back to article Spy boss damns government's culture of fear

Dame Stella Rimington, the ex-boss of MI5, said the UK government risks creating a police state with its relentless attacks on people's privacy and creation of a culture of fear. She told Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia: “It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in …


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  1. Eddie

    F***ing hilarious

    A government spook, of all people, thinks we have a surveillance society. If that doesn't give everyone pause for thought, then I suggest we have the two-way telescreens installed in our houses, now, and get ready for the Two-Minute Hate...

    This would be doubleplusgood in my opinion, big bro...

  2. CeeJay

    Jackqui Smith must be *livid* about this.

    "Somebody shut her up! She'll ruin *everything*!!!"

  3. nicholas22
    Thumb Down


    I fear that Islamist radicalisation proponents have already won several such battles. I don't think these may easily be reversed now as they form part of the law and acceptable ethics.

  4. dervheid

    What's this? A voice of reason?

    Expect rapid smothering response from the NuLabourian 'Department of Truth and Facts', aka Wacky Jacqui.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hooray, about fxxxing time!

    that is all.

  6. Paul

    Good to know she is on the ball

    It's only taken her the best part of a decade to work out what everyone else has been saying for so long.

    Shame she couldn't have had this little brainstorm when it really mattered and she was in a position to do something about it.


  7. Jack

    You Brits are a sarcastic bunch.

    "Risk creating a police state". Good one!

    For those unfamiliar with the situation in Britain, it's been a police state for years. Passing a cemetery, there, one hears a "whirring" sound. I understand it's caused by veterans, who died fighting fascism, spinning in their graves.

  8. Eponymous Cowherd
    Black Helicopters

    It doesn't matter.....

    that people such as Dame Stella, who can only ever be regarded as an expert on such matters, and airline pilots, whose lives are on the line should a terrorist get aboard their aircraft ( and, unlike their passengers, they run the risk every day, often several times a day ),and therefore have a vested interest in airside security, think ID cards are a bad idea.

    But we all *want* ID cards, don't we? We know this because Wacqui Jacqui and Meg Hitler tell us so. They tell us that they cant stop people coming up to them and demanding they speed up their introduction.

    Still, listening to Wacqui or Meg defending their plans for Stasi Britain against Dame Stella's comments in the House should be amusing......

    Sort of fingers-in-ears, going "la la la la, I'm not listening", as usual....

  9. Steven

    Name one curtailing law...

    ... which hasn't brought with it a sluggish slime trail of Halliburton-esque slobbering capitalists, determined to get as much money as possible with minimal expense to themselves?


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tough on crime tough on the causes of crime

    Isn't that true of everything does?

    They seem to be rating the negative impact of laws at zero. So they make laws to fix a problem, and no matter how minor the problem, and no matter how damaging the law, they push ahead anyway. Once the decision has been made, they won't back down because they don't want to lose face and admit a mistake.

    So we're ruining nurses future careers because they got drunk one Friday night and that goes on their extended background check making them unemployable.....

    We're killing free speech, so much that it would be a crime to discuss certain things here.

    They've made Britain into a fortress, but that the expense of a collapsing economy and fleeing companies.

    They've made an insane oppressive surveillance system, not just an id card, but a whole id infrastructure integrated into the surveillance state. Banks sending info to government, telecoms companies sending info to government, ISPs sending info to government. A culture where everyone is expected to report everyone else to the government.

    The most extreme viewpoints catered for in law, *one* chief constable wants cartoon porn made illegal and even though he's just one voice among many that think otherwise, they give him his law. One police constable wants photographing the police to be made a crime, and he gets his law. No matter how extreme the request, no matter how much damage the law does, they give him his law.

  11. MGJ


    You might just point out that Dame Stella takes the Tory whip in the house of lords, so she is not exactly neutral in her criticism of the current government...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Dame Stella shouldn probably be...

    ... careful when she goes out walking her dog alone in the woods.

    Would be nice if the government actually paid attention to all these people.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah right!

    Just wanted to be the first to say it.

    AC because (well, they know who I am anyway, I can see them watching and listening to me in that car across the street)

    Paris because she *might* be worried about people watching her.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Wagon Rolls On

    Do you really think the government will take any notice? They're hypocrites! They say one thing (we will protect liberties) while doing another (taking them away). The public recognise it, the experts recognise, the media trumpet it, but still the slow suffocation of freedom in this country comes unabated. This government are doomed. They'll be out in the election next year. Unfortunately I doubt civil liberties will be any safer under the Tories.

