It was an unprecedented, and much under-reported, occasion. Never before had a British foreign secretary heaped so much praise, so publicly, on Britain’s secret services.
Addressing an audience of the country’s top securocrats, including the heads of MI6, MI5, and GCHQ, William Hague described their role as vital. British intelligence officers had saved lives, most recently in Libya, he said. Their dedication and professionalism had “few equals, and possibly no equals, among any of their counterparts”.
So why did he feel the need to shower the country’s spies and spooks with such approbation, so enthusiastically, even flamboyantly? There were plenty of clues in the speech he gave in the foreign office on Wednesday. “I know”, he said, “that their values are the finest values of the United Kingdom.” Yet, Hague added, their work threw up “some of the most difficult ethical and legal questions” he encountered as foreign secretary. He repeatedly stressed the need for “public confidence” in their work.
For more on this story, visit: Is William Hague spooked by rendition ‘allegations’? | Richard Norton-Taylor | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.