Former head of MI5, 83, reveals the KGB tried to recruit her at a dinner party

Former head of MI5, 83, reveals the KGB tried to recruit her at a dinner party

A former head of MI5 has revealed how the KGB tried to recruit her at a dinner party. Dame Stella Rimington said that as a young spy she had bee

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A former head of MI5 has revealed how the KGB tried to recruit her at a dinner party.

Dame Stella Rimington said that as a young spy she had been introduced to a couple who worked for Russian intelligence.

Realising it was an attempt to sign her up, she left the gathering and broke off the association with them.

Dame Stella Rimington said that as a young spy she had been introduced to a couple who worked for Russian intelligence. She made the remarks at a National Archives event [File photo]

Dame Stella Rimington said that as a young spy she had been introduced to a couple who worked for Russian intelligence. She made the remarks at a National Archives event [File photo]

Dame Stella Rimington said that as a young spy she had been introduced to a couple who worked for Russian intelligence. She made the remarks at a National Archives event [File photo]

The incident happened in the 1960s, when she was living in the Indian capital Delhi with her diplomat husband shortly after she had taken a job with MI5.

Speaking at a National Archives event, Dame Stella, 83, said she and her husband had become friendly with a young Left-wing couple from Delhi University and had gone to dinner with them.

‘We were having a nice conversation when all of a sudden the door opened and in came a couple from the Soviet embassy,’ she said.

‘To me, because by that time I was the clerk typist at the MI5 office and alert for that sort of thing, this seemed an obvious effort to introduce us to somebody from the Soviet Union.

Dame Stella, who was director general of MI5 from 1992 to 1996, also criticised Russian president Vladimir Putin. She also warned against data harvesting by major tech firms, saying some of their practices were ‘very worrying’ [File photo]

Dame Stella, who was director general of MI5 from 1992 to 1996, also criticised Russian president Vladimir Putin. She also warned against data harvesting by major tech firms, saying some of their practices were ‘very worrying’ [File photo]

Dame Stella, who was director general of MI5 from 1992 to 1996, also criticised Russian president Vladimir Putin. She also warned against data harvesting by major tech firms, saying some of their practices were ‘very worrying’ [File photo]

‘I realised quite quickly that this man was from the KGB. We had a list of those people we had identified as KGB officers and he was one of them.

‘So it was clear this was the beginnings of a chatting operation that might lead anywhere as far as they were concerned. Who knew? But we didn’t meet those people again.’

Dame Stella, who was director general of MI5 from 1992 to 1996, also criticised Russian president Vladimir Putin.

‘It seems that Russia under Mr Putin still regards the West as an enemy and something to be weakened if he possibly can and undermined,’ she said.

‘I think that the way that used to be done during the Cold War is very different from the way it’s being done now because nowadays of course, he like everybody else benefits from the internet, from cyberspace, from fake news and the ability to spread dissension or spread your point of view very widely without showing your hand, shall we say.’

William’s job with the spies

Prince William has praised the secret services after spending three weeks working behind the scenes at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

Details of his hush-hush assignment were revealed by Kensington Palace at the weekend after he completed his final day.

At MI6 he learned about risks to national security, while at MI5 he saw counter-terrorism teams analysing intelligence and conducting investigations.

Finally he worked at GCHQ, the Government listening centre in Cheltenham, which monitors communications to look for potential security threats.

William said: ‘These agencies are full of people from everyday backgrounds doing extraordinary work to keep us safe.’

Details of his hush-hush assignment were revealed by Kensington Palace at the weekend after he completed his final day

Details of his hush-hush assignment were revealed by Kensington Palace at the weekend after he completed his final day

Details of his hush-hush assignment were revealed by Kensington Palace at the weekend after he completed his final day 

She added: ‘I don’t think we’re in the phase of a new Cold War, the Cold War was rather different. We are in a phase were Russia wants to weaken the West. I don’t think we’re in friendly phase at the moment. Whether we ever will be remains to be seen but I don’t think it’s a Cold War – not yet anyway.’

Dame Stella also warned against data harvesting by major tech firms, saying some of their practices were ‘very worrying’.

Asked if they were behaving in the same way as a security service, but without the public role, she said: ‘Yes, I think it is very worrying for all of us actually that that’s going on.

‘But how it’s going to end… who knows? I think introducing regulation for these kinds of companies is going to be extremely difficult and people – your man in the street, your average person – aren’t aware of the implications of the amount of information that they are just handing out to some of these companies. So it is worrying.’

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