MI6: What Was It You Wanted Organised In That Brewery Again Sir?

by Tom on October 2, 2003

There’s a scathing piece about the competence of MI6 in today’s Guardian by Sir Peter Heap, once our (main) man in Brazil. Heap’s distinguished career in the Foreign Office has evidently exposed him to some bits of prime silliness by the spooks.

A taster:

As a diplomat who worked in nine overseas posts over 36 years, I saw quite a lot of MI6 at work. They were represented in almost all of those diplomatic missions. They presented themselves as normal career diplomats, but often, indeed usually, they were a breed apart. And it normally only took the local British community a few weeks to spot them. “That’s one of your spies,” they would say at an embassy social function. “Spies, what spies?” we would reply. “You’ve been watching too much television.” But they were usually spot on.

In one capital, the MI6 officers rarely wore suits to the office while the rest of us did. “Why?” we asked. “Because we would stand out when we go outside the capital to meet our contacts,” they would reply. Maybe they scarcely noticed that they already stood out pretty distinctly in the city. If the local expatriates could identify them in weeks, it presumably only took hours for a hostile intelligence service to spot them, even if they did not know them by name already.



Seth Gordon 10.03.03 at 3:27 am

So The Tailor of Panama wasn’t that far off, eh?


nnyhav 10.04.03 at 1:56 am

More Borges.

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