GCHQ Director Hannigan Announces Resignation

GCHQ director Robert Hannigan has resigned his position, citing personal reasons.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Hannigan mentioned that he was “proud of what we have achieved in those years, not least setting up the National Cyber Security Centre and building greater public understanding of our intelligence work”.

“After a good deal of thought I have decided that this is the right time to move on and to allow someone else to lead GCHQ through its next phase,” he said. “I am, like you, a great enthusiast for our history and I think it is right that a new Director should be firmly embedded by our centenary in 2019. I am very committed to GCHQ’s future and will of course be happy to stay in post until you have been able to appoint a successor.”

In particular, Hannigan said that the job had demanded “a great deal of my ever patient and understanding family”, and now was the right time for a change in direction. He took over in 2014 when GCHQ was in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations on state-sponsored surveillance, where it was claimed that GCHQ was one of the Five Eyes collection of surveillance states.

His open letter thanked “the many Ministers I have served over the years, and to thank the Prime Minister and her three predecessors, for the opportunities I have been given”.

GCHQ said that there will be an internal competition within Government to identify candidates to succeed Mr Hannigan, for onward recommendation to the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister. In the meantime Hannigan and the board will continue to oversee all the department’s work.

In a letter back, Johnson thanked Hannigan for his service. “You have led the renewal of some of our most important national security capabilities, which we continue to depend on every day to save lives from terrorism and to protect our interests and values,” he said.

“You also set the groundwork for a major transformation of our cyber defenses, and put GCHQ on a path to meet the challenges of the future with your focus on technology and skills.”

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