embarked on two secret lobbying operations. In October, she met a number of Tory MPs at a meeting of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies. She was back again for a three-day visit at the end of the month, and attended a dinner at the Garrick organised by Lord Chalfont. Guests included Professors Bauer and Beloff, Dr Roger Scruton, and other luminescent opinion-formers of the Right.
I explore the IEDSS connections here in the section on Peter Blaker. In November 1984, Chalfont, without disclosing his proximity to organisations orchestrating such ‘publicity’, can be found in reports in the Guardian as promoting the theme of’Arthur Scargill’s private army’ receiving thousands from Moscow, during the Miner’s strike in debates in the House of Lords. A few months earlier another Guardian report, of October 31, 1984,told of Chalfont and the IEDSS’s Baroness Cox using the Lords to stage a denouncement of Generals for Peace, as involved with pro-Soviet propaganda:
Lord Chalfont, a former Foreign Affairs Minister, who raised the matter, said four of the members of Generals for Peace belonged to the World Peace Council, ‘a notorious Soviet front organisation.’
Cox also attacked the Caroline Gourlay Charitable Trust, which was cleared by an enquiry, according to (1985) Hansard. The previous year Chalfont had attended one of many right-wing conferences in the US, at one conference, ”The Conservative Movement and the Media,” which included
Richard Viguerie, Chalfont got together with Claire Sterling, the propagandist, to drive home the Jonathan Institute’s line, here reported in the New York Times, June 28, 1984, in seminar on the news media and terrorism:
Claire Sterling, a writer who recently had published long articles indicating that Bulgaria may have directed the attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II, accused the press and Western governments of a ”conspiracy of silence” on the Soviet Union’s reputed direction of international terrorism. Lord Chalfont, a former British Foreign Secretary, intervened in the seminar to ask why the press took a ”majesterial” position of objectivity on such subjects as terror. ”Is it too much to ask that the press be on our side?” he asked amid much applause.
In London the Guardian, March 22, 1985, reported the conference of The Committee for the Free World (CFW) at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, some 300 yards from the Soviet Embassy:
The American flagship is Mrs Jeane Kirkpatrick, who is not waiting for her release from official office in just a week’s time before indicating that she finds Ronnie too timid. Among officials with no intention of leaving, the fight is led by Richard Perle, the US Assistant Secretary of Defence, who has branded Sir Geoffrey Howe’s reservation on Star Wars as shallow and ignorant as well as wrong. Intellectual back-up in the United States comes from Norman Podhoretz in Commentary, Richard Pipes, historian Irving Kristol, Elie Kedourie and others.
This also noted that the CFW were remarkably well represented in the House of Lords:
Chalfont, Bauer, Weidenfeld, Quinton (President of Trinity), Thomas (Hugh, of Swynnerton), Chapple (Frank – who says he is member of ‘the world’s largest party – the ex-Communists.’) Commoners’ support is channelled through Melvyn Lasky’s Encounter, the Times (Roger Scruton), the Daily Telegraph (Peregrine Worsthorne), and the columns of Brian Crozier and Paul Johnson. In France the death of Raymond Aron left Jean-Francois Revel to speak for the movement, which is spiced with a sprinkling of distinguished exiles like Vladimir Bukowski, and joined in occasional skirmishes by international statesmen of the past like Malcolm Fraser of Australia.
The CFW conference also included Brian Crozier and Baroness Cox and the CFW, the article set out a familiar proposals to solve the perceived problems:
What is to be done then? The assembled academics failed to agree on a joint programme. Lord Weidenfeld wanted a ‘new patriotism, transending borders.’ Lady Cox wanted Nato to set aside one per cent of the budget for ‘psychological defence’ against subversion in schools and colleges. Someone called for ‘tightly-knit groups of politically motivated men’ to combat subversive ideas, preferably financed by the USA.
According to the Times, July 11 1985, the CFW was used to attack Oxfam led by Lord Chalfont and Lady Wheldon, who believed Oxfam should forfeit its charitable status because of its pamphlet ‘The Arms Race Kills’. This, according to Chalfont was ‘not only political, but concerned to advance a particular attitude: one hostile to western armaments but congenial to Soviet expansion’.
