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Stella  Rimington

Stella Rimington

Former First Female Director General of M15


Dame Stella Rimington was the first woman to hold the post of Director General of MI5, the UK’s Security Service. She also made history as the first Director General whose name was publicly announced on appointment. Read More >

Rimington became Director General of MI5 in 1992 and during her tenure she pursued a policy of greater openness for MI5, seeking to explain to the public what the Service is and what its responsibilities are. She gave the 1994 Dimbleby Lecture on BBC TV and several other public lectures and published a booklet about the Service. Her time as Director General saw the Service assume responsibility for all intelligence work against the Provisional IRA outside Northern Ireland and the beginnings of the Service's work against organized crime.

In 1959, Rimington started working as an Assistant Archivist in the Worcestershire County Record Office, which housed the archives of the county and diocese of Worcester. She transferred to the India Office Library in London, where she was an Assistant Keeper responsible for the manuscripts relating to the British rule in India.

Rimington left work in 1965 in order to accompany her husband on a posting to the British High Commission in New Delhi, India. While there she worked part-time for MI5 which at that time had an office in New Delhi and joined full-time upon her return to the UK.

During her career at MI5, from 1969-1996, Rimington worked in all the main fields of the Service's responsibilities - counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism - and became Director of all three Branches. She led the Service's counter-espionage work in the closing days of the Cold War when the intelligence services of the Soviet Union and her Warsaw pact allies were engaged in a strong assault on Britain’s secrets.

As the Cold War drew to a close, she led a delegation from the Service to establish contact with the former KGB. She was in charge of the Service's work against international and Irish terrorism at the time of the Lockerbie airline disaster and when the Provisional IRA was actively targeting British military personnel on the continent of Europe. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

My Life as the Spying Dame

Leading as a Woman in a Man’s World