The world’s most famous fictional spy, James Bond, would not find a job as a real world special agent, the new chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service MI6 said on Thursday.
Alex Younger said that while Ian Fleming’s famous character had helped popularise Britain’s secret service brand, it bore no resemblance to reality.
Mr Younger, the 16th chief since MI6 was founded in 1909, is known as “C”, rather than “M” as in the Bond films.
“I am conflicted about Bond. He has created a powerful brand for MI6: as C, the real-life version of M, there are few people who will not come to lunch if I invite them. Many of our counterparts envy the sheer global recognition of our acronym,” Mr Younger said.
“And to be fair, there are a few aspects of the genre that do resonate in real life: fierce dedication to the defence of Britain, for example. The real life ‘Q’ would want me to say that we too enjoy – and, indeed, need – a deep grasp of gadgetry. But’s that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. And, were Bond to apply to join MI6 now, he would have to change his ways,” he said in a speech at MI6 headquarters on the banks of the river Thames in London.
C is the only member of MI6 who can be publicly identified.
The 53-year-old former army officer who joined MI6 in 1991 also revealed that UK intelligence and security services had disrupted 12 terrorist plots since June 2013.
“The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty. They should be a concern to all those who share democratic values,” he said in reference to the terror threat faced by Britain.
“In defining as a terrorist anyone who opposes a brutal regime they alienate precisely that group that has to be onside if the extremists are to be defeated. We cannot be safe from the threats that emanate from that land unless the civil war is brought to an end,” he added.
ISIS had exploited the situation in Syria to fortify its stronghold in the region and wage a war on the West, he warned.