Saturday 16 November 2019

Swedish intelligence agency spends €600k on James Bond-themed party

The James Bond themed party's guest of honour was the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans
The James Bond themed party's guest of honour was the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans

SWEDEN’S intelligence agency has been left red faced after it emerged that it held a James Bond themed party for its spies, at a cost of more than half a million pounds.

The lavish event included casino tables, an evening dinner, trays of martinis and even a guest of honour from England – the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans.

Bosses at the Swedish intelligence agency have since struggled to explain the extravagant expense, which cost 5.3m Swedish krona (€640,000) and took place during a government austerity drive in which the agency underwent several budget cuts.

General Anders Thornberg, head of the Swedish intelligence service (Sapo), said the event had followed "a unique and extraordinary time" for staff at the organisation.

In 2010, Islamic extremists were plotting to attack Sweden and in December that year a suicide bomb killed one and injured three others.

"We thought that we needed a special gathering for the whole security police team," he told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper, adding: "We'd been subjected to extreme pressure."

General Thornberg also conceding that the body had made things worse by requesting £96,000 worth of VAT refunds after the event.

The agency has since come under scrutiny for its spending habits.

Party organiser Anders Danielsson, the former head of Sapo, apologised for the expenditure, telling Dagens Nyheter: "I take responsibility for everything. If it's wrong, it's wrong … It will be sorted."

Amy Willis

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