Espionage historian Harry Ferguson is a former MI6 (SIS) officer and was an undercover agent for the National Investigation Service (NIS). He has written two books about his experiences with the NIS: Kilo 17 (2003) and Lima 3 (2005). In 2005, he starred alongside Mike Baker of the CIA in the BBC2 series Spy (currently available on YouTube) and he also wrote the book of the series: Spy – A Handbook. His most recent work, Operation Kronstadt, told the inside story of the most successful MI6 operation in history. Harry researched and wrote this book as a result of the number of people who ask him “what is an MI6 operation really like?” All of Harry’s work is cleared with his former employers through his MI6 liaison officer.
Although he is not allowed to be specific about the dates of his service or details of his work, Harry was recruited into MI6 from Oxford University in the early 1980s (where he was also asked to join MI5 in the same week). He worked for MI6 as both an intelligence analyst and an operational officer before transferring to the NIS because of the strain imposed on his family by working overseas. He spent the early 1990s working as an undercover officer against gangs smuggling heroin and then returned to working with MI6 as part of a team investigating the trafficking of terrorist weapons and components for weapons of mass destruction. Just before 2000, weary of the strains of undercover work, Harry began training as a barrister, but a chance meeting at a party led to the publication of his first book and he hasn’t looked back since.
The BBC series Spy was Britain’s second most exported programme of that year (sold to more than 129 countries) and this has led to Harry becoming increasingly well known as a British spy overseas. He has made numerous television appearances around the world. In 2007, as part of the Belgian TV series Tomtestrom, he helped presenter Tom Waes break in to the Museum of Modern Art in Antwerp to highlight the appalling museum security (at the request of the director of the museum). The mission was completed successfully, the programme was nominated for the Rose D’Or (formerly Golden Rose of Montreux) and the issue was raised successfully in the Belgian parliament. Harry has also demonstrated how to kill a target on Japanese TV using a ballpoint pen. Harry works occasionally in the United States where he lectures on British espionage.
Harry is a frequent commentator on espionage related matters, appearing in magazines, on radio shows and in TV programmes as diverse as Newsnight, The Cinema Show and Big Brother’s Little Brother. He is a consultant on espionage matters to ITN, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and Russia Today. He also advises various newspapers on breaking espionage stories and has written specific pieces for The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror. Harry lectures to sixth forms and universities about spying as a career and has addressed the Oxford Union. In 2006, he presented “How to be a Spy” to over 1,000 parents and children at the Cheltenham Science Festival. In 2007, he was the chief consultant to the Science Museum in London for their record breaking exhibition The Science of Spying which he also helped to design and which later toured the US. In 2009, he appeared at the Cheltenham Literary Festival with former MI5 chief Stella Rimington to discuss “Spies and fiction”. In other media work, Harry has also helped to promote movies such as Quantum of Solace and Traitor.