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When word got round that the SIS planned to move offices, the landlord started showing round prospective tenants. They included a party from the Russian Trade Delegation. The real cost of British intelligence is generally thought to be much higher. MI5 says it employs around 3, people, of whom 40 per cent are women and 54 per cent are under the age of MI6 does not disclose staffing levels. Meanwhile, the Q department was tasked with finding a way to do the job that could not be traced back to Britain. Quinn developed a way to heat the base of the chocolates so that they became detached, allowing for the injection of the poison.

A box of toxic chocolates was handed over but never used. He died of a heart attack in Lawson would also be approached at Oxford. SIS, which was in the midst of a public recruitment drive aimed at shattering the caricature of the shoulder-tapped Oxbridge graduate, put forward two active agents on the condition their voices be disguised.

But the new official history of the Security Service by Professor Christopher Andrew reveals that the Foreign Office did not share those concerns. Of the 17 prime ministers in power during years of the secret services, Margaret Thatcher had one of the closest relationships with intelligence chiefs. According to Inside British Intelligence by Gordon Thomas, she read reports over breakfast, returning them with comments underlined in blue. Eddie Chapman was a playboy criminal and safe-cracker doing time in a Jersey prison when the Nazis invaded the Channel Islands in Recruited by German military intelligence, he was parachuted into Britain to sabotage bomber factories, but defected to MI5.

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Spy chiefs faked photographs of destroyed buildings and planted a story in the Daily Express to satisfy the Germans. Disguised as a German officer, Chapman would blow up the Fuhrer. Declassified MI5 files recount the conversation that followed. In , he came back to London, ostensibly to help the Luftwaffe guide their V1 flying towards key targets. In fact he fed them false information and became a hero in Britain, too, eventually receiving a pardon for his pre-war crimes.

He died in It was run by Robin Stephens, a short-tempered MI5 officer distinguished by his thick-rimmed monocle — they called him Tin Eye — and his contempt for. Jews, homosexuals and Germans. Familiar with the works of Freud and Jung, and fluent in seven languages, Stephens was a master of interrogation.

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It was his job to extract intelligence from enemy spies to decide if they could be used as double agents. Dressed in his old Gurkha uniform, Stephens would spend days breaking down his suspects but enforced a strict policy of non-violence. Fifteen failed and were sent to the Tower of London to be hanged or shot. For decades historians have tried to unpick the knotty threads of his life but much of it remains tangled in legend and mystery.

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Born in in Russia with the name Rosenblum, Reilly found himself in London having: a stowed away on a British ship bound for Brazil after faking his own death when the Russians fingered him as a revolutionary, later winning a British passport after saving the life of a visiting intelligence officer during an attack by natives; or, b fled a suburb of Paris where he and an accomplice called Voitek acquired large amounts of cash from two Italian anarchists later found stabbed to death. In London, where he ran with the first story, Reilly quickly ingratiated himself into high society, satisfying his weakness for casinos, women and fast living.


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With a new identity and passport, the debonair playboy returned to Russia, where he spied for Britain and Japan. In , Reilly learned to weld and, disguised as a Baltic shipyard worker, found employment at a German weapons plant. He strangled a foreman who caught him stealing weapons plans before feeling the country with the designs. In the same year, according to one biography, Reilly posed as a pilot at the Frankfurt Airshow and removed a sophisticated magneto generator from a German plane.

With an accomplice, he made detailed drawings of the device before replacing it. When men loyal to the communist leader infiltrated the scheme, Reilly fled back to Britain via Finland and Sweden and was sentenced to death in absentia. In , he was lured into a bogus anti-communist group run by Russian agents. They included an actress by the name of Pepita Bobadilla.

Much of what goes on inside the intelligence agencies remains in the shadows. Tubes of shaving cream were devised with a chamber big enough to conceal messages — and a small amount of real cream. Dead rats were stuffed with explosives to be planted on coal beside German boilers. When shovelled in, they would explode. Logs made of plaster were painted to resemble trees and loaded with ammunition or arms before being planted in woodland. Incendiary suitcases were designed for carrying documents. One exploded unexpectedly, seriously injuring a spy in Thailand.

