MI5 didn’t trust black people with secrets in the 1960s, files show

Senior MI5 officials didn’t trust black people to hold high-level spying roles in the 1960s because they could be a security risk, according to declassified files uncovered by an academic at Salford University.

The documents reveal that black people were actively being discriminated against in Whitehall because of their race, The Guardian reports.

University of Salford professor Dan Lomas scoured the papers to find deepening concern in Whitehall at proposals making it illegal to refuse employment to a person on the grounds of colour.

Dr Lomas, a lecturer in international history, said the discussions around the then-new legislation on racial discrimination presented a threat to “the established but unspoken rule that black people risked national security”.

The files show that in the 1960s, government departments had started to recruit black people into junior clerical or manual posts, but they were not given access to secret documents.

This comes after it emerged earlier this year that UK spy agencies have a lack of black leaders.

Neither MI6 nor MI5 had any people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background in top posts in 2016-17.

Photo: mrtom-uk/iStock

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