Stephen Lander

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Stephen Lander
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Sir Stephen Lander is the former Chair of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.[1]

Lander served for 25 years in the Security Service MI5, serving as Director-General from 1996 to 2002.[2]

Education and Academic Career

Lander was a pupil at Bishop's Stortford College, which had previously produced MI5 officers including Peter Wright and Director-General, Sir Dick White.[3]

Lander took a BA in History at Queen's College, Cambridge. he then took a PH.D, writing a dissertation on the diocese of Chichester in the reformation which won him a post-doctoral post at the Institute of Historical Research in London.[4]

MI5

Lander joined MI5 in 1975.[3]

F5 Section

Lander served in the F5 section in around 1981. He was struck by the caution of senior officers such as Director-General Sir John Jones and his deputy, in contrast to the ambitious younger officers in the Irish Joint Section Belfast station.[5]

B2 Section

Lander was serving as Deputy head of the B2 section in autumn 1985, when he proposed ending the traditional practice of placing new MI5 officers in F2 Section to learn the basics of counter-subversion work. This was strongly opposed by Director F.[3]

Serves under Rimington

At some point during the mid-1980s, Lander served under Stella Rimington, who he described as "far and away" the best assistant director, he ever had.[6]

G5 section

Lander was head of G5 Section in 1990. Christopher Andrew quotes him as writing at this time; "Since 1988, PIRA has come to dominate the exchanges of terrorist intelligence between the security intelligence services in the centre of Western Europe... In all this work, European services work closely with the Security Service.[7]

According to Andrew, Lander had argued for some time that, in dealing with the threat from the Provisional IRA, the Metropolitan Police Special Branch were hampered by "their natural wish to pursue criminals rather than to obtain information" and that "The police should leave us to do the intelligence work while they, in the form of SO13 should do what they are internationally respected for, after-crime investigations."[8]

T5 Section

In 1990, responsibility for Irish counter-terrorism was hived off from G Branch to the new T Branch.[9]

In 1991, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Sir Percy Cradock was persuaded by intelligence co-ordinator Sir Gerry Warner to visit MI5 for a briefing by Lander, then head of T5 section, and Director A, as part of MI5's campaign to take over the lead intelligence role against republicanism from the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.[10]

Director T Branch

Christopher Andrew states that Lander became Director T in February 1992, which would be the same month that Stella Rimington became Director-General.[11] Elsewhere, Andrew contradicts this by stating that Lander had been Director T for two years when Stella Rimington became Director General.[3] Given that he also describes him as T5 in 1991, this would appear to be a mistake.

By this time, T Branch had acquired responsibility for Operation Chiffon, the back channel to the IRA operating through Brendan Duddy, which however, collapsed in acrimony after it was revealed by the Observer in October 1993. Andew cites Lander as stating that without the back channel "there would have been no peace process."[12]

Lander regarded the IRA bombing of the NatWest Tower at Bishopsgate on 24 April 1993 as one of the low points of his career.[12]

MI5 took the lead role against the IRA from the Metropolitan Police on 1 October 1992. According to Andrew, Lander, who was "not known for being a shrinking violet" among his fellow directors, found the negotations with the police, "Just awful, awful, awful" and urged MI5 personnel to be conciliatory towards Special Branch.[13]

Director H Branch

Lander became Director H in 1994.This came at a time of significant job losses within MI5, and he later acknowledged that "our success at handling this painful episode was mixed".[14]

In the wake of the IRA ceasefire, Lander and Rimington were agreed that MI5 must seek new work, either incrementally or overtly, or accept a significant reduction in size. The latter option was considered undesirable, but Lander argued that "history shows that the service can expand effectively from [a] reduced base to meet new threats."[15]

In 1995, there were discussions about increased MI5 work on organized crime, which Lander attributed to the impression made on ministers by MI5's work on the IRA.[16]

Rimington did not initially think of Lander as her natural successor, although by 1995, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, Sir Richard Wilson, had concluded that he was her first choice from his attendance in meetings.[3]

In this role, Lander decided to replace MI5's Unix word-processing system, codenamed GIFTED CHILD, with the Microsoft compatible Linkworks. Andrew characterises this as a "risky but ultimately successful decision."[14]

Director-General

Lander succeeded Rimington as Director-General in April 1996, at a time when the end of the IRA ceasefire two months earlier had dampened fears of a cut in MI5's budget.[16]

