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Spy Web Episode 19 MI5


The Security Service is derived from the Secret Service Bureau, founded in 1909, and concentrating originally on the activities of the Imperial German government as a joint initiative of the Admiralty and the War Office. The Bureau was split into naval and army sections which, over time, specialised in foreign target espionage and internal counter-espionage activities respectively. This specialisation was a result of the Admiralty intelligence requirements related to the maritime strength of the Imperial German Navy. This specialisation was formalised prior to 1914 and the beginning of the First World War, with the two sections undergoing a number of administrative changes, and the home section becoming Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 5 (MI5), the name by which it is still known in popular culture.

The founding head of the Army section was Vernon Kell of the South Staffordshire Regiment, who remained in that role until the early part of the Second World War. Its role was originally quite restricted; existing purely to ensure national security through counter-espionage. With a small staff, and working in conjunction with the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police, the service was responsible for overall direction and the identification of foreign agents, whilst Special Branch provided the manpower for the investigation of their affairs, arrest and interrogation.

On the day after the declaration of the First World War, the Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna, announced that "within the last twenty-four hours no fewer than twenty-one spies, or suspected spies, have been arrested in various places all over the country, chiefly in important military or naval centres, some of them long known to the authorities to be spies", a reference to arrests directed by the service. These arrests have provoked recent historical controversy. According to the official history of MI5, the actual number of agents identified was 22, and Kell had started sending out letters to local police forces on 29 July, giving them advance warning of arrests to be made as soon as war was declared. Portsmouth Constabulary jumped the gun and arrested one on 3 August, and not all of the 22 were in custody by the time that McKenna made his speech, but the official history regards the incident as a devastating blow to Imperial Germany, which deprived them of their entire spy ring, and specifically upset the Kaiser. This view has been challenged by Nicholas Hiley, who has asserted that it is a complete fabrication. In 2006, his article 'Entering the Lists' was published in the journal Intelligence and National Security, outlining the products of his research into recently opened files. Hiley was sent an advance copy of the official history, and objected to the retelling of the story. He later wrote another article, 'Re-entering the Lists', which asserted that the list of those arrested published in the official history was concocted from later case histories.

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Posted by Conspiracy Cafe on May 8, 2022 at 9:06 AM 33 Views