MI5 director general Sir Jonathan Evans to step down next month

 

Defence Correspondent

The head of MI5, Sir Jonathan Evans, is to step down next month after being in charge at a time when the Service faced the rising threat of Islamist extremism.

Sir Jonathan’s successor will be announced in the near future to take over from the end of next month. The selection process has been under way for some time and, it is believed, his deputy is a strong contender for the post.

The last four director-generals were chosen from within the Secret Service. The last one to come from outside was Sir Anthony Duff who was appointed at the age of 65 to carry out sweeping reforms within the organisation after scathing criticism by the Security Commission following the conviction on Michael Bettany, a MI5 officer was convicted of trying to pass secrets to the Soviet embassy in London.

Evans, who had joined the Service in 1980 was selected by Duff to join the team carrying out a programme of modernisation.  He was appointed director-general, succeeding Dame Eliza Manningham -Buller,  ten days before the 9/11 attacks and the start of the US led War on Terror and was in charge during the 7/7 attacks in London.

Evans refocused MI5 from the Cold War and Northern Irelan towards the investigation of Islamist terrorism. The Service has had a series of successes in his watch preventing Islamist terrorist attacks in the UK, some of them resulting in successful prosecutions and convictions in high profile trials. Latterly his organisation has been dealing with the fallout of the Arab Spring in which Syria has become the top destination for British Muslims seeking jihad.

However, there were also claims of complicity in the treatment of detainees by the Americans such as Binyam Mohammed - charges the service has strongly denied.

The successor will be announced by the Home Secretary after deliberation by a committee and input from the Prime Minister. Theresa May said of Sir Jonathan :"He has experienced the service evolving over the years and as director general has led the service through particularly challenging times of change and unrest, including the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings.His tireless work helped ensure the delivery of a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games last year."

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