Kim Philby and his so-called Cambridge Spies are perhaps the most notorious double agents to have embarrassed MI6, but a lesser-known traitor arguably caused more damage. George Blake was born in Rotterdam to a British war hero. He later joined the Royal Navy, working in intelligence under Ian Fleming, who would go on to write the Bond books. Finally exposed by a Polish defector, who claimed Blake had caused the deaths of 40 British agents, he was recalled to London and arrested.

In , he received a year prison sentence — a record at the time — but after five years he scaled the perimeter walls of Wormwood Scrubs using a nylon ladder reinforced with knitting needles. He turned up in Moscow a year later, where he still lives. In , Vladimir Putin honoured the year-old former double agent. He was sent by Moscow to head up Russian intelligence-gathering in London in but continued to pass secrets to MI6.

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His cover was blown in and he returned to Russia, only to escape back to Britain. He smuggled millions of roubles in diamonds to support the Communist cause abroad and was so well thought-of by the Bolsheviks that MI6 recruited him as a double agent. He was exposed and eventually escaped to Moscow, where he died in After a year career as a double agent, during which he built republican links with European terrorist groups including Eta, he was unmasked in He fled to a derelict cottage in County Donegal, where he was found shot dead in For several decades women inside the secret services were restricted to administrative and secretarial roles.

But in a young archivist living in India with her diplomat husband started carrying out small assignments for MI5. In London in the early s, she put her name to an open letter demanding promotion. Two decades later, Stella Rimington became the first female director general of the Secret Service.

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Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. Subscribe Now Subscribe Now. Final Say. Long reads. Lib Dems. US Politics. Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn. Robert Fisk. Mark Steel. Janet Street-Porter. John Rentoul. Chuka Ummuna. Capitalist economies don't really work very well when taxes are high or money is unstable.

Nevertheless, the Magic Formula is often ignored. Taxes today are not very low; money is not very stable; both might get worse, not better. This has consequences. I explore this idea in my new book, The Magic Formula , which is now available in print and eBook versions. I don't think people have much idea just how good things can get, with the Magic Formula.

It is not a matter of an extra five or ten percent of economic growth. Over the course of only a few years, it can be hundreds of percent. But, even an increase of growth by one percent per year -- an amount so small that it is barely noticeable -- can change a country's destiny. Using the Congressional Budget Office's assumption of 1. But with 3. The Magic Formula , by Nathan Lewis. When you get on the wrong side of the Magic Formula, all these things work in reverse. I call it the "Spiral of Decline.

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The next step is commonly a combination of higher taxes, and some kind of "easy money"; and the Spiral of Decline takes another turn for the worse. You can see this process happening all around the world today, among some European governments, or in high-tax States like New York, Illinois and California. In the book, I describe how a similar process led to the disintegration of the Muslim Caliphates in the eleventh century, the Spanish Empire in the seventeenth century , and the British Empire in the twentieth.

One of the things that history shows is that things can get really bad -- Venezuela-like bad -- but a country can recover, in surprisingly short time, once it embraces the Magic Formula. Actually, a country might not only "recover" to some prior level of prosperity, but begin an advance to unprecedented new heights. China actually adopted communist central planning, with results so bad that famine became common.

Its economic advance in recent decades, fueled by the Magic Formula, has been a wonder to behold. Greece, one of Europe's laggards today, could become one of the wealthiest countries in Europe , if it adopted the Magic Formula. It wouldn't take long, either; probably, one generation would do it. As I describe in the book, Ireland was for two centuries one of Europe's poorest countries; after the government turned toward the Magic Formula in , it took only twenty years to surpass Germany to become one of Europe's wealthiest.

Unfortunately, the financial crisis in knocked Ireland off the growth path. Today, in the U. We could have another century of prosperity in the United States, but it will require the Magic Formula -- either as a means to avoid a crisis, or a means to recover afterwards.