MI5 boss gives first press interviews but reveals little

The head of MI5 Jonathan Evans broke with a hundred years of secret service history by giving a series of on-the-record press interviews yesterday to mark the organisation’s centenary.

The Guardian and Sun give the impression today that theirs was the first ever newspaper interview with a serving head of MI5 – whereas The Times was a little more candid, explaining that reporters (plural) had been invited in to meet Evans yesterday. The Telegraph was also among those meeting the MI5 boss.

Evans seems to have spent more time explaining what he couldn’t talk about – rather than what he could in what were, unsurprisingly, very guarded discussions.

Evans was far more revelatory in his speech to the Society of Editors in November 2007.

Then he spoke about MI5’s relationship with the media – and revealed that he believed up to 2000 terror suspects were at large in the UK. Yesterday he would not be drawn on exact figures again. According to Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian – this may be because he did not want to say explicitly that the figure had fallen.

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