the guardian Tue 02 October 2012
Corera, a BBC security correspondent, delights in the drama of espionage, but is troubled by its "moral hazards". The stories of senior controller Daphne Park, the spy Greville Wynne, the Soviet informer Oleg Penkovsky, the double agent Kim Philby and the Soviet bloc controller Harold Shergold are told with evident relish, but MI6's post-cold war, post-9/11 activities tarnish its reputation. The then head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove got too close to Tony Blair, Corera argues, and it was thanks to MI6 that intelligence described in March 2002 as "sporadic and patchy" could be presented to the House by the prime minister in September as "extensive, detailed and authoritative". In short, MI6 facilitated the Iraq war (Corera claims British intelligence was trying to impress the Americans). More recently MI6's cosy relationship with Colonel Gaddafi and complicity in torture has come to light. So while we can all enjoy tales of spymasters and their agents, this fully revised unofficial history cannot help but end on a sour note.