  15. Tony Humphreys
    Black Helicopters


    am i still allowed to comment?

    The way this countries going it wont be long before I will not be allowed (either by law, or the usual suspect of fear that my message will be read, tracked and the thought police arriving on my doorstep to cart me off).

    Now thats something to fear.

  16. Christoph

    What's she been smoking?

    "said the UK government risks creating a police state"

    Hullo? Haven't you noticed? There's no 'risk' involved - it's entirely deliberate, and very obviously so.

  17. Danny van der Weide

    Side effects or a goal in itself?

    Taken into account that the 9/11 attacks were very probably inside jobs, and the UK underground attack has a very similar signature (that is, an exercise scenario that turned reality during the exercise) , one might be forgiven to think that the mentioned side-effects, (e.g. restriction of privacy and a culture of fear) where the real ultimate goal of the whole operation!

  18. neil
    Thumb Up

    Truth to tell...

    Tell it like it is Stella, not how 'they'd' like it to be!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taking Liberties (since 1997)

    Nothing new for those who have read the excellent book - or watched the movie

  20. Anonymous Coward

    "Dame Stella Rimington, the ex-boss of MI5"

    Have you noticed that anyone who ever seems to say anything against such things almost always tend to be ex-member of high post not soon after.

    And those that agree and constantly say how good even after every point they make is proven incorrect and then such scheme falls flat on its face, seem to hold onto their jobs even after national scandles, an inability to even do the job they are given and constant public outcry.

    I guess its not what you know, rather do what your told to do without question.

    *\. Mines the one with RFID ID and Credit Card flyers in the pocket because I'm want to move into a Multi-Million pound pad in the city paid by public expense too.

  21. Pete James

    One Question....

    .... why did this appear in a Spanish publication? I would have thought a UK newspaper would have liked to interview her.

    Nice to read some commonsense from someone who was at the sharp end of things. Not that our idiotic Home Secretary is able to take on board such wise words.

  22. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Tell us something we don't know, Stella.

    The enemy is always within ....... ....... and usually claiming to be just getting on with the job, but whenever situations do not improve, then they must be up to no good?

    Follow the money trail and you will be well educated as to who is doing what and for whom ....and it is a Crashing Indictment of the Banking System that they are Willing Accommodating Pawns in the Thieving Money Laundering Games ......... Dodgy Businesses?

    Makes one wonder at the Folly of even Thinking the System is worth saving, let alone being Willing Accommodating Pawns in Pimping Increased National Debt/Taxpayer Bail Out and further Liquidity Injection into it.

    Has there ever been a more Epic Fail/Monumental Home Goal?

    It is not looking good for the Sector's Lead Players, is it, for it is Unbelievable to be told that they wouldn't be fully aware of what is going on, and therefore are Complicit in a Global Conspiracy?

    You'd have thought that a Thoroughly Modern [Military] Intelligence Agency could easily Divert/Confiscate those Flows into their Own Special Accounts. And if they haven't, it would appear that their Intelligence is an Oxymoron.

  23. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    Bravo Stella!

    No longer can the Government claim that "we're introducing these laws because the Security Services want them" when the former head of the Security Service is saying that these laws are actually counterproductive, making their jobs more difficult and driving people *towards* the terrorists instead of encouraging them to act against them!

    Of course whether the Government pays any attention to this (or anyone else) is another matter...

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Where to begin...

    1. Why didn't the Dame speak out while she was in office - fat lot of good it will do now. This government ignores anyone and everyone that disagrees with them.

    2. The Commission of Jurists claiming that governments subvert conditions and exaggerate problems to pass bad legislation. NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Bank Bailout anyone?

    3. What that UN person is really saying is: "Now that Bush and his Neo-Con scum are out of our hair, we can get back to normal..."

    I can't wait for the day when sitting cabinet ministers speak the truth instead of the party approved bollocks...

  25. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Up


    Didn't we hear something like that just a couple of days ago? The sudden amount of reason from high (or ex-high) places is just... stunning. It is almost as though someone passed out a memo that continuing down the present road might unavoidably lead to all kinds of nasty unpleasantness.

  26. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Down

    Clap, clap, clap!

    Well done, brain of Britain! Now if you'd like to do the honours, "And bears always..."

  27. Richard

    Not any time soon

    You can forget seeing laws repealed any time soon.

    Acts of terrorism are convenience for enacting laws that governments wanted anyway. Forget your lib/lab/con argument over who's going to do what, they all follow the agenda that us livestock should be restricted in what we do to maintain the order.

