With respect to Matthew Feldman’s review of British Writers and MI5 Surveillance, 1930-1960 by James Smith (4 April), it is useful to have confirmation that Stephen Spender’s salary while editing Encounter from 1953 to 1966 was “paid by one secret arm of the British government”.
However, this should not obscure the fact that this influential journal was funded largely by the CIA. For as Frances Stonor Saunders points out in Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (1999) the “SIS [Secret Intelligence Service, aka MI6] wished to maintain a financial interest in the project, a small contribution of which would come from IRD’s [the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office] secret vote”. This subsidy paid the wages of the British editor and his secretary, thus avoiding “the impropriety of the CIA remunerating British subjects”.
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London