Book brings spies in from the cold

2010-09-21 17:05
London - Britain's foreign intelligence agency MI6 published the first authorised history of its early years on Tuesday, revealing the exploits of both real-life James Bonds and its worst ever traitor.

MI6 was written by Keith Jeffrey, a history professor at Queen's University in Belfast who was granted access to unseen archives from the shadowy agency's creation in 1909 until the start of the Cold War in 1949.

In tales of derring-do worthy of a spy novel, its agents blew up ships and infiltrated Nazi-controlled Europe and the Soviet Union, while finding time to sip champagne and refine their seduction techniques.

The book also confirms for the first time that the famed British authors Graham Greene, W Somerset Maugham and Arthur Ransome were members of MI6 staff.

Agent in a foreign country

Jeffrey said that he had been granted access to the "holy grail of British archives", adding that unlike the papers of other British intelligence agencies the ones he had seen would never be made public.

"It was a bit like an opportunity of being, perhaps not behind enemy lines, but like being dropped like an agent into a foreign country," he said at the launch of the 810-page book at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

One spy, Bill "Biffy" Dunderdale, was a close friend of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels - and Dunderdale's "penchant for pretty women and fast cars" may have made him the model for 007, the book says.

Jeffrey says talk of agents having a "licence to kill" was, however, a myth, with the MI6 archives showing that the agency was involved in the illegal killings of only two people in the period the book covers.

Spied on allies

But its agents did bomb five ships as part of an "Operation Embarrass", a campaign to discourage post-war Jewish refugees from sailing to then British-controlled Palestine.

MI6 also spied on its own allies including the United States and the "Free French" of World War II resistance hero Charles de Gaulle.

And it also shows early signs of the treachery of Harold "Kim" Philby, who rose to the upper ranks of the agency before he was exposed as a Soviet double agent and member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.

Former MI6 head Sir John Scarlett, who left the service last year, said at the book launch that authorising the history was a "radical step... there has been nothing like it before and there are no plans for something like it in the future".
 

- SAPA
Read more on:    mi6  |  uk  |  espionage
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.