Stella Rimington, former director general of MI5, recalls the complications and tabloid-fueled controversy that followed her appointment as head of the famed British intelligence service, after spending decades in anonymity as a secret agent.
Dame Stella Rimington is the retired director general of the British Security Service (MI5). Appointed director general in 1992, she was the first woman to hold the post and the first director general to be publicly named on appointment.
After gaining a postgraduate diploma in the study of records and the administration of archives at Liverpool University, Rimington worked in the Worcester County Record Office and the India Office Library in London. In the mid 1960s, while accompanying her husband on a posting to the British High Commission in New Delhi, she worked part time for the Security Service, which at that time had an office in New Delhi.
On her return to the UK in 1969, Rimington joined MI5 as a full time employee. She worked in all the main fields of the service's responsibilities, counter subversion, counter espionage and counter terrorism, becoming successively director of all three branches. During her tenure as director general, Rimington pursued a policy of greater openness for MI5, giving the 1994 Dimbleby Lecture on BBC TV. She retired from MI5 in April 1996.
Rimington was made a Dame Commander of the Bath in the 1996 New Year Honours List. She is the author of an autobiography, Open Secret, and the novels At Risk, Secret Asset and Dead Line.