The annual Hay Festival, held at Hay-on-Wye near the Welsh border, is a very genteel affair, but some of the authors and speakers who entertain the arts and meedja intelligensia and other Guardianistas venture into the realms of politics and society etc.
The Master of Pembroke College, who was head of the Secret Intelligence Service (known as 'C') from 1999 to 2004 discusses the security challenges facing government, the problems of past and contemporary terrorism, and the impact on UK foreign policy and national security of events in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine and Iraq.
The first mainstream media reports about this talk seemed to concentrate on his comments about the policy of "extraordinary rendition" and torture of terrorism suspects, but he also sems to have expressed concerns about the Surveillance Society being inflicted on us by the current Government.
The London Evening Standard:
"I'm a great believer in proportionality and as a citizen I worry about the loss of my liberties," Sir Richard said.
"But you know we have constructed a society which has great technical competence - and some of that competence isn't particularly regulated.
"I think the important thing in the UK is that there should be very strict legislation and strict legislative oversight."
He highlighted the 170,00 stop and searches the Met had carried out, compared with 200-300 in Manchester. "That is a mind-boggling statistic. That may well be an abuse of the law."
followed by The Daily Mail:
The former head of MI6 has hit out at what he called 'striking and disturbing' invasions of privacy by the Big Brother state - claiming some are an 'abuse' of the law.
Sir Richard Dearlove, who led the Secret Intelligence Service from 1999 to 2004, publicly attacked the 'loss of liberties' caused by expanding surveillance powers, and described some police operations as 'mind-boggling.'
Both the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard used to be owned by Associated Newspapers, but thehe Evening Standard has been sold off earlier this year to a Russian businessman (who does not like to be called an oligarch), Alexander Lebedev.
He was, astonishingly, a former KGB foreign intelligence officer stationed in London in the late 1980's until he left the KGB / FSB in 1992, with the rank of lieutenant colonel , and then went on to make a fortune in banking, according to a The Sunday Times profile of him.
It is interesting how Sir Rich Richard Dearlove's comments seem to agree with those of Dame Stella Rimington, who in charge of MI5 the Security Service from 1992 until 1996, and even with those of Sir David Omand, the former head of GCHQ and former Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary and Security Intelligence Co-ordinator.
See Spy Blog:
- Former MI5 Director General Stella Rimington's interview with La Vanguardia
- Sir David Omand on Protint - 'protected information' data mining of personal sensitive data by intelligence agencies