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SIS Centenary 1909-2009

To mark the centenary of the Service in 2009, the Foreign Secretary agreed to the preparation of a volume of SIS' history covering 1909 to the early Cold War. Written by Professor Keith Jeffery of Queen's University Belfast 'MI6 - A history or SIS 1909-1949' was published in September 2010

Professor Jeffery had access to material in the SIS archive to allow him to complete his book. However, the archive itself remains closed to the public. SIS commitment to the protection of intelligence sources is paramount and the book does not reveal operational details which remain sensitive.

MI6: A Century in the Shadows

BBC Radio 4 broadcast three programmes on SIS between 27th July and 10th August 2009. The presenter was Security Correspondent Gordon Corera. Against the backdrop of the Service's 100-year history, he explored what has changed and what has stayed the same.

He examined the role of an intelligence service in government, the nature of intelligence, events where intelligence has made a difference and surrounding issues such as accountability, secrecy and ethics. Exceptionally, the then C agreed to give the BBC an on-the-record interview around the main themes; this is the first time such an interview has taken place.

Commemorative Plaque at Westminster Abbey

October 1909 saw the formation of the services that became SIS, MI5 and GCHQ.  On 14th October 2009, to mark the centenary, Her Majesty the Queen and Prime Minister Gordon Brown attended a short service in the Cloisters of Westminster Abbey to acknowledge the service of past, present and future staff of SIS, MI5 and GCHQ. The Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary, who are responsible for the three services, were also in attendance.

Her Majesty witnessed the presentation to Westminster Abbey of a plaque as pictured above which bears the Royal Cypher, the initials of the three services and the inscription:


Restoration of Cumming's Grave

1st April 2009 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first 'C'. In our centenary year SIS observed the event by restoring Mansfield Cumming's Grave to its original condition and held a private rededication ceremony.