Seminar or event series

Sir Michael Howard, an official historian of WW2 intelligence, wrote in 1985: ‘So far as official government policy is concerned, the British security and intelligence services do not exist. Enemy agents are found under gooseberry bushes and intelligence is brought by the storks.’

Even the existence of SIS (MI6) was not officially admitted until 1992. Intelligence is still missing from much modern historiography. Even when present, the interpretation often suffers from Historical Attention-Span Deficit Disorder (HASDD). Edward Snowden’s sensational revelations of UKUSA signals intelligence SIGINT operations had a far smaller impact on 21st-century British government policy and public opinion than mid-19th-century revelations of the official interception of Mazzini’s correspondence. 

We also tweet: @CamIntelligence 

The Seminar will continue for now to convene virtually using Zoom. In order to attend, you must be subscribed to our mailing list. The Zoom link will be distributed in advance of the session. To subscribe, please email Dr Dan Larsen with a brief indication of your affiliation or interest in the Seminar.

Any technical queries, please email Dr Dan Larsen. 


5-30 pm Friday 8 October
David Gosling (Clare Hall): ‘The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Confrontation on the Pakistan Border’
During his principalship of Edwardes College, a university college in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan, David Gosling received a fatwa from the Taliban condemning him for promoting women's education. His previous academic work has been in scientific areas, and has included lecturing at Cambridge University and a Visiting Fellowship in energy studies at the East-West Center in Hawaii. He has been an intelligence asset for MI6 and is a Life Member and former Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge. He is the author of Frontier of Fear: Confronting the Taliban on Pakistan's Border (2016).

5-30 pm Friday 15 October 
Christopher Andrew (Corpus Christi): ‘Stars and Spies: Intelligence operations and the entertainment business’ (illustrated)
Before WW1 the first chief of MI6 purchased his disguises from the same supplier as West End theatres (and Virginia Woolf). Stars and Spies by Christopher Andrew and Julius Green, published on 14 October, analyses the interactions past and present between intelligence and showbiz.

5-30 pm Friday 22 October 
Philip Zelikow (University of Virginia): ‘9/11: Its Lessons’
Professor Zelikow is in the forefront of geopolitical thinkers with a distinguished career as both academic and US diplomat, as a member of the National Security Council under President George H.W. Bush, and as a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board under President Obama. He served as Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. His latest book is The Road Less Traveled: The Secret Battle to end the Great War.


5-30 pm 29 October
Helen Fry: ‘Spymaster: A Life in Secrets’
The head of MI6 in Vienna from 1925, Thomas Joseph Kendrick was one of the most senior spymasters of the British Secret Service in the 20th century. Tracking Communist agents across Europe in the 1920s and Nazi spies in the 1930s, Kendrick ran spy networks into Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy and Nazi Germany. Dubbed ‘the elusive Englishman’, his real identity eluded Hitler’s Secret Service (the Abwehr) until his betrayal by a double agent in the summer of 1938. He was expelled for spying but went on to head one of the most important intelligence operations of the Second World War that shortened the war and saved thousands of lives. 

Details of Additional Meetings Will be Circulated Later in the Term

At a glance

Michaelmas Term
Fridays 5:30pm
Online: Zoom
Professor Christopher Andrew (
Dr Dan Larsen (
Dr Thomas Maguire (,
Dr John Ranelagh (
Dr Daniela Richterova (
Tim Schmalz (
Dr Calder Walton (
Sir Richard Dearlove
Professor Simon Heffer