Until the end of the Cold War the UK intelligence services were not officially acknowledged, and their personnel were banned from entering the public sphere. From 1989 the UK government began to put the intelligence services on a legal footing and to release the identity of the heads of the intelligence agencies. Since then, public engagement by the intelligence agencies has gathered pace. What this article hypothesises is that there is now, in the UK, an effective intelligence lobby of former insiders who engage in the public sphere – using on the record briefings – to counter criticism of the intelligence community and to promote a narrative and vision of what UK intelligence should do, how it is supported and how oversight is conducted. Content analysis and framing models of non-broadcast coverage of intelligence debates, focusing on the 36 months after the Snowden revelations, confirm an active and rolling lobby of current and former intelligence officials. The paper concludes that the extent of the lobby’s interventions in the public sphere is a matter for debate and possible concern.
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