From Wikispooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Group.png GCHQ   Powerbase Twitter WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Government Communications Headquarters logo.svg
Predecessor• MI1b
• NID25
Parent organizationUK
HeadquartersBenhall, Cheltenham
Leaders• Foreign Secretary
• Director of GCHQ
Typeintelligence agency
Subgroups• Composite Signals Organisation
• Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group
• Joint Technical Language Service
• UK National Cyber Security Centre
Interest ofRichard M. Bennett, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, UK/Home Office/Investigatory Powers Tribunal
Exposed byJohn Ashley Berry, Duncan Campbell
The UK equivalent of the NSA, which carries out mass surveillance on a lot of the world's internet traffic

GCHQ is an intelligence agency based in UK, where, according to their Twitter site, "our brightest people bring together intelligence and technology to keep Britain safe."[1]

In May 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that GCHQ’s methods for bulk interception of online communications violated the right to privacy and its regime for collection of data was unlawful.[2]


GCHQ was originally established after World War 1 as the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and was known under that name until 1946. During World War 2 it was located at Bletchley Park.


Full article: JTRIG

“Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics:

(1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and

(2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”
Glenn Greenwald (24 February 2014)  [3]

The Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) is a subgroup of GCHQ. Citing documents released though the Snowden affair, Glenn Greenwald termed the group "extremist", he cited documents showing their planning of deceitful strategies to "discredit a target".[4]


"GCHQ’s 360 degree full spectrum bulk collection data system was constructed in brazen and arrogant defiance of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Britain’s parliament never debated or approved this massive construction programme as it would for any national infrastructure project. Every phone call, no matter the device is recorded, every image, website visited, personal details such as medical and financial records, contacts, everything private to you is no longer private."[5]

Illegal Hacking

In May 2014, Privacy International and seven communications providers filed a complaint with the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal, asserting that GCHQ's hacking activities were proscribed under the UK Computer Misuse Act. Rather than face this legal challenge. In apparent response, on June 6 2014, the UK government introduced the new legislation via the Serious Crime Bill to allow GCHQ, intelligence officers, and the police to hack without criminal liability. It consulted the Ministry of Justice, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Scotland Office, the Northern Ireland Office, GCHQ, the UK police and National Crime Agency, but did not inform Privacy International until after May 3, 2015 when the new law entered into force.[6]

A 2017 legal verdict by Justice Floyd, Justice Sales and Justice Flaux for GCHQ against privacy international decreed the Investigatory Powers Tribunal cannot be held subject to a judicial review under active laws unless the Secretary of State personally intervenes.[7]

Mass Surveillance

Full article: Mass Surveillance

In 2014, the Guardian reported that documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about project Optic Nerve showed that GCHQ recorded millions of images from Yahoo webchats. To avoid overloading their computers while recording streams of so many users simultaneously, they recorded one image every five minutes from the users' feeds.[8]

Tapping Submarine Cables

In 2014, revelations from Edward Snowden revealed how GCHQ acquired taps on internet lines. Whenever GCHQ wanted to tap a new fiber optic cable, they called engineers from BT (codename:REMEDY) to plan where to physically connect to the taps to the cable, and agree how much BT should be paid. GCHQ has Internet data feeds from "more than 18 submarine cables coming into different parts of Britain either direct to GCHQ in Cheltenham or to its remote processing station at Bude in Cornwall"[9].

Information Sharing

Full articles: UKUSA, Echelon

GCHQ routinely shares information with other signatories of the UKUSA agreement, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA. This agreement assists all member countries in circumventing laws about spying on their own citizens.

Commercial espionage

GCHQ intervened to prevent the sixth installment of the Harry Potter book series being leaked on the internet.[10]


Jock Kane, a GCHQ employee for over 25 years with experience in many areas of the organisation[11] uncovered a range of corruption and bad practice, including poor security, and blew the whistle. A senior civil servant from the Home Office, James Waddell compiled a government report about his claims. Although finished in April 1979, this was never published. Margaret Thatcher alleged to Parliament that Kane's allegations were "unfounded"; as a consequence Waddell hinted to a journalist that his report had not concluded that Kane's allegations were without foundation.

A June 1980 episode of the investigative television show, World In Action, titled Mr Kane's Campaign, was dedicated to Kane's revelations and campaign for stricter security at GCHQ in Hong Kong. The programme was modified after having been restricted from being broadcast by the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

Kane wrote a memoir in 1984, GCHQ: The Negative Asset, which was confiscated by Special Branch, and remains unpublished.[12] Undaunted, he wrote a second memoir, The Hidden Depths of Treachery, which was also subsequently halted by an injunction served on the publishers, Transworld Publications, Ltd.[13]

GCHQ internal material leaked by Edward Snowden lists investigative journalists as a threat, alongside "terrorists" and hackers, for reasons that have not been explained.[14]


Robin Ramsey, editor of Lobster Magazine opined in an editorial: "GCHQ works for the Americans. They must do because the British state no longer has the power to use the information GCHQ gathers."[15]


In April 2020 Matt Hancock bypassed scrutiny from UK parliament and gave GCHQ easy access to information from the NHS.[16]

War to "Take Out" Vaccine skeptics

In November 2020, GCHQ was ordered "to wage cyber war on anti-vaccine propaganda" (information a priori defined as false) and to "to take out antivaxers online and on social media". The the focus of the high priority covert operation is taking down hostile "state-linked" content and disrupting the communications of the cyberactors responsible.[17]

Suspicious deaths

In 1983, 25-year-old Stephen Drinkwater, who worked as a clerk at GCHQ, was found dead at his home with a plastic bag over his head.[18]

In 1997 another worker, Nicholas Husband, 46, was found dead at home dressed in a bra and panties, with a plastic bag over his head.[18]

Two years later, Kevin Allen, 31, a language expert at GCHQ, was found dead in his bed at home with a plastic bag over his head and a dust mask over his mouth.[18]


Related Quotations

"Philip Cross"“My view is that Philip Cross probably is a real person, but that he fronts for a group acting under his name. It is undeniably true, in fact the government has boasted, that both the MOD and GCHQ have “cyber-war” ops aiming to defend the “official narrative" against alternative news media, and that is precisely the purpose of the “Philip Cross” operation on Wikipedia. The extreme regularity of output argues against “Philip Cross” being either a one man or volunteer operation. I do not rule out however the possibility he genuinely is just a single extremely obsessed right wing fanatic.”Craig Murray
"Philip Cross"
21 May 2018
Intelligence agency“There is something very wrong indeed with the UK security services, which are most certainly not a force for freedom or justice. That MI6 can be headed by as extreme a figure as Dearlove, underlines the threat that the security services pose to any progressive movement in politics.”Craig Murray11 January 2019


Employees on Wikispooks

John AdyeDirector of GCHQDecember 1989July 1996
Arthur BonsallDirector of GCHQDecember 1973December 1978
Leonard HooperDirector of GCHQDecember 1965December 1973
Iain LobbanDirector of GCHQJuly 200824 October 2014
Peter MarychurchDirector of GCHQDecember 1983December 1989
David OmandPermanent Secretary of the Home Office1 January 19982002
David OmandDirector of GCHQJuly 199631 December 1997
David PepperDirector of GCHQ2003July 2008
Francis RichardsDirector of GCHQJuly 19982003
Kevin TebbitDirector of GCHQ1 January 1998July 1998
Brian ToveyDirector of GCHQDecember 1978December 1983
Gareth WilliamsSpookFound dead, naked, and locked in a sports bag in 2010 - allegedly a suicide


