The MI5’s head of hostile states counterintelligence has called for the 100-year-old Official Secrets Act to be brought up to date and for the British public to play their part in an unpredictable storm of threats.
The senior intelligence officer, who can only be publicly identified by her title, Director K, said there is ‘increasingly damaging activity’ being put towards the UK by hostile states, including China and Russia.
She has warned that British citizens should be more vigilant as threats against the UK are becoming more and more diverse, in the forms of state-backed cyber hackers, electoral interference and more.
Thames House, MI5’s Headquarters, where Director K gave an extremely rare interview to warn that British citizens must be more vigilant as threats against the UK are becoming more and more diverse
Other than the director general Ken McCallum, Director K’s boss, nobody as senior that the spy, who is in her 40’s, has ever given a media interview before.
And it is to help it become more wider known that threats against the UK are much more all encompassing.
Director K’s job involves keeping Britain safe from assassins, spies and protecting the country’s intellectual property.
Britain is said to be under threat from malign interference which ranges from the theft of intellectual property to crass assassination plots.
This includes the Russian spy who stole the blueprint for the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, and the attempt to kill a Russian double agent with Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury by Vladmir Putin.
Britain is said to be under threat from malign interference which ranges from the theft of intellectual property to crass assassination plots, including the Russian spy who stole the blueprint for the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine. Pictured is the Thames House Arch at MI5 HQ, which was lit up purple to celebrate International Day for Persons with Disabilities
The moment Director X’s children worked out that their mum is a spy
Director K’s children discovered she was an MI5 agent with their very own espionage skills.
Security services work is so secret that only spouses and closest relatives of the agent can know what their job is.
The Telegraph agreed not to disclose how Director X’s children deduced what she does for a living, but they confronted her with it and she confessed.
They now know what she does for a living – and will have to retain that secret of knowing one of the country’s most senior domestic spies’ identity.
She said that in normal circumstances you would not tell children at a young age because of the weight of importance it has.
Even though it happened sooner than planned, t she said that her children are sensible and capable enough.
Under the current Official Secrets Act 1911, only two people have been successfully prosecuted, Director K noted.
Parts of the original act remain in force even after it was replaced in 1989.
Director K said that new legislation is needed because the country is still relying on laws that are a century old.
She explained that the decision to overhaul the Act was now in the hands of Parliament who are to decide the perfect balance between keeping Britain and still giving MI5 the tools they need.
She told the Telegraph: ‘In the current world, threats really are diverse.
‘We are basically looking at it as a set of harms to UK national security and we focus on areas where we can have the greatest impact against the hardest threats.
‘The threats we are looking at primarily exist around protecting government, protecting secrets, protecting our people, so counter-assassination, protecting our economy and our sensitive technology and critical knowledge.’
In the interview, Director K explained that the espionage of today is less and less like the old school movies of spy-on-spy action.
She said that today, it impacts every person in the UK.
The UK faced an acute threat from Russia but really it is China’s threat, which she describes as chronic, which was more of a long-term concern.
Director K described Putin’s Russia as an unpredictable storm, but likened China’s threat to the great risks posed by climate change.
Director K described Putin’s Russia as an unpredictable storm and likened China’s threat to the great risks posed by climate change. Pictured is the view MI5 staff see as they enter MI5 HQ in Thames House, London
She made a point to warn strategic companies to not sell to Chinese firms because intellectual property is often being stolen.
In July, director general Ken McCallum gave a major speech at the Thames House headquarters in London to warn that ordinary members of the public are not safe from the issues they face with hostile states.
He emphasised that the less visible threats ‘have the potential to affect us all’.
There have been more than 10,000 ‘disguised approaches from foreign spies to regular people in the UK, seeking to manipulate them’ to date, according to the UK’s security service.
These approaches were made through social media sites like LinkedIn to steal information.
Mr McCallum believes ‘regular people’ should take care more about cyber attacks, misinformation, interference and spying on our world-leading research and technology.