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The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5), is the United Kingdom's
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 internal counter-intelligence
Counter-intelligence
Counterintelligence or counter-intelligence refers to efforts made by intelligence organizations to prevent hostile or enemy intelligence organizations from successfully gathering and collecting intelligence against them. National intelligence programs, and, by extension, the overall defenses of...

 and security agency
Security agency
A security agency is a governmental organization which conducts intelligence activities for the internal security of a nation. They are the domestic cousins of foreign intelligence agencies...

 and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service
Secret Intelligence Service
The Secret Intelligence Service is responsible for supplying the British Government with foreign intelligence. Alongside the internal Security Service , the Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence Intelligence , it operates under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence...

 (SIS or MI6
Secret Intelligence Service
The Secret Intelligence Service is responsible for supplying the British Government with foreign intelligence. Alongside the internal Security Service , the Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence Intelligence , it operates under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence...

) focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters
Government Communications Headquarters
The Government Communications Headquarters is a British intelligence agency responsible for providing signals intelligence and information assurance to the UK government and armed forces...

 (GCHQ) and the Defence Intelligence Staff
Defence Intelligence Staff
Defence Intelligence is a key member of the United Kingdom Intelligence Community but differs from the agencies in that it is not a stand-alone organisation but is a constituent part of the Ministry of Defence . The organisation employs a mixture of civilian and military staff and is funded...

 (DIS). All come under the direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). The service has a statutory basis in the Security Service Act 1989 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994. Its remit includes the protection of British parliamentary democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and economic interests, counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 and counter-espionage
Counter-Espionage
-Cast:* Warren William as Michael Lanyard* Eric Blore as Jamison* Hillary Brooke as Pamela Hart* Thurston Hall as Insp. Crane* Fred Kelsey as Detective Wesley Dickens* Forrest Tucker as Anton Schugg* Matthew Boulton as Inspector J...

 within the UK. Although mainly concerned with internal security
Internal security
Internal security, or IS, is the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other self-governing territories. generally by upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats...

, it does have an overseas role in support of its mission. Conversely, to ensure that the Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

 is responsible for intelligence operations within the UK, the Service may act on behalf of SIS and GCHQ even if the operation is outside its own functions (SIS and GCHQ report to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

).

Within the civil service community the service is colloquially known as Box 500 (after its official wartime address of PO Box 500; its current address is PO Box 3255, London SW1P 1AE).

The service has had a national headquarters at Thames House
Thames House
Thames House is an office development in Millbank, London, on the north bank of the River Thames adjacent to Lambeth Bridge, designed originally as commercial head offices...

 on Millbank
Millbank
Millbank is an area of central London in the City of Westminster. Millbank is located by the River Thames, east of Pimlico and south of Westminster...

 in London since 1995, drawing together personnel from a number of locations into a single HQ facility. Thames House is shared with the Northern Ireland Office
Northern Ireland Office
The Northern Ireland Office is a United Kingdom government department responsible for Northern Ireland affairs. The NIO is led by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and is based in Northern Ireland at Stormont House.-Role:...

 and is also home to the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre
Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre
The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre is an all-source intelligence organisation closely related to the United Kingdom Security Service which provides advice to the British government and firms within the Critical National Infrastructure on terrorist threats.Operating from Thames House on Millbank...

, a subordinate organisation to the Security Service. The service has offices across the United Kingdom including an HQ in Northern Ireland.

Details of the northern operations centre in Greater Manchester were revealed by the firm who built it. Repeated claims that the regional offices were instigated as a result of the "7/7" bombings in London in July 2005 are inaccurate; plans to open the northern operations centre were reported by The Manchester Evening News in February 2005, and plans to open a permanent Scottish office in Glasgow were reported by The Scotsman in January of that year.

Command, control and organisation


The Security Service comes under the authority of the Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

 within the Cabinet
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

. The service is headed by a Director General at the grade of a Permanent Secretary
Permanent Secretary
The Permanent secretary, in most departments officially titled the permanent under-secretary of state , is the most senior civil servant of a British Government ministry, charged with running the department on a day-to-day basis...

 of the British Civil Service
British Civil Service
Her Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as the Home Civil Service, is the permanent bureaucracy of Crown employees that supports Her Majesty's Government - the government of the United Kingdom, composed of a Cabinet of ministers chosen by the prime minister, as well as the devolved...

 who is directly supported by an internal security organisation, secretariat, legal advisory branch and information services branch. The Deputy DG is responsible for the operational activity of the service, being responsible for four branches; international counter-terrorism, National Security Advice Centre (counter proliferation and counter espionage), Irish and domestic counter-terrorism and technical and surveillance operations.

The service is directed by the Joint Intelligence Committee for intelligence operational priorities and liaises with the SIS, GCHQ, DIS and a number of other bodies within the British government and industrial base. The service is overseen by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Members of Parliament, directly appointed by the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

, and by the Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioner
Intelligence Services Commissioner
The Intelligence Services Commissioner, is a British regulatory official appointed under Section 59 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000...

. Judicial oversight of the service's conduct is excerised by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal
Investigatory Powers Tribunal
In the United Kingdom, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal is a judicial body, independent of the British Government, which hears complaints about surveillance by public bodies...

