Montague Woodhouse

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Person.png Montague Woodhouse  Rdf-icon.png
(spook)
Born 11 May 1917
Died 13 February 2001 (Age 83)
Founder of International Institute for Strategic Studies

Christopher Montague Woodhouse known as Monty Woodhouse or C.M. Woodhouse, was an MI6 agent who also worked for the Information Research Department. He was involved in installing the Shah in power in Iran and in the setting up of Encounter for the CIA. Later he headed Chatham House and stood as a Conservative MP.

Early life and war years

Monty Woodhouse was born on 11 May 1917 at 14 Abingdon Court, Kensington, London, the younger son of Horace Marton Woodhouse, the third Baron Terrington and his first wife, Valerie. He attended the prestigious Westminster School and New College (Oxford). At New College he studied under Richard Crossman and Isaiah Berlin, both of whom would become important anti-communist intellectuals.[1] He graduated in 1939 with a first-class degree in classics shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.[2]

Woodhouse enlisted in the Royal Artillery, and was attached to the British military mission that was dispatched to Greece following the Italian invasion of October 1940. He joined the Special Operations Executive and conducted undercover operations during the war, particularly with the Greek resistance.

Post-war

After the end of the war Woodhouse spent some time working at the British embassy in Athens and was responsible for observing the Greek elections of 1946. For two years he worked in industry before becoming, from 1948 to 1950, assistant secretary of the Nuffield Foundation.[3]

During the 1950s Woodhouse served in MI6 and was posted to Tehran, where he was officially the British embassy’s information officer. At that time Iran’s popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Mussadeq, was set to nationalise the Anglo Iranian Oil Company which later became British Petroleum. The man in charge of overthrowing Mussadeq was Robin Zaechner (who later became an Oxford professor), but when Zaechner left Woodhouse stepped in and planned the coup in collaboration with the CIA's man Kermit Roosevelt.[4] Woodhouse was posted to South Korea whilst the coup was executed but followed events on a radio.[5]

On return to London Woodhouse was assigned deep under cover work at the Information Research Department. He ran a semi-autonomous team within IRD based in an office opposite St James’s Park tube.[6] In 1952 he oversaw the establishment of Encounter, a CIA front publication intended to counter the supposedly pro-communist line taken by The New Statesman. Cleared at the highest levels of the CIA and MI6, the project was passed down to Woodhouse, and two other intelligence officers: Michael Josselson and Lawrence de Neufville who were acting under cover of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The three men agreed the journal’s financing and how its editorial content would be monitored, guided and controlled. The finance was handled mostly by the CIA, whilst the British supplied a lesser amount, either in brown envelopes handed over to the magazine's managing editor or in cheques signed by the film director Alexander Korda and the millionaire Victor Rothschild.[7]

Between 1955 and 1959 Woodhouse was the Director of Chatham House, during which time he also became a founder member of the Institute for Strategic Studies, set up by the IRD affiliated Labour politician Denis Halliday.[8]

In 1959 Woodhouse was elected Conservative MP for Oxford, becoming parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Aviation (1961–2) and joint under-secretary of state in the Home Office (1962–4). Re-elected in 1964, he narrowly lost the seat in 1966, and then served for a time as director of education and training for the Confederation of British Industry. He regained the seat in 1970, only to lose it in the election of October 1974.[9] In 1978 he was made Visiting Professor at King’s College, London.[10]



References

  1. Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta Books) p.168)
  2. Richard Clogg, ‘Woodhouse, Christopher Montague [Monty], fifth Baron Terrington (1917–2001)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Jan 2005; online edn, May 2008 (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/75443, accessed 31 July 2008)
  3. Richard Clogg, ‘Woodhouse, Christopher Montague [Monty], fifth Baron Terrington (1917–2001)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Jan 2005; online edn, May 2008 (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/75443, accessed 31 July 2008)
  4. Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation (HarperCollin, 2005) pp.115-7
  5. Obituary: Lord Terrington, Telegraph.co.uk, 1:38PM GMT 22 Nov 2001
  6. Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta Books) p.168)
  7. Frances Stonor Saunders, ‘How the CIA plotted against us’, The New Statesman, 12 July 1999
  8. Institute Press Release, 28 November 1958
  9. Richard Clogg, ‘Woodhouse, Christopher Montague [Monty], fifth Baron Terrington (1917–2001)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Jan 2005; online edn, May 2008 (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/75443, accessed 31 July 2008)
  10. ‘TERRINGTON’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007