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Reflections on a Career as an Intelligence Officer

19 February 2013

Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller 7Baroness Manningham-Buller, with Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan and Professor Malcolm Williams, Director of the School of Social Sciences.

 Honorary Fellow Baroness Manningham-Buller has used an event at the University to offer reflections and insights into her time as head of the UKs Security Service, MI5.  

Hosted by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan and the University’s School of Social Sciences, the former Director General told the audience some of the things she had learned during her 33-years as an intelligence officer in the Security Service.

Eliza led the Security Service from 2002 to 2007, leading the organisation through substantial change in the wake of 9/11 and the growing threat from Al-Qaeda. Under her leadership MI5 doubled in size, opened eight new offices in the UK and increased its intelligence capacity significantly.

As well as reflecting on her time as the Director General, Eliza highlighted some of the most significant changes MI5 has undergone in its history in response to a changing world. An important change was the Security Service Act of 1989 which put the Service on a statutory basis for the first time.

While taking questions, when asked what she missed most about being part of the organisation, Eliza said it was working with bright, young individuals who were full of motivation and energy for making a difference - not motivated by money but by what they were working for.  

Eliza concluded with telling the audience that she felt lucky and privileged to be the leader of the MI5, working with talented people towards a common purpose.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, said: "It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Eliza back to the University. We were all enthralled throughout by hearing of her distinguished career and were pleased that she was willing to share some of her fascinating stories with us."

Since retirement Eliza has become a Governor of the Wellcome Trust, a Council member of Imperial College and a member of the House of Lords, where she sits as a cross-bench peer. She was made an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University in 2010.