It's OK to spy on our EU neighbours, claims ex-head of MI6
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:25 PM on 6th July 2011
Britain should not be 'squeamish' about using espionage to protect its financial security, claims a former spy chief.
Sir Richard Dearlove, ex-chief of MI6, said possible harm to Britain's economy caused by the eurozone crisis should be investigated.
He told the Global Strategy Forum in London that while bankers should be able to handle economic turbulence they 'might need help from time to time' on such matters.
Sir Richard, who was head of the Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, from 1999 to 2004, claimed threats such as migration and organised crime should also be subject to espionage.
He said: 'We should not be squeamish about using all the means at our disposal to protect ourselves in times of crisis.'
He said that part of the mandate of the SIS was to act in the interests of Britain's economic wellbeing.
And in answer to questions, he added: 'I was thinking of currency issues.'
The subject of economic spying has only been briefly addressed in previous speeches.
In October 2010, current SIS chief John Sawers said his staff had the task of gathering 'long range strategic intelligence to track military and economic power...'
Sir Richard said British intelligence may also be used to tackle the illegal trafficking of toxic waste as well as having a role in cyber security.
Russia and China would remain areas of interest for SIS because their decision-making processes 'should be more transparent', he said.
While although counter-terrorism remained very important, it was suggested that al Qaeda was now possibly 'past its zenith'.
He said a loss of some of the previously 'phenomenal' linguistic and general knowledge in the Foreign Office meant intelligence was relied on more.
He said this was 'a great shame' and that It was not realistic to expect Britain's intelligence capacity to make up for this loss.
Britain's Coalition government has said it is determined that there would be no strategic shrinkage of Britain's diplomatic influence overseas.
In May it said it planned to open new diplomatic missions in developing nations in a drive to boost influence in fast-growing emerging economies, while cutting costs in Europe.
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