Taking over the Media
Chalfont was appointed to several media overseeing positions including the IBA, but he also had links with the Media Monitoring Unit, an organisation he set up in 1985, when he was with the IEDSS, with Julian Lewis (prior to his move to the research department at Conservative Central Office) that set out to monitor (i.e. to present) leftwing bias in the media. This organisation produced a report earlier in 1990 accusing BBC Radio 4’s Today programme of anti-government bias. According to the Guardian, 24 August 1990, amendments to a Broadcasting Bill were tabled by Lord Wyatt of Weeford, Lord Orr-Ewing and Baroness Cox, something of an IEDSS trio, to “strengthen the provisions on impartiality”. The Guardian report mentions that Simon Clark, who was responsible for the Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) report attacking Today, said there had been attempts by broadcasters to make out that his unit was “behind the amendments, but this was not so. He denied the unit helped brief Lord Wyatt and Lord Orr-Ewing”. John Pilger, also in the Guardian, 8 October 1990, commented on the matter:
Wyatt’s refrain has been that broadcasting in Britain is a quivering red plot: “left-wing bias” he calls it. In the Lords, he tabled an amendment to the Broadcasting Bill that would “define impartiality” which he had agreed with Thatcher in a meeting at Downing Street. During the debate, he was supported by Lord Chalfont, another old Thatcher pal and her appointment as deputy chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority. In this capacity, Chalfont was meant to be representing the interests of independent television in Parliament. His backing for Wyatt was an outrageous example of double interest. When Earl Ferrers picked up the scent and replied that the Government would table its own amendment, Wyatt and his backers withdrew theirs.
For Pilger the MMU was little more than a “propaganda shop front” and he also notes that “Chalfont was a consultant for a security firm which has since been offering to help ITV companies win back their franchises [...] A former intelligence officer, he has links with the extreme right, especially in South Africa.” Pilger also mentions that his (1983) The Truth Game, which he describes as trying “…to decode the language of nuclear inevitability and to illuminate the history of nuclear weapons as an exercise in keeping information not from an enemy but from the people the weapons were meant to “defend””, almost certainly would not have been made under the amendment.
In the Guardian, 8 October 1990, Georgina Henry, observed that Lord Wyatt said he “got quite a lot of what we wanted from the Government,” and that the campaign included Lord Orr-Ewing, the Freedom Association, 113 backbench MPs (mainly Tory), the Media Monitoring Unit and Lord Chalfont:
founder of the MMU and now, strangely, deputy chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, he has fought an assiduous campaign against the “left-wing bias” he sees in broadcasting. This group is on the brink of victory with a Government amendment to the Broadcasting Bill waiting only for the votes of loyal peers and MPs to make it law.
She also notes that Wyatt had been fighting “biased broadcasting” for years, from his “thoroughly biased platform in the News of the World and the Times.”
Greg Philo in Television, Politics and the New Right , quotes from Chalfont’s introduction to the first MMU report:
There is a widespread belief in political circles — although this is not necessarily shared by the general public — that news and current affairs on television are neither objective nor impartial; and that they are, in fact, persistently biased in favour of the Left.
Philo contextualises the MMU’s activities noting that the reports issued by the MMU gave each programme a classification to denote possible ‘bias’.
It is interesting that two documentaries which dealt with unemployment (on the closure of steel works and on Cornish tin mines) are classified by the unit as ‘programmes attacking the Right and promoting the Left’ [...] the conflict between the government and broadcasters in the 1980’s came not because journalists had moved to the left, but because the Conservatives had moved to the right. This conflict also apparent in other areas such as defence and foreign affairs, where the new conservatives pursued strong interventionist policies and developed a close relationship with America. The British fought a war with Argentina in 1982 and supported the bombing of Libya by America in 1986. Both of these events produced major public conflicts between the Conservative Party and the BBC.
Simon Clark, one of the organisers of the MMU, was “associated with the Russian émigré group NTS”, according to a Spinprofiles profile. It is not noted in the profile, but this is thought to be an intelligence front (see the profile on Reg Prentice) and also involved the IEDSS’s researcher George Miller. Clark runs the website ‘The Free Society’ which blends members of the Communist Party and the far-right. In 1990m Clark, went on to form, with Peter Young, the Centre for Media Research and Analysis Ltd, which worked for the tobacco lobby.
The Times, July 3 1986, reported that a media monitoring unit was being set up by the Conservative Party to combat what was seen as the growing anti-Government ‘bias’ of radio and television, led by Norman Tebbit. The MMU’s first report emerged in November 19 1986 after what was said to be a year’s study. Tebbit appears to have helped promote the MMU’s various pronouncements, a The Guardian, November 19, 1986, report outlines his position and that the report found bias on reporting on America’s Strategic Defence Initiative, while the IEDSS was running US propaganda on the matter, noting:
The report was financed by Sir Peter Tennant, a former CBI consultant, and some businessmen. It was also backed by the right of centre Policy Research Associates organisation. It accuses programme makers of being anti-American, anti-police, anti-privatisation, pro ‘civil rights’, and misleading about government cuts. The United States was portrayed as ‘blood-thirsty, militaristic and trigger-happy. ‘ It quoted a report in Channel 4’s Opinions programme which described President Reagan as ‘smiling his winning salesman’s smile as he cancels the Federal subsidies of widows and orphans. ‘
Tennant (a member of the Academic Council of Wilton Park) was a secret service agent and one of the first operatives of the Special Operations Executive, and something of an expert in propaganda campaigns according to C. G. McKay’s (1993) From Information to Intrigue, and David Teacher’s Rogue Agents, (p. 148) notes that together with Brian Crozier, Robert Moss Tennant was a Pinay Cercle member who would share the chairmanship of Cercle meetings with Crozier. He also notes that:
[Julian] Lewis would go on to run other anti-Left operations for the Cercle complex throughout the 1980s, one of which would be the Media Monitoring Unit, founded by the Conservative Central Office in 1985, a re-run of the ISC’s 1970s actions against leftist infiltration of the media.
