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Robert Hannigan

Robert Hannigan was Director of GCHQ, the UK's largest intelligence and security agency and NSA equivalent, from 2014-17. He was a member of the Prime Minister's National Security Council.


Robert established the National Cyber Security Centre as part of GCHQ in 2016, having been responsible for the UK's first cyber strategy in 2009. He was also responsible for directing, with military colleagues, the national offensive cyber programme. He is a leading authority on cyber security, cyber conflict and the application of technology in national security and writes regularly on cyber issues in the Financial Times and elsewhere. He advises a number of international companies.


Robert spent much of his government career in national security. He was the Prime Minister's Security Adviser at No10 from 2007-10, with a particular focus on Islamist terrorism, and was responsible in the Cabinet Office for the coordination and funding of the UK agencies, MI5, GCHQ and SIS. He chaired the UK Government's interagency committee ('COBR') through numerous crises and was a longstanding member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which he chaired in 2011-12. As Director General for Defence and Intelligence in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, he was the lead adviser on counter-proliferation and other defence policy and intelligence areas. He came to London from Belfast, where he was Tony Blair's senior official on the Northern Ireland peace process, responsible for negotiations with political parties, paramilitaries and with the Irish and US Governments.


Robert is credited with bringing greater openness to the work of GCHQ, not least in an effort to promote cyber skills across the UK; he embarked on a major transformation of the organisation to make it fit for the digital era. Robert caused international controversy on his first day in office in 2014 by criticising Silicon Valley companies in the Financial Times, but he has also spoken at MIT in defence of strong encryption and US technology leadership. He has a particular interest in Bletchley Park and the history of technology, computing and cryptology. He is a member of the UK Government's new Defence Innovation Advisory Panel.


He was awarded a CMG by Queen Elizabeth for services to national security and the US Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal.