Robin Bryans


After Dark Discuss British Intelligence

In a discussion titled “British Intelligence” and broadcast on 16 July 1988, the guests included Merlyn Rees, H. Montgomery Hyde and a man called Robert Harbinson, described by Francis Wheen in The Independent newspaper as follows:

“Robin Bryans, a… travel writer and sometime music teacher who also goes under the names Robert Harbinson and Christopher Graham. (His opponent) is Kenneth de Courcy… who likes to be known as the Duc de Grantmesnil…. Though both are Irish by birth, both have intelligence connections (Bryans was a friend of Blunt), both are ex- jailbirds and both are – how shall we say? – quite eccentric… (Bryans) denounced de Courcy on the Channel 4 programme After Dark. His allegations are too confused (and too libellous) to be summarised here, but names such as Mountbatten, Shackleton, Churchill, Blunt seem to pop up often.”
Bryans himself wrote:
“Before the cameras, we delighted to talk about Adeline de la Feld’s family upsetting Mussolini with their writings. I was then asked by Robin Ramsay of the Lobster magazine about my own early writing which he knew about from his co-editor Stephen Dorril who had interviewed me for his book Honeytrap, the sad story of my friend Stephen Ward hounded by the Establishment to suicide in 1963. But the Channel Four masterminds wanted to know about my war activities and the following day Montgomery Hyde, a barrister, phoned me to warn me that a High Court writ was on its way.
The journalist Paul Foot described it as “one magnificent edition of After Dark in which Robin Ramsay excelled himself.” During the discussion, another guest, retired GCHQ employee Jock Kane, claimed “that the new procedures recommended by the Security Commission regarding the removal of documents from GCHQ had not been implemented four years later.”
The following week The Guardian newspaper reported:
“Thirty Labour MPs yesterday called for a judicial inquiry into claims that the Government has used private security companies to carry out undercover operations on its behalf. A motion, drawn up by Mr Ken Livingstone (Brent E), refers to statements made by Mr Gary Murray – a private investigator, who says he has been employed by the Government – on Channel 4’s After Dark programme.”

In 1959, Robin Bryans, who has died aged 77, published Gateway To The Khyber. It was the first of 12 travel books, and was followed later that year by Madeira, Pearl Of The Atlantic.

While researching this second book, Bryans lived in a small Portuguese pension and enjoyed slipping into the British Club for a glass of Malmsey. But he also spent time with local people. Whether it was in the mountain farms or the fishermen’s cottages, he loved nothing better than writing about their way of life. He had a crisp, anecdotal style, and his work sparkled with colour and detail.

Obituary for Robin Bryans


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4 responses to “Robin Bryans

  1. Pingback: Kincora, TARA, Robin Bryans & the British Israelites | Bits of Books, Mostly Biographies

  2. Pingback: ebay: ‘The Dust Has Never Settled’ by Robin Bryans | theneedleblog

  3. paul

    Robin Bryans
    Honeyford Press, 58 Argyle Road, London W13 8AA
    £9.75.I first came across Mr Bryans when, under his other pen name, Robert Harbinson, he
    became embroiled in the Kincora Boys Home aspect of the Colin Wallace affair in 1987 and
    88. As Harbinson, he began including me on his distribution list for a series of ‘open letters’.
    Though obviously highly libellous, the content of these letters was largely obscure to me —
    and to the other people I knew who were getting them — but they seemed to indicate that the
    author knew a good deal about a number of scandals connected to Northern Ireland,
    including the Kincora Boys Home. Unfortunately, precisely what he knew, and precisely
    what he was willing to say in public was never made clear. Eventually Harbinson/Bryans
    and I appeared on the same edition of the tv programme After Dark on which he was as
    gnomic and obscure as his letters. The last contact I had with him was in 1990 when I met a
    journalist who was supposed to be working with him on a book. He was toting round the
    country an enormous typewritten manuscript by Harbinson/Bryans which I had flipped
    through in about 10 minutes. This book, I guess, is that manuscript — or its first cousin —
    finally in print.
    This is 623 pages, jumbled, unedited (or badly edited), and frequently virtually
    incomprensible; but it is also dotted with interesting fragments. It is supposed to be an
    autobiography, and it is in a way. But the directly autobiographical material is mostly
    obliterated by rambling, digressive accounts of feuding in the social circles that writer
    Harbinson/Bryans has lived in since the war. Since those circles included Anthony
    Blunt and an upper class Anglo-Irish homosexual mafia, this essentially private
    memoir has wider resonances. There are tid-bits in here on issues as diverse as Rudolf
    Hess in Britain, the peace plots of 1940, and black magic circles in South Wales (those
    three all linked together, incidentally); Blunt and Burgess; Labour Party politicians,
    war-time diplomacy and the sexual habits of Mrs Simpson and a great many others;
    the rise of Ian Paisley, Kincora and John McKeague etc. This is score settling on a
    grand scale.
    Since most of this book concerns people I know nothing about my evaluation of it
    should be taken as tentative; but on first reading I suspect this is one of the great
    scurrilous memoirs of the age and I think you’d better buy a copy before it gets
    injuncted and disappears.

  4. ian

    Bryans is also the author of “The dust has never settled”. According to Lobster (24) .. one of the great scurrilous memoirs of the age… a.o. the rise of Ian Paisley. Kincora, and John McKeague…