Principal texts set out principles of intelligence

Leicester academic publishes two new key books on espionage

The place of ethical principles in spying is explored in a new book by a Leicester Professor, who has also released a new edition of a key textbook in intelligence studies.

Principled Spying - The Ethics of Secret Intelligence, published by Oxford University Press (in the UK) and Georgetown University Press (in the US), explores the ethical dilemmas generated by intelligence practice and the knotty question of how far a state should authorize its agents to go in seeking and using secret intelligence.

It is co-authored by Mark Phythian, Professor of Politics in our School of History, Politics and International Relations, and Sir David Omand, previously UK security and intelligence coordinator, permanent secretary of the UK Home Office, and director of GCHQ, the UK signals intelligence and cyber security agency.

Reviewing the book in the Financial Times (23-24 June 2018), contributing editor John Lloyd described Professor Phythian as, ‘among the sharpest of security scholars’ and referred to the book as ‘...a work of the highest seriousness. It is a teasing out, in Platonic dialogue form, of what ethical spine a spy should — in a democracy, must — have. It is an exercise never attempted before at this length.’

At the same time, Professor Phythian and Peter Gill, an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the School of History, Politics and International Relations have published a third edition of their classic text, Intelligence in an Insecure World (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018) that sets out a comprehensive framework for the study of intelligence.

This revised and updated edition includes analysis of recent developments in the field, including the impact of the Edward Snowden leaks, and the role of intelligence agencies in internet and social media surveillance and in defensive and offensive cyber operations.