Revealed: How Britain’s profiteering spymasters ignored the country’s biggest threats like coronavirus—and endangered the public

On the 7th May 2020, Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis report for Declassified UK

There is money and power in identifying Russia and cyber attacks as the key security threats facing Britain — but not in addressing the more important issues of pandemics and climate change. Former UK intelligence chiefs are personally profiting from the ‘revolving door’ between government and business, and the public is paying the price.

  • Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove has earned more than £2-million from a US oil company.
  • Another former MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, has earned £699,000 from oil giant BP since 2015.
  • Sir Iain Lobban, former head of GCHQ, has become director or adviser to 10 private cyber or data security companies since leaving office in 2014; his own cyber consultancy is worth over £1-million.

Almost all of Britain’s former spy chiefs are personally profiting from working for cyber security and energy companies after retiring from the UK’s major intelligence agencies, Declassified UK can reveal.

Since 2000, nine out of 10 former chiefs of MI6, MI5 and GCHQ have taken jobs in the cyber security industry, a sector they promoted while in office as key to defending the UK from the “Russian threat”.

The British government has been told for over a decade that the “gravest risk” to the country is an influenza pandemic, which its National Security Strategy identifies as a “tier one priority risk”. Yet the security services have largely ignored health threats, despite claiming they are guided by the UK’s security strategy.

The burgeoning and profitable cyber industry in the UK, where former spy chiefs gain employment, is now worth over £8-billion. Sir Iain Lobban, who ran GCHQ from 2008 to 2014, has become director or adviser to 10 private cyber or data security companies since leaving office. His own consultancy, Cyberswift Limited, had over £1-million in assets by the end of 2018, four years after he left GCHQ.

The ‘revolving door’ between government and industry is meant to be regulated for conflicts of interest by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). However, Declassified can find no evidence that an intelligence chief has ever had an ACOBA application rejected. This allows them to lobby their old agencies on behalf of their private interests after they leave office.

Read whole article in Declassified UK