Anne Keast-Butler to be first female director at GCHQon April 11, 2023 at 11:18 am

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Anne Keast-Butler, who is currently serving as deputy director general at MI5, starts the role in May.

Anne Keast-ButlerImage source, UK Gov

GCHQ has appointed a female director for the first time in its 104-year history.

Anne Keast-Butler, who is currently serving as deputy director general at MI5, will take up the post running the UK’s intelligence service next month.

She will succeed Sir Jeremy Fleming who announced in January he would be stepping down after six years.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described Ms Keast-Butler as the “ideal candidate to lead GCHQ”.

Ms Keast-Butler, who had previously worked for GCHQ as the head of counter-terrorism and serious organised crime, said she was “delighted” to become the organisation’s 17th director.

Mr Cleverly said Ms 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”.

The recruitment process was chaired by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and has been made in agreement with the prime minister.

The intelligence service’s mission to keep the UK safe “is as inspiring today as it was when it was founded more than 100 years ago”, Ms Keast-Butler said.

“In just the last year GCHQ has contributed vital intelligence to shape the West’s response to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine; helped disrupt terrorist plots; and worked tirelessly to tackle the ongoing threat of ransomware, the impact of which costs the UK dearly,” she added.

Ms Keast-Butler also spent part of the last decade working in Whitehall where she helped to launch the national cyber security programme.

She thanked outgoing director Sir Jeremy for his “vision and dedication” and in return he said: “I have 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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