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MI6 considers openly advertising for recruits in wake of 7/7

LONDON - MI6 is to come out of the shadows with a change to its recruitment practices, which will see it openly advertise for the first time in its history following a rise of interest from Muslim candidates after the London bombings.

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According to a report in The Times today, MI6, which is based at Vauxhall Cross on the Thames, is taking the steps after interest from Muslims came via the only outlet currently available -- an anonymous Foreign Office PO Box Number, PO Box 1300, created in 1992, but only used to recruit since 2001.

MI6, which is responsible for foreign intelligence and is officially part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has never previously openly advertised and wants to capitalise on the interest from Muslims, spurred to offer their services to the nation.

The Times said that MI6 has made no decision on how it will advertise, but it said what it will do is make itself more open to those looking to become intelligence officers and advertise in such a way that is obvious "that it was MI6 offering a job".

Previously, candidates arriving for jobs have not known who it was they were being offered a job by, with a letter coming simply from the FCO.

The move follows efforts by the home intelligence service, MI5, which has for several years now been much more open about how it recruits staff. MI5 has also benefited from the successful BBC One drama 'Spooks'.

MI5 has its own website, which says quite clearly "This is the official website of the UK Security Service" and has a link for jobs with MI5.

Similarly, intelligence service GCHQ last year launched a game to test the skills of potential recruits. Potential spies were invited to apply for the GCHQ game, which appears on CD-rom or online. The game involved arms and drugs smugglers, and posed a series of multiple-choice questions.

It is unclear if MI6 will go as far as its sister service, because MI6 remains a secretive and clandestine organisation far removed from its portrayal on screen in the James Bond movies.

Figures quoted by The Times state that in 2004-2005, 9% of new entrants were from ethnic minorities, with a surge expected if advertising is launched.

Since the London bombings, the number of people applying to join MI6 through the PO Box number has risen by a fifth, many of whom referred to the attacks.

Historically, MI6 is famous for its use of friendly university dons who talent spotted for the service. Famously this led to the traitorous Cambridge University spy ring of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. The trio were party of a larger spy ring of agents committed to the Soviet Union.

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