[ISN] Real-life James Bonds: Actual spooks reveal what a job in MI6 is really like

www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/jamesbond/11874457/Real-life-James-Bonds-Actual-spooks-reveal-what-a-job-in-MI6-is-really-like.html By Frank Gardner telegraph.co.uk 25 Oct 2015 It’s slick, it’s fast-paced and it’s sexy. But that’s the cinema. SPECTRE, the latest James Bond thriller starring Daniel Craig opens in cinemas on Monday to critical acclaim. Pure fantasy? Or are there any similarities with the work of a real-life operative in Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), better known as MI6? I’ve gone to meet two serving SIS officers to find out. I don’t notice them at first, there are so many people in the room. Are they part of the camera crew? A couple of people sent up from hotel reception perhaps, to check we have everything we need? But then we are introduced. “Kamal” – and I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that is probably not his real name – is 30-something, unshaven, quietly confident. “Kirsty” is only slightly older. Neatly dressed, she looks like she could be running a medium-sized IT company. In fact, she is in recruiting, having already done the hard yards in the field overseas. Kamal speaks first. “I’m what people would classify as an agent-runner,” he tells me. “Our job is to find individuals with access to secret intelligence of value to the UK government. My job [within MI6] is to build a relationship with these individuals and work with them to obtain the secrets they have access to, securely.” And bang, up in smoke goes one of the biggest misnomers about espionage and spies. James Bond, and all the true-life men and women who work inside those sandstone and emerald-coloured headquarters at Vauxhall Cross on the banks of the Thames are not “secret agents”. They are intelligence officers. The people overseas who they persuade to spy for them are the actual agents. […]