Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator and founder of the original Axis of Evil, worked as a British agent for MI5 at the start of his career, it has emerged.
14 Oct 2009
Mussolini's payments were authorised by Sir Samuel Hoare, an MP and MI5's man in Rome, who ran a staff of 100 British intelligence officers in Italy at the time.
Cambridge historian Peter Martland, who discovered details of the deal struck with the future dictator, told the Guardian:
Mr Hoare, later to become Lord Templewood, mentioned the recruitment in memoirs in 1954, but Mr Martland stumbled on details of the payments for the first time while scouring Mr Hoare's papers.
Mussolini also told Hoare he would send in the boys to keep a lid on pro-peace protests.
After the armistice, Mussolini began his rise to power, assisted by electoral fraud and blackshirt violence, establishing a fascist dictatorship by the mid-1920s.