Ken McCallum named as new head of MI5

McCallum, currently deputy director general of the Security Service, will take over from Sir Andrew Parker at the end of April


By Suzannah.Brecknell

31 Mar 2020


Ken McCallum has been appointed as director general of the Security Service MI5, home Sscretary Priti Patel has announced.

McCallum has worked for MI5 for almost 25 years and is currently serving as deputy director general. He will take over the top job at the end of April when the current chief, Sir Andrew Parker, retires.

As deputy director general, a post he took up 2017, McCallum oversaw the MI5’s strategic response to the 2017 terror attacks, and led its operational response to the murder of Sergei Skripal


He spent the first ten years of his career working on Northern Ireland-related terrorism, and a biography published on the MI5 website says his “work contributing to the peace process [remains] a career highlight”. He subsequently worked on both Isalmist extremist terrorism and cyber security.

After leading all counter terror investigations in the run up to, and during, the 2012 London Olympics, McCallum was seconded to the business department where he lead on digital issues. He has also served as a non-executive director for the Nuclear Decomissioning Authority.

The MI5 biography states that one of McCallum’s “current priorities is enabling MI5 to seize the fast-moving opportunities provided by technology, including machine learning.” It adds that his “out-of-work life is dominated by trying to be an active father” but when “when work/parenting allows, he enjoys hiking in mountains.”

In a statement, McCallum said: “MI5’s purpose is hugely motivating. Our people – with our partners – strive to keep the country safe, and they always want to go the extra mile.

"Having devoted my working life to that team effort, it is a huge privilege now to be asked to lead it as director general.”

Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said that McCallum’s “leadership will be crucial to ensuring that the Security Service remains agile and creative in the face of new and emerging threats to our security.”

 “I know that he will be a fantastic director general and I look forward to working with him.”

Sedwill also thanked Sir Andrew for “many years of distinguished leadership of the women and men of the Service, and his dedication to keeping our citizens safe and our country secure.”

Home secretary Priti Patel said: “Since becoming home secretary, I have worked closely with Ken and I’m delighted to appoint him as the new director general.

“We are facing unprecedented national security threats and I’m confident that his experience and vision will allow the UK to meet those challenges head on.

"I also would like to pay tribute to Sir Andrew Parker, who has led the service through a very challenging period which saw the threat to the UK evolve rapidly. He has served his country with dedication and commitment and I thank him for his efforts."

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