THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced that the deputy director general of MI5, Jeremy Fleming, will become the new head of GCHQ.
The appointment was announced by foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who said Fleming was the ideal man for the job given his long stint in public office dealing with matters of national security, which started during his time as an MI5 officer in 1993.
"Jeremy Fleming is a dedicated public servant whose work over two decades in the intelligence services has helped to keep our country safe," Johnson said.
"I know that he will continue the excellent work of [former GCHQ director] Robert Hannigan in leading this outstanding organisation, when the skill and ingenuity of the UK intelligence community are critical to defending Britain from cyber attacks, terror plots and other activities that threaten us and our allies."
Fleming himself said it was a great privilege to take on the role and said he recognised how important the organisation has been, and will continue to be, in protecting the UK.
"The organisation has a distinguished past and an increasingly important role to play in keeping Britain safe in the digital age," he said.
"From managing cyber risks posed by nation states to preventing terror attacks, keeping our children safe online and supporting our Armed Forces, the exceptional men and women of GCHQ operate on the new frontline of global challenges."
Fleming certainly is joining at an interesting time. Not only will he join at a time of unprecedented cyber conflict - which has seen the recent opening of the National Cyber Security Centre - he will also have to handle the fallout from president Trump's and the White House's claims the organisation tapped his phones during the presidential election in 2016.
The organisation last week issued a strongly-worded statement denying it had undertaken any such activity, a rare move for such a secretive unit of government.
The White House has apparently said it will not repeat the claim, but the fact two such long-standing allies have been forced into this position because of the president's questionable relationship with the truth is not an ideal starting position for the new GCHQ leader.
However, he will no doubt be confident that the decades-long partnership between US and UK intelligence agencies is strong enough to withstand assaults like that from Donald Trump and his staff. µ
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