UNITED KINGDOM

Post-Cold War

2007 - 2008

Generally

Materials presented chronologically.

Cobain, Ian, David Hencke, and Richard Norton-Taylor. "MI5 Told MPs on Eve of 7/7: No Imminent Terror Threat." The Guardian, 9 Jan. 2007. [http://www.guardian.co.uk] 

MI5 Director-General Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller told "a private meeting of Labour whips at the Commons on the morning" of 6 July 2005 that "there was no imminent terrorist threat to London or the rest of the country." This came "less than 24 hours before the July 7 suicide bombings."

Cowell, Alan. "Britain Arrests 9 Suspects in Terrorist Kidnapping Plot." New York Times, 1 Feb. 2007. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 31 January 2007, British police in the city of Birmingham "conducted a series of raids..., arresting nine suspects on terrorism charges in what appeared to be a shift in the tactics of terrorism in Britain. The suspects are accused of devising a plot that included plans to kidnap, torture and behead a British Muslim soldier and broadcast video images of his killing on the Internet.... The Home Office in London called the arrests 'a major counterterrorism operation.'"

Rayment, Sean. "Top Secret Army Cell Breaks Terrorists." Sunday Telegraph (London), 5 Feb. 2007. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

In Iraq, a "small and anonymous British Army unit" known as the Joint Support Group (JSG) "has proved to be one of the Coalition's most effective ... weapons in the fight against terror." JSG members "are trained to turn ... terrorists into coalition spies using methods developed ... [in] Ulster during the Troubles.... Since war broke out ... in 2003, they have been responsible for running dozens of Iraqi double agents. Working alongside the Special Air Service and the American Delta Force as part of the Baghdad-based counter-terrorist unit known as Task Force Black, they have supplied intelligence that has saved hundreds of lives and resulted in some of the most notable successes against the myriad terror groups fighting in Iraq."

Norton-Taylor, Richard. "New Head of MI5 Is Terror Plot Specialist." The Guardian, 8 Mar. 2007. [http://www.guardian.co.uk]

It was announced on 7 March 2007 that "Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, is to be succeeded [in April 2007] by Jonathan Evans, her deputy, who has been in charge of monitoring al-Qaida and its sympathisers in Britain."

Norton-Taylor, Richard, and Matthew Taylor. "Number of Spies in UK Returns to Cold War Levels." The Guardian, 13 Apr. 2007. [http://www.guardian.co.uk]

British security sources report that "[t]he number of Russian intelligence agents based in London has reached cold war levels, reflecting the Kremlin's growing interest in London's dissident community.... Counter intelligence officers say there are now 30 agents operating out of the Russian Embassy and trade mission -- with the possibility that many more are working undercover for outside agencies across the capital."

Evans, Michael. "MI6 Ordered to Explain Secrecy over Superspy Files." Times (London), 7 May 2007. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk]

"MI6 has been ordered by a judge to appear at a special public hearing over the case of one of its wartime superspies, whose file is buried in the archives of the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service.... A challenge to [MI6's] policy of secrecy has been made by the nephew of Paul Rosbaud, an Austrian physicist and metallurgist who spied for Britain in the Second World War and provided crucial intelligence on German attempts to build a uranium atomic bomb."

Arutunyan, Anna. "UK and Russia Trade Diplomats in Spy Row." Moscow News, 20 Jul. 2007. [http://mnweekly.rian.ru]

"Tensions between Russia and the UK over the ongoing investigation into the poisoning death of former Russian intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko have escalated to a new level with the United Kingdom's decision to expel four Russian diplomats in response to Moscow's refusal to hand over Britain's chief suspect in the murder, Andrei Lugovoi. Russia responded with tit-for-tat measures [on 19 July 2007], declaring four British diplomats persona non grata and giving them ten days to leave the country."

Harding, Thomas. "Exodus of Officers Hits War on Terror." Telegraph (London), 14 Aug. 2007. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"The military's ability to fight global terrorism is being hampered by an exodus of officers from the Intelligence Corps, with 20 per cent departing in the past three years, defence sources have disclosed.... [M]ore than 100 officers [have been] lured into highly paid private security jobs or becom[e] disillusioned at the way intelligence is handled.... In particular, Special Forces are suffering with dwindling numbers as troops are recruited into the private sector. Only last month, the commanding officer of 22 SAS left a promising career for a well-paid civilian job."

