The Full Wiki

Eliza Manningham-Buller, Baroness Manningham-Buller: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Right Honourable 
The Baroness
Allegiance United Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Service MI5
Active 1974 - 2007 (33 years)
Rank Director General of MI5
Operation(s) Lockerbie bombing
Award(s) DCB
Birth name Elizabeth Lydia Manningham-Buller
Born 14 July 1948 (1948-07-14) (age 61)
Northampton, England, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Religion Anglican
Parents The Rt Hon. The Viscount Dilhorne
Mary Manningham-Buller, Viscountess Dilhorne
Spouse Married
Children five stepchildren
Occupation Intelligence officer
Alma mater Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Elizabeth Lydia "Eliza" Manningham-Buller, Baroness Manningham-Buller DCB (born 14 July 1948) was Director General (DG) of MI5, the British internal national security agency, from October 2002 until her retirement on 20 April 2007, aged 58.

It was announced that Dame Eliza would become a crossbench life peer on 18 April 2008. [1] Her title was gazetted as Baroness Manningham-Buller, of Northampton in the County of Northamptonshire on 2 June 2008.[2]


Professional life

Manningham-Buller worked as a teacher for three years at Queen's Gate School, Kensington in London, having read English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford from 1971 to 1974, before joining the Security Service. She was recruited to the Security Service at a drinks party when someone suggested that she see someone at the Ministry of Defence.[3]

Specializing in counter-terrorism rather than MI5's then-classical counter-espionage, she was active at the time of the Lockerbie bombing by Libya in 1988. She worked for K-branch against the IRA. During the early 1980s she was one of only five people who knew that Oleg Gordievsky, the deputy head of the KGB at the Soviet embassy in London, was actually a double agent.[4]

She was a senior liaison working out of Washington, D.C. to the US intelligence community over the period of the first Gulf War, before leading the newly-created Irish counter-terrorism section from 1992 when MI5 were given the lead responsibility for such work (from the Metropolitan Police). Having been promoted to the Management Board of the Security Service the next year, Manningham-Buller became the director in charge of surveillance and technical operations, later becoming director of Irish counter-terrorism.[citation needed]

She was appointed Deputy Director General in 1997, and succeeded Sir Stephen Lander as Director General in 2002, the second woman to take on the role after Dame Stella Rimington. As Director General, she was paid £150,000 a year. She is credited with making the agency more open: she established a website and recruited agents through newspaper advertisements. Under her direction, terror risk assessments were made public for the first time.[5]

Manningham-Buller was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath (DCB) in 2005. She retired from MI5 on 21 April 2007, and was replaced by her deputy Jonathan Evans.[6] That month marked the end of her 33rd year in the Security Service.[5] Lady Manningham-Buller has reportedly joined the public speaking circuit.[7]

Personal life

Manningham-Buller was the second daughter in a family of four, of Viscount Dilhorne. She was educated at Northampton High School and Benenden School.[3]

She is married to David, whose surname has never been disclosed publicly; he has five children by his previous marriage, who are Lady Manningham-Buller's stepchildren. "Her husband, David, is the son of a former Lieutenant Colonel and a former lecturer in moral philosophy at St Andrews University. He has recently retrained as a carpenter. An Irish Catholic by birth, he is said to have once held strong left-wing views. Lady Manningham-Buller reported that he knew about her profession before their marriage and when they knew each other well."[3]


Manningham-Buller's father, Lord Dilhorne, (1905-1980) was a Conservative MP from 1943 to 1962. He was Britain's second highest legal officer, the Solicitor General, he also later held the office of Lord Chancellor for two years, thereafter; he was created an hereditary peer with a viscountcy.

Her mother, Mary Manningham-Buller (Viscountess Dilhorne), trained carrier pigeons that were used to fly coded messages in World War II.[8] The pigeons were dropped in wicker baskets with little parachutes over France and Germany and they were used to fly back to her mother's pigeon loft carrying intelligence.[3] One of the pigeons won the Dickin Medal, and one brought back intelligence of the V-2 rocket project in Peenemünde, Germany.[3] Viscountess Dilhorne, died in Oxfordshire on 25 March 2004 at the age of 93.[8].

