Former MI6 man Daniel Houghton admits secrecy breach

Court sketch of Daniel Houghton Daniel Houghton, 25, worked for the Secret Intelligence Service between 2007 and 2009

Related Stories

A former MI6 worker from London has said he was "directed by voices" after admitting charges of unlawfully disclosing top secret material.

Daniel Houghton, 25, of Hoxton, east London, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Official Secrets Act.

Houghton worked for the Secret Intelligence Service between 2007 and 2009. He has been remanded in custody.

He denied a charge of stealing materials, a plea which was accepted by the prosecution.

Royal Courts of Justice judge Mr Justice Bean heard Houghton's account was that he was "directed by voices to do what he is said to have done in the charges".

The judge said a prison term was "inevitable" and gave the prosecution permission to obtain expert psychiatric reports ahead of sentencing on 3 September at the Old Bailey.

Houghton had tried to sell copies of electronic files containing details of information gathering software and staff lists to Dutch agents for £2m.

Analysis

Daniel Houghton was no James Bond but he still might have been dangerous.

He appears to have been motivated solely by greed rather than ideology but the IT specialist was also, fortunately for MI6, not very skilled at espionage.

The idea the Dutch intelligence services - close allies of Britain - would not tell the authorities in London showed a high degree of naiveté.

But even though he was easily caught, the fact that he was recruited into MI6 and then was able to smuggle so much information out of the building will raise questions about how tight security and vetting procedures really are at the Secret Intelligence Service.

There will also be concerns over whether all the information he took out of the building has really been recovered.

The Dutch authorities then tipped off MI5.

Agents from the Netherlands are understood to have bugged and filmed him as he displayed the files and offered to provide them with lists of MI5 agents he had worked with.

The price was negotiated down to £900,000 and immediately after Houghton handed over the files on 1 March he was arrested while carrying a suitcase containing the cash.

When police searched his flat they discovered paperwork marked top secret.

A computer memory stick was found containing 7,000 files while a hard drive with top secret documents stored on it was also discovered.

MI6, who vetted Houghton before employing him, declined to comment on the security breach.

Police sources said Houghton appeared to have been motivated by greed.

One senior source said he was living a "champagne lifestyle on ginger beer wages".

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

24 °C 15 °C

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.