.

Operations of the service are required to be proportionate and compliant with British legislation including Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications...

, Data Protection Act 1998 and various other items of legislation. Information held by the service is exempt from disclosure under section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 is an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that creates a public "right of access" to information held by public authorities. It is the implementation of freedom of information legislation in the United Kingdom on a national level...

.

The current Director General is Jonathan Evans
Jonathan Evans (MI5 officer)
Jonathan Evans is the Director General of the British Security Service, the United Kingdom's domestic security and counter-intelligence service...

, who succeeded Dame
Dame (title)
The title of Dame is the female equivalent of the honour of knighthood in the British honours system . It is also the equivalent form address to 'Sir' for a knight...

 Eliza Manningham-Buller
Eliza Manningham-Buller
Elizabeth Lydia "Eliza" Manningham-Buller, Baroness Manningham-Buller, DCB was Director General of MI5, the British internal Security Service, from October 2002 until her retirement on 20 April 2007, aged 58....

 on 8 April 2007.

The service has marked its centenary in 2009 by publishing an official history, written by Professor Christopher Andrew, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

, published in hardback in October 2009 by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books
Penguin Books
Penguin Books is a publisher founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane and V.K. Krishna Menon. Penguin revolutionised publishing in the 1930s through its high quality, inexpensive paperbacks, sold through Woolworths and other high street stores for sixpence. Penguin's success demonstrated that large...

.

History



Early years


The Security Service is derived from the Secret Service Bureau, founded in 1909 in a national climate of pre-war paranoia and possibly influenced by invasion literature
Invasion literature
Invasion literature was a historical literary genre most notable between 1871 and the First World War . The genre first became recognizable starting in Britain in 1871 with The Battle of Dorking, a fictional account of an invasion of England by Germany...

 to control secret intelligence operations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and overseas, particularly concentrating on the activities of the Imperial German government as a joint initiative of the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 and the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

. The Bureau was split into naval and army sections which, over time, specialised in foreign target espionage and internal counter-espionage activities respectively. This specialisation was a result of the Admiralty intelligence requirements related to the maritime strength of the Imperial German Navy. This specialisation was formalised prior to 1914 and the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, with the two sections undergoing a number of administrative changes and the home section becoming Directorate of Military Intelligence
Directorate of Military Intelligence
The Directorate of Military Intelligence was a department of the British War Office.Over its lifetime the Directorate underwent a number of organisational changes, absorbing and shedding sections over time.- History :...

 Section 5 (MI5), the name by which it is known in popular culture to this very day.

The founding head of the Army section was Captain Vernon Kell of the South Staffordshire Regiment, who remained in that role until the early part of the Second World War. Its role was originally quite restricted; existing purely to ensure national security through counter-espionage. With a small staff and working in conjunction with the Special Branch
Special Branch
Special Branch is a label customarily used to identify units responsible for matters of national security in British and Commonwealth police forces, as well as in the Royal Thai Police...

 of the Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Police Service
The Metropolitan Police Service is the territorial police force responsible for Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police...

, the service was responsible for overall direction and the identification of foreign agents, whilst Special Branch provided the manpower for the investigation of their affairs, arrest and interrogation.

On the day after the declaration of war, the Home Secretary Reginald McKenna
Reginald McKenna
Reginald McKenna was a British banker and Liberal politician. He notably served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer during the premiership of H. H. Asquith.-Background and education:...

 announced that "within the last twenty-four hours no fewer than twenty-one spies, or suspected spies, have been arrested in various places all over the country, chiefly in important military or naval centres, some of them long known to the authorities to be spies", a reference to arrests directed by the service. These arrests have provoked recent historical controversy. According to the official history of MI5, the actual number of agents identified was 22 and Kell had started sending out letters to local police forces on 29 July giving them advance warning of arrests to be made as soon as war was declared. Portsmouth Constabulary jumped the gun and arrested one on 3 August, and not all of the 22 were in custody by the time that McKenna made his speech, but the official history regards the incident as a devastating blow to Imperial Germany which deprived them of their entire spy ring, and specifically upset the Kaiser.

This view has been challenged by Nicholas Hiley who has asserted that it is a complete fabrication. In 2006 his article "Entering the Lists" was published in the journal Intelligence and National Security outlining the products of his research into recently opened files. Hiley was sent an advance copy of the official history and objected to the retelling of the story. He later wrote another article, "Re-entering the Lists", which asserted that the list of those arrested published in the official history was concocted from later case histories.

Inter-war period


After this auspicious start, the history of MI5 becomes darker. It was consistently successful throughout the rest of the 1910s and the 1920s in its core counter-espionage role. Germany continued to attempt to infiltrate Britain throughout the war, but using a method that depended on strict control of entry and exit to the country and, crucially, large-scale inspection of mail, MI5 was able to identify most of, if not all of, the agents dispatched. In post-war years attention turned to attempts by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 to surreptitiously support revolutionary activities within Britain, and MI5's expertise combined with the early incompetence of the Soviets meant the bureau was successful once more in correctly identifying and closely monitoring these activities.

