GCHQ director Robert Hannigan announces decision to step down from office

Robert Hannigan

Robert Hannigan

Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ since 2014, has announced his decision to step down once a successor is in place. In an exchange of letters with the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, Hannigan explained that his decision has been made due to personal reasons.

Hannigan stated in the letter to Johnson that he’s proud of what GCHQ has achieved since 2014, not least setting up the National Cyber Security Centre and building greater public understanding of intelligence work. “I’m equally proud of the relentless 24-hour operational effort against terrorism, crime and many other national security threats,” said Hannigan.

Continuing that theme, Hannigan commented: “While this work must remain secret, you will know how many lives have been saved in this country and overseas by the efforts of GCHQ. Underpinning this effort is our world-class technology and, above all, our brilliant people.”

Making his mark on the organisation, Hannigan has been responsible for initiating the greatest internal change within GCHQ for 30 years, and feels that the operation is “now well on the way to being fit for the next generation of security challenges” posed to the UK in the digital age.

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

Hannigan has enjoyed numerous public service roles over the last two decades, encompassing positions within the Cabinet Office and the Foreign Office. “They have all demanded a great deal of my ever-patient and understanding family, and now is the right time for a change in direction.”

Response from the Foreign Secretary

In responding to Hannigan’s resignation, Boris Johnson wrote: “You have led the renewal of some of our most important national security capabilities, which we continue to depend upon every day to save lives from terrorism and to protect our interests and values. You also set the groundwork for a major transformation of our cyber defences, and set GCHQ on a path to meet the challenges of the future with your focus on technology and skills.”

Johnson added: “Following your successful tenure in office, and thanks to the work of thousands of excellent GCHQ staff members, the organisation is well placed to play its part in continuing to protect our nation. I wish you the very best for your future career.”

In line with normal practice, there will now be an internal competition within Government to identify candidates to succeed Hannigan for onward recommendation to the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister Theresa May. In the meantime, the director and the Board at GCHQ will continue to oversee all of the department’s vital work.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

Related Posts