Lander's experience in Northern Ireland was a key factor in his appointment. He was the first MI5 Director-General not to have been a Deputy Director General (DDG), and one of the two DDGs had been a rival candidate.[3]

Annie Machon was critical of Lander, claiming he was rude to staff on an early walkabout:

She had spent several hours drafting and writing briefings for management on topics like MI5's relations with the French secret service. 'Oh, I never read briefs', he snapped and moved on.[17]

Peace Process

On 17 June 1996, two days after the IRA bombing of Manchester, Lander recommended to John Major that "the Government should continue with its current strategy", and provide "reassurance to the Provisional leadership about the nature of the talks process which is on offer.[18]

In the aftermath of the anti-IRA operations AIRLINES and TINNITUS, Lander told a lecture at Camberley in October 1996, "Even terrorists regard the UK a hostile and risky environment."[19]

At a meeting on 30 October 1997, Lander told Prime Minister Tony Blair, "some key figures... probably see the ceasefire as a genuine opportunity to reach a settlement. Both intelligence and overt reporting indicate that they are prepared to consider a settlement which stops short of a united Ireland."[20]

Labour Government and the Shayler Affair

When Labour came to power in 1997, Lander gave Blair a list of potential security risks which included Harriet Harman, Joan Ruddock and Ken Livingstone. MI5's interest in Livingstone focused on his links with Sinn Fein and Lander gave Blair a summary of his file.[21]

Following revelations by former MI5 officer David Shayler in 1997, the Attorney-General obtained an injunction, which Lander felt "stopped the media feeding frenzy in its tracks."[22]

When Shayler revealed the existence of an MI5 file on Peter Mandelson, he demanded a meeting with Lander, which took place on 17 Setember 1997, in the presence of Home Secretary Jack Straw. Lander refused to allow Mandelson to read the file, and denied he had been bugged but said he had been on a Communist Party list seen by MI5.[23]

Shayler then wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, claiming that Lander had lied and that Mandelson had been the target of an intercept. Mandelson demanded an explanation, but Lander stuck to his original version of events.[24]

9/11

Lander briefed Tony Blair and took part in COBR meetings at Downing Street on 11 September 2001, in the immediate wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States.[25] Alistair Campbell and Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson were impressed by his performance.[26]

Home Secretary David Blunkett was less of an admirer, complaining that it was almost as if he "talks in riddles, which makes it very difficult to pin him down."[27]

In early 2002, Lander told staff that the government had provided additional funding but lower priority work would have to be reduced until recruitment could catch up.[28]

Lander retired as MI5 Director-General in October 2002.[28]

SOCA

The Guardian reported in 2006 that Lander retained a number of directorships in the security industry following his SOCA appointment:

Sir Stephen Lander, the head of Britain's elite crime-busting squad, is a paid director of a company that has IT contracts with every police force in the UK. He is also on the board of a second firm whose parent company has IT contracts with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Since taking up his post as chairman of the serious organised crime agency in September 2004, Sir Stephen, 58, has remained as a non-executive director of Northgate Information Solutions and StreamShield Networks, with a total remuneration of £60,000. As head of Soca his starting salary was £75,000.[29]

Notes

  1. SOCA's Governance, Serious Organised Crime Agency, accessed 30 June 2009.
  2. Press Association, Blunkett appoints former MI5 Chief, guardian.co.uk,13 August 2004.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.789.
  4. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.561.
  5. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.696.
  6. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.774.
  7. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.748.
  8. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.751.
  9. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.772.
  10. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.773.
  11. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.775.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.783.
  13. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, pp.775-776.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.781.
  15. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.786.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.788.
  17. Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding, Defending the Realm: Inside MI5 and The War on Terrorism, André Deutsch, 2003, p.64.
  18. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.795.
  19. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.797.
  20. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, pp.797-798.
  21. Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding, Defending the Realm: Inside MI5 and The War on Terrorism, André Deutsch, 2003, pp.105-106.
  22. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.793.
  23. Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding, Defending the Realm: Inside MI5 and The War on Terrorism, André Deutsch, 2003, pp.112-113.
  24. Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding, Defending the Realm: Inside MI5 and The War on Terrorism, André Deutsch, 2003, p.113.
  25. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.809.
  26. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.810.
  27. Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.811.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Christopher Andrew, Defence of the Realm, The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.812.
  29. David Pallister, Crime squad chief's links to IT firm are revealed, The Guardian, 12 June 2006.