Top British spymaster breaks silence to defend Secret Intelligence Service

Britain’s spymaster today broke silence for the first time to defend the work of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).

Sir John Sawers, known as “C” addressed an audience of journalists from the Society of Editors and took as his theme “Britain’s secret front line”.

Sir John posed the questions why we need a secret intelligence service and categorically denied any British intelligence agents had ever been involved in torture.

He said in some circumstances lives had probably been lost because of this stance.

“He said: “Secrecy is not a dirty word. Secrecy is not there as a cover up. Secrecy plays a crucial part in keeping Britain safe and secure.”

“Without secrecy there would be no intelligence services or indeed other national assets like our Special Forces. Our nation would be more exposed as a result.”

Sir John said that today millions of people in Britain are free of fear because of the British government’s work to stop terrorists and would be terrorists in their tracks.

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Sir John was speaking a month after publication of the first authorised history of the SIS and in the wake of the national security review. His talk, the first ever to be given by a serving British spymaster, was delivered at Thomson Reuters building in Canary Wharf.