However, in the meantime MI5's role had been substantially enlarged. Due to the spy hysteria, MI5 was formed with far more resources than it actually needed to track down German spies. As is common within governmental bureaucracies, this meant it expanded its role in order to use its spare resources. MI5 acquired many additional responsibilities during the war. Most significantly, its strict counter-espionage role was considerably blurred. It became a much more political role, involving the surveillance not merely of foreign agents but of pacifist
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 and anti-conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 organisations, and organised labour. This was justified on the basis of the common (but mistaken) belief that foreign influence was at the root of these organisations. Thus by the end of the war, MI5 was a fully-fledged secret police (although it never had the powers of arrest), in addition to being a counter-espionage agency.

This expansion of its role continued after a brief post-war power struggle with the head of the Special Branch
Special Branch
Special Branch is a label customarily used to identify units responsible for matters of national security in British and Commonwealth police forces, as well as in the Royal Thai Police...

, Sir
Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...

 Basil Thomson
Basil Thomson
Sir Basil Home Thomson, KCB was a British intelligence officer, police officer, prison governor, colonial administrator, and writer.-Early life:...

. MI5 also managed to acquire responsibility for security operations not only in Great Britain but throughout the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, and with the decline in the Empire the Security Officers based in the British High Commissions returned to London and joined the Service, which gave it a significant role in Ireland. MI5 now has a role similar to sections of the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

, if not as extensive, which includes counter terrorism and counter-espionage. This expansion had happened almost entirely without supervision; MI5 had no responsibility to Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, and was often able to act with considerable independence even from the Cabinet
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

 and Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

. Since 1994, MI5 activities have been subject to scrutiny by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee
Intelligence and Security Committee
The Intelligence and Security Committee is a committee of parliamentarians appointed by the Prime Minister to oversee the work of the Intelligence machinery of the United Kingdom...

.

MI5's operations during the Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

 were an unmitigated disaster. Due to MI5's penchant for sharing intelligence with the Dublin Metropolitan Police
Dublin Metropolitan Police
The Dublin Metropolitan Police was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.-19th century:...

, its Irish operations were easily penetrated by the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

. Using D.M.P. Detectives Ned Broy and David Nelligan, Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

 was able to learn the names and lodgings of the MI5 agents of the Cairo Gang
Cairo Gang
The Cairo Gang was a group of British Intelligence agents who were sent to Dublin during the Anglo-Irish War to conduct intelligence operations against prominent members of the Irish Republican Army...

. On Bloody Sunday (1920)
Bloody Sunday (1920)
Bloody Sunday was a day of violence in Dublin on 21 November 1920, during the Irish War of Independence. In total, 31 people were killed – fourteen British, fourteen Irish civilians and three republican prisoners....

, Collins ordered his private death squad to assassinate 14 MI5 agents at their lodgings throughout Dublin. That afternoon, a mixed force of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 the Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

, and the Black and Tans
Black and Tans
The Black and Tans was one of two newly recruited bodies, composed largely of British World War I veterans, employed by the Royal Irish Constabulary as Temporary Constables from 1920 to 1921 to suppress revolution in Ireland...

 retaliated by shooting up a Gaelic Football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

 match at Croke Park
Croke Park
Croke Park in Dublin is the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association , Ireland's biggest sporting organisation...

.

In the aftermath, MI5 ceased sharing intelligence with the D.M.P. In response, Collins persuaded Detective Nelligan to let himself be recruited into MI5. Although MI5's agents were shocked that a Catholic Irishman desired to work for them, Nelligan was formally sworn into the British Secret Service. He then memorized the oaths, codes, and lodgings of his fellow agents and passed the information on to Collins. Nelligan further delivered falsified reports stating that the IRA was far more numerous and better supplied with guns and ammunition than was actually the case. Nelligan would later recall in his memoirs that Collins was planning another Bloody Sunday style purge at the time a ceasefire ended the War. Ironically, Nelligan's misinformation about the IRA's numbers and supplies played a major role in the British Cabinet's decision to grant independence to the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

.

MI5 operated in Italy during inter-war period. MI5 helped Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 get his start in politics with the £100 weekly wage.

MI5's decline in counter-espionage efficiency began in the 1930s. It was to some extent a victim of its own success; it was unable to break the ways of thinking it had evolved in the 1910s and 1920s, in particular, to adjust to the new methods of the Soviet intelligence services the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 and GRU
GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

. It continued to think in terms of agents who would attempt to gather information simply through observation or bribery, or to agitate within labour organisations or the armed services, while posing as ordinary citizens.

The NKVD, however, had evolved more sophisticated methods; it began to recruit agents from within the British nobility
British nobility
-General History of British Nobility:The nobility of the four constituent home nations of the United Kingdom has played a major role in shaping the history of the country, although in the present day even hereditary peers have no special rights, privileges or responsibilities, except for residual...

, most notably from Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

, who were seen as a long-term investment. They succeeded in gaining positions within the Government (and, in Kim Philby
Kim Philby
Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union...

's case, within British intelligence itself), from where they were able to provide the NKVD with sensitive information. The most successful of these agents—Harold "Kim" Philby
Kim Philby
Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union...

