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James Bond author 'saved MI6' in reality

October 05, 2008 17:26 IST

The creator of famous fictional hero James Bond 007 saved MI6 from breaking up in reality by suggesting that 'new blood' be brought into the British spy agency, de-classified documents have revealed.

Yes, long before he created Bond, author Ian Fleming rescued MI6 from an untimely death by inadvertently paving the way for the secret service to be infiltrated by members of the Russian KGB's Cambridge ring, its most destructive traitors, according to the newly released documents.

In fact, the story dates back to the Second World War when British naval chiefs lobbied wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill to let them start their own rival espionage service after an army officer was put in charge of MI6, which had traditionally been led by a navy officer.

Now, the secret files, released after more than 60 years, have revealed that Fleming -- who was then the British Navy's liaison officer with MI6 -- steered them away from the idea, warning that if the spy agency was downgraded there was 'a grave danger of letting the baby out with the bath water'.

'I think that the infusion of new blood into the existing organisation would be better than chopping off hoary but experienced heads,' Fleming had suggested.

And, his suggestion, dated April 1940, that Britain should instead insert some 'new blood' into MI6 to change the agency from within was also accepted by naval chiefs, leading newspaper The Sunday Times reported.

However, what's interesting is that even in Fleming's fiction, Bond was one of those recruits.

The novel You Only Live Twice in which 007 is 'killed off', features an obituary that says he joined MI6 in 1941.

In reality, however, the desire for 'new blood' led to the recruitment of Kim Philby in June to July 1940 and John Cairncross, two members of the Cambridge spy ring who wreaked havoc in MI6 during the early part of the Cold War.

Even the first 'chief' of the British secret service was a naval commander, Mansfield Smith-Cumming. He was known simply as 'C', a title that has been handed on to all future chiefs and inspired Fleming's fictional 'M'.
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