Searchlight Come Clean About Column 88: Or Do They?

Having built up C88 so much, indeed based their reputation on it, the admission by Searchlight concerning the group later on, in for example their 'Community Handbook' (1995) is nonetheless staggering. After two pages of an (as usual) error-strewn chronology of the far-right, they stated "C88, the nazi underground group that existed from around the late 1960s until the end of the 1970s was a honey trap operation by British intelligence and should not be counted as a genuine far right [Page 5] or racist group" (Section 2.2-2). Shortly before, Searchlight had gone even further, claiming that "Column 88... is now thought to have been an unofficial adjunct to the British section of the Gladio network." [17] In January 1991, while still asserting C88 had been an "underground fascist paramilitary organisation" and not, therefore, a state operation as such (p. 6), there was an attempt to retrospectively tie C88 in with George Kennedy Young himself, saying that he "and his close associates used organisations like Column 88 as a smoke screen for their more criminal plans" (p. 3). Attacking MI6 in this general way (i.e. with little evidence) is yet another instance of Searchlight's predisposition towards their MI5 rivals, something we will have reason to return to. If we take their 1995 argument about C88 being a state 'honey trap' at face value, then if C88 was a state operation from start to finish, why did Searchlight not disclose this when it was relevant to do so: i.e. when it was actually functioning, or when George Kennedy Young was still alive to answer their allegations about his supposed involvement? By not blowing the whistle when it mattered, they themselves acted as "unofficial adjuncts" and disinformers on behalf of this very same "honey trap operation." Indeed, without them, this "honeytrap" would not have been able to function at all in the first place. If Searchlight had not existed, no doubt the secret state would have used, (or set up) some other conduit to hype C88 – i.e. peddle disinformation. But the fact is the state didn't need an alternative outlet: Searchlight willingly did the job of selling C88 to the media Left & Right, and at the time were happy to take the credit. In the light of Searchlight's record on C88 alone, everything they say on the subject of security service involvement in fascist politics should be treated as disinformation, in no way as credible 'hard' information. The alternative charitable view, that Searchlight weren't aware at the relevant time of the nature/function of C88 hardly sees them as coming out better: they would be equally lacking in credence but merely naive as opposed to malign.