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.