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Thursday, 23 April, 1998, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Cook lifts lids on spy world
cook
Cook says the intelligence service has helped seize tonnes of drugs
The British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has praised the secret service for saving lives and fighting terrorists.

Mr Cook's move in revealing the shadowy workings of the Secret Intelligence Service and the GCHQ listening centre was aimed at emphasising the government's drive for openness.

In a speech to the Easter Banquet at Mansion House, London, Mr Cook praised the secret service for responding to the "fresh priorities of the new government."

spies home
Home to MI6 agents
He said: "They save lives, by tracking terrorist groups, disrupting their operations and breaking their weapons supply chains.

"They give the government an idea of terrorist intentions, helping us stay one step ahead."

The Foreign Secretary said secret service agents had played a "crucial role" in revealing Saddam Hussein's programme for biological and chemical weapons.

They had also tracked Iran's nuclear weapons programme, said Mr Cook, who was appearing in public for the first time with his new wife and former secretary Gaynor Regan.

Mr and mrs cook
Cook with his new wife Gaynor Regan
Mr Cook said that because of the nature of their work their results "cannot speak for themselves."

He added: "We cannot shout about their achievements if we want them to remain effective."

Mr Cook said Britain's intelligence organisations were also involved in "combating the menaces of drugs, terrorism and crime."

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Robin Cook addresses the Mansion House
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The Daily Telegraph's chief political correspondent Robert Shrimsley assesses the speech on BBC Radio 5 Live
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