, Donald Maclean
Donald Duart Maclean
Donald Duart Maclean was a British diplomat and member of the Cambridge Five who were members of MI5, MI6 or the diplomatic service who acted as spies for the Soviet Union in the Second World War and beyond. He was recruited as a "straight penetration agent" while an undergraduate at Cambridge by...

, Guy Burgess
Guy Burgess
Guy Francis De Moncy Burgess was a British-born intelligence officer and double agent, who worked for the Soviet Union. He was part of the Cambridge Five spy ring that betrayed Western secrets to the Soviets before and during the Cold War...

, Anthony Blunt
Anthony Blunt
Anthony Frederick Blunt , was a British art historian who was exposed as a Soviet spy late in his life.Blunt was Professor of the History of Art at the University of London, director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, Surveyor of the King's Pictures and London...

 and John Cairncross
John Cairncross
John Cairncross was a British intelligence officer during World War II, who passed secrets to the Soviet Union...

—went undetected until after the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and were known as the Cambridge Five
Cambridge Five
The Cambridge Five was a ring of spies, recruited in part by Russian talent spotter Arnold Deutsch in the United Kingdom, who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II and at least into the early 1950s...

. See also Melita Norwood
Melita Norwood
Melita Stedman Norwood, née Sirnis, was a British civil servant, traitor and KGB intelligence source who, for a period of about 40 years following her recruitment in 1937, supplied the KGB with state secrets from her job at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association...

 and Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs was a German theoretical physicist and atomic spy who in 1950 was convicted of supplying information from the American, British and Canadian atomic bomb research to the USSR during and shortly after World War II...

.

Second World War



MI5 experienced further failure during the Second World War. It was chronically unprepared, both organisationally and in terms of resources, for the outbreak of war, and utterly unequal to the task which it was assigned—the large-scale internment of enemy aliens in an attempt to uncover enemy agents. The operation was poorly handled and contributed to the near-collapse of the agency by 1940.

One of the earliest actions of Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 on coming to power in early 1940 was to sack the agency's long-term head, Vernon Kell. He was replaced initially by the ineffective Brigadier A.W.A. Harker, as Acting Director General. Harker in turn was quickly replaced by David Petrie
David Petrie
Sir David Petrie, KCMG, CIE, CVO, CBE, KPM was director general of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, from 1941 to 1946...

, an SIS
Secret Intelligence Service
The Secret Intelligence Service is responsible for supplying the British Government with foreign intelligence. Alongside the internal Security Service , the Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence Intelligence , it operates under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence...

 man, with Harker as his deputy. With the ending of the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

 and the abandonment of invasion plans (correctly reported by both SIS and the Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park is an estate located in the town of Bletchley, in Buckinghamshire, England, which currently houses the National Museum of Computing...

 Ultra project), the spy scare eased, and the internment policy was gradually reversed. This eased pressure on MI5, and allowed it to concentrate on its major wartime success, the so-called "double-cross" system
Double Cross System
The Double Cross System, or XX System, was a World War II anti-espionage and deception operation of the British military intelligence arm, MI5. Nazi agents in Britain - real and false - were captured, turned themselves in or simply announced themselves and were then used by the British to broadcast...

.

This was a system based on an internal memo drafted by an MI5 officer in 1936, which criticised the long-standing policy of arresting and sending to trial all enemy agents discovered by MI5. Several had offered to defect to Britain when captured; before 1939, such requests were invariably turned down. The memo advocated attempting to "turn" captured agents wherever possible, and use them to mislead enemy intelligence agencies. This suggestion was turned into a massive and well-tuned system of deception during the Second World War.

Beginning with the capture of an agent named Owens, codenamed Snow
Arthur Owens
Arthur Graham Owens, later known as Arthur Graham White was a Welsh electrical engineer who acted as a mole during World War II. He was working for MI5 while appearing to the Abwehr to be one of their agents. Owens was known to MI5 by the codename SNOW...

, MI5 began to offer enemy agents the chance to avoid prosecution (and thus the possibility of the death penalty) if they would work as British double-agents. Agents who agreed to this were supervised by MI5 in transmitting bogus "intelligence" back to the German secret service, the Abwehr
Abwehr
The Abwehr was a German military intelligence organisation from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr was used as a concession to Allied demands that Germany's post-World War I intelligence activities be for "defensive" purposes only...

. This necessitated a large-scale organisational effort, since the information had to appear valuable but actually be misleading. A high-level committee, the Wireless Board, was formed to provide this information. The day-to-day operation was delegated to a subcommittee, the Twenty Committee (so called because the Roman numerals for twenty, XX, form a double cross
Double cross
Double Cross may refer to:In film and television:* Double Cross , a film by Albert H. Kelley* Double Cross , a Bollywood action film* Double Cross , a Bollywood film...

).

The system was extraordinarily successful. A postwar analysis of German intelligence records found that of the 115 or so agents targeted against Britain during the war, all but one (who committed suicide) had been successfully identified and caught, with several "turned" to become double agents. The system played a major part in the massive campaign of deception which preceded the D-Day
D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...

 landings, designed to give the Germans a false impression of the location and timings of the landings (see Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude was the codename for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations as part of an overall deception strategy during the build up to the 1944 Normandy Landings...

