For the past forty or so years we in Britain may have given you the impression that our security services are staffed by devilishly handsome, impeccably tailored men in Aston Martins who exclusively drink martinis shaken not stirred and who have a license to kill.
Due to the the subpoenaing of the retired head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove, to the inquest of Princess Diana yesterday, we must now concede that this is not the case:
He was MI6's director of operations from 1994 to 1999, and served as head of the agency from 1999 to 2004.
He denied that any assassinations took place under his authority.
Ian Burnett QC, for the coroner, asked him: "During the whole of your time in SIS, from 1966 to 2004, were you ever aware of the service assassinating anyone?"
Sir Richard replied: "No, I was not."
He added that the service was legally required to seek authorisation from the Foreign Secretary to carry out any operation which involved breaking the law.actor