Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ, has decided to step down from his role after only two years in the job citing “personal reasons”.
Hannigan was in charge in 2014 when the Snowden revelations stole headlines around the world. Since then, Hannigan oversaw the implementation of a more open approach, despite its secretive nature.
Under Hannigan's leadership the agency began more public engagement, including more public speeches. The National Cyber Security Centre was also founded by the government to give GCHQ's abilities a more public face.
In his resignation letter to foreign secretary Boris Johnson who oversees the agency, Hannigan said: “As you know, I have also initiated the greatest internal change within GCHQ for 30 years, and I feel that we are now well on the way to being fit for the next generation of security challenges to the UK in the digital age. After a good deal of thought I have decided that this is the right time to move on and to allow someone else to lead GCHQ through its next phase.”
Johnson said by reply: “You have led the renewal of some of our most important national security capabilities, which we continue to depend on every day to save lives from terrorism and to protect our interests and values. You also set the groundwork for a major transformation of our cyber-defences, and put GCHQ on a path to meet the challenges of the future with your focus on technology and skills.”
Before taking on the role, Hannigan had been the director general of defence and intelligence in the Foreign Office. He will remain in the role until a new director is appointed.