Keast-Butler new UK cyber intelligence head

The UK has named Anne Keast-Butler as the first female director of its intelligence communications agency GCHQ.

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.

GCHQ plays a pivotal role in the fight against cyber-crime.

She succeeds Jeremy Fleming, who is stepping down after a six-year tenure.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who made the appointment, said Keast-Butler had an impressive track record  at the heart of Britain’s national security network. “Anne will  use her vast experience to help keep the British public safe,” he said.

GCHQ is Britain’s main eavesdropping agency and has a close relationship with the US National Security Agency as well as with counterparts in Canada, Australia and New Zealand in a consortium called ‘Five Eyes’.

The intelligence service’s mission to keep the UK safe “is as inspiring today as it was when it was founded more than 100 years ago”, Keast-Butler said.

“In just the last year GCHQ has contributed vital intelligence to shape the West’s response to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine; helped disrupt terrorist plots; and worked tirelessly to tackle the ongoing threat of ransomware, the impact of which costs the UK dearly,” she added.

Ms Keast-Butler, who has had a 30-year career in the national security field, also spent part of the last decade working in Whitehall where she helped to launch the national cyber security programme.