Does William Hague cut it in the world of James Bond-style espionage?

The name’s Hague. William Hague.
JAMES BOND: Does Lord Hague cut it?JAMES BOND: Does Lord Hague cut it?
JAMES BOND: Does Lord Hague cut it?

AT 63, he’s perhaps a little old to be the business world’s answer to James Bond.

But Rotherham’s former foreign secretary will shortly be working alongside people who were immersed in the cloak-and-dagger world of spying for decades.

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Next month, the former Wath Comprehensive School will join a "corporate intelligence” group named Hakluyt.


It is a consultancy founded by ex-MI6 intelligence officers; spooks who used to protect the UK’s interests overseas.

His employers’ job is to gather and sell intelligence to companies on the geopolitical climate - in other words, getting the low-down on baddies behind instability, military conflicts, terrorist threats and other events threatening regional or global markets.

Lord Hague - who presumably was neither shaken nor stirred when approached by Hakluyt headhunters - will chair its international advisory board,.

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His associates on that panel will include ex-intelligence officials.

One of them is Sir Iain Lobban, who was the director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) for six years, the eavesdropper which provides signals intelligence to our armed forces.

Hague’s new firm was named after diplomat and rumoured spy, Richard Hakluyt, and “gleans information from a network of thousands of individuals worldwide who provide information that it presents to clients in reports for which it charges hefty fees”.

So says the Financial Times, who may have a beef, as they have lost journalists to Hakluyt in the past.

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The company, according to Wikipedia, has: “Established a network of operatives throughout the world.

“Operatives used by Hakluyt include embassy staff, former spies, reporters, and well connected government and corporate people.

“Hakluyt has strong links with the British intelligence service MI6.

“The Evening Standard wrote in 2012 that ‘Spies preparing for retirement are approached discreetly in St James’s clubs and asked if they would like some lucrative freelance action to top up their pensions’."

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Hakluyt has had their share of controversies to deal with in the public arena.

In 2012, one of their contacts, Neil Heywood, was found dead in his Chinese hotel room.

There were claims he’d been poisoned.

Eleven years previously, The Sunday Times claimed oil companies had hired Hakluyt to collect information on the environmental group Greenpeace.

That will all be safely in the past, as far as Lord Hague is concerned.

But there may be some interesting challenges ahead for him,

He was, of course, a leading Conservative politician.

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But business is business and last year Bloomberg claimed the Labour Party had used Hakluyt to charm leaders of British commerce.

Hakluyt insisted they do not work for political parties although Labour declined to comment.

At any rate, the former Conservative Party leader, who was born in Rotherham and unsuccessfully contested the Wentworth seat in 1987 before being elected MP for Richmond two years later, starts his new career in May.

He’ll attend his first Hakluyt meeting in that month - although there is nothing to suggest that colleagues will welcome him with the familiar 007 greeting: “Ah, Mr Hague, we’ve been expecting you."