British spy agency MI5 bugged at least five prime ministers, 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet for nearly 15 years — from 1963 to 1977, a media report said.
The MI5 installed electronics surveillance equipment in three sensitive areas of No 10 Downing Street — the Cabinet Room, the Waiting Room and the PM’s study, the Daily Mail reported, citing top secret files.
It means that for nearly 15 years, all Cabinet meetings, the offices of senior officials and all visitors to the British Premier, including foreign leaders, were being bugged by the domestic spy agency, the report said.
In fact, the eavesdropping devices were first installed in Downing Street in July 1963 at the request of the then Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, a month after his War Minister John Profumo had resigned over a relationship with prostitute Christine Keeler who was close to a Soviet officer.
The scandal undermined Macmillan’s government and led eventually to his resignation, on grounds of ill health, in October 1963. Following his departure, the bugs were briefly removed. But, according to the MI5 top secret files, they were reinstated months later on the orders of new PM Alec Douglas-Home, the report said.
The bugs were finally removed on the orders of James Callaghan in about 1977, the year after he took office, the report claimed.