Former MI6 boss Sir Richard Dearlove hits out at author John le Carré over his ‘corrosive’ spy books and accuses him of being ‘obsessed’ with his life in the secret service
- Sir Richard Dearlove, 74, said Mr le Carré portrayed British intelligence poorly
- Mr le Carré, 87, worked for both MI5 and MI6 in 1950s before he became author
- John le Carré is the pen name used by David John Moore Cornwell since 1962
Spooks are not fans of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy author John le Carré because his novels portray them as untrustworthy, according to the former head of MI6.
Sir Richard Dearlove, 74, said Mr le Carré’s espionage thrillers portayed Britain’s intelligence services in a negative light.
Mr le Carré, 87, worked for both MI5 and MI6 in the 1950s and 1960s before leaving and becoming an author.
The writer was ‘obsessed’ with his time as a spy, said Sir Richard.
Spooks are not fans of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy author John le Carré (right) because his novels portray them as untrustworthy, according to the former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove (left)
Speaking at the Cliveden Literary Festival, the former spymaster said: ‘We’ve all enjoyed enormously reading the Smiley books… and he does capture some of the essence of what it was like in the Cold War.
‘However, he is so corrosive in his view of MI6 that most professional SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) officers are pretty angry with him.’
Trust between co-workers is at the heart of Britain’s intelligence agencies but Mr le Carré’s books are ‘exclusively about betrayal’, said Sir Richard.
While at Oxford University in the 1950s Mr le Carré began his espionage career by passing information to MI5 about left wing groups.
He briefly taught at Eton College after graduating before becoming a spy in 1958.
Two years later he moved to MI6 where he worked undercover in West Germany, handling agents in the propaganda war with the USSR, before quitting as a spy in 1964.
John le Carré is the pen name used by David John Moore Cornwell
It is thought that he may have had his cover blown by Kim Philby, a member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.
Sir Richard said: ‘He was only in the service for three years, and something must have happened to him while he was there to breed this cynicism.
‘I rather resent the fact that he is trading on his knowledge and his reputation, and yet the feeling I get is that he intensely dislikes the service and what it represents.’
John le Carré is the pen name used by David John Moore Cornwell, which he adopted in order to publish his first detective novel in 1962 as Foreign Office employees were not allowed to write books under their own names.
It was almost thirty years until he revealed his true identity.
Senior spies believe that Mr le Carré has succeeded off the back on exaggerated account of what goes on within the intelligence services, with Sir Richard branding him one of the key ‘myth makers’ about Britain’s spooks.
Today MI6 officers have to sign an agreement to waive copyright over any books they may write in the future to make sure they cannot profit from their knowledge of the secret services.