).

All foreigners entering the country were processed at the London Reception Centre (LRC) at the Royal Patriotic School which was operated by MI5 subsection B1D, 30,000 were inspected at LRC. Captured enemy agents were taken to Camp 020
Camp 020
Camp 020 was a British World War II interrogation centre for captured German agents, based at Latchmere House in south London. It was run by Lt Col Robin “Tin Eye” Stephens. Although other wartime interrogation centres have been alleged to have used torture to extract confessions, torture was not...

, Latchmere House, for interrogation. This was commanded by Colonel Robin Stephens. There was a Reserve Camp, Camp 020R, at Huntercombe
Huntercombe (HM Prison)
HM Prison Huntercombe is a Category C men's prison, located near Nuffield in Oxfordshire, England. Huntercombe is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.-History:...

 which was used mainly for long term detention of prisoners.

Post-war the troubles in Northern Ireland


The Prime Minister's personal responsibility for the Service was delegated to the Home Secretary Maxwell-Fyfe in 1952, with a directive issued by the Home Secretary setting out the role and objectives of the Director-General. The service was subsequently placed on a statutory basis in 1989 with the introduction of the Security Service Act. This was the first government acknowledgement of the existence of the service.

The post-war period was a difficult time for the Service with a significant change in the threat as the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 began, being challenged by an extremely active KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 and increasing incidence of the Northern Ireland conflict and international terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

. Whilst little has yet been released regarding the successes of the service there have been a number of intelligence failures which have created embarrassment for both the service and the government.

In 1983 one of its officers, Michael Bettaney
Michael Bettaney
Michael John Bettaney was an intelligence officer working in the Counter-espionage branch of MI5 who was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1984 of offences under section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 after passing sensitive documents to the Soviet Embassy in London and attempting to act as an...

, was caught trying to sell information to the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

. He was subsequently convicted of espionage. During the The Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

 in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 Republicans, nationalists and the Irish Government
Irish Government
The Government of Ireland is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.-Members of the Government:Membership of the Government is regulated fundamentally by the Constitution of Ireland. The Government is headed by a prime minister called the Taoiseach...

 accused MI5 and MI6 with supplying both the UVF
UVF
UVF can refer to*The Ulster Volunteers started in 1912 and organised as the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1913*The Ulster Volunteer Force - a paramilitary organisation established in 1966, not linked to the 1913 UVF...

 and the UDA
Uda
Uda can refer to:*Emperor Uda, Emperor of Japan*Uda, Nara, a city in Japan*Uda, a Japanese name*Shintaro Uda, inventor of the Yagi-Uda antenna*Uda , a breed of domestic sheep*Uda, a commune in Argeş County, Romania...

 with intelligence and weapons; they both denied these accusations. Loyalist groups claim the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 was supplied by the CIA with weapons and intelligence to bomb and murder UVF
UVF
UVF can refer to*The Ulster Volunteers started in 1912 and organised as the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1913*The Ulster Volunteer Force - a paramilitary organisation established in 1966, not linked to the 1913 UVF...

 and UDA
Uda
Uda can refer to:*Emperor Uda, Emperor of Japan*Uda, Nara, a city in Japan*Uda, a Japanese name*Shintaro Uda, inventor of the Yagi-Uda antenna*Uda , a breed of domestic sheep*Uda, a commune in Argeş County, Romania...

 members. They also claim the FBI turned a blind eye when Republicans came to the US for arms and failed to stop Irish Americans supplying them. The CIA and FBI both denied this, including many US presidents and Senators.

Following the Michael Bettaney
Michael Bettaney
Michael John Bettaney was an intelligence officer working in the Counter-espionage branch of MI5 who was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1984 of offences under section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 after passing sensitive documents to the Soviet Embassy in London and attempting to act as an...

 case, Sir Philip Woodfield was appointed as a staff counsellor for the security and intelligence services. His role was to be available to be consulted by any member or former member of the security and intelligence services who had "anxieties relating to the work of his or her service" that it had not been possible to allay through the ordinary processes of management-staff relations, including proposals for publications.

The Service was instrumental in breaking up a large Soviet spy ring at the start of the 1970s, with 105 Soviet embassy staff known or suspected to be involved in intelligence activities being expelled from the country in 1971.

One episode involving MI5 and the BBC came to light in the mid-1980s. MI5 officer, Brigadier Ronnie Stonham
Ronnie Stonham
Brigadier Ronnie Stonham was the Special Assistant to the Director of Personnel at the BBC until 1985 who was caught up in the scandal over MI5 monitoring of potential staff. He occupied Room 105 at Broadcasting House in London, UK from 1982, following his departure from the Army, until October...

, had an office in the BBC and took part in vetting procedures. See also Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen
Michael Wayne Rosen is a broadcaster, children's novelist and poet and the author of 140 books. He was appointed as the fifth Children's Laureate in June 2007, succeeding Jacqueline Wilson, and held this honour until 2009....

 and Isabel Hilton
Isabel Hilton
Isabel Nancy Hilton OBE is a Scottish journalist and broadcaster based in London.-Biography:She was educated at Edinburgh University where she studied Chinese to post-graduate level...

