Espionage chiefs ditch Cambridge spy seminars amid rumours of Russian influence

Posted On: 
17th December 2016

A former head of MI6 and two other secret service experts have cut ties with Cambridge spy seminars over concerns of “unacceptable Russian influence”.

Former spy chiefs have cut ties with the Cambridge spy seminars, held at the city's prestigious university.
Credit: 
PA images

Sir Richard Dearlove, who ran the secret service for five years from 1999, stood down from his position as convener of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS) alongside Stefan Halper, a former policy adviser at the White House, and historian Peter Martland. 

A new digital publishing house, Veruscript, has been set up to help cover some of the CIS’ costs. It is here that concerns over Russian funding have arisen.

The seminars, which are held at Corpus Christi college, debate central issues in modern espionage and are often led by senior figures in the security industry.

Sources told the Daily Telegraph there were concerns of undue influence over debates on national security.

A senior Whitehall official said the claims about Russian meddling were "the kind of thing that we are aware of being of concern". But some academics hit back, claiming they were "absurd". Sir Richard and Mr Martland did not comment. 

The resignations come at a time of heightened concern over Russia’s international influence.

The CIA and FBI have both raised concerns that Russian hackers swayed the US elections.

Hillary Clinton said she felt the Russian attacks were a personal vendetta waged against her by President Putin, because he had “beef” with her after she said the 2011 Russian elections were rigged.