Mussolini was a British spy

October 14th, 2009 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 14 (IANS) Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini was a British spy in 1917 - paid to write newspaper articles during the First World War, a Cambridge University historian said quoting recently-uncovered archival material.
Mussolini, who later became an ally of Hitler during the Second World War, was paid 100 pounds a week - 6,000 pounds in today’s money - to write articles to keep up the pro-war campaigning, historian Peter Martland said.

“Britain’s least reliable ally in the war at the time was Italy after revolutionary Russia’s pullout from the conflict. Mussolini was paid 100 pounds a week from the autumn of 1917 for at least a year to keep up the pro-war campaigning - equivalent to about 6,000 pounds today,” Martland said.

Mussolini, then a 34-year-old journalist, was reportedly hired under a deal brokered by British MP Sir Samuel Hoare, who later became Britain’s Foreign Secretary but at the time was acting as a spy for MI5, the British intelligence agency, in Italy.

Martland said Mussolini was paid to write pro-war propaganda for his newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia, one of the slickest media machines in the country, and keep Italian troops fighting at the front.

The hope was that Mussolini’s articles would reach the disgruntled factory workers in Italy, halt the strikes, overturn pacifism and defeat Bolsheviks.

Martland, who made the discovery in a huge cache of Hoare’s papers, told The Times although the Mussolini-Hoare pact had been known for decades, the size of Mussolini’s pay packet was new.

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