Public statements

Backing the War on Terror

Manningham-Buller has made speeches to invited audiences containing members of the press, as well as making court statements. On 17 June 2003, at a conference at the Royal United Services Institute she gave her complete backing for the War on Terror and said that renegade scientists had given terror groups information needed to create chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. She also warned that the threat from international terrorism would be "with us for a good long time", which was why new legislation had been introduced.[9]

Speech on the 7 July 2005 London bombings

On 10 September 2005, she spoke to an audience in the Netherlands about the 7 July 2005 London bombings and her disappointment that MI5 failed to stop attacks, even when in possession of intelligence, because of bureaucratic inertia. She also added that "[T]he world has changed and there needs to be a debate on whether some erosion of [the] civil liberties we all value may be necessary to improve the chances of our citizens not being blown apart as they go about their daily lives."[10][11]

Stance on gaining intelligence through torture

On 21 October 2005, BBC News reported Manningham-Buller's leaked court statement to the Law Lords regarding methods for collecting intelligence from overseas. This was part of an investigation by the Law Lords on whether the British Government should have to be made aware whether the intelligence it is using was obtained through torture. She stated that "Experience proves that detainee reporting can be accurate and may enable lives to be saved." She also maintained that obtaining information from foreign intelligence agencies, which initially enters the UK intelligence system via MI6, was vital in fighting terrorism. Regarding the ethics of how and where this intelligence is gathered she stated that "agencies will not often know the location or details of detention".[citation needed]

Her example to support the need for intelligence gathering from overseas was the case of Mohammed Megeurba, an Algerian man who was questioned by agencies in his country. Evidence collected by this questioning led to a raid in London which led to the Wood Green ricin plot being uncovered. Press have speculated that Megeurba was tortured to obtain this information, although Manningham-Buller maintained that neither she nor MI5 were aware of the "precise circumstances that attended their [Algerian agencies'] questioning of Megeurba". She emphasised that, had MI5 requested information regarding how the intelligence had been gathered, its request would have been ignored and the relationship between the UK and Algeria could have been damaged. She concluded by exemplifying the "importance of co-operation between states in countering the threat from international terrorism".[citation needed]

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, commended Manningham-Buller for being "brutally honest" about the activities of intelligence agencies. However, she also stated that the United Kingdom should not "legitimise" torture as a means of intelligence gathering by accepting evidence gained in such a manner as evidence in court.[12] Manningham-Buller stated that the British intelligence services do not ask how intelligence is obtained "because that would make things difficult".[13]

Refusal to appear before the Joint Committee on Human Rights

On 23 January 2006, she refused to appear before the Joint Committee On Human Rights in Parliament to speak about "the extent to which the Service is, or could take steps to ensure it is, aware that information it receives from foreign agencies may have been obtained by the use of torture", and "any information which the Service may have about extraordinary renditions using UK airports".[14]

Speech on MI5 after the September 11 attacks

On 9 November 2006, Manningham-Buller gave a speech at Queen Mary, University of London as a guest of Professor Peter Hennessy in which she warned that her office was tracking 30 terror plots, and 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1,600 individuals. She also stated that MI5 had expanded by 50% since the September 11 attacks and stood at roughly 2,800 staff. She reiterated her warning that the threat "may—I suggest will—include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology".[15][16]

This speech came three days after Dhiren Barot was sentenced to 40 years for his part in the 2004 Financial buildings plot in which he had a plan to build a radiological dirty bomb that involved setting fire to 10,000 smoke alarms.[citation needed]

Attack on 42-day terrorism detention

On 8 July 2008, Baroness Manningham-Buller made her maiden speech in the House of Lords since her resignation. She told the House that she was against government plans to extend the time period for retaining terrorist suspects in the UK from 28 to 42 days. She told peers that she disagreed on a "practical basis as well as a principled one". She criticised the plans for terrorism detention as being not "in any way workable" and emphasised the need for all political parties to work together in finding a solution for dealing with terrorism. Furthermore, Lady Manningham-Buller maintained that "complete security" could never be achieved in a country and that civil liberties were at risk of being compromised if the plans were passed by the House of Lords.

