The British government secretly funded Reuters in the 1960s and 1970s at the direction of an anti-Soviet propaganda organization with links to MI-6, according to unclassified documents unveiled Monday.
The government used the BBC to conceal funding in making payments to the international news group.
“We are now in a position to conclude an agreement providing discreet Government support for Reuters services in the Middle East and Latin America,” reads a 1969 redacted secret British government document entitled “Funding of Reuters by HMG,” or Her Majesty’s Government.
The document was declassified last year.
“HMG’s interests should be well served by the new arrangement,” it continues.
A Reuters spokesperson said in a statement on Monday that it was common for news organizations to receive some form of state subsidy at the time.
“Many news organisations received some form of state subsidy after World War Two,” said Reuters spokesperson David Crundwell.
“But the arrangement in 1969 was not in keeping with our Trust Principles and we would not do this today,” he continued.
Reuters Trust Principles, created in 1984, “is dedicated to upholding the Trust Principles and to preserving its independence, integrity, and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news,” according to the company’s web site.
Reuters was founded in 1851. Its parent company, Thompson Reuters, employs more than 25,000 people worldwide.
The BBC cited a similar charter regarding its editorial independence.
“The BBC charter guarantees editorial independence irrespective of whether funding comes from the UK government, the licence fee or commercial sources,” a BBC spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.