Review of the film – The Man Who Knew Too Much is a documentary film by Michael Oswald about Colin Wallace, a former Senior Information Officer at the Ministry of Defence, UK. 

The film echoes the grief stricken testimony told to me by the wife of a serving officer in Northern Ireland, who died there in the early ‘80’s, about the policy of setting up assassinations of IRA members by loyalist groups and vice versa by leaking location details to each side via informers paid by the British military, and also techniques by which explosive devices in the hands of paramilitaries could be prematurely detonated.


Colin Wallace’s chilling testimony makes for compulsive viewing, adding insights into the parallel psyops war in which the IRA issued mendacious stories designed to gain international attention and material support for their campaign, while on the other hand the Army distributed government propaganda.   One such story was that the nitro benzine and petrol in home-made bombs caused leukaemia in children and another was that the IRA was supported by Russian agents dropped off by submarine, which made ‘News of the World’ headlines.  Journalists were said to have been rewarded for “friendly reporting” by the promise of repeat off the record briefings by the Army.


To destroy paramilitary morale and turn international opinion against them, Wallace alleges that Army Information would brief the press on the weapons used in violent incidents, adding that the same make of weapon was known to be used by the IRA or Protestant paramilitaries. The Army would avoid directly attributing the killings, but allow the press to draw their own conclusions and report that either the IRA or UVF etc. were the likely sources.  Other briefings attributed bizarre stories of witchcraft involving the satanic slaughter of sheep to a general moral decline in the population, in order to galvanise the protestant clergy into denouncing paramilitary activity


Wallace describes the secrecy and unaccountability of M15 M!6 as “the British disease” and that many journalists of the time considered investigative work concerning the activities of these agencies as risky to future careers and even mental wellbeing. A culture existed in which nobody was accountable, there was no admission of wrongdoing, evidence routinely lost and the press found itself reinforcing and legitimising secret power instead of challenging it.


The most chilling testimony concerns a situation in which senior politicians were not only kept in ignorance of the details of psyops activities but were also categorised as to their own vulnerability in matters of personal finance, moral values and political views; a page in a notebook shows that these were said to include Harold Wilson, Ted Heath and James Callaghan; if true, this revelation alone makes this film essential viewing and gives profound cause for concern over what happens when external scrutiny and accountability of military intelligence is neglected or ineffective, allowing operations to spiral out of control.   A leader, whether political or military should never be able to say “I was not told”, when on their watch, the country’s security forces run amok in breach of national and international law and common humanity.


David Collins

Veterans for Peace

18th January 2021


Link to information about the film:



  1. Michael Small says:

    Hello, Will this film be shown in London ?

  2. Tim Everett says:

    Its all just a game, most players being pawns (class system). People need to stop playing the mans game, VFP is a start in that.

  3. David Marchesi says:

    The Establishment includes the secret services [who do they serve?] and has a very long history of “huh,hush”, which was mocked in the rather odd musical “Salad Days” [1954] for example. Real life is grimmer than most fiction, and the Aly Renwick novel, Gangrene, gains from being relatively up-to-date and “insider”,like this film’s subject. [Mr Johnson is a sort of more feminine version of the Dear Lady whose picture in Steve Bell version adorns the novel’s cover- so right up-to-date !]
    The sad thing is, for older observers, that current advances in technology, owned overwhelmingly, of course, by the big capitalists, are making it more and more difficult, and even dangerous, to listen to the few whistle-blowers from the civil and armed services, the NHS or whatever. Our ruling class is a world leader in propaganda, and needs to construct “enemies” so as to avoid the awkward questioning of its power, as represented by, say, the IRA/Sinn Fein.
    From generation to generation, the public is taught not to give any serious thought to a united Ireland, hysteria being called into action as soon as any real issues are raised, for example, has Brexit threatened the Good Friday agreements and, if so, perhaps a united Ireland within the EU/Single market might be a “good thing” for the whole island ? Sanity is replaced with immature responses from figures whose mindsets verge on lunacy [current Unionist leader who is a “creationist”- that’s to say,the world was created at c. midday on 10th May 6004 B.C.]
    If this film is widely distributed, VFP members can try to use it to pursue constructive discussion of the key issue which the Establishment wants to be forgotten.

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