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MI5 veteran is handed the role of new GCHQ chief

By Hayden Smith

A spy chief who led MI5's preparation's for the London Olympics has been named as the new head of GCHQ.

Jeremy Fleming will succeed Robert Hannigan - the man who got Ian Paisley to sit down with Gerry Adams - as director of the agency often referred to as Britain's listening post.

Mr Fleming's appointment was announced yesterday by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said he is a "dedicated public servant whose work over two decades in the intelligence services has helped to keep our country safe".

Congratulating the incoming director, Mr Johnson said the "skill and ingenuity of the UK intelligence community are critical to defending Britain from cyber attacks, terror plots and other activities that threaten us and our allies".

Mr Fleming, a career MI5 officer who is currently deputy director-general at the service, will be in a public-facing role for the first time once he takes up his new post around Easter.

The 49-year-old said: "From managing cyber risks posed by nation states to preventing terror attacks, keeping our children safe online and supporting our Armed Forces, the exceptional men and women of GCHQ operate on the new frontline of global challenges."

He paid tribute to Mr Hannigan, who announced he is to step down after two years as director in January, saying he has "led GCHQ through the transformation of some of our most important national security capabilities".

Mr Hannigan said: "I'm delighted that the Foreign Secretary has appointed Jeremy Fleming to be the new director. I've known Jeremy for many years and he is a good friend and colleague. He comes with deep intelligence experience and expertise."

Mr Hannigan was previously the Northern Ireland Office's political director-general from 2005 to 2007, before heading the security, intelligence and resilience at the Cabinet Office and moving to the Foreign Office in 2010.

He was credited with coming up with a novel compromise solution following the St Andrews Agreement in 2007 by getting Mr Paisley and Mr Adams to sit close together at a diamond-shaped table.

It meant that they could appear together in photos of the historic occasion - without appearing too close.

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