‘Trail Top Five: MI5, MI6, GCHQ news updates, 21.7.19

Need to know what’s currently going on in the shadowy realms of British Intelligence? You’ve come to the right place.

The top five news stories to come from the mainstream and alternative media concerning Britain’s intelligence services: MI5, MI6, and GCHQ. And perhaps some others along the way every now and again.

A new Official Secrets Act that protects the media?
Writing in the Daily Mail, ex-Cabinet Minister David Davis calls for an overhaul of the OSA in the light of the heavy-handed approach taken by the authorities and the Metropolitan Police in their handling of the leaked Kim Darroch communications.

Here’s hoping that any future ‘overhaul’ is a major improvement over the Law Commission’s 300-odd page report into potential changes to the Act from back in 2017 that had many journalists up in arms – and for good reason.
And as an aside, have the numerous journalists who screamed “Russia! Russia!” at the leak admitted their inaccuracy, now we know the people behind the expose? Nah, ‘thought not!

Should Camilla be getting worried about Charles and ‘Noreen’?
Prince Charles is reunited with a mystery lady after their time together on the Royal Yacht Britannia! Should Camilla get worried?
Not quite…as all is revealed during HRH’s recent visit to GCHQ in Cheltenham. 

Torture, terror and…time to challenge?
As the UK government rejects calls for a Judge-led Inquiry into just how complicit the UK was in rendition and torture of terror suspects in recent years, Daily Mail Home Affairs Editor Ian Drury highlights the warnings from outraged politicians to expect a challenge.

A spying life on the ocean wave (or at least the North Sea)?
Is spying plain sailing? Or in this case, ‘plane’ sailing? Some lucky MI6 officers wangle arguably the nicest and cushiest assignments in their careers: watching out for stealth plane traitors on cruise ships.

Dodgy emails and old Windows
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – GCHQ’s ‘cuddly’ public-facing division based in Victoria – released its annual report, complete with a Top 10 of dodgy email scams and which organisations they claim to come from. Max Smolacks, writing in IT website The Register, also highlights the report discovering how major organisations are still using Windows XP despite its last security patch release five years ago. Gulp.  


And in the week that saw the internet go berserk over Bond it would be remiss of me not to mention….

On Her Majesty’s Progressive Service?
Almost as big as any factual news this week, most of the spy cinema fraternity goes nuts as it seems 007 has changed both skin colour and gender in the upcoming Bond 25. But is the James Bond franchise in danger of becoming too ‘woke’ and progressive for its own commercial good? Madeline Grant writing in the Daily Telegraph ponders the issues. You’ll need to register to read it, but it’s well worth the effort.

Talking of which, ‘Trail clients won’t be surprised to learn I’m rather chuffed to read that Mr Bond is back in the Highlands. Obviously, he won’t be able to have a kip at Skyfall which he inconveniently blew to bits back in 2012. Anyway, the 007 production crew have made their mark around Aviemore and are expected to remain there until next month. Time to get them all eating (or at least, trying) haggis before they leave!

Anyway, that’s enough for this week. Hopefully you’ll have found sufficient spy sauce for you to come back next week for more. And if you like what you see here, then tell your spy-loving (or cynical!) friends and colleagues alike to pay the ‘Trail website a visit.

Until next week, take care and don’t forget to look over your shoulder every now and again!
Brian