"Britain's intelligence services carried out assassinations and did 'some very bad things' during the Cold War, according to the former spy and novelist John Le Carre.
Le Carre - real name David Cornwell - worked for both MI5 and MI6 during the 1950s and 1960s.
His revelations come in the same week that the body of MI6 worker Gareth Williams was discovered in a holdall in his London flat.
But the former secret agent, who is about to have his 22nd book published, insisted that Western intelligence agencies operated very differently from their Soviet Bloc counterparts.
He said: 'Even when quite ruthless operations were being contemplated (in the West) the process of democratic consultation was still relatively intact and decent humanitarian instincts came into play.
'Totalitarian states killed with impunity and no one was held accountable.'"