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Saturday, May 8, 1999 Published at 03:28 GMT 04:28 UK

World: Europe

Fascists recruited in cafes

The British internal intelligence service, MI-5, has released files which show that the Italian fascist dictator, Mussolini, recruited in Italian cafes in England before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The files reveal that the Foreign Office learnt in March 1937 that the Italian Fascist movement was intending to follow the principles of German Nazism and nine months later it set up the Association of Italian Cafe owners in London to act as a front for the organisation.

According to the documents the authorities were powerless to stop the movement from infiltrating into businesess which employed many members of the one-thousand strong Italian community in the capital. The disclosure of the files is part of government efforts to make itself more transparent and accountable to the public

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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