MI7, the British Military Intelligence Section 7 (now defunct), was a department of the British Directorate of Military Intelligence. Part of the War Office, MI7 was set up to work in the fields of propaganda and censorship.
In February 1915 a Directorate of Special Intelligence was formed which in turn gave rise to MO7, a branch of the War Office concerned with press publicity; it was MO7 which gave the first war correspondents permission to visit the Western Front in May 1915, ensuring that the military authorities would maintain control over the correspondents' work. In January 1916, as part of a reorganisation of the Imperial General Staff, a new Directorate of Military Intelligence was created and MO7 became MI7.
Military Intelligence Section 7 (MI7) was organised in a series of sub-sections distinguished by lower-case letters in brackets. The precise duties of these sub-sections varied with time, but may be roughly summarised as follows.
- MI7 (a) - censorship.
- MI7 (b) - foreign and domestic propaganda, including press releases concerning army matters.
- MI7 (c) - translation and (from 1917) regulation of foreign visitors.
- MI7 (d) - foreign press propaganda and review (part of subsection (b) until subsection (d) was formed in late 1916).
As a branch of military intelligence, the service maintained strict security, and paperwork was routinely destroyed. When MI7 closed, a further large-scale destruction of papers was organised. However, a large number of documents from MI7 (b) were preserved by an operative of that branch, Captain James Lloyd, and these were discovered after his death, when his property was being sorted and cleared in 2012. The archive consisted of two broad categories of articles written between 1917 and 1918 - the "Tales of the VC" some 90 or so stories of individual heroism by men from all over the Empire can be seen on the websites of the National Library of Wales ()and on the Europeana 1914-18 website (http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en). Samples of the remaining 60 or so articles can be found in "MI7b-the discovery of a lost propaganda archive from the Great War" which can be downloaded from the internet.
The name MI7 has often been used in fiction as the title for an intelligence agency or organisation similar to the actual MI5 or MI6, with the film makers apparently unaware that the organisation actually existed.
In the Bond film Dr. No (1962) there are two explicit references to James Bond working for MI6; strangely one of these (where the words are spoken by 'M') has been dubbed to "MI7", although the speaker's lips clearly say "MI6".
In St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, former Head Girl Kelly Jones now works as an M.I.7 agent.
Confusion concerning MI7 today
The repeated suggestion that MI7 continues to operate in the United Kingdom (with little or no supporting evidence) is likely to arise from two popular misunderstandings.
Firstly, the various references to "MI7" in fiction (see above), which some people have taken as fact.
Secondly, many websites make explicit reference to MI7's continued operation, usually citing it as a secret Government department for investigation of the occult or supernatural. Such websites tend to be the work either of conspiracy theorists or on-line games players who have constructed such elaborate website material that the casual viewer may not always be able to distinguish fact from fiction.
- See history of subsection (b) in a PDF file here.
- See BBC news report here.
- The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) records the fact twice on this page, as a technical and a continuity fault.
- CED Magic website here records the dubbing in detail, with a still from the incident on the film. Multiple additional sources are available on-line.
- An example of the type of site referenced.
- A further example of the same genre.
- "HISTORY OF M.I. 7 (b) (MARCH, 1916 - DECEMBER, 1918)". 1920. Retrieved 2008-08-20.