Former CIA chief joins the board of QinetiQ

George Tenet, the former head of the CIA and the man who reportedly said it was a "slam dunk case" that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, has joined the board of one of Britain's leading defence research companies.

Mr Tenet has been appointed as an independent non-executive director of QinetiQ, the company that apparently inspired the character Q, the boffin who equipped super-spy James Bond for battle in the field.

"I am extremely pleased to welcome George Tenet to QinetiQ. His extraordinary track record and experience in the fields of intelligence and security are particularly relevant as we continue to focus on the US defence and security market," QinetiQ's chairman Sir John Chisholm said.

Mr Tenet, who resigned as Director of Central Intelligence in 2004, said: "I am looking forward with great enthusiasm to working with the QinetiQ team. I am especially interested in the capacity of the company's technologies to meet a number of the challenges faced by our nations' military and intelligence personnel." QinetiQ is partly owned by Carlyle Group, the US private-equity firm whose advisers have included the former British Prime Minister John Major and the former US President George Bush Snr.

QinetiQ grew out of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). The Ministry of Defence retains a 56 per cent share in the company, which has a 25-year contract with the MoD to manage military ranges. The company was publicly listed this year. QinetiQ has spent more than £300m purchasing US companies. This summer its chief executive, Graham Love, said further acquisitions were planned.

Critics of Mr Tenet have blamed him for failing to do more to prevent the 9/11 terror attacks. When he resigned in 2004 he was the second-longest serving CIA director and President George Bush thanked him for his support, saying: "George Tenet did a superb job for America."

Mr Tenet was subsequently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a move that was condemned by many senior Democrats.