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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
MI6 attack 'was inevitable'
MI6 building
The building is vulnerable says Professor Cameron Watt
An attack on the MI6 headquarters was inevitable once the secret service moved into such a high-profile location, according to one intelligence expert.

Intelligence historian Professor Donald Cameron Watt said the decision to move into the building was "stupid" because it is vulnerable to attack.

"I thought that secret services were supposed to be secret," he said.


It was a move that made it more vulnerable

Professor Cameron Watt, Intelligence historian

A missile was fired at MI6's headquarters at Vauxhall Cross in central London just before 2200 BST on Wednesday.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which shattered an eighth-floor window. There were no casualties.

Professor Cameron Watt said such an incident was always on the cards.

"When MI6 moved, a lot of people, myself included, thought it was stupid," he said.

Secretive image

"It was a move that made it more vulnerable because people did not have an easy way of finding out before, the bus conductor did not shout: 'Next stop MI6'.

MI6 moved to the building in 1994, from its former headquarters in Century House near the Houses of Parliament.

It was designed by architect Terry Farrell and Partners at a cost of 237 million.

Professor Cameron Watt, who once worked for British intelligence in Austria, said the move was a deliberate attempt to cast off the secretive image of the service.

"Up until very recently theoretically the government did not admit the existence of MI6," he said.

"But they took the plunge when there was a lot of pressure inside the services to make it seem that what they were doing was reasonably public.

"It seemed to me to be like a very anxious public relations exercise and if I was working there I would think it was a damn silly thing to do.

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20 Sep 00 | UK
Missile caused MI6 blast
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