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The powers of Mi6 agents have long been largely undisclosed to the British Public, relying on fictional spy movies to get a glimpse behind the secretive curtain of the United Kingdom’s intelligence services.
British secret service agents have had their licence to kill renewed after a nearly 60-year suspension on Monday, a top government minister reveals.
Defence minister Annabel Goldie British, who is responsible for arms control, responded to a question regarding the targeting of assumed threats “located in non-belligerent states”.
“The Government may draw on a wide range of tools including, in extremis, the use of lethal force where there is no other effective option”, Baroness Goldie said.
Unlike in the fictional James Bond films, MI6 agents are only able to use their right to kill people under Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act.
They must write a “Clause Seven Authorisation” from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab before they can assassinate a target.
In 2012, former MI6 agent Matthew Dunn said in an interview with Fox News that MI6 agents do not require a licence to kill as a spy’s primary job is to violate the law in other countries, meaning that a compromised agent is at the mercy of the authorities of said country.
The licence does protect them from being charged with murder upon returning home, however.
Stranger Than Fiction
Mi6’s licence to kill is not restricted to the Blofeld’s of the world, however. In a 2013 letter to London Review of Books, a Labour Peer Lord David Lea said that Baroness Park of Monmouth admitted prior to her death in March 2010 that she organised the assassination of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961.
Daphne Park, also known as the “Queen of Spies” after 40 years as one of Britain’s foremost female intelligence agents, made the shocking revelation while having tea with Lord Lea.
“I mentioned the uproar surrounding Lumumba’s abduction and murder”, he wrote “and recalled the theory that MI6 might have had something to do with it. ‘We did,’ she replied, ‘I organised it'”.
Park is said to have been sent to the Belgian Congo in 1959 by Mi6 under an official diplomatic persona just as the Belgian colonists were being removed from the country.
Mi6 were concerned that the nationalist revolution, led by Lumumba, would become an ally of the Soviet Union.
The Congolese revolutionary was executed by firing squad in 1961 following in a coup, with the support of the former Belgian authorities. President Dwight Eisenhower previously said he wanted Lumumba “eliminated”.
The United States would later provide military support to the now-renamed Zaire dictatorship under Mobutu Sese Seko.