MI6: Secret Intelligence Service

The MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross from over the river

The Intelligence Services Act 1994 defines the role of MI6 as;

(a) to obtain and provide information relating to the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands; and

(b) to perform other tasks relating to the actions or intentions of such persons...[in relation to] the interests of national security, with particular reference to defence and foreign policies...the interests of the economic well-being of the UK...or in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime.

The Act brought into existence the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee which oversees the "expenditure, administration and policy" of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. John Scarlett is chief of MI6 whose budget and number of employees are not disclosed.

The Russian threat no longer preoccupies SIS as it once did, and two-thirds of its activity in this area (DT960329) (TM960329) has been eliminated. In 1996 there has been some resurgence in activity, with the Russian intelligence agencies reported to have resumed their efforts to post agents in Britain. In March 1996 an alleged British spy (DT960304) was thrown out by the Russians, and this was followed in May by the expulsion (DT960520) (TM960518) of four more diplomats by each side. And in January 1996, spy Rosemary Sharpe (DT960130) was outed by Der Spiegel, which said that she had paid three German intelligence officers for information on Russian military hardware. The German agents had not passed the money on to their superiors, and were being investigated for corruption.

Performance related pay is now in force (DT960520) for both MI6 and MI5. It is intended to ensure that officers "have a clear understanding of what they are expected to achieve."

Should they not achieve their goals to the extent of ending up unemployed, MI6 officers can now take disputes (DT960724) (TM960724) to an industrial tribunal. This follows the case of former agent Richard Tomlinson who was dismissed following a negative appraisal by his personnel manager. He claimed (ST960331) the attempts to prevent him taking his case to an industrial tribunal were designed to conceal poor management at MI6.

MI6 stole submarine tracking technology from the French Navy (ST960616) by setting up a front company to obtain information from an engineer at Brest naval base. MI6 spies against Britain's European partners under operation "Jet Stream".

In August 1996 Norman MacSween, then chief of MI6's Moscow station, was embarassingly exposed (ST960804) on Russian TV when he attempted to make contact with one of his agents, Platon Obukhov, who confessed to spying for the British.

Following 9/11 SIS has increased resources and engages in counter-terrorism and anti-proliferation. However it is believed to have provided inaccurate information as to Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction" programmes which led to UK participation in the invasion of that country.

MI6 is also covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 supposedly policed by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, for which personally I feel the utmost contempt, since they have only found in favour of a plaintiff in one token case. The agency is alleged to have been involved in a plot to kill Libya's leader Gadaffi, as revealed by Shayler. The intelligence services are linked to several auto-erotic asphyxiation "accidents", namely those of Jonathan Moyle in Chile, and James Rusbridger the author, although no evidence exists to support these assertions. There have also been reports of MI6 involvement in the interrogation of alleged terrorists maltreated at Guantanamo Bay. And following the 7/7 bombings MI6 is said to have asked the Greek authorities to question thousands of immigrants and abduct 28 Pakistanis.

An unintended disclosure occurred in July 2009 when the wife of incoming chief John Sawers unwittingly posted much private information on Facebook, which was publicised by the UK media and rapidly removed.

I have written an account of the continuing Richard Tomlinson affair, for which follow this link.

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