MI5 advert controversy

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An advert placed by MI5 in the last issue of The Saint caused national controversy last week.

Both the Scottish Sun and the Scotsman reported on 22 February that the British domestic intelligence agency was specifically targeting the students at University of St Andrews. Several other publications picked up on the news, some as far away as the Philippines. STV, Scottish television, also dedicated a segment of their six o’clock news on Tuesday 23 February to MI5’s recruitment in St Andrews.

Civil liberties campaigner Mike Dailly commented on the event to the Scotsman, asking where the ads are on campuses such as Glasgow Caledonian or Abertay. The article in the Scottish Sun was blunter, claiming that “the intelligence agency wants young toffs at St Andrews to become the new James Bonds”.

The Sun goes on to share the comments by former British Ambassador and rector of the University of Dundee, Craig Murry, who said, “if you’re looking for people with a genuine understanding of terrorism or international drug smuggling, St Andrews is the last place you’d come across them.”

A university spokesperson refuted the claims made by the newspapers, saying that “MI5 comes to St Andrews and other Scottish universities to recruit because it knows our graduates are highly intelligent, critical thinkers. It’s got nothing to do with class or social status.”


Hillevi Gustafson

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