Robert Hannigan has been appointed as the new director of the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ). Hannigan replaces Sir Ian Lobban, who will step down this fall.
“I am delighted that Robert Hannigan has been appointed as the next Director of GCHQ. GCHQ’s world-class work is vital to the safety and security of the United Kingdom,” Foreign Secretary William Hague commented.
“As well as his impressive personal qualities, Robert brings to the job a wealth of relevant experience in the fields of , counter-terrorism and international relations. I’d also like to thank Sir Iain Lobban for his consistently strong and professional leadership as Director of GCHQ since 2008,” Hague added.
It’s worth noting that Hannigan is responsible for the UK’s first Cyber Security Strategy. He has also overseen the first National Security Strategy.
He advised the country’s prime minister on counter terrorism, intelligence and issues for a number of years. Hannigan was also the prime minister’s security adviser and head of intelligence, security and resilience in the Cabinet Office from 2007. That’s when he oversaw the National Security Strategy.
He has been the principal adviser to Tony Blair and Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland on the peace process. He has acted as a liaison with the Irish and the . He has also been a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
“It is a privilege to be asked to lead GCHQ, an organisation which is so central to keeping the people of this country safe,” Hannigan said.
He added, “I have great respect for the integrity and professionalism of the staff of GCHQ and for what they have achieved under the outstanding leadership of Iain Lobban. I am excited about the challenges of the coming years with them.”
Over the past period, the GCHQ has come under scrutiny after the world found out that the intelligence agency is involved in all sorts of spying operations. Earlier this month, we have learned that the GCQH, along with its US counterpart, have infiltrated Twitter, Facebook and other platforms in an effort to misinform and conduct propaganda.
In February, news broke that the agency had collected webcam images of millions of Yahoo users between 2008 and at least 2012 as part of a surveillance program dubbed “Optic Nerve.”