BBC. "Former Soviet Spy To Be Honoured." 18 Oct. 2007. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7050126.stm]

Oleg Gordievsky, the former KGB colonel who defected to Britain, "will be made a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George" by the Queen on 18 October 2007. "The CMG is used to honour individuals who have rendered important non-military services in relation to Commonwealth or foreign nations."

Evans, Michael. "Ex-TA Soldier, Peter Hill, Is Bailed in Russian Espionage Inquiry." Times (London), 12 Nov. 2007. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk]

Peter Hill, a "former Territorial Army soldier," was arrested on 7 November 2007 on suspicion of attempting "to pass classified military material to the Russians." He will be charged "under the 1883 Explosive Substances Act after items were removed from residential and business addresses..., including sodium chlorate, hexamine tablets and a metal tube. Police and security sources confirmed that he had initially been arrested under the Official Secrets Act."

Corera, Gordon. "Growing Pangs of Britain's Spy Agencies." BBC, 29 Jan. 2008. [http://news.bbc.co.uk]

According to the annual Intelligence and Security Committee report, "Britain's intelligence and security services have been growing fast since 9/11.... The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS [MI6]) ... grew at a rate of 3.6% in the last year compared to nearly 30% for MI5, but it has still been undergoing significant changes.... In its broadest definition, counter-terrorism now takes up 56% of MI6's work and that figure is rising.... MI6's greater focus on counter-terrorism has also led to a significant increase in the number of direct 'disruption operations' against terrorist targets, the report says.... The government's eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, has also been put under pressure with resources increasingly devoted to supporting MI5 operations. Making sure its resources keep pace has not always been easy."

Fidler, Stephen. "Legal Cases Draw Spy Secrets out of Shadows." Financial Times, 7 Feb. 2008. [http://www.ft.com]

In Britain, "unlike recordings from eavesdropping devices, intercepts cannot be used as evidence in a court of law.... Britain is the one country in Europe, apart from Ireland, where evidence from wiretaps is not admissible in court. The intelligence services ... distinguish firmly between 'intelligence' and 'evidence', but since 2001 they have in any case been drawn inexorably into court cases, particularly involving terrorist suspects, in which some of their methods have come into the open."

Rayment, Sean. "Former Spy Faces Court Battle to Publish Book." Sunday Telegraph (London), 9 Mar. 2008. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

Legal proceedings against a former MI5 undercover agent, to stop publication of a book on the inner workings of the secret service, are due to begin at the High Court in London the week of 10 March 2008. "A senior judge has been appointed to hear the case, which will be held in secret. He will rule on whether publication of the book would breach national security."

Simmons, Chris. "When Spies Become Diplomats." Miami Herald, 11 Mar. 2008. [http://www.miamiherald.com]

"[T]wo former Cuban intelligence officers who are now in the United States" have identified René Mujica Cantelar, Cuba's ambassador to the United Kingdom, "as a deep-cover spy in Cuba's foreign-intelligence service."

Borger, Julian. "British Trade Official Accused of Espionage by Russians." Guardian, 11 Jul. 2008, 12. [http://www.guardian.co.uk]

The Foreign Office confirmed on 10 July 2008 that "the Russians suspected a senior diplomat in the British embassy's trade section of espionage. Local media in Moscow named him as Chris Bowers.... The accusation came just hours after Russia's ambassador in Britain, Yuri Fedotov, responded angrily to a string of reports quoting unnamed British security officials emphasising the security threat posed by Russian spies in Britain."

BBC. "Spy Plane Intelligence 'Lacking.'" 4 Aug. 2008. [http://www.bbc.co.uk]

A report by the Commons Defence Committee says that "[t]he effectiveness of unmanned aerial vehicles used by UK military in Iraq and Afghanistan is being undermined by skills shortages.... According to the report, the Army had a 48% shortfall in UAV operators at the start of 2008, while the RAF was 18% shy of the number needed to assess the intelligence value of images."

Leppard, David. "Terror Chief Tipped to Head MI6." Sunday Times (London), 21 Sep. 2008. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk]

According to senior Whitehall officials, "Charles Farr, a 49-year-old spymaster who has overhauled the Home Office's handling of the war on terror, is widely tipped" to become the chief of MI6 in July 2009, succeeding Sir John Scarlett. "Farr's main rival for the post is thought to be the deputy head of MI6, whose identity cannot be disclosed for security reasons."

Return to UK Post-Cold War Table of Contents