Hannigan’s wake
Revolving Doors, Issue 1456
Robert Hannigan, who at first ignored Acoba, making another mockery of the toothless watchdog
THE former director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, ignored rules governing the revolving door between business and industry to take up a job for an American cyber-security firm, working alongside Peter Mandelson and a bunch of former US and Israeli spooks.

Hannigan was director of the UK spy centre until April 2017. The rules say someone who has held such a senior and sensitive post should get approval from the government’s advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba) before accepting a new job. However, according to an Acoba ruling released in September, Hannigan did not seek prior approval for his new role as head of the European advisory board of US firm BlueteamGlobal.

Acoba protested, saying: "The committee would like to register its concern that Mr Hannigan’s appointment with BlueteamGlobal was announced before the committee had the opportunity to provide its advice.” Hannigan only asked Acoba to approve the job after the event, but it refused because “retrospective applications will not normally be accepted” – if a top civil servant has already accepted a job, it can’t look at the issue “fully and freely”.

Pitiful weakness
The case again highlights the pitiful weakness of revolving door regulation (Eyes passim ad nauseam): though Hannigan clearly broke the rules, the only thing Acoba can do is say it is “unwilling to give retrospective advice for this appointment”. It can’t stop him taking the job, nor put any restriction on it.

Hannigan seems to have tried to reassure Acoba that his new job is not so bad because BlueteamGlobal “will not sell services to governments”. But the role shows the increasingly strong links between the banking sector and security services. BlueteamGlobal may boast “world-class experts” from the “cyber intelligence services of the US, Israel and the UK” – but it was founded by former Morgan Stanley executives. It looks like a business designed to let former spooks work for finance and banking sectors.

More top stories in the latest issue:

Tory MPs love the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp – but home secretary Amber Rudd says only terrorists benefit from its security!

Trebles all round in Baku as the government unveils a ‘national risk assessment’ of money-laundering that is just so much hot air.

Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris is hung out to dry over his probe into university teaching on Brexit – but he has one chum in House leader Andrea Leadsom.

Momentum activists in Sheffield do a reverse-ferret over disgraced Labour MP Jared O’Mara – but there’s no disguising to which party faction he belongs.

The less than reassuring background of former RBS banker Fiona-Jane MacGregor, now head troubleshooter at UK Government Investments.

Hertfordshire Police agrees to pay the Eye’s legal costs after its failed attempt to gain access to the magazine’s subscriber lists.

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Private Eye Issue 1455