Spy chief Sir Jeremy Fleming to step down as director of GCHQ

Sir Jeremy Fleming will leave his role heading up GCHQ in the summer - Yui Mok/PA
Sir Jeremy Fleming will leave his role heading up GCHQ in the summer - Yui Mok/PA

Sir Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, is to stand down as head of the spy agency in the summer, the Government has announced.

Sir Jeremy, who has been in the role since April 2017, is the 16th director of the UK’s intelligence, cyber and security agency.

In a statement, GCHQ said: “In line with normal practice, there will be an internal Civil Service competition to identify a successor.

“Sir Jeremy and the board will continue to lead and oversee work at GCHQ until the summer.”

During his time in charge, the intelligence chief was knighted in Queen Elizabeth II’s 2021 Birthday Honours and oversaw the organisation’s response to the terror attacks in the UK in 2017, the WannaCry cyber attack and the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury and Amesbury in 2018.

Controversially, he acted as guest editor of the BBC’s Today programme on Dec 29 last year - when he hosted conversations with Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, and Avril Haines, US director of national intelligence, with whom he discussed the benefits of diversity and hiring dyslexics.

During the broadcast, Sir Jeremy described the war in Ukraine as “a battle where information and intelligence are to the fore”.

Hunt for new GCHQ chief

The recruitment process for his successor will be chaired by Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary.

Applications will be invited from people with the necessary experience from the Civil Service and Diplomatic Service, as well as the security agencies and the military.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, will make the final decision on the new appointment.