Dame Stella Rimington was formerly Director General of the Security Service (MI5), the first woman to take the post and the first person to be publicly named while in office, a cornerstone of Britain’s national security – battling the threats of the Cold War, secret agents and terrorism.
Dame Stella Rimington was the first female head of the secret service, and was also the first to be officially named and photographed during her tenure in charge of Britain’s spy service.
She was dubbed “the housewife spy” by some in the tabloid press after MI5’s decision to name but not supply a picture of its new director-general
Dame Stella Rimington was born in 1935 and educated at Nottingham High School for Girls and Edinburgh University. After gaining a postgraduate diploma in the Study of Records and the Administration of Archives at Liverpool University, she worked in the Worcester County Record Office and the India Office Library, London.
In 1965 she accompanied her husband on a posting to the British High Commission in New Delhi. While in India, she worked part-time for the Security Service which, at that time, had an office in New Delhi. On her return to the UK in 1969, she joined the Security Service as a full-time employee. She worked in all the main fields of the Service’s responsibilities: counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism; she became a director of all three branches.
In 1992 she was appointed Director General of MI5 and remained in the post for the next four years.
Dame Stella Rimington retired from the Service in April 1996 and took up appointments as a non-executive director of Marks & Spencer Plc, The BG Group Plc and an Associate Director of CPS. She was previously Chairman of the Institute of Cancer Research and Trustee of the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust.
Until 2001, Dame Stella was Honorary Air Commodore of 7006 (VR) Intelligence Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and a Trustee of the RAF Museum. She is also a Governor of Town Close House Preparatory School in Norwich. She has two grown-up daughters and a grand-daughter.
She has received honorary degrees from Nottingham and Exeter universities and was elected Alumna of the Year by Edinburgh University in 1994.
Dame Stella Rimington was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1996 New Year Honours List
As an author her publications include: ‘Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5’ and ‘Intelligence, Security and the Law’. Dame Stella has also turned to the realm of fiction with her novels, ‘At Risk’, ‘Secret Asset’ and ‘Deadline’
Dame Stella’s speaking topics include:
- Leadership and Change
- Political and Current Affairs
- Counter Espionage & Counter Terrorism
- Women Pursuing Professional Careers