Scotland sees Nordic spy agencies as post-independence models

United Kingdom and IrelandBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Government administrators in Scotland, which may soon become independent from the United Kingdom, are looking to possibly model their intelligence agencies after those of Scandinavian countries, according to sources. An agreement for an independence referendum, to be held in September 2014, was struck last year between the devolved Scottish Government and the British state. According to the agreement, residents of Scotland, which has been ruled by English-dominated Britain for over 700 years, will be asked whether they agree that the territory should form an independent country. In January of this year, Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, told the Scottish Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs that an independent Scotland would have to build a domestic intelligence agency to combat security threats such as terrorism, organized crime and cyber attacks. Sturgeon, who is also Deputy Leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, opined that, even though a Scottish intelligence agency would serve the interests of the Scottish government and people, it would inevitably maintain “very close intelligence sharing with the rest of the UK”. But Committee members opposed to independence warned Sturgeon that Scottish intelligence agencies would have to prove that they were reliable and safe before they struck intelligence-sharing arrangements with British and American organizations. It appears that, in response to such criticisms, Scottish civil servants have initiated contacts with intelligence experts abroad, in an attempt to replicate the intelligence-agency model of Nordic countries. According to Scottish newspaper The Herald, the Scots are especially looking at the intelligence infrastructure of Sweden, as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organization members Denmark and Norway. These countries may not have extensive intelligence networks abroad, but they developed sophisticated regional intelligence-collection capabilities and built substantial counterintelligence mechanisms during the Cold War. Their substantial regional capabilities, which were largely directed at the Soviet Union, enabled them to enter intelligence-sharing arrangements with much more powerful Western spy agencies. Could this model of concentrated intelligence emphasis be viewed as a feasible post-independence model in Edinburgh? The Herald claims that Scottish Government officials have been looking at this question for over a year, and that details of their findings will be published in a white paper on the subject in December.

5 Responses to Scotland sees Nordic spy agencies as post-independence models

  1. Kidd says:

    Scotland has its homegrown issues, but i can’t see terrorism as any kind a major threat. probably a good choice to go by in chosing the Nords , but why not seek some input from Russia.

  2. Mike says:

    Why seek input from Russia?

  3. Pete says:

    I don’t think Scotland would want to form close ties to Russian intelligence. Scotland being seen as the “Cuba of the British Isles” would have many downsides especially economic.

    Perhaps the biggest hurdle for Scottish intelligence would be building sigint processing and analysis infrastructure. Even a mini version of GCHQ Cheltenham “doughnut” would cost US$Billions. This is assuming an independent Scotland would see continuing and total reliance on GCHQ and US sigint services as undesirable.

  4. Scotland has its own sigint and intelligence infrastructure, I do not think that is something they will lose, as its beneficial to all the U.K, I am sure it will stay just may be a changeover of certain personnel.

  5. Pete says:


    So where or what is Scotland’s equivalent of Cheltenham?


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