Paddy Ashdown. Secret Agent.
Paddy Ashdown let Sir Richard Dearlove have it with both barrels on the Today prog.
Clearly furious at Dearlove's decision to attack the Lib Dems on national security policy, the former Lib Dem leader countered that Dearlove was - after Tony Blair - the person most responsible for Britain going to war in Iraq.
It is rather strange that Dearlove risked MI6's impartiality by even getting into politics during a general election.
Paddy was so upset that he referred to his own spying days (in Geneva in the 1970s). He said of Dearlove:
"I actually served in the Secret Intelligence Service with him and I know him as a perfectly nice man. But this is the man who delivered erroneous intelligence on weapons of mass destruction to Tony Blair in the Iraq war."
That explicit reference to SIS stood out a mile. For when Paddy was promoting his autobiography last year, there was this exchange with Andrew Marr:
"There are so many things we could talk about in this. It's a racy book in all sorts of ways. One of the ways it's not racy, however, is there's one chapter, isn't there, where suddenly everything goes a little bit opaque, which is when you're talking about your life as a spy, which I must say I hadn't known much about at all. What I can ask you, I think, is whether you learned things when you trained as a spy, worked as a spy, MI6, that then equipped you for politics?"
"First of all, the chapter is a bit opaque because I made an undertaking when I joined this organisation that I would never either name it or discuss in detail what it said. And when I approached the organisation concerned, they asked me to stick to that promise and I have done so." [My italics]
Have the chaps over the water relaxed their usual conventions? Or did he just drop his guard?