Paul Foot in Who Framed Colin Wallace? on the rumours

The following passage comes from Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace? (London: Macmillan, 1989), pp. 394-395.

If a secret state like this is allowed to grow unchecked all democratic politicians are at risk. it is no use right-wing politicians imagining that they themselves will be safe from the secret state, perhaps because they have more in common with each other politically. The monster, once fed, will grow hungrier. The upholders of the secret state regard all democratic politicians as traitors to the true cause, and will attack them just as readily as they attacked Harold Wilson or Merlyn Rees in the past. Early on in the miners’ strike of 1984, a vile rumour about the personal behaviour of the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, started to circulate among journalists. The information was, as I eventually discovered, completely untrue. But it had about it just enough of the ‘ring of truth’ to make it sound credible. Anyone who believed it for an instant would have wanted Leon Brittan removed from office at once. After checking that the information was wrong, I then strove for many days to find its source. It was nowhere to be found. Everybody had ‘heard it from somewhere else’. Sometimes they could remember where they heard it, but that source would prove as maddeningly vague about his source – and so on, endlessly to nothing. Fortunately for Mr Brittan, the rumour never got into print. But where did it come from? So untrue was it that it could not have originated in that part of Britain where the ‘event’ was said to have taken place. It must have been entirely made up. But who could or would have made it up, save those same operators in the Intelligence service who, perhaps, did not want a Jew with a faintly liberal reputation to be leading the government offensive against the miners and in nominal control of MI5. This was by no means the first time that anti-Semitic propaganda against the large number of Jews in Mrs Thatcher’s circle has insidiously circulated among journalists and politicians.