I wish folk like the BBC would stop referring to every old lady who worked as a postal clerk at Bletchley Park during the Second World War as a “former spy”. Talk about stretching the facts beyond breaking point. Yes, Bletchley Park was home to a very successful British radio signals interception operation, often called Enigma, but I’m not sure “spy” is a good description. To me, a spy is someone who gathers information inside enemy territory, or perhaps on neutral territory. In much the same way, members of MI5 counter-intelligence are not really spies either. Nor were the truly brave women who served with the Special Operations Executive in occupied territory, unless they gathered intelligence in addition to their mission to organize resistance work such as sabotage. And MI6 was keen to keep its intelligence operations completely separate from the activities of the SOE. It has even been suggested that MI6 betrayed SOE operatives to help their agents within the Gestapo ingratiate themselves with their German masters. “Spy” is often lazy journalistic shorthand and sometimes even hyperbole. Let’s call a spy a spy and the others what they were.