The speech, only 501 words long and lasting only four minutes, attracted praise from other Lords, including Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, who described it as "outstanding, thoughtful and valuable", but also significant attention in the media, given the Baroness's expertise in counter-terrorism issues. Martin Kettle, writing in The Guardian on 11 July 2008, described it as "devastatingly succinct" and "the fatal shot" which would ensure that the Government's "plans were holed below the water line".[17] James Kirkup of the Daily Telegraph described it as "a huge blow to Gordon Brown's plans to extend the detention of terrorist suspects to 42 days".[18]

Other peers supported Lady Manningham-Buller's stance against the plans, including former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer and former Chairperson of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), Baroness Neville-Jones. Nevertheless, Lord West of Spithead, who was First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy until 2006 and is currently a junior Home Office minister spoke for the government and implied that more stringent security measures were required to deal with the "unprecedented terrorist threat" to the UK.[19]

Lecture on torture in the House of Lords (9 March 2010)

Giving a lecture in the House of Lords, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said “the government did lodge protests” to its US counterparts once the extent of torture was known. It is the first time that has been said publicly. Asked if she had known of the use of waterboarding and other techniques of pressure while she was director-general of MI5, from October 2002 until her retirement in April 2007, she said she had done, and had disapproved. “Nothing – not even the saving of lives – justifies torturing people,” she said. She added that “the Americans were very keen to conceal from us what they were doing” with ­suspects.[20]. Full speech can be found at

Desert Island Discs

Manningham-Buller was a "castaway" on Desert Island Discs broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2007 giving her first interview after her retirement.[3] She talked briefly about her personal life and her former professional life, including her reactions to the 7 July 2005 London bombings and the importance of protecting their agents.[3] She explained that she had decided on her retirement date shortly after she took up the Director General job, choosing to retire with a total of 33 years service in the security services.[3] She chose as her "luxury", the book The Rattle Bag of poems selected by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.[3]

Styles and honours

  • Miss Elizabeth Manningham-Buller (1948–1962)
  • The Hon. Eliza Manningham-Buller (1962–2005)
  • The Hon. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller DCB (2005–2008)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Manningham-Buller DCB (2008–)

See also


  1. ^ House of Lords Appointments Commission – New Non-Party-Political Peers (2008)
  2. ^ London Gazette: no. 58719, p. 8441, 5 June 2008. Retrieved on 10 November 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Desert Island Discs with Eliza Manningham-Buller". Desert Island Discs. BBC. Radio 4. 2007-11-23.
  4. ^ "Eliza Manningham-Buller profile". BBC News. 9 November 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  5. ^ a b "MI5 chief quits as full story of July 7 is about to emerge"". Daily Mail. 2006-12-15. Retrieved 15 December 2006. 
  6. ^ MI5 (2007-03-07). "New Director General Announced". Press release. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  7. ^ The Guardian
  8. ^ a b "'War secrets' pigeon trainer dies". BBC News. 1 April 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  9. ^ "Terror attack 'a matter of time'". BBC News. 17 June 2003. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  10. ^ "MI5 head warns on civil liberties". BBC News. 10 September 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  11. ^ MI5 (1 September 2006). "The international terrorist threat and the dilemmas in countering it". Press release. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  12. ^ "MI5's 'torture' evidence revealed". BBC. 21 October 2005. Retrieved 2006-10-18. 
  13. ^ Foreign Affairs Committee (15 February 2006). "Foreign Affairs - First Report". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  14. ^ Joint Committee On Human Rights (24 July 2006). "Joint Committee On Human Rights - Twenty-Fourth Report". Parliament. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  15. ^ "MI5 tracking '30 UK terror plots'". BBC. 10 November 2006. 
  16. ^ MI5 (9 September 2006). "The international terrorist threat to the UK". Press release. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  17. ^ "The 42-day plan is dead, but its assassin may surprise you". The Guardian. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  18. ^ "Eliza Manningham-Buller, former MI5 chief, savages 42-day detention plan". Daily Telegraph. 8 July 2008.,-former-MI5-chief,-savages-42-day-detention-plan.html. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  19. ^ "Ex-MI5 chief attacks 42-day plan". BBC. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  20. ^ "London protested at torture, says ex-MI5 chief". Financial Times. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Stephen Lander
Director-General of MI5
2002 - 2007
Succeeded by
Jonathan Evans


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address