A Sordid Tale of British Psychological Operations

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Directed by Michael Oswald (2021)

Film Review

This documentary explores the interesting career of Colin Wallace, a Northern Irelander who worked in psychological operations for British intelligence for ten years. He was fired for blowing the whistle on MI5 involvement in a pedophile ring targeting boys in the Kincora Boys Home in Belfast. Shortly after his dismissal, the police, in collaboration with British intelligence, framed him on a manslaughter charge. Sentence to ten years in 1981, he served six prior to his release in 1981.

The film explains the nature of Wallace’s work for the Information Research Department (a British military intelligence department running psychological operations between 1948-77). His job included fabricating negative propaganda about the IRA and Northern Ireland Catholics to disseminate to the British and foreign press, writing fake readers’ letters and provoking conflict between IRA and Catholic leaders with disinformation. Examples of the fabricated news Wallace planted in the press included fake stories portraying Northern Ireland civil rights activists as terrorists, about the Soviet Union and Irish Americans smuggling arms to the IRA and about IRA involvement in witchcraft and Devil worship.

Following IRD’s withdrawal from Northern Ireland in 1973 (their “dirty tricks” activities were hurting image of British troops stationed in Northern Ireland), Wallace was redeployed to “Operation Clockwork Orange.” The latter launched a series of smear campaigns against mainland officials, including Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Following his dismissal from IRD, Wallace began contacting Wilson and other politicians the agency had smeared. This would lead to the agency’s closure in 1977, as well as decision (by police in collaboration with intelligence figures) to frame Wallace for manslaughter.

Wallace has been telling his story in chat shows and other media outlets ever since his release in 1987. He was awarded £30,000 pounds compensation after his conviction was reversed in 1996.

The British government still resists launching a full independent investigation into IRD and Clockwork Orange.