MI5 deny withholding intelligence from Home Secretary

Intelligence officials took the unusual step on Monday of denying a newspaper report that the main domestic spy agency, MI5, had withheld information from the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, because some spies did not trust her.

The Sunday Times reported that the Security Service, known as MI5, did not trust Patel and so had reduced the volume of intelligence they showed to her.

The newspaper said spies regularly "roll their eyes" at the minister's interventions during meetings.

A security source said the report was untrue.

"No information is being withheld," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Any report suggesting otherwise is simply wrong and does not serve the public interest."

"Reports suggesting that the Home Secretary and MI5 do not have a strong relationship are simply untrue," said the source. "The Home Secretary is briefed daily on intelligence matters in exactly the same way as any previous post holder."

MI5, established in 1909 to counter German espionage ahead of World War One, is tasked with protecting British national security. Its main job is currently countering international terrorism though it is also a counter-intelligence agency.

It employs around 4,000 people and is accountable to the Home Secretary.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office declined to comment.

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