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Dag Hammarskjöld - US, UK and South Africa still withholding crucial informationArticle10 October 2019Ludwig De Braeckeleer“Communications sent from the CX-52 cryptographic machine used by Dag Hammarskjöld appear to have been intercepted by British and United States signals and intelligence agencies as a result of a secret interception and decryption setting that those agencies held that enabled them to intercept surreptitiously.”
Document:GCHQ and Me: My Life Unmasking British EavesdroppersArticle3 August 2015Duncan CampbellNo one at the May 2015 conference on intelligence, security and privacy argued against greater openness. Thanks to Edward Snowden and those who courageously came before, the need for public accountability and review has become unassailable.
Document:Getting it Rightarticle2011Lobster MagazineA realistic appraisal of the functioning and lack of EFFECTIVE political oversight of the UK Secret Intelligence Services
Document:How British journalists are seduced by the Ministry of Defence and spooksArticle28 September 2021Richard Norton-TaylorIn the world of the spooks, few in the media raised questions about the root causes of terror attacks in Britain even when Eliza Manningham-Buller, then head of MI5, warned that the invasion of Iraq would increase the terrorist threat in Britain.
Document:How To Spot A Twitter TrollWikispooks Page2 July 2019Craig MurrayExposure is the simple way to nullify the vast state propaganda programmes on social media
Document:How to spot a Twitter trollblog post2 July 2019Craig MurrayExposure is the simple way to nullify the vast state propaganda programmes on social media
Document:Huawei Hypocrisyblog post7 May 2019Craig MurrayFormer Deputy PM Nick Clegg said GCHQ's ability "to hack anything from handsets to whole networks … needs to be much better understood".
Document:Senior spy appointed to lead UK’s joint biosecurity centreArticle5 June 2020Helen Warrell
Sarah Neville
Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University, says: “The virus is not worried that you’re tracking its progress, it’s not going to change its tactic. Cybersecurity is not your worry with a virus. It’s a biological phenomenon.”
Document:The Massive PSYOP Employed against Ukraine by GCHQ and NSAarticle28 February 2014Wayne MadsenThe rapidly developing internet and electroic communications-based PSYOPS capabilities of US-UK intelligence agencies and their targeted use against the government of the Ukraine
Document:The Woman who nearly Stopped the Wararticle19 March 2008Martin BrightIn January 2003 Katharine Gun, a translator at GCHQ, learned something so outrageous that she sacrificed her career to tell the truth. Martin Bright on a brave deed that should not be forgotten.
Document:UK Intelligence And Security Report, 2003reportJune 2003Richard M. Bennett
Katie Bennett
A compendious summary of the UK Intelligence And Security agencies, including people, events and places.
Document:Whitehall Farcebook review12 October 1989Paul FootJames Rusbridger: "Secrecy turns otherwise rational people into fascistic nutters; secrecy allows untold billions of pounds and endless energies to be wasted in unnecessary intelligence; secrecy pollutes the political process, muzzles what is left of the independent press and makes a mockery of Parliament and elections."
File:Osp8.pdfreportNovember 2005The selection criteria and process for deciding on the selection of Intelligence records for declassification and inclusion in the National Archive
File:Security Services Act 1989.pdflegal documentThe Security Services Act 1989
File:Ukintell0809.pdfreport2008UK Intelligence and Security Committee Annual Report 2007-2008
Many thanks to our Patrons who cover ~2/3 of our hosting bill. Please join them if you can.


  1. https://twitter.com/gchq?lang=en
  2. "GCHQ’s mass data interception violated right to privacy, court rules"
  3. https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/ The Intercept
  4. https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/
  5. http://www.globalresearch.ca/britannia-titanic-uk-surveillance-state-more-suited-to-dictatorship-than-a-democracy/5587268
  6. http://arstechnica.co.uk/tech-policy/2015/05/uk-government-quietly-rewrites-hacking-laws-to-grant-gchq-immunity/
  7. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/24/uk_spy_court_ruled_immune_from_judicial_review_for_now/
  8. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/gchq-nsa-webcam-images-internet-yahoo
  9. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/06/03/revealed_beyond_top_secret_british_intelligence_middleeast_internet_spy_base/
  10. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/britain-s-spy-agency-gchq-worked-to-expose-harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince-leaks-a6977346.html
  11. http://books.google.com/books?id=p62LN9EhsKYC&pg=PA98
  12. http://books.google.com/books?id=p24kPDwzXkUC&pg=PA198
  13. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/10392405/Jock-Kane.html
  14. http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/01/20/how-british-spy-agency-gchq-scooped-up-us-and-uk-journalists-private-emails/
  15. Lobster Magazine, Issue #66
  16. https://www.rt.com/uk/487347-spy-agency-powers-nhs/
  17. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-gchq-cyber-idUSKBN27O0X9
  18. a b c https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mi6-dirty-secrets-why-do-sex-games-819152

External Links