The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and 10 Downing Street

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A presentation by Professor Richard Aldrich, Professor of International Security, University of Warwick and Dr Rory Cormac, Assistant Professor of International Relations,  University of Nottingham

During the early years of the twentieth century, British Prime Ministers were relative strangers to the world of espionage. They treated the subject either with indifference or outright suspicion. With the arrival of Churchill in 1940, all that was to change. For five years, Britain’s fate hung in the balance and intelligence was often the winning factor. Thereafter, Britain’s next five Prime Ministers, all veterans of the Churchill wartime government, understood the value of secret sources. Schooled in the integration of intelligence and policy, his successors realised that this was a crucial instrument of statecraft.

Since 9/11, intelligence has moved from the shadows into the spotlight. It has ceased to be a matter that Prime Ministers can keep secret and instead has become a subject of intense public controversy. In 2005, Tony Blair was within a whisker of resignation as former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler reported on his government’s misuse of intelligence during the approach of war with Iraq. His successors have struggled with the toxic legacy of renditions and accusations of the use of torture during the “War on Terror”. In their presentation, Professor Aldrich and Dr Cormac will address the concealed and at times controversial relationship between Britain’s secret services and the Prime Minister.

Speaker Bio

Professor Richard J. Aldrich is Professor of International Security at the University of Warwick and a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow. He has written on cyber security, liberty and privacy, set against a background of accelerating globalisation. He is currently leading a new project on the decline of government secrecy.  

Dr Rory Cormac is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Nottingham. His research specialises in intelligence, covert action and secret foreign policy. He is an AHRC Leadership Fellow on a project exploring British approaches to covert action, 1945-1968. He previously worked at the University of Warwick and King’s College London.

Professor Aldrich and Dr Cormac will be on hand to sign copies of their latest book, The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and 10 Downing Street (HarperCollins: April 2016), which will be on sale.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

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