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International

Working for MI6 ‘more exciting than James Bond film’, says spy

Daniel Craig as James Bond (©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Working for MI6 can be more exciting than a James Bond film, a director for the agency has told the BBC.

The officer, named only as Kwame, said that in the course of his career he has seen things "way more than what you see in the spy movies".

He added that popular depictions could give the impression everyone who works at MI6 is white, middle class, and male. "That's not true," Kwame said.

MI6 is the UK's foreign intelligence service.

It is tasked with gathering intelligence overseas to improve the country's security, with the core aims of stopping terrorism, disrupting the activities of hostile states, and bolstering cyber-security.

Kwame, the first black spy to give a broadcast interview, was speaking to BBC Radio 1Xtra from the agency's London headquarters, as part of a drive to recruit more people from black and Asian backgrounds.

"It's more exciting than James Bond," Kwame said of his workplace.

'Things that will blow your mind'

"I've seen some of the coolest stuff. Things that will blow your mind.

"You have to be in it to see it."

Kwame described himself as the director of organisational development - effectively the finance and HR director - and said part of the aim of the recruitment drive was to tell people that anyone can work for MI6, whatever their ethnicity or background.

"The issue is if you talk about James Bond it gives you a different connotation," he said.

"I'm afraid it makes you think that everyone who works here is a white, middle-class male, who is driving an Aston Martin, who likes women and all that. But that's not true.

"You can see that's not necessarily true about me. We want to reach out to all the brothers and sisters out there and say actually SIS [Secret Intelligence Service], MI6, it's a place for you."

Kwame also said that the real-life Q - the agency's head of technology - is a woman, as is her deputy.

"We've got a whole line of Qs doing really cool stuff in the tech space who are women," he said.

Aside from the agency's head, Sir Richard Moore, who has been named publicly, MI6 officers work under condition of anonymity.

Kwame said he had told his wife and his sister where he worked, though not his young children.

He said that working for the agency was well paid, but that his real reason for working there was the impact he is able to have.

"Ultimately, our mission is about protecting the UK [and] protecting the people of the UK," Kwame said.

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