MI6 is to return to the old-school method of “tapping up” recruits as part of a concerted effort to draw in a new cadre of black and Asian officers and finally dispel the image of British spies as the preserve of a posh, Oxbridge elite.
MI6, known officially as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), feels the traditional method would be more effective in broadening its ethnic minority recruitments.
Alex Younger, the new MI6 chief, told the Guardian in his first newspaper interview on Friday that he himself was recruited that way and believes it is the most effective way of getting the right candidates rather than those who fancy themselves as trigger-happy James Bond — the fictional MI6 agent made famous in Ian Fleming’s books and by Hollywood on the big screen. “They may well be able to use a revolver. But that is not really what we are looking for. We don’t want to be the SAS [Special Air Services]. The brand [James Bond] has attracted a lot of good people. But it has also put off equally fantastic people.”
“There is a perception out there that we want Daniel Craig [Bond actor], or Daniel Craig on steroids. He would not get into MI6. We need to get that message across because it is so embedded, and we have to get around that. We are between a rock and a hard place, between trying to be innovative, while protecting the secret stuff that keeps this country safe.
“We get thousands of people applying. But we need people from a wider range of backgrounds in order to be able to select the best talent,” he said.