Virtual Walk: Westminster (Part 3)


Welcome to Spies of London the Westminster walk part 3 I left you outside artillery Mansions, but Prime do for a walk towards Saint James's Park in the foreign office. I did mentioned that in recent years gchq have moved out of this area. They used to have an office in palmistry. However, it's impossible to locate on Google Maps. It should be labeled former gchc or something to make my life easier and I can't remember which side of the street it's on and it takes you quite a bit out of your way. So I will be looking at the Palmer Street offices GHQ in more detail in a future episode of the regular spite of London podcast. So no Palmer Street today, it's not an exciting building in any way. We're going to walk instead from artillery man trees across caxton straight through the gardens down to the entranceway of Center means Hotel Center means is really cool. It's where I filmed a special episode of points of view to tie in with BBC's Little Drummer girl, John le carre series, which is really good starring Florence Pugh Center means is a boutique hotel. It's not massive, but it is very ground. It looks fabulous when it's got the Christmas decorations on Thursday formally used as an office for MI6 and other Associated spy agencies as artillery Mansions what so you can see that MI6 now is growing out of its Broadway office, which we'll see in a second. It's got out of the hotel. It's grown out of other offices around here has grown out about earlier mansions and we're starting to see the build-up of pressure which led them to move to Century House in Lambeth and eventually onto the dog. So across building which you saw earlier in this walk. So the organization's of MI6 and MI5 are getting grander and larger every year. But Center means is special to me. It's special too many Cold War followers. It has a Division Bell in there, which means that an MP who is sitting in the bar knows when the votes about to happen in Parliament can Scurry off to Westminster to vote and it's a really nice hotel. It's not expensive by London standards. It's not huge. It's tucked out of the way. You might have found it difficult to find if you don't have your mom your hand but Center means it's well worth a visit and a drink in the bar. If not a night or two to explore Cold War London retrace your steps away from determines hotel and you will head around to Saint James's Park Tube Station just outside the station you can stop and look up at the broad where buildings I believe it's number 50 now a Regus office just like looking Fieldhouse. It's a normal office building now, but it used to be the HQ of MI6 in John le carre's day and it's where John the Carrow Road some of his books. I believe including the Spy Who Came in from the cold completely different. And Prospect to the current Vauxhall cross building much smaller more compact dingy dark corridors brick Sandstone, but I really like this building. I love the roof. I like the fact that it's right off the two but nobody knew who worked here. The sign was the one that said Minimax fire extinguisher company of ruislip, but for me for any John le carre a fan to think of him writing his most famous works in a building just before he quit the service and then got the reputation and success that he needed to concentrate on his writing and to follow that up with Tinker Tailor squash special occasion for us. Some James is part of tube is also a special location in many ways as the tube station used by the spies if they weren't catching the bus to this area. If you follow the road around the corner you will soon see the millage Jaws. Before the split under John Reid and if you keep walking around the corner, you'll eventually come to Queen. Anne's gate houses in this straight the town house dog. I'm moving back into private residences now and they cost upwards of ten or Twenty million pounds each but not so long ago. They were used as offices partly because they were so expensive including the National Trust and wrong corner and indeed the townhouse of Mansfield Cummings in MI6 behind you. So if you look for number 21, you will find Smith Cummings house the early offices of MI6 apparently a tunnel in the basement into the main MI6 building in the background. So Smith coming could get in and out of work very easily at all hours of the day and night without being accosted or spotted em the best story I can think of about Smith coming who was the original see in many ways and started the tradition of signing letters with the letter C in green fountain pen ink the best story about Smith Cummings is about a wooden leg. He was an absolute derring-do hero and he lost his leg in another incident which I can never quite remember. But anyway, he had a wooden leg and he ye To shock people at interviews new recruits with what you could do with this leg. He had a trouser over it. So it looked if he was seated like a normal leg and he would ask the young lacrosse what they would do what they would be prepared to do for their country. Would you do this? He would say with grand flourish as he stabbed his leg with a compass or a sharp pain or even a knife down the young boys as they were would Flinch not knowing that he was stemming it into his wooden prosthetic leg. So Smith coming was very serious man of a successful man, but not without a sense of humor. We can then make our way further along Queen. Anne's gate to 16 to 18, which was an office used by the British Army and we're baden-powell Lord baden-powell in the founder of the page boy scouting movement used to work baden-powell was an interesting chap. He had a career in the military and I think realized the importance of intelligence and wage. Reservation and careful watching and he was an artist and a photographer himself as well and lots of spies back then would use the guise of a tourist cuz it gave you an excuse for carrying a camera but he liked to do sketching as well and he went to Dalmatia which is now in Croatia and copied down aspects of a fortress. They're in great detail, but on every second page, he would draw pictures of insects and butterflies and this kind of thing. So anybody glancing through his book on the front of each page would see pictures of insects and butterflies and on the other side if they could not looking really closely they'd missed the pictures of the fortresses. So baden-powell really had a a good War an interesting career in the military before he founded the Boy Scout moose, which was effectively a training ground for the military in many ways and any boys who like the scales could then be recruited into the military later on if they wanted to continue that as a career. I was in the school. A little boys in the eighties and seventies were I think it it is still going of course, but perhaps not quite essentially in the lives