Michael Hanley

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Person.png Michael Hanley   PowerbaseRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Michael hanley.jpg
Born24 February 1918
Died1 January 2001 (Age 82)
Alma materOxford University/Queen's College
Member ofProject Syndicate

Michael Hanley was a UK spook who became Director General of MI5.

Worthington File

According to a 2009 account by the official MI5 historian Christopher Andrew, Hanley concealed the existence of a file on Prime Minister Harold Wilson, held under the pseudonym 'Norman John Worthington' by removing it from the central index.[1]

An earlier account by David Leigh described the document as the 'Henry Worthington' file:

The Worthington file was not kept in the main registry to be handled by the scores of 'registry queens'. Nor was it kept in the rows of locked 'y-boxes' in the K6 secret registry, along with the identities of agents. It was kept permanently in the safe of Director-General Martin Furnival Jones, a practice which was continued by his successor Michael Hanley.[2]

According to Andrew, Hanley went to even further lengths than his predecessor to keep the file secret:

“In March 1974, the DG instructed that the card referring to the file should be removed from the Registry Central Index, with the result that ‘a look-up on Harold Wilson would therefore be No Trace’.” Access to the file required the personal permission of Sir Michael.[3]

Wilson Plot

Andrew's official history of MI5 rejects claims there was a plot against Wilson during Hanley's tenure.[4]

However, journalist David Leigh records that Wilson called in Hanley in August 1975, saying that he had been told by MI6 chief Maurice Oldfield that there was an unreliable element in MI5.

The present British government has tried to pretend that this conversation never took place. But Penrose and Pincher, two journalists from different political sides, both testify that it did. Penrose tape-recorded Wilson saying that Hanley had confirmed there was a 'problem' with some officers, but that it had all been dealt with by him. Pincher testifies: 'Wilson .. told me personally... that Hanley had replied that he believed this to be true, but that only a handful of officers were concerned.' This seems good enough testimony to concluded that the Prime Minister of Britain was not telling lies...[5]


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  1. MI5 kept file on former PM Wilson, BBC News, 3 October 2009.
  2. David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, 1989, Mandarin, p.109.
  3. Michael Evans, Harold Wilson's KGB contacts made him an MI5 suspect, The Times, 3 October 2009.
  4. Michael Evans, Harold Wilson's KGB contacts made him an MI5 suspect, The Times, 3 October 2009.
  5. David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, Mandarin, 1989, p.250.