A BUSINESS boss given the task of bringing jobs and investment to the North-East has been revealed as a former MI6 spy.

It was known that Middlesbrough-born Peter Middleton, chairman of the Tees Valley Urban Regeneration Company, worked in intelligence during his 20 years in the Civil Service.

But now for the first time he has reportedly admitted his role with MI6, which led him to share an office with fellow agent Sir Richard Dearlove, now head of the top secret agency.

Mr Middleton, 63, joined MI6 in 1969 after working for the Foreign Office, and was dispatched to Paris in 1978 to gather information about French Communist activity.

While in Paris, he is said to have worked for a short time with Sir Richard, who last week gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry.

A former pupil at St Mary's Sixth Form School, in Middlesbrough, Mr Middleton gained kudos in the business world for helping to turn around the fortunes of both Thomas Cook and Lloyds of London following his departure from MI6 in the 1980s.

He was headhunted to join Lloyds as chief executive and has held a number of high ranking positions in the finance industry, including a directorship with Japanese investment bank Nomura.

Known as a colourful character, he spent five years living as a monk at a monastery in Devon from 1959 to 1963, speaks fluent French and also has a passion for motorbikes and Middlesbrough FC.

Last year he was appointed chairman of the Tees Valley Urban Regeneration Company to attract investment to the region and oversee projects such as Middlehaven and the expansion of Teesside Airport.