Secret Service

Jonathan Evans / Introduction by Claire Foster-Gilbert

‘It was only two days after I arrived that I realised I had actually joined MI5. It did not exactly throw the doors wide and welcome scrutiny. The existence of the service was avowed but very little else about it was. Who worked for it? Where were its offices? What was its budget? What did it do? What was its relationship with government? All of these were secret – and yet MI5 was the most open of the three intelligence services.’


This short book describes how the UK’s secret services are dealing with the need for greater openness and transparency, even as national security needs are heightened. Based on decades of real-life experience, Jonathan Evans draws insightful similarities between investigative journalism and espionage, from following leads and checking information to protecting sources. He explores differences between other security services around the world, especially those in the United States, and how Brexit might impact the UK’s future collaboration with other European security services.

Secret Service is an intriguing insight into the world of international and domestic security and a reminder of the importance of actively attending to the moral health of both the institution itself and its operatives who, by their very nature, are its greatest strength and also its greatest weakness.

JONATHAN EVANS was Director General of the British Security Service from 2007 to 2013. In 2018, he was appointed Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

CLAIRE FOSTER-GILBET is the founder director of the Westminster Abbey Institute. A current and former member of numerous ethic committees, Dr Foster-Gilbert has played an instrumental role in the medical research ethics field, and has led efforts to shift the Church’s thinking on environmental issues.

Published with Westminster Abbey Institute.

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