Sir Jeremy Fleming to stand down as director of GCHQ | GCHQ

The director of GCHQ is to stand down after almost six years in the role.

Sir Jeremy Fleming will end his tenure in the summer after facing challenges such as the Salisbury nerve agent attack and the potential involvement of Huawei in the UK’s 5G network.

In recent times, the spy chief has spoken out on Vladimir Putin’s “flawed” decision-making during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and warned of the “dangerous” talk of nuclear weapon use during the conflict.

Despite the immediate threat posed by Russia, Fleming previously told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that China was the “real long-term threat” to UK national security – saying the country was “deploying its ideologies in ways that we think are against our national interests”.

During the coronavirus pandemic he also spoke out about the increased threat of cyber-attacks – with GCHQ supporting the health sector as vaccine research was targeted by hackers.

Fleming is the 16th person to head up the UK’s intelligence, cyber and security agency and the recruitment process to find his replacement began on Thursday.

A statement from GCHQ said: “Sir Jeremy Fleming, director GCHQ, has today announced his decision to step down at the end of his tenure later this year.

“In line with normal practice, there will be an internal civil service competition to identify a successor.

“Sir Jeremy and the board will continue to lead and oversee work at GCHQ until the summer.”