Head of GCHQ intellience agency Jeremy Fleming to step down

Sir Jeremy Fleming  is to step down  (PA Archive)
Sir Jeremy Fleming is to step down (PA Archive)

The director of Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency, Sir Jeremy Fleming, will step down later this year.

Sir Jeremy, who has been director of Government Communications Headquarters since April 2017, will continue to lead and oversee work at the agency but will end his tenure the summer.

“In line with normal practice, there will be an internal civil service competition to identify a successor,” the agency said in a statement.

In October, Sir Jeremy used a speech to warn China was using its financial and scientific muscle to manipulate technologies in a manner that risked global security.

On the GCHQ website he is credited with leading “a significant period of growth” at the agency and also championing “a focus on diversity and inclusion”.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly had not immediately commented on Mr Fleming’s departure at the time of writing. It will be the Conservative frontbencher’s job to find a replacement but prime minister Rishi Sunak has the right of veto.

The agency may be under some pressure to appoint a woman as a replacement in the top job with all 16 chiefs since 1919 having been men.

Sir Jeremy joined MI5 in 1993 and rose the ladder before coming to significance after helping with the agency’s response to the terror attacks in July 2005. He then led the service’s preparations ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games before spending four years as deputy director general of MI5.

Sir Jeremy, who was made Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 2017 New Year Honours, rose to the top job at GCHQ where he set about trying to establish the UK as the “safest place to live and do business”. An early project of his tenure was the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre.

While at the agency, Sir Jeremy oversaw a significant period of growth with the development of a base in Manchester. He saw his rank upgraded in the 2021 Birthday Honours when he was made Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.