Career MI5 officer named as new director of GCHQ

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood among those to welcome appointment to top security post

By Richard Johnstone

21 Mar 2017

Jeremy Fleming, a career MI5 officer, has been named the new director of GCHQ, replacing Robert Hannigan who announced his decision to step down in January.

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Foreign secretary Boris Johnson yesterday confirmed the appointment of Fleming, who joined government in 1993 and has been deputy director general of MI5 since 2013.

Johnson said that Fleming was a dedicated public servant whose work over two decades in the intelligence services in areas such as Northern Ireland counter-terrorism, counter-espionage, cyber, and protective security had helped keep the country safe. “I know that he will continue the excellent work of Robert Hannigan in leading this outstanding organisation, when the skill and ingenuity of the UK intelligence community are critical to defending Britain from cyber attacks, terror plots and other activities that threaten us and our allies,” he added.

Fleming will also effectively act as the permanent secretary for GCHQ, which is responsible for intercepting communications for the government and armed forces.

The appointment was welcomed by cabinet secretary and head of the civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood, who said Fleming would bring over 20 years of experience in the intelligence services "to this vital job".

Congratulations Jeremy Fleming on appointment as new Director of @GCHQ bringing 20yrs+ experience of intelligence services to this vital job

— Sir Jeremy Heywood (@HeadUKCivServ) March 20, 2017

Fleming said it was a great privilege to be asked to lead GCHQ, which will celebrate its centenary in 2019. “The organisation has a distinguished past and an increasingly important role to play in keeping Britain safe in the digital age. From managing cyber risks posed by nation states to preventing terror attacks, keeping our children safe online and supporting our armed forces, the exceptional men and women of GCHQ operate on the new frontline of global challenges.”

He paid tribute to Hannigan, who announced in January he would step down for personal reasons, as having led GCHQ through a transformation of its national security capabilities.

“I look forward to building on his legacy and in particular, the role he has played in increasing the transparency of GCHQ’s crucial work and in expanding its cyber mission through the work of the national cyber security centre,” Fleming said.

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