of British youth today as they were back then took him now towards the pub. I think it's called the two chairman and just passed the the pub you will see cockpit steps down and apparently there was a cockpit an area for fighting cocks wage at gamble on them back in the day but down cockpit steps across the road in doesn't James's Park and take a hard, right? So you have sort of following the road, but it's nice to walk just inside the park and you're heading towards wage which foreign office you're also heading towards the British treasury, but that's not as interesting for our purposes. So outside the British foreign office is the official end for the walk but it allows me to talk about the fact of Parliament that almost started this war when we talked about MI6 being a purpose-built building that up to 1994 at a time when MI6 became officially a government Department birth. Became officially legally represented part of that act of parliament section seven is given over to the process by which MI6 agents can break the loss of former countries overseas and those two things are important. They are not allowed to break British laws and they are not allowed to break laws in Britain, but they can absolve themselves of prosecution in Britain at least using section seven. However, there is a detailed process behind this and essentially what happens is that MI6 have to put together a detailed document showing what laws they need to brag why we're kind who give all the justifications this document is then sent to the foreign secretary who then signs it off, but it's very specific and some people try to show that this section seven means a license to Kelly's is a thing in British law, which it isn't Licensed to Kill as used by Ian Fleming and James Bond suggest that the holder of this past has a free card which allows To kill anybody there like whenever they're like wherever they like this is not the case. There is no license to Kill and section 7 is not giving you that right. However, because the rules and the protocol still shrouded in secrecy and is now the subject of a court case to try and expose it. It does lead to these wild imaginings. And in fact, Jack straw did sign off some nefarious activities to do with extraordinary rendition. We're British Secret Service agents abducted certain other individuals. I believe syrians for them to be interrogated by the CIA and waterboarded and all those nasty things which have now been discredited but it was MI6 that helped that to happen, even though it was illegal and it is strongly believe that that was signed off by the then former could Cherry Jack straw this did get to court or at least eight nearly got to court before surprised surprised the British government settled for a very large amount of money and the case disappears. So we do not know specifically that section seven was used but we are pretty sure that MI6 did abduct people whether they have ever killed people is a moot point surely it will come out in future if it if they have of course they shooting of Irish dissidents by MI6 on Gibraltar is a big case that is still not been fully understood and resolved. I don't think but the idea that an individual can be given a carte blanche license to Kill is nonsense as this current court case goes through we will see more perhaps about the process by which they've done and whether killing is explicitly ruled out or not whether that is left open-ended. We don't know but certainly section seven in the ACT, which I will link to in. The show notes is very short on a brief and has recently been amended to allow gchq staff to break laws as well. And there are sections in there which relate to electronic eavesdropping and the ability to break laws to do a job. Not even though they might be carried out on British soil, which is quite interesting. It's one thing to break laws abroad perhaps you may disagree is a different thing to break laws here remotely using computers off and then try and claim immunity from prosecution. But that's what section seven allows is very short but very tantalizing and very interesting and I always stop the war there because the foreign office. Is the British State office which runs MI6 effectively at least has oversight of MI6 in the same way that the home office has oversight over MI5 that distinction itself can cause addiction the idea of a James Bond Licensed to Kill need squashing, but there is still that tantalizing possibility that MI6 agents could with the permission of the government kill foreign terrorists foreign dissidents foreign enemies and on that grand note we end the walk I ended here because the foreign office is so beautiful and ground and it's so short walk to Westminster tube. But you may also like to take a walk along horseguards towards the mail just for a quick look at the police memorial especially as the British policeman was stabbed recently found outside Westminster palace and his name has now been added to the memorial but it commemorates all the British police officers Through The Years who have been killed and active duty and is a worthwhile remembrance that although MI6 might seem distant detached remote exotic exciting and lethal they're raised much closer to the front line a large police officer the Metropolitan Police under the police forces to protecting us from danger on a daily basis putting their own lives at risk and that is the serious not not message. But the serious aspect to this it may be a lot of fun. There may be a tourist activity for us. But ultimately MI6 MI5 gchq and the police are there to protect British people and dog Commercial and National interest and I have to remind myself of that when I'm buried in the archives looking at what might or might not have happened in 1960 in Berlin for example, but it is true threat remembering and I will leave you here. You can walk up to Trafalgar Square if you want the police memorial or you can walk over to Westminster Tube Station if you're still at the phone office, I hope you've enjoyed this walk. I really enjoy because it's got such dramatic sites, but it is the longest walk and some people find that a little bit too long a little bit too quick. I do like to try and Rush between the points to get more time to talk. So at least when a virtual tours you can now go at your own pace, perhaps you're outside the UK and can't get here at the moment and wish to just listen, which is great too, but I will put as much into the show notes and onto the blogs as I can to show you the pictures and the sites that you will miss if you were not able to make it to London this year. Thank you for listening and I hope to see you again soon on the podcast. You can also sign up you suck. Email address for newsletters on the website ww.w. Spies of London. Hong Kong

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