Dame Stella is known to billions of people worldwide as the role model for the character “M” played by Dame Judi Dench in the James Bond 007 films. It is rumoured that her own personal style, and choice of clothes, influenced the film character of “M”… but no one will ever know for sure.

Born in 1935, Stella Rimington was educated at Nottingham High School for Girls and Edinburgh University. After gaining a postgraduate diploma in the Study of Records and the Administration of Archives at Liverpool University, she worked in the Worcester County Record Office and the India Office Library, London. 


In 1965 she accompanied her husband on a posting to the British High Commission in New Delhi. Whilst there, she worked part-time for the Security Service, which had an office in New Delhi at that time.

Returning to the UK in 1969, she joined the Security Service as a full-time employee. She worked in all the main fields of the Service's responsibilities - counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism – and became Director of all three branches. 

Appointed Director General of MI5 in 1992, Stella Rimington was the first woman to take the post and the first Director General to be publicly named in the Government’s new spirit of open-ness. She retired in April 1996. 


Made a Dame Commander of the Bath in the 1996 New Year Honours List, Dame Stella has Honorary Degrees from Universities including Nottingham, Warwick, Lucy Cavendish Cambridge and Exeter.  

Previously a Non-Executive Director of Marks & Spencer Plc, BG Group Plc, and an Associate Director of CPS, she was Chairman of the Institute of Cancer Research and Trustee of the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust. Until 2001, Dame Stella was Honorary Air Commodore of 7006 (VR) Intelligence Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and a Trustee of the RAF Museum. 

Books by Dame Stella Rimington:

Open Secret – her autobiography (published in 2001).  

Best-selling thrillers, featuring MI5’s Liz Carlyle: At Risk, Secret Asset, Illegal Action, Dead Line, Present Danger, Rip Tide, The Geneva Trap, Close Call, Breaking Cover, and The Moscow Sleepers (2018).

Tom Cronk