Julian Lewis’ Policy Research Associates is described as presenting itself “in debates on such matters as council corruption, trade union law and CND”, which he notes were also all Crozier campaigns. The monitoring unit is said to be indicative of a more aggressive approach in Right-of-centre circles to getting across its message. Teacher argues that Tennant drew together a nucleus of sympathisers, mostly from the City, who “put up the £25,000-or-so to hire a director, buy a video recorder and publish the report”. Crozier recounts in Free Agent (p. 243):
“We produced several occasional issues of the Monitoring Report, an impressively researched survey of the political attitudes in the media, which showed, in my view beyond doubt, that there was a predominantly left-wing bias, especially in television. The first yearly report, at the end of 1986, attracted much press attention, most of it favourable.”
The Times, December 30, 1987, noted that concerning ‘bias’ the MMU found “BBC2’s Secret Society series, presented by Duncan Campbell [...] to be the worst culprit,” adding that the series was consistently “anti-Nato, anti-British intelligence, antipolice, anti-establishment. There were no redeeming features”. Julian Lewis, whose pressure group, the Coalition for peace Through Security had engaged in anti-CND projects was named in the Secret Society programe. The Guardian, January 23, 1989, destroyed the report’s methodology as little more than Clark and two students watching the programmes. The Guardian, February 4, 1989, also noted Chalfont’s conflict of interest with programmes such as Secret Society, in that he was a consultant to two private detective agencies whose boards include several members of the company commissioned in 1983 to investigate covertly the political background of the Sizewell Nuclear power station objectors. The techniques used included using false names to get information from the inquiry, posing as journalists to interview objectors, and the setting up of peace front groups to infiltrate and discredit CND:
Lord Chalfont’s security connections began in 1981 when, as a hawk on defence issues, he joined the board of Zeus Security, run by a former military intelligence officer, Mr Peter Hamilton. Both served in the Malaya and Cyprus. Set up with money from the fiancier, Sir James Goldsmith, with whom Lord Chalfont shared extreme anti-left views, a Zeus subsidiary, Zeus Security Consultants, also run by Mr Hamilton, was asked to investigate objectors at the marathon Sizewell inquiry.
This also notes that the board of Zeus Security included, besides Mr Hamilton, Lord Chalfont and Sir Dallas Bernard, the City financier, Major-General Sir Philip Ward, a former commanding officer of the Army’s London District.
The Sunday Times, February 5, 1989 noted Chalfont’s long history of involvement with right-wing pressure groups: President of Freedom in Sport, which campaigned to retain sporting links with South Africa; the Committee for a Free Britain, which spent more than £200,000 on advertisements attacking Labour during the 1987 election; the Committee for a Free World (the American neo-conservative group) and the and the MMU, which it described as “a ludicrous pseudoscientific attempt to expose leftwing bias.”
The New York Times, December, 1982, examined a deal whereby Chalfont acquired the Abington Corporation, a military consulting firm, previously owned by Secretary of the US Navy John F. Lehman Jr., but supposedly sold off after he joined the Reagan Administration. Lehman had planned a reacquisition of the overseas Abington after he left the Government. The Abington overseas sale included ”acquiring (Mr. Lehman’s) clients,” who included defense contractors (including Boeing) with whom Lehman dealt as Secretary of the Navy (there was not much more to the company other than its clients and connections). Chalfont had worked for Abington earlier. Lehman did not disqualify himself from participating in Navy decisions affecting the Northrop Corporation and other former clients.
The Soviets picked up on this and in a radio broadcast ‘A Glance at the British Scene’ by Valeriy Belyanskiy, March 4, 1983, stated:
The clients in this firm, it so happens, fill military contracts and do business with the Pentagon. As a matter of fact, Lord Chalfont himself once said candidly in an interview that as the new head of the firm he was doing his best to help American companies in marketing their aerospace and military products abroad. Presumably he will not ignore a market like the United Kingdom, the more so since the Thatcher government appears to be doing everything possible to turn the country into a warehouse of the latest American arms.