News: For decades the BBC denied that job applicants were subject to political vetting by MI5. But in fact vetting began in the early days of the BBC and continued until the 1990s. Paul Reynolds, the first journalist to see all the BBC's vetting files, tells the story of the long relationship between the corporation and the Security Service. "Policy: keep head down and stonewall all questions." So wrote a senior BBC official in early 1985, not long before the Observer exposed so many details of the work done in Room 105 Broadcasting House that there was no point continuing to hide it.
By that stage, a policy of flatly denying the existence of political vetting - not just stonewalling, but if necessary lying - had been in place for five decades.
As early as 1933 a BBC executive, Col Alan Dawnay, had begun holding meetings to exchange information with the head of MI5, Sir Vernon Kell, at Dawnay's flat in Eaton Terrace, Chelsea. It was an era of political radicalism and both sides deemed the BBC in need of "assistance in regard to communist activities. #Spying #spy #espionage #undercover #secretservice #secretagent #thespyinggame #uk #bbc #coldwar #london #mi5