    You'll find any european government is in the habit of using 1984 as a manual.

    Stella may be right, but it won't make any difference. Why repeal laws that keep you from speaking out against the government?

    -- Richard

  28. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I am *fuming* about this

    As soon as the terrorist makes you change your behaviour, he has won.

    Too many laws, too many civil liberties removed, too many new limitations proposed. And all in the name of 'terror'. I'm frightened, sure. I'm bloody terrified of this government. I'd better go and get a protest permit...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one is frightened

    Most in the UK have been bought up under the threat of US sponsored terrorism; the IRA. Oh we don't forget, and no one is fearful of terrorism, very afraid of the police state though.

  30. John

    Let's talk shop

    Good principles should translate into good practices - starting with Jacqui Smith.

    Jacqui Smith is a clear and present danger to civil liberties and the British way of life; which she has done everything to erode and nothing to protect; so the most patriotic act she can do is to resign.

  31. Richard Porter

    Too right!

    Policeman: "Yes Sir, I can see you're a suicide bomber and you're about to blow yourself up, but would you mind showing me your ID card please?"

  32. Mr Bear

    We need to keep the anti-terror laws...

    We need to keep the anti-terror laws then we can use them to arrest the government.

  33. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Re No One is frightened


    A lot of folk learnt of the cynical tricks of the gravy train ride which feeds poison into Systems and they are now in ...... well, let us just say Beta Control of the situation and just leave it at that for now ..[some things you just don't either need or want to know and others you won't be equipped to know ], and would wreck the feeds/cut out the supply to ensure that it never will happen again ........ "The Big Con and its ComeUppance ..... The Inevitable Reckoning" .... Tuesday, 17 February 2009 at 06:40 am (UTC) .....

    Ask Mr Jonathan Evans. he'll tell you straight.....maybe, if he's allowed/permitted/in control and not just a figurehead puppet :-)

    I wonder what "Shenanigans" Scarlett is up to these days? It would be a safe, sure-fire bet, Obviously No Good, the way things are progressing these days?

    Ps. It would be nice to hear Wacky Jacqui go head to head with Dame Stella and is this a surprise to anyone here?..........

    And of course, the loving wife wouldn't have known of his extra-curricular activities. Always the last to know? Yeah, that's gonna fly like a lead balloon, methinks.

    Which brings us back to the enemy is within .... again, and would have the integrity of the Labour Cabinet sorely questioned and possibly holed titanically below the waterline, and their greedy grasping breadlines? I'm sure someone will ask and imply it to be so.

    And do you just love the originality of the response to the conviction ...... "I'm innocent" ..... like that has never been said by any criminals before.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Story Has Vanished From The BBC

    The story was front page news on the BBC News website and also on National television news. It's mysteriously vanished, no trace of it to be found.

    It's not under any of the submenus for news relating to the UK either.

    I wonder what undue influence the government exerted on the BBC to remove this story? !!!

    And people think the BBC is a free, fair and independent news service??

  35. Luther Blissett


    > Has there ever been a more Epic Fail/Monumental Home Goal?

    Rumour has it Atlantis. With your time machine you can also verify that time is fractal. So -

    There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the "credit crunch"/slump is not terminal, and we will survive it, because... The bad news is that there will be a next "credit crunch"/slump, and it will be terminal, altho when it will occur is difficult to predict. However, we have seen enough of how the World is Being $aved today to be confident in this.

  36. RW
    Thumb Down

    Jacqui Smith not a hypocrite

    She's just too stupid to understand the ramifications of what she okays.

    She poses a living answer to the important ethical question "can sheer stupidity be an evil?"

  37. jason

    Govt Questionnaires

    Anynoe else noticed they are getting a lot more Govt questionnaires though the post from the NHS and the like asking lots of searching questions about ourselves? All lovely data that would sit nicely in a citizens info database.

    All of them claim to be annonymous but you then see your name and a hulking great code number next to it. Hmmmmm.

    Its good to shred and recycle!

  38. Frumious Bandersnatch
    Paris Hilton

    @One Question

    > I would have thought a UK newspaper would have liked to interview her.

    Well, actually they have. I can't remember if it was the Guardian or the Independent, but they had the typical pics of her in her greenhouse. Story was entitiled "Ex spy chief says 9/11 response was a huge over-reaction" or something like that.

    You One Question Man?

  39. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Adjusting the System to Eliminate Parasitic Destructive Inflation?

    "The Story Has Vanished From The BBC ... And people think the BBC is a free, fair and independent news service??" ......By RotaCyclic Posted Tuesday 17th February 2009 17:05 GMT

    Others would more reasonably suggest it is a Shadow of its Gay Former Self and a Proxy Tool Failing Governments with its Mandates and Foreign Programs. But then that is directly attributable to Spineless Direction from the Top of the Board Room Tree and its Bankrupt of Novel and innovative Intellectual Property, Creativity Department.

    "There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the "credit crunch"/slump is not terminal, and we will survive it, because... The bad news is that there will be a next "credit crunch"/slump, and it will be terminal, altho when it will occur is difficult to predict. However, we have seen enough of how the World is Being $aved today to be confident in this." ... By Luther Blissett Posted Tuesday 17th February 2009 17:14 GMT.

    I cannot fault the logic but would suggest that the bad news is current and therefore one does not need to wait on prediction.

    To all who would either post here on El Reg or just spend years just reading [yes, there are those too, apparently, who have no urge nor strong enough or sure enough opinions to share publicly for peer review ] now would be the perfect time to present to Government any viable sustainable mega-spending plans for any Public Service Initiative Projects which you might have, as Quantitive Easing/the Printing and Supply of Currency to Generate Economies and Industry gets under Way. Cutting out the Middleman/the Banks will also ensure that their Costs do not Burden one with unnecessary Taxation and Wealth Payment on a Service not required.

    It is surely quite enough for Currency Spend to Generate Industry and Economies, without the Banking Sector, expecting the Added and Unfunded Service of Interest Charged on a Principal Currency Spend and the Return of the Capital Spent from the Principal, whose Spend is Generating Industry/Work/Economies.......... for that would require one to be able to Invent and Print Money from Nothing or to ask Currency Suppliers for more than twice what one would Really need, in Order to Entertain a Sector which is making Nothing but merely employing members of the Population with either limited or undereducated skillsets.

    However, if that be necessarily so by Default Design of the System, then one should make the necessary adjustments to Currency Requirements made to Government and make them aware of the Inflated Provision/Excessive Third Party Borrowing Requirement. It does not though do the Banking Sector any favours, whenever their business Model is Based upon the SurReal Supply of Nothing, and yet for which they would think to be Paid with such Extreme Supplies of Currency.

    cc Vince Cable/Robert Peston/Mervyn King/Alistair Darling/UK PLC.

  40. dervheid
    Black Helicopters

    WhiteWashed away? / RotaCyclic

    Yup. This story WAS front page on the BBC news site yesterday morning. By mid-afternoon, however, it had gone completely. Typing "Stella Rimmington" into the search didn't bring it up either (still doesn't) If you add "spanish interview" to the search string, it brought it up yesterday, but not now. It requires a VERY specific "stella rimmington La Vanguardia" to get the story to register.

    Whitehall Whitewash?

    Damn Right!

  41. Andrew Macdonald

    @ Jason

    Shred 'em, burn 'em, put 'em in the cat's dirt tray.

    And purely in the interests of accuracy, should we be referring to Wacqui Jacqui or Wacky Jacky or indeed some other spelling (possibly beginning with f and ending with t)? Just asking.

    Join No2id and sign up to the Convention on Modern Liberty

  42. Anonymous Coward


    "So we're ruining nurses future careers because they got drunk one Friday night and that goes on their extended background check making them unemployable....."

    This is indeed disturbing; as a 20 something police officer in the 80's I had many happy memories of parties and nights out with nurses (similar shifts and shared experience that the world is totally crap), and i came to respect them for the hard drinking, party mad nymphomaniacs they were at that time.

    This bloody government is out to wreck all our most treasured institutions!

  43. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Up

    Re: Govt Questionnaires

    "All of them claim to be annonymous but you then see your name and a hulking great code number next to it. Hmmmmm."

    Now that is one of the better lines I've seen here in a while.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still on BBC News but only just

    @ Dervheid

    It helps if you spell "Rimington" correctly; first result that comes up, although I agree that it's odd that it disappeared from the front page - and was replaced by a story about the trial of 8 terrorists that were planning to blow up planes.

    The next stage will be to say that as she left in 1996 that she has no appreciation of the current threat.

  45. dervheid

    shitty spelling

    Correction accepted.

    The BBC can't seem to agree on the spelling themselves though, both variations being used in different stories.

    Convenient that, don't you think?

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