Ken McCallum

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Person.png Ken McCallum  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Ken mccallum.png
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
Director General of MI5 since 2020.

Employment.png Director General of MI5

In office
30 April 2020 - Present

Employment.png Deputy Director General of MI5

In office
April 2017 - April 2020

Kenneth "Ken" Douglas McCallum, having previously been Deputy Director General of MI5, was announced in March 2020 by Home Secretary Priti Patel as Director General designate of MI5 to succeed Sir Andrew Parker at the end of April 2020.[1]

The BBC reported on his appointment that "aside from the heightened threat from Russia, Ken McCallum has to oversee a complex brief, including the increasing risk of rightwing terror, the continued threat from Islamist terrorism, the integration of Chinese technology into UK national infrastructure and the geopolitical changes caused by increasing US isolationism. He will also manage the UK's new security partnerships with European allies post-Brexit and help deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic."[2]

Official Career

Ken McCallum grew up in Glasgow, and holds a degree in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow.

Ken McCallum is an MI5 officer with almost 25 years of experience across the full spectrum of the organisation's national security and intelligence work He focused on Northern Ireland-related terrorism, with his work contributing to the peace process remaining a career highlight. Senior operational roles in countering Islamist extremist terrorism followed, and a period leading on cyber security, where he expanded MI5 engagement with the private sector.[citation needed]


In 2012, Ken McCallum took charge of all "counter-terrorism" investigations and risk management in the run-up to, and during, the London Olympics. After the Games, he embarked on a secondment to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now BEIS) leading on digital issues, building his experience beyond the national security domain. Following his return to MI5 he retained links to the wider public sector, serving for three years as a Non-Executive Director on the board of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

In April 2015, McCallum took on the role of Director General Strategy, focusing on shaping new legislation and further strengthening MI5's partnerships with SIS and GCHQ.[3]

Deputy DG

Ken McCallum was appointed Deputy Director General of MI5 in April 2017, with responsibility for all of MI5's operational and investigative work.

McCallum led MI5's strategic response to the 2017 terrorist attacks (2017 Westminster attack, 2017 Manchester bombing and the June 2017 London attack) setting up the joint MI5 and Police 'Operational Improvement Review', as overseen by Lord Anderson QC, and then driving forward the implementation of its recommendations. Important changes included new ways of working with traditional and new partners, and MI5 taking on responsibilities for detecting and countering Right-wing terrorism.

In 2018, McCallum took charge of the MI5 response to the Sergei Skripal affair, within the unprecedented UK-led international response from intelligence allies. In the aftermath of the attack, McCallum led the attribution of the poisoning to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, and the identification of the suspects.[4] He then worked with the government in implementing an international expulsion of Russian diplomats.[5]


In September 2021, after the Afghanistan/2021 withdrawal, he warned that the UK will face a 9/11 style attack.[6]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Probable Western Responsibility for Skripal Poisoningblog post28 April 2018Craig Murