London, Oct.14 (ANI): Former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was MI 5's point person in that country as a young man in 1917, Cambridge historians have revealed.
According to The Times, for at least a year, the young socialist was paid 100 pounds a week by the UK government - around 6,000 pounds today - to write pro-war propaganda for his newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia, one of the slickest media machines the country, and keep Italian troops fighting at the front.
"Mussolini wasn't exactly house-trained," said Dr Peter Martland, the Cambridge historian who made the discovery.
"We know he was a womaniser par excellence. There's the potential that a lot of money was spent on that," he added.
British MP Sir Samuel Hoare, who would almost two decades later become Foreign Secretary, brokered the deal in the hope that Mussolini's newsprint would reach the disgruntled masses of industrialised workers, halt the strikes and overturn pacifism.
It is unlikely that Hoare and Mussolini ever met, but Dr Martland estimates that the over-inflated wage was small beer for British budgets, from which the war was leeching four million pounds every day.
The two men went their separate ways after the armistice. Mussolini established a bloody fascist dictatorship, while Hoare worked his way through the ranks of government. The two came together again in 1935 when the British foreign secretary signed the Hoare-Laval Pact, and gave his old payee control of Abyssinia.
Dr Martland made the discovery studying a huge cache of Sir Samuel's papers.
Running to more than 40,000 documents and 12 years in studying, they constitute one of the biggest political collections in the world. (ANI)