New report says revolving door between former spy chiefs and big business ‘endangered British public’

An image of MI6 headquarters
John McEvoy

A new report published by investigative journalism site Declassified UK says a “revolving door” between former British spy chiefs and big business may have put the British public at increased risk of health crises and climate breakdown.

Security strategy

The British government has long been aware that an influenza pandemic poses the “gravest risk” to the population. Officials have also emphasised the security risk presented by climate breakdown. But the Declassified UK report asserts that “the security services have largely ignored health threats” and Britain’s security strategy has disproportionately focused on the threat of cyber-attacks.

At the same time, the exposé says there is a “revolving door” between former British spy chiefs and the cyber security industry. The report finds that numerous “former heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ since 2000 have gone on to work for companies in the cyber and data security sector”. Many have also been employed by oil corporations, widely recognised as one of the leading causes of climate breakdown.

While in the pay of the cyber-security and energy sectors, these former spy chiefs can “lobby their old [intelligence] agencies on behalf of their private interests”, the report says.

“Russia engages in offensive cyber operations, as do Britain and its allies”, the report finds. But it asserts:

the constant evocation of a threat from Russia, often without real evidence and amplified in the media, has helped UK security agencies accrue permissive investigatory powers and larger budgets, directly benefiting the private cyber and arms industry.

Revolving door

Though the ‘revolving door’ between ex-security officials and big business has prompted concerns, the authors found “no evidence” that the former spy chiefs had been restricted from pursuing work with the private security and energy sectors after leaving the British intelligence services.

Meanwhile, the report states that “No intelligence chief” appears to have “ever made money working on the security threats posed by climate change or health pandemics”.

The report comes as the UK coronavirus death toll reaches the worst in Europe.

Featured image via Wikimedia – Paul Buckingham

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