Blundering blob! Former top civil servant who helped bring down Boris Johnson is slated for ‘outing’ the son of a prominent Tory as an MI6 spy
- Simon McDonald’s decision to name the spy has infuriated Whitehall chiefs
A former top civil servant who helped bring down Boris Johnson was lambasted last night after exposing the son of a prominent Tory as an MI6 spy.
Simon McDonald, the ex-head of the Foreign Office, named the son of a former Cabinet Minister as being among a group of MI6 officers he met in the early 90s.
The Mail on Sunday understands Lord McDonald’s decision to name the individual in a book has infuriated Whitehall chiefs.
And in an extraordinary twist last night, it emerged he had not even sought permission from the Cabinet Office ahead of publication of his book, Leadership: Lessons From A Life In Diplomacy. All books by civil servants must be cleared by the Government.
The spy became one of Britain’s most senior intelligence officials, but his MI6 career has never been officially confirmed. The MoS is not naming him.
Simon McDonald, the ex-head of the Foreign Office, named the son of a former Cabinet Minister as being among a group of MI6 officers he met in the early 90s
Only the identities of the heads of the three main intelligence agencies – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – are publicly acknowledged by the Government, due to the risk that named spies will be targeted by terrorists or foreign intelligence agencies.
It is understood security officials have demanded changes to the forthcoming paperback edition of the book, while no further hardback copies are being printed.
Haus Publishing – the book’s publisher – admitted that the named official complained directly to Lord McDonald, who apologised in writing and agreed the name will be removed when a new edition is printed in August.
It said Lord McDonald had included the official’s name because it was in the public domain. Lord McDonald did not, however, warn the man that he intended to name him.
Tory MP Bob Seely, a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said: ‘He shouldn’t have done it – he knows the rules and should have stuck to them.’
Only the identities of the heads of the three main intelligence agencies – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – are publicly acknowledged by the Government. Pictured: MI6 in London
A senior Tory source said: ‘This is utterly unacceptable. Revealing somebody to be a spy… puts at risk every agent or contact they developed during that time.’
A former ambassador added: ‘I really can’t recall any book by a retired senior diplomat that dumps from such a height on named former colleagues.’
Last July, Lord McDonald sparked a string of resignations that led to the downfall of former PM Boris Johnson.
He published a letter he’d sent to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner alleging No 10 did not tell the truth when it claimed Mr Johnson was unaware of previous complaints regarding the behaviour of former Tory MP Chris Pincher, who was accused of groping two men at a London club.
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