The Sunday Times has yet another story by David Leppard, which relies on secret briefings by some Whitehall sources or other, regarding Jonathan Evans, the alleged favourite candidate to take over as the new Director General of MI5 the Security Service, when Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller retires in April 2007.
The Sunday Times
December 17, 2006
New MI5 boss is top expert on Al-Qaeda
A SPYMASTER who has tracked Al-Qaeda’s activities in Britain since the organisation first emerged as a threat to this country is frontrunner to be the next head of MI5.
Sources said Jonathan Evans, senior deputy director-general of the security service, was a “racing certainty” to take over from Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, who surprised Whitehall last week by announcing that she would be stepping down early from the top job.
Sources said she had decided to quit in anticipation that she might be asked to resign over blunders concerning last year’s July 7 bombings.
Surely Jonathan Evans must also share any blame, and could even be directly responsible, for any MI5 mistakes in failing to track the July 2005 terrorists attackers ?
Evans is a career spy with a background in fighting terror. He served as head of G branch, MI5’s international terrorism section, making him the agency’s then supremo in dealing with the emerging Al-Qaeda threat. Before that he served as a senior officer in Northern Ireland, helping to spearhead the fight against the IRA.
The Home Office maintained last week that there was nothing unusual about Manningham-Buller’s decision to leave after only four years in the job.
Although we do not always agree with the Home Office, this statement does appear to be true. Dame Eliza's 12 predecessors since World War 2 as Directors General of MI5, have stuck the job out for, on average 5 years, so retiring after 4.5 years is not unusual.
Given that there is bound to be a Cabinet re-shuffle after the May 2007 Local Elections, which are likely to see heavy defeats for the Labour Party, perhaps this has affected the timing, as much as her thirty third anniversary since joining the Security Service.
In her leaving statement she insisted that she had decided in “early 2005” that it would be time to stand down by April 2007. But Whitehall officials said that the announcement had come as a “surprise”.
Insiders and security experts see it as a “pre-emptive strike” linked to forthcoming revelations concerning how much her agency knew about the intentions of the July 7 suicide bombers in the 18 months before the attacks.
The sources said that the agency was bracing itself for detailed disclosures about its intelligence on Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer, the two leading bombers who killed 52 people. The Sunday Times and other media are prevented by court orders from making this evidence public.
The sources said that Manningham-Buller’s decision to step down was unlikely to head off widespread public criticism of the spy agency: “She knows she will be asked to resign over this. She was protected by Charles Clarke (the former home secretary) but some people believe that if things go badly wrong John Reid (his successor) will be happy to slit her throat.”
We ask again, if there were serious, avoidable mistakes regarding the July 2005 attacks, then why should Jonathan Evans be promoted, rather than also having to resign ?
If the Labour Government had any honour or decency, it would be the Home Secretary who resigned, if such mistakes were proven, even if they had happened under one of his predecessors.
The Home Office will this week begin circulating advertisements for her replacement. Reid will make the final choice, expected to be announced by the end of next month. However, security sources are already tipping Evans to take over in April. As deputy, he has had daily responsibility for oversight of the service’s operational work.
Evans is highly respected as a spymaster. A source said: “He is very switched on. He’s dynamic, confident, a natural leader. He’s a gifted communicator. He’s very comfortable with himself and is good with ministers and mixing at the top table. But he is also very personable. He’s good at dealing with staff in a hail-fellow-well-met sort of way.”
Evans is also said to have a formidable intellect: “He grasps the material and can make a quick decision. He has gravitas but he’s also got a very relaxed style.”
What job is this starstruck "source" hoping for under Jonathan Evans ?
Can Evans resist the demands by the NuLabour apparatchiki for ever more secret mass surveillance and snooping on innocent British citizens, or is he a willing co-conspirator ?
So who are the rest of the tiny pool of suitable candidates for the job ?
Is this article actually an attempt to ensure that Jonathan Evans does not get the job of Director General of MI5 ?