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MI5 has taken to recruiting undercover photographers over the Web.

Ideal candidates must be physically fit, have no fear of heights or enclosed spaces, and a clean driving licence. And presumably a knack for getting drunk in South London and losing laptops would also help.

The online ads are a move away from traditional headhunting techniques for the government security service. In the past, chiefs at MI5 have grabbed cub spy staff by trawling the nation's top universities and placing cryptically worded classified ads.

But it has now embraced the digital age, and is hunting for photographers, IT staff, linguists and general technical employees via its Web site.

Successful snapper candidates will be based in London and trained on-the-job. MI5 expects a minimum of five years' experience, resilience, flexibility, good oral and written skills, and decent night vision. For this, photographers can expect a starting salary of £19,782.

Earlier this year the UK security services were plagued with a spate of laptop thefts, with one MI6 spy mislaying state secrets after a night on the razzle in a London tapas bar. ®

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