.

Controversy arose when it was alleged that the service was monitoring trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s and left-wing politicians. A file was kept on Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 from 1945, when he became an MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

, although the agency's official historian, Christopher Andrew maintains that his fears of MI5 conspiracies and bugging were unfounded. As Home Secretary the Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 MP Jack Straw
Jack Straw
Jack Straw , British politician.Jack Straw may also refer to:* Jack Straw , English* "Jack Straw" , 1971 song by the Grateful Dead* Jack Straw by W...

 discovered the existence of his own file dating from his days as a student radical.

One of the most significant and far reaching failures was an inability to conclusively detect and apprehend the "Cambridge Five
Cambridge Five
The Cambridge Five was a ring of spies, recruited in part by Russian talent spotter Arnold Deutsch in the United Kingdom, who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II and at least into the early 1950s...

" spy ring which had formed in the inter-war years and achieved great success in penetrating the government, and the intelligence agencies themselves. Related to this failure were suggestions of a high-level penetration within the service, Peter Wright
Peter Wright
Peter Maurice Wright was an English scientist and former MI5 counterintelligence officer, noted for writing the controversial book Spycatcher, which became an international bestseller with sales of over two million copies...

 (especially in his controversial book Spycatcher
Spycatcher
Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer , is a book written by Peter Wright, former MI5 officer and Assistant Director, and co-author Paul Greengrass. It was published first in Australia...

) and others believing that evidence implicated the former Director-General himself, Roger Hollis
Roger Hollis
Sir Roger Henry Hollis, KBE, CB was a British journalist and secret-service agent, who was Director General of MI5 from 1956 to 1965.-Early years:...

. The Trend
Burke Trend, Baron Trend
Burke St John Trend, Baron Trend, GCB, CVO, PC was a British civil servant and later Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford....

 inquiry of 1974 cleared Hollis of that accusation, but it was later corroborated by the former KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky
Oleg Gordievsky
Oleg Antonovich Gordievsky , CMG , is a former Colonel of the KGB and KGB Resident-designate and bureau chief in London, who was a secret agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service from 1974 to 1985.-Early career:Oleg Gordievsky attended the Moscow State Institute of International...

. Another spy ring, the Portland Spy Ring
Portland Spy Ring
The Portland Spy Ring was a Soviet spy ring that operated in England from the late 1950s till 1961 when the core of the network was arrested by the British security services. It is one of the most famous examples of the use of illegal residents — spies who operate in a foreign country but...

, exposed after a tip-off by Soviet defector Michael Goleniewski
Michael Goleniewski
Michael Goleniewski a.k.a. 'SNIPER', 'LAVINIA', , was a Polish officer in the People's Republic of Poland's Ministry Of Public Security, the deputy head of military counterintelligence GZI WP, later head of the technical and scientific section of the Polish intelligence,and a spy for the Soviet...

, led to an extensive MI5 surveillance operation. The Special Branch
Special Branch
Special Branch is a label customarily used to identify units responsible for matters of national security in British and Commonwealth police forces, as well as in the Royal Thai Police...

 of Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard is a metonym for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, UK. It derives from the location of the original Metropolitan Police headquarters at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard entrance became...

 played no part other than the physical apprehension of the suspects, despite some fanciful claims by Superintendent George Smith.

The Security Service's role in counter-terrorism



The end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 resulted in a change in emphasis for the operations of the service, assuming responsibility for the investigation of all Irish republican
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 activity within Britain and increasing the effort countering other forms of terrorism, particularly in more recent years the more widespread threat of Islamist extremism.

The service has been attributed with a number of successes in breaking up and monitoring extremist Islamist networks since 2001.

It is also attributed with successfully infiltrating the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 (PIRA), with operations in conjunction with Special Branch
Special Branch
Special Branch is a label customarily used to identify units responsible for matters of national security in British and Commonwealth police forces, as well as in the Royal Thai Police...

 from various police forces leading to 21 convictions for terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

-related offenses between 1992 and 1999.

Whilst the British security forces in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 have provided support in the countering of both republican
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 and loyalist
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 groups since the early 1970s, republican sources have often accused these forces of collusion
Collusion
Collusion is an agreement between two or more persons, sometimes illegal and therefore secretive, to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading, or defrauding others of their legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically by defrauding or gaining an unfair advantage...

 with loyalists. In 2006, an Irish government committee inquiry found that there was widespread collusion between British security forces and loyalist terrorists in the 1970s, which resulted in eighteen deaths.

The Security Service took responsibility for all security intelligence work in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 from 2007 from the Police Service of Northern Ireland
Police Service of Northern Ireland
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the police force that serves Northern Ireland. It is the successor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary which, in turn, was the successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary in Northern Ireland....

. Both Nuala O'Loan
Nuala O'Loan
Nuala Patricia O'Loan, Baroness O'Loan, DBE is a noted public figure in Northern Ireland. She was the first Police Ombudsman in between 1999 and 2007. In July 2009, it was announced that she was to be appointed to the House of Lords. Consequently, she was raised to the peerage as Baroness O'Loan,...

