17/09/2015 12:15 BST | Updated 17/09/2015 12:59 BST

MI5 Head Andrew Parker Says 'I Love The James Bond FIlms' In First Ever Live Interview

The head of MI5 has revealed he loves James Bond films because they are nothing like the actual work of British spies, in the first live interview of the organisation's boss in its 106-year-history.

Andrew Parker, the Director-General of the security service made the comment in an interview discussing proposed changes to the powers intelligence services have to access internet data.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said that he enjoys the films, because they are "so distant from reality".

andrew parker james bond

Andrew Parker (right) said he loves the Bond films

Interviewer Mishal Husain told Parker that some people's understanding of what MI5 does is be informed by books and James Bond films, "whether you like it or not".

Parker agreed that people are surprised the true nature of his work when they compare it to the films.

"The men and women who work in MI5 are, of course, basically ordinary people who are part of our society, live in our communities, but are committed to protecting us from those that mean harm," he said. "So of course people are perhaps more ordinary in fact than is described in fiction.

"I love the James Bond films, because they are so distant from reality that we can all enjoy the fiction."

Addressing proposed changes to government powers to monitor people's online activity, Parker said that the threat of terrorism today is at its highest level since 9/11.

It is "the most serious threat that Britain faces in security terms currently, and it takes up most of the work of MI5 and our partner agencies," said Parker. "It's set currently at the level of severe which means that attacks are highly likely.

"What that actually means in practice, and over the past year, has been a growing threat that the Prime Minster's referred to, in which we've seen six attempts at terrorism in this country just in the last 12 months, that we, and partner agencies with the police, have had to intervene in to stop.

"And that is the highest number that I can recall in my 32-year career, certainly the highest number since 9/11, and I think it represents a threat which is continuing to grow, largely because of the situation in Syria and how that affects our security."

Parker said that the large number of refugees and migrants moving through Europe were "something that we are aware of, it isn't actually as we speak today the main focus of where the threat is coming from."

More of interest are the people leaving Britain to visit Syria, and then returning, he said.


Parker was asked about the review of the current laws around powers security services have to access people's online activity to protect the country from home-grown terrorism.

The nature of anti-terror work has changed, he claimed, driven by the wars in areas like Syria and also terrorists' use of the internet and social media.

"We all live our lives using our smartphones in our pockets, and the terrorists do the same and they are using secure apps and internet communication to try to broadcast their message and to incite and direct terrorism amongst people who live here who are prepare to listen to their message."

Parker said was important to have a "modern straightforward law" but did not clarify if he wanted more powers for authorities.

He added that MI5 needed the ability to "navigate the internet to find terrorists communicate, we need to be able to join the dots so we can find and stop the terrorists who mean us harm, before they are able to bring plots to fruition."

The proposed bill coming before before parliament follows a wide-ranging report into the future of surveillance legislation from David Anderson QC.

The current framework is seen by many as piecemeal, and Anderson recommended that new laws should be introduced to make intrusive powers clear in his report earlier this year.