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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ex mi6 officer fights back
I loved it. There are 2 main parts to this book. First Tomlinsons recruitment,training and operations as an mi6 officer. Secondly his sacking and subsequent conflict with mi6. This second part(the final 1/3 of the book) didn't interest me. We outsiders don't know the reason for his sacking,we'd need to hear both sides of the story. The interesting part for me was the...
Published on 2 Feb 2005 by WhiteCrane

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but is it true?
The first half is full of titillating (although by now surely out-of date)detail about the inner-workings of MI6. The second half is Tomlinson's justification for this gratuitous spilling of the beans, which is that in spite of being quite literally the best recruit they'd ever had, MI6 personnel decided to sack him for unknown but certainly trumped-up reasons. His...
Published 20 months ago by Lutobar


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ex mi6 officer fights back, 2 Feb 2005
By 
WhiteCrane "WHITECRANE" (the MIDLANDS) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
I loved it. There are 2 main parts to this book. First Tomlinsons recruitment,training and operations as an mi6 officer. Secondly his sacking and subsequent conflict with mi6. This second part(the final 1/3 of the book) didn't interest me. We outsiders don't know the reason for his sacking,we'd need to hear both sides of the story. The interesting part for me was the description of mi6 structure and organization in the 1990s(I'd read books describing mi6 structure from the 50s and 60s but this was the most up to date from an insider), the 6 month training course as well as operations. The mi6 officers he names are obviously pseudonyms but many were name in the infamous internet list(including the personnel officer hated by Tomlinson). Tomlinson denied being responsible for it and some commentators said it was flawed. As the number of MI6 officers writing books about current events doesn't happen every day,I recommend it,judge for yourself.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abuse of power and influence by the MI6 ?, 8 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
Nearly everything the public knows about spies is fiction. But Richard Tomlinson worked for the MI6 until he was fired for unknown reasons. According to the author, MI6 hunted him down all over the planet when he following tried to write an autobiography. They used and abused their connections with foreign intelligence services for intimidation purposes, stole his equipment, and had him imprisoned for several months. When the book was in the press despite MI6's vast efforts to prevent it, they took legal action to ban it. They failed spectacularly, and "The Big Breach" became freely available. Contrary to what many would believe, no government secrets are exposed in the book, and the few descriptions of MI6's working methods can surprise no one. The really interesting aspects of the book are an intriguing claim about a top UK politician, secret Serb donations to a British political party, and the degree of unfair treatment by the MI6, combined with alleged incompetence in personnel management. Countless claims and counterclaims have been made about the book. One such claim is that the Russian publisher is really a cover for what was formerly known as KGB, and that they have written sections of the book. An obvious counterclaim is that the MI6 have orchestrated a smear campaign to discredit the book and its author. Whatever the truth, here's a spy story that is as close to reality as we'll probably ever get.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book gives a glimpse of MI6, 24 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
This book reads easily and is never boring. I like the way he describes (with great humor) some events that he had experienced.
I wonder what he's doing nowadays.
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4.0 out of 5 stars riveting, 24 July 2012
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
This is a well written, revealing account of M16, in the days when the agency was still mired in the self defeating secrecy of the Cold War. Tomlinson portrays an organisation of suffocating bureaucracy, snobbery, laziness, internal bickering and inefficiency; it is more Yes Minister than James Bond. This might not be wholly fair - there must, surely, have been Bond like figures, SAS crossed with Oxbridge Firsts - but Tomlinson does not appear to have met them. Overall, a fascinating book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but is it true?, 20 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
The first half is full of titillating (although by now surely out-of date)detail about the inner-workings of MI6. The second half is Tomlinson's justification for this gratuitous spilling of the beans, which is that in spite of being quite literally the best recruit they'd ever had, MI6 personnel decided to sack him for unknown but certainly trumped-up reasons. His account of how he was persecuted by MI6 merely for wanting to have his dismissal looked at by an employment tribunal is a drawn-out martyrdom. His only way of hitting back is to write a best-selling book.