, the Police Ombudsman
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman comprises the offices of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Health Service Commissioner for England...

 for Northern Ireland, and Al Hutchinson
Al Hutchinson
Al Hutchinson is a former RCMP Assistant Commissioner, who served as the Police Oversight Commissioner in Northern Ireland, who in November 2007 became the second Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland....

, the Oversight Commissioner of the Police Service of Northern Ireland
Police Service of Northern Ireland
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the police force that serves Northern Ireland. It is the successor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary which, in turn, was the successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary in Northern Ireland....

, have expressed reservations. During April 2010 the Real IRA detonated a 120 lb. car bomb
Car bomb
A car bomb, or truck bomb also known as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device , is an improvised explosive device placed in a car or other vehicle and then detonated. It is commonly used as a weapon of assassination, terrorism, or guerrilla warfare, to kill the occupants of the vehicle,...

 outside palace barracks in County Down
County Down
-Cities:*Belfast *Newry -Large towns:*Dundonald*Newtownards*Bangor-Medium towns:...

 which is the headquarters of MI5 in N. Ireland & also home to the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment.

With the emergence of other terrorist threats in the United Kingdom the service has increased its resource commitment to the detection and prevention of these activities. Numerous raids against suspected militants, and the internment of key suspects in HM Prison
Her Majesty's Prison Service
Her Majesty's Prison Service is a part of the National Offender Management Service of the Government of the United Kingdom tasked with managing most of the prisons within England and Wales...

 Belmarsh
Belmarsh (HM Prison)
HM Prison Belmarsh is a Category A men's prison, located in the Thamesmead area of the London Borough of Greenwich, in south-east London, England. Belmarsh Prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service...

 in London, have been credited to Security Service intelligence. It has been reported that Security Service officers have been involved in interrogation of British citizens interned at the United States' Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

.

Executive Liaison Groups enable MI5 to safely share secret, sensitive, and often raw intelligence with the police, on which decisions can be made about how best to gather evidence and prosecute suspects in the courts. Each organization works in partnership throughout the investigation, but MI5 retain the lead for collecting, assessing and exploiting intelligence. The police take lead responsibility for gathering evidence, obtaining arrests and preventing risks to the public.

Serious crime


In 1996, legislation formalised the extension of the Security Service's statutory remit to include supporting the law enforcement agencies in their work against serious crime. Tasking was reactive, acting at the request of law enforcement bodies such as the National Criminal Intelligence Service
National Criminal Intelligence Service
The National Criminal Intelligence Service was a United Kingdom policing agency set up as a separate body in April 1992 to centralise the gathering and distribution of intelligence on serious and organised criminal matters. NCIS was formed out of the National Drugs Intelligence Unit in the Home...

 (NCIS), for whom MI5 agents performed electronic surveillance and eavesdropping duties during Operation Trinity
Clerkenwell crime syndicate
The Clerkenwell crime syndicate, most often known as the Adams Family or the A-team by the British press, is alleged to be one of the most powerful criminal organisations in the United Kingdom if not in fact the strongest. By the nature of their position reliable information about them that has not...

. This role has subsequently been passed to the Serious Organised Crime Agency
Serious Organised Crime Agency
The Serious Organised Crime Agency is a non-departmental public body of the Government of the United Kingdom under Home Office sponsorship...

 (SOCA).

Surveillance


In July 2006, Norman Baker MP
Norman Baker
Norman John Baker is a British Liberal Democrat politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Lewes in East Sussex since 1997. Since May 2010 he has been Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Transport....

 accused the British Government of "hoarding information about people who pose no danger to this country", after it emerged that MI5 holds secret files on 272,000 individuals—equivalent to one in 160 adults.
It was later revealed that a "traffic light
Traffic light
Traffic lights, which may also be known as stoplights, traffic lamps, traffic signals, signal lights, robots or semaphore, are signalling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings and other locations to control competing flows of traffic...

" system operates:
  • Green: active—about 10% of files
  • Amber: enquiries prohibited, further information may be added—about 46% of files.
  • Red: enquiries prohibited, substantial information may not be added—about 44% of files

Directors-General of the Security Service


  • 1909–1940: Sir Vernon Kell (from 1919, Sir Vernon Kell) (b. 1873–d. 1942)
  • 1940–1941: Brigadier Oswald Allen Harker
    Oswald Allen Harker
    Oswald Allen Harker CBE , also called Brigadier 'Jasper' Harker, was Acting Director General of MI5 from 1940 to 1941.-Career:Harker served as the Deputy Director General prior to his promotion. He was promoted to acting Director General of MI5 in June 1940 when Major-General Sir Vernon Kell was...

  • 1941–1946: Sir David Petrie
    David Petrie
    Sir David Petrie, KCMG, CIE, CVO, CBE, KPM was director general of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, from 1941 to 1946...

     (b. 1879–d. 1961)
  • 1946–1953: Sir Percy Sillitoe
    Percy Sillitoe
    Sir Percy Joseph Sillitoe KBE was Director General of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, from 1946 to 1953...

