Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker—Spy chief quit after cops found abuser’s reference

Issue No. 2643

Robert Hannigan (left)

Robert Hannigan (left) (Pic: Foreign Office/Flickr)


The former boss of spook ­headquarters GCHQ resigned his post after police investigators found that he gave a character reference in support of a paedophile priest who went on to re-offend.

But the government then hid the information. Robert Hannigan stood down in 2017 after less than three years as director of the spy agency, citing “family reasons”. Never believe a briefing about “intellegence” should be a rule for journalists.

It emerged last week that his departure came after the National Crime Agency discovered he had helped a close family friend to avoid a custodial sentence for possessing 174 ­indecent images of children.

The priest, Father Edmund Higgins, was convicted in 2013 but his eight month sentence was suspended after Hannigan provided the character reference.

Five years later, last June, Higgins was jailed for 31 months after being caught boasting online of his sexual interest in babies.

When his house was raided, police found more than 800 illegal images, 201 of which were in the most severe category. Higgins admitted possessing and making child abuse images.

Hannigan, who trained to be a priest before entering the civil service, said that he gave the reference “in good faith” a year before his appointment as director of GCHQ and admitted that his judgment had been “completely wrong”.

When Hannigan announced his resignation in January 2017 government briefings at the time said that he would be caring for sick relatives.

Hannigan is now a ­cybersecurity ­consultant in the private sector, ­including for Hiscox, the insurer.


The Sun hails Barbie as inspirational

The hated Sun newspaper chose to make a fuss of the 60th anniversary of Barbie this week.

It found a handful of women to talk about their love of the doll and dress up as variations of Barbie.

In a two-page spread the Scum celebrated the fact that, even as Barbie turns 60, she “doesn’t have a wrinkle in sight”.

But just in case you got the impression her appearance is the most important thing, the Scum also hailed how she is now “more diverse than ever”.

There are Barbies of different races and size—although most remain white and skinny—but no “wrinkly, grey Barbie”. Heaven forbid.

The quotes collected by the newspaper were meant to be positive but they just reinforced sexism.

One woman explained how she had to wear contact lenses “to enlarge my pupils” to look like Barbie. Another said Barbie is a “really good role model” as she “has houses and cars and boats”.


Government admits to sending soldiers to Syria

The Ministry of Defence has finally confirmed that British troops have taken part in the war in Syria.

This is despite a parliamentary vote in 2015 that only approved airstrikes, and a government assurance that it would “not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations inside Syria”.

The admission came in response to a freedom of information request about the death of an SAS soldier, Sergeant Matt Tonroe, who was killed in Syria last year. “British forces embedded in the armed forces of other nations operate as if they were the host nation’s personnel, under that nation’s chain of command,” the ministry said.

More than two dozen medals have been awarded to British soldiers in the past four years for their “heroism in action” in Syria. At least 65 British soldiers were fighting there this month.


  • Photos of a property on Reichmove Rightmove, which included a Nazi iconography and a mural with the words “vote BNP”, have been removed by the estate agent. Pictures of the property in Didcot, Oxfordshire, showed the giant poster which potrayed former British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin as Adolf Hitler.
  • The Queen has lodged appeals against a “punitive” business rate increase on her land at Balmoral. Changes to the Land Reform Act by the Scottish government removed the exemption for land used for shooting and deer?stalking, meaning the Queen was handed a £16,800 bill.

Brexageddon nonsense 1

An exclusive women’s health club whose members include Princess Eugenie and Pippa Middleton Delevingne has closed.

Bosses at the £5,500-a-year Grace Belgravia have blamed Brexit. In a statement they said, “One of the other serious and continuing consequences of Brexit has also been the loss of some high spending members who have relocated.”

As well as a gym, spa, Turkish bath, restaurant and bar, there was a medical centre run by the Queen’s GP Dr Tim Evans.

Brexageddon nonsense 2

Brexit means thousands of corpses awaiting repatriation to their homelands would pile up across the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to conveniently leaked Cabinet Office projections.

Hundreds of bodies are sent every day to other countries from ports and airports, particularly Heathrow.

A Cabinet Office source claimed one of the key pressures faced during the Icelandic volcanic ash crisis in 2010, when airspace was closed for six days, was a backlog of bodies waiting to be flown home.


The Things They Say

‘Real determination’

Theresa May on EU leaders’ approach to finding a way to make Brexit work

‘Wake up’

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte’s message to May

‘Sleepwalking into a no-deal scenario’

Rutte continues

‘Still more to do’

May on Brexit

‘If this were an application for a job as a chief executive, I would probably win it’

Former Cabinet minister David Davis

‘The Tory party is destroying itself’

Sarah Wollaston, one of three MPs who defected from the Conservative Party

‘Hate going on rumours but is it too late to persuade you to stay? Love and best wishes DC’

Last-minute plea made by former prime minister David Cameron in a bid to stop the Tory defections


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