Britain’s foreign spy service MI6 has turned to the Internet in an attempt to recruit real-life James Bonds and dispel myths about the secretive agency. The launch of the Web site on Thursday marked the first time the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) — as MI6 is also known — has publicly appealed for staff since its creation in 1909.
The move follows intelligence failures that gave no warnings of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States or this year’s July 7 transport bombings in London.
MI6 also said it hoped the Web site would help to quash “ridiculous” conspiracy theories such as the idea that British agents murdered Princess Diana, a spokesman said.
The intelligence agency has frequently been the subject of fiction over the years, most famously in the adventures of Ian Fleming’s spy James Bond.
“Although the SIS archive remains closed, a great deal has been written about the service. Much of it is inaccurate or misleading,” the Web site warned.
The site also has a careers page outlining the qualities SIS, which is based at Vauxhall Cross in south London, requires in an agent.
Applicants are promised foreign travel and must be resourceful and flexible, thrive on a challenge and be able to cope with stress.
“Whether you feel that your strengths could lead you towards operations, intelligence analysis, management, data handling or security, whether you have the skills to design high-tech gadgets or to deploy them in a hostile environment, SIS may have the career for you.”
Candidates must be over 21 and British, have lived in Britain for five of the last 10 years and pass an “extensive security clearance process.”
The Web site — at www.sis.gov.uk and also www.mi6.gov.uk — details the role and history of the overseas intelligence gathering organization.
Nev Johnson, a spokesman for MI6, said: “It’s important for the public to know more about the service and to explain why MI6 has to be secret in its operations and personnel.
“Also some of the allegations, myths and rumors that have grown up around the service, such as conspiracy theories that Princess Diana was murdered, are so ridiculous that they need to be corrected,” he said.
“And the best way of enhancing the public’s knowledge of SIS’s roles and responsibilities is a Web site because that is accessible to everyone.”