FOREIGN SECRETARY James Cleverly has announced Anne Keast-Butler’s appointment to succeed Sir Jeremy Fleming as director of GCHQ. Keast-Butler is currently serving as deputy director general of MI5 and will be the first female to hold the top role at GCHQ.
Sir Jeremy Fleming announced his decision to step down back in January after six years in the role. Keast-Butler will take up her new post in May following a cross-Government recruitment process that was chaired by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
As deputy director general, Keast-Butler is responsible for MI5’s operational, investigative and protective security work. This has included MI5’s – and allies’ – preparation for (and response to) Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Immediately prior to her current role, Keast-Butler was director general for strategy with responsibility for all the enabling functions that support MI5’s operational activities.
Prior to this, Keast-Butler spent two years on secondment to GCHQ as head of counter-terrorism and serious organised crime, and has also spent part of the last decade on secondment in Whitehall. While there, she helped to launch the National Cyber Security Programme. During her 30 years in the national security field, Keast-Butler has held a number of key operational roles in MI5.
Impressive track record
Announcing the appointment, James Cleverly explained: “Anne Keast-Butler has an impressive track record at the heart of the UK’s national security network, helping to counter threats posed by terrorists, cyber criminals and malign foreign powers. Anne is the ideal candidate to lead GCHQ and will use her vast experience to help keep the British public safe.”
Sir Tim Barrow, national security advisor, noted: “I’m glad to welcome Anne Keast-Butler’s appointment. Anne was the exceptional candidate in a talented field. She brings a wealth of experience from across the national security community to the role, has the vision to take GCHQ into the future and will ensure that the organisation continues its vital work of protecting the UK.”
He added: “I’m grateful to Jeremy for his service as director of GCHQ and across a distinguished career in national security. Jeremy's insights and analyses have been hugely valuable through what has been one of the most demanding periods of our recent history.”
Anne Keast-Butler stated: “I’m delighted to be appointed as the seventeenth director of GCHQ. GCHQ’s mission of keeping the UK safe is as inspiring today as it was when the organisation was founded more than 100 years ago. In the last year, GCHQ has contributed vital intelligence to shape the West’s response to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, assisted in disrupting terrorist plots and worked tirelessly to tackle the ongoing threat of ransomware, the impact of which costs the UK dearly.”
Keast-Butler also said: “I was privileged to work in GCHQ a few years ago, so I know that I am once again joining a world-class team of people from diverse backgrounds with a broad range of skills and who share a singular focus on making our country safer, more secure and more prosperous. I’m passionate about continuing to ensure that GCHQ is an organisation in which everyone can perform to their very best.”
Further, Keast-Butler stated: “I’m so grateful for the vision and dedication Sir Jeremy Fleming has shown during his tenure, and the ways in which GCHQ has transformed under his leadership. I look forward to building on this in the months and years to come.”
Outgoing GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming concluded: “Anne’s appointment is fantastic news for the organisation. I’ve worked with Anne for decades and think she is a brilliant choice with deep experience of intelligence and security in today’s technology-driven world.”
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