Is it true? That is anyone's guess, but anyone who can write as well as this is capable of fabrication, and to me his story of consummate hero to utter zero looks too good (or bad) to be true. The self-justification becomes tiresome. There is obviously more to this than meets the eye; those who could enlighten us cannot.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking to think this really happened!, 2 July 2001
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
I have just finished the book desparately wanting to meet Richard Tomlinson and spend a good few hours discussing the contents of this book. It is both shocking and revealing and demonstrates how unfettered taxpayer funded organisations answerable to no one can persue their own private and ego driven campaigns with such venum, unchecked.
I began the book thinking that he was a lttile niave and should have just gone with the flow, but the subsequent hypocrisy and blatant use of MI6 power to hound and discredit him was both shocking and disturbing.
All large organisations have, by their very nature an element of politics/backstabbing/manipulation but this was taking it to the extreme and is a worrying enditement on the so called 'secret services'
A book I could not put down and one that has really affected my attitude.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Account of the Abuse of Power, 7 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
I found this book gripping, and very disturbing. The first half of the
book charts the author's career in Britain's Secret Intelligence
Service (MI6). Tomlinson's description of his MI6 training is
fascinating, and often amusing. On completion of his training, the
author serves in Moscow and Bosnia. As Tomlinson is a former member of
the Territorial SAS (volunteer branch of the UK special forces), one
would expect him to keep a clear head in a war zone and, indeed, his
activities in Bosnia in 1993-94 testify to his personal courage and
professional commitment.
While serving in Bosnia, Tomlinson is
involved in an operation in which a British army Land Rover rolls over
into a ditch. No one is hurt, and the mission is not compromised, but
Tomlinson's silk tie is destroyed during the subsequent attempt to
restart the engine. Consequently, he is obliged to meet a group of
VIPs wearing an open-necked shirt. Despite the broad success of his
mission to Bosnia, the open-necked shirt incident earns him a bad
performance appraisal on his return to London.
Later, while working
to infiltrate a plot to sell chemical weapons manufacturing equipment
to Iran, Tomlinson is fired by MI6, with no warning and no
explanation. Yet he has received fulsome praise from his new manager
for his work on the chemical weapons project, and cannot understand
why he has been fired. The second half of the book describes
Tomlinson's attempts to discover the reason for his dismissal and take
MI6 to an employment tribunal, and MI6's heavy handed campaign to
resist this...The book is poorly edited and contains numerous typographical
errors that should have been caught by even the most cursory
proof-reading. Nevertheless, it makes compelling and disturbing
reading, and deserves a five-star rating.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big MI6 Breach., 28 Mar 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
Richard Tomlinson is an ordinary bloke in an ordinary world, he is highly intelligent and so gets admitted to Cambridge university, there he studies engineering and has a sought after career as a navy pilot until he gets approached by a Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) scout with an offer to join MI6. At first Tomlinson turns the offer down, not looking for a desk job and wanting to pursue a career in the armed forces. He completes an amazing array of training with the S.A.S before evening reconsidering joining the SIS. After coming back from back tracking around the world, Tomlinson realises that in order to live and pay the bills, he needed a proper job that paid him a good salary, he decides to take up the offer made by MI6 in his uni. years. He lives a life full of shroud and mystery for 4 years until without any reason, he is kicked out of MI6, however instead of taking the dismissal and going back to a desk job in London, he fights his case for unfair dismissal. This is where the real heart of the Big Breach begins as a huge MI6 man hunt begins and Tomlinson is forced to go hiding out around the globe, being arrested and thrown out countries due to MI6's huge powers around the world. This book is a real eye opener as it shows how really powerful MI5 and 6 are, they are the police of the world, they can do what they life and when they want to do it. If they decide that a man is going to die, that man is as good as dead. It is clear that if Tomlinson had not published this book, the SIS would have killed him, without the public being any the wiser. A good read and an excellent insight into the world of MI6 and how the operations and training work.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tomlinson was born to be a spy, or so he thinks...., 16 Feb 2002
This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
According to this book, Tomlinson was born to be a spy and work at MI6. Nothing else would stimluate his enormous brain enough. From his early childhood adventures through to his MI6 training, he was a natural. However, it's a pity for him that the personnel department in MI6 didn't share the same view. He comes across as being somewhat big headed.
As Tomlinson recalls his recruitment to the service and the subsequent training and missions, the first 2/3 of the book plods along at a fairly pedestrian pace and is quite boring in parts. It is only when he is suddenly kicked out that it starts to get slightly interesting. Even then, it is not a book that I would say that is hard to put down.
Not what I was expecting
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more we know the better, 16 July 2013
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This review is from: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security (Paperback)
Richard Tomlinson's autobiographical account of his time at MI6 and subsequent dismissal and persecution by these henchmen of the state is a welcome addition to the non-fiction secret service genre. We know so little about what these gangs are really up to or how they operate, if only there were more people with the moral conviction and courage to come forward to expose them.

The story of Richard Tomlinson's persecution succinctly demonstrates the small minded and petty mindset of security services in general. They are quite happy to hound an individual to the end of the earth, rather than make the slightest compromise. This "we are always right" attitude can remain only because they are not accountable to anyone for their actions. At one point in the book an MI6 trainee asks, "is there anything we can't do?" the answer to which is apparently, "no, you can do whatever you want, just don't get caught." Remarkable!

Anyone wishing to join MI6 should exhibit the following character traits: Vanity, extroversion, criminal mindedness, cowardice, chronic liar and of course lets not forget the ability to deceive yourself that you are non of the aforementioned.

"The Big Breach," is to a large part autobiographical, for a more technical account of the to's and throw's of secret services, I would recommend Annie Machon's book "Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers." Both of these books are over ten years old, and both individuals have been out of the secret services for almost twenty years, it's about time we had another contemporary whistleblowing author from MI5, MI6 or Army Intelligence.
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The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security
The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security by Richard Tomlinson (Paperback - 1 Feb 2001)
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