“Unprecedented” history of MI5 published

Dr. Andrew

Dr. Andrew

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The MI5, Britain’s foremost counterintelligence organization, made headlines in 2002, when it appointed Cambridge University history Professor Christopher Andrew to produce an authorized account of its long history. The 1,032-page-long book, entitled Defense of the Realm, was published this week by Allen Lane, as announced last March, in time to mark the agency’s centennial. Despite the fact that Defense of the Realm has been officially sanctioned by MI5, (ex-director-general Stephen Lander was sitting next to Dr. Andrew during Monday’s press conference), the book makes some interesting revelations. Among them is that MI5 considered assassinating V.K. Krishna Menon, post-colonial India’s first High Commissioner (an ambassador within the British Commonwealth of Nations) to Britain. The plan, which was eventually scrapped, was discussed after MI5 learned that Krishna Menon, who had strong links with the Communist Party of Great Britain, had some of his election expenses paid by the Soviet KGB. Furthermore, Professor Andrew says that MI5 kept tabs on numerous public figures, including Jack Jones, former leader of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and London Labour Party parliamentarian Joan Ruddock, who chaired the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, considered as a “subversive” movement within the intelligence services. Undoubtedly the most serious allegation in Defense of the Realm is that MI5 maintained a secret file on Labour Party politician Harold Wilson, later Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, while he served as Prime Minister, from 1964 to 1970 and later from 1974 to 1976. Wilson’s MI5 file, which was first opened in 1945, was so secret that its existence was disguised by the cover name “Norman John Worthington”. The book admits that Wilson was Britain’s only Prime Minister to have a permanent file by MI5. But it dismisses long-standing rumors, alleged by, among others, former MI5 officer Peter Wright, that there was an MI5 plot to destabilize Wilson’s government, because it was seen by some in the secret services as too friendly to Moscow.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

3 Responses to “Unprecedented” history of MI5 published

  1. Susan Richardson says:

    My father, F,W, Meredith, was outed in the book “Spycatcher”. As a child I knew that he had lost his security clearance and passport but have been unable to learn more. Can you give me further information? Thank you

  2. intelNews says:

    Are you referring to British aerospace engineer F.W. Meredith, who also worked for NASA in the 1950s? I don’t think Meredith was outed in Spycatcher. I have three copies of the book (different printings) and nowhere is F.W. Meredith mentioned –unless you mean American cryptanalyst Meredith Gardner, which I don’t think you do. Could you share some more information on the subject? [JF]

  3. James Nye says:

    It’s a long time ago now that Susan Richardson was in touch with you, but if you are able to reach her, I can shed a lot of light on her father’s activities and his long-standing relationship with MI5. Kind regards, Dr James Nye, Institute for Contemporary British History, KCL

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