The head of the Secret Intelligence Service has been accused by a Liberal Democrat frontbencher of demonstrating a “lack of judgement” for “bragging” about MI6’s role in slowing Iran’s nuclear programme.
Baroness Falkner of Margravine, also suggested that Sir John Sawers had behaved like he was in an episode of “the TV programme Spooks” and said it would be best if a “veneer of silence” descended on MI6.
Pakistan-born Lady Falkner spoke out after Sir John appeared to take personal credit for helping to frustrate Iran’s attempt to develop a nuclear weapons capability in remarks to civil servants last week.
Sir John, who is known as C and is responsible for Britain’s spies, claimed MI6 agents had foiled Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons but warned the Middle Eastern state will succeed in arming itself by 2014.
In comments reported by The Daily Telegraph and a trade magazine Civil Service World, Sir John said that covert operations by British spies had prevented the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons as early as 2008.
He told a group of around 100 officials at Civil Service Live, a conference in Olympia, west London: “I take great pride in the fact that, in the last ten years, over a number of jobs, I’ve been involved in an issue of global concern, and I feel that I as an individual [have made] an impact in the outcome of events.”