Nicholas Hiley, 11 December 1997
Why are the British secret services so secret? The assumption is that they are so because they handle secret information. Yet there is no reason why an organisation entrusted with secret information should itself be secret. Most companies and large organisations generate material of great commercial sensitivity, but few of them would consider lodging it in a secret department with considerable autonomy. Why should the British government have decided to act differently? Why did it create a secret adjunct to the Civil Service in 1909, and why has it preserved it until the present day?