GCHQ appoints first female director in its history

Security and intelligence agency GCHQ has appointed a female director for the first time in its 104-year history.

Anne Keast-Butler, who is currently serving as deputy director general at MI5, will take up the post running the UK’s intelligence service next month.

She will succeed Sir Jeremy Fleming who announced in January he would be stepping down after six years. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described Ms Keast-Butler as the “ideal candidate to lead GCHQ”.

Ms Keast-Butler, who had previously worked for GCHQ as the head of counter-terrorism and serious organised crime, said she was “delighted” to become the organisation’s 17th director.

Mr Cleverly said Ms Keast-Butler “has an impressive track record at the heart of the UK’s national security network, helping to counter threats posed by terrorists, cyber-criminals and malign foreign powers”.

Commenting on the news that GCHQ has appointed its first woman director, CEO of Code First Girls Anna Brailsford said:

“This is a momentous moment for women’s representation. Diversity in cybersecurity is key because we need a real mix of minds to provide solutions to oncoming threats and ensure our own systems are unpredictable. Women who may never have considered a career in codebreaking, intelligence and tech will now see a director that looks like them and think again.

“We’re proud of our existing partnership with GCHQ to increase the number of female code breakers, and today’s news will help accelerate the mission to close the gender gap in the intelligence and tech industries even further.”

Chris Price