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The head of Britain’s intelligence service Mi6 has made an unprecedented public speech, using it to describe torture as ‘illegal and abhorrent’. But Sir John Sawers also insisted secrecy was an integral part of Mi6’s work and spoke of the fight against al Qaeda and the importance of intelligence in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Sir John addressed senior media figures, becoming the first Mi6 chief in the organisation’s 100 year history to make a public speech. Mi6, also known as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), provides the British government with foreign intelligence, but has begun opening up its operations to greater public scrutiny. As Olly Barratt reports from London.

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