United Kingdom

Spy chief wants to recruit more women and ethnic minorities

James Bond author Ian Fleming once wrote of 'blithering women who thought they could do a man's work'.

But these days women spies are 'mission critical', the head of GCHQ said yesterday.

Jeremy Fleming – no relation to the late writer – said: 'Inclusion has become mission critical, not a nice-to-have.'

The spy chief told the Cyber UK conference that Britain's intelligence agency needs more women and ethnic minorities.

Actors Daniel Craig and Gemma Arterton in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace

'The UK will only be able to thrive in the digital era if we are able to draw people from all backgrounds to work together on these problems,' he said.

'It's not just the morally right thing to do, it's smart business.' His comments are a world away from those of Fleming, whose novels inspired movies including Quantum of Solace, starring Daniel Craig as 007 and Gemma Arterton as agent Strawberry Fields.

He wrote in his first novel, Casino Royale: 'These blithering women who thought they could do a man's work.

'Why the hell couldn't they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men's work to the men.'

Yesterday a spokesman for GCHQ said it was 'putting serious resource and thinking into what more we can do as an organisation...to better represent the country we serve'.

A spokesman for GCHQ said it was 'putting serious resource and thinking into what more we can do as an organisation...to better represent the country we serve'

Spy chief Jeremy Fleming  has said that inclusion has become 'mission critical'

Later at the same conference, Priti Patel announced plans to bolster cybersecurity laws.

The Home Secretary said a government review would look at harsher punishments for hacking, online fraud and crimes against children.

She spoke after a warning from Mr Fleming who said data had 'become the crown jewels that we must protect'.    

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