     (b. 1888–d. 1962)
  • 1953–1956: Sir Dick White
    Dick White
    Sir Dick Goldsmith White, KCMG, KBE , was a British intelligence officer. He was Director-General of MI5 from 1953 to 1956, and Head of the Secret Intelligence Service from 1956 to 1968.-Career:...

     (from 1955, Sir Dick White) (b. 1906–d. 1993)
  • 1956–1965: Sir Roger Hollis
    Roger Hollis
    Sir Roger Henry Hollis, KBE, CB was a British journalist and secret-service agent, who was Director General of MI5 from 1956 to 1965.-Early years:...

     (from 1960, Sir Roger Hollis) (b. 1905–d. 1973)
  • 1965–1972: Sir Martin Furnival Jones
    Martin Furnival Jones
    Sir Martin Furnival Jones, KCB was Director General of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, from 1965 until 1972.-Career:...

     (from 1967, Sir Martin Furnival Jones) (b. 1912–d. 1997)
  • 1972–1979: Sir Michael Hanley
    Michael Hanley
    Sir Michael Bowen Hanley KCB was director general of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, from 1972 to 1978.-Career:...

     (from 1974, Sir Michael Hanley) (b. 1918–d. 2001)
  • 1979–1981: Sir Howard Smith (b. 1919–d. 1996)
  • 1981–1985: Sir John Jones (b. 1923–d. 1998)
  • 1985–1988: Sir Antony Duff (b. 1920–d. 2000)
  • 1988–1992: Sir Patrick Walker (from 1990, Sir Patrick Walker) (b. 1932)
  • 1992–1996: Dame Stella Rimington
    Stella Rimington
    Dame Stella Rimington, DCB is a British author, who was the Director General of MI5 from 1992 to 1996. She was the first female DG of MI5, and the first DG whose name was publicised on appointment...

     (from 1996, Dame Stella Rimington) (b. 1935)
  • 1996–2002: Sir Stephen Lander
    Stephen Lander
    Sir Stephen James Lander, KCB is a former chairman of the United Kingdom's Serious Organised Crime Agency , who also served as Director-General of the British Security Service from 1996 to 2002.-Career:...

     (from 2000, Sir Stephen Lander) (b. 1947)
  • 2002–2007: Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller
    Eliza Manningham-Buller
    Elizabeth Lydia "Eliza" Manningham-Buller, Baroness Manningham-Buller, DCB was Director General of MI5, the British internal Security Service, from October 2002 until her retirement on 20 April 2007, aged 58....

     (now Baroness Manningham-Buller; b. 1948)
  • 2007–present: Jonathan Evans
    Jonathan Evans (MI5 officer)
    Jonathan Evans is the Director General of the British Security Service, the United Kingdom's domestic security and counter-intelligence service...


Historical names of the Security Service


Although commonly referred to as "MI5", this was the Service's official name for only thirteen years (1916–29). However, as an acknowledgment of popular thought, "MI5" is used as a sub-title on the various pages of the official Security Service website (see links, below).
  • October 1909: Founded as the Home Section of the Secret Service Bureau.
  • April 1914: Became a subsection of the War Office Directorate of Military Operations, section 5 (MO5)—MO5(g).
  • September 1916: Became Military Intelligence section 5—MI5.
  • 1929: Renamed the Defence Security Service.
  • 1931: Renamed the Security Service.

See also

  • Club de Berne
    Club de Berne
    The Club de Berne is an intelligence sharing forum between the intelligence services of the 27 states of the European Union , Norway and Switzerland, named after the city of Bern. It is an institution based on voluntary exchange of secrets, experience and views as well as discussing problems...

  • Counter Terrorism Command
    Counter Terrorism Command
    Counter Terrorism Command or SO15 is a Specialist Operations branch within London's Metropolitan Police Service. Counter Terrorism Command was established as a result of the merging of the Anti-Terrorist Branch , and the Special Branch in 2006, to form a single counter-terrorism investigative unit...

    , Scotland Yard
    Scotland Yard
    Scotland Yard is a metonym for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, UK. It derives from the location of the original Metropolitan Police headquarters at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard entrance became...

  • GCHQ
  • Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre
  • Lucy spy ring
    Lucy spy ring
    In World War II espionage, the Lucy spy ring was an anti-German operation that was headquartered in Switzerland. It was run by Rudolf Roessler, a German refugee and ostensibly the proprietor of a small publishing firm, Vita Nova...

    —alleged to have been a British/Ultra operation to the USSR
  • MI6
  • Special Branch
    Special Branch
    Special Branch is a label customarily used to identify units responsible for matters of national security in British and Commonwealth police forces, as well as in the Royal Thai Police...

  • Spooks
    Spooks
    Spooks is a British television drama series that originally aired on BBC One from 13 May 2002 – 23 October 2011, consisting of 10 series. The title is a popular colloquialism for spies, as the series follows the work of a group of MI5 officers based at the service's Thames House headquarters, in a...

    —a BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

    television drama about the work of a group of MI5 officers (renamed MI-5 in the United States)

Further reading

Published in the USA on November 2009 by Knopf as Defend the Realm. The Authorised History of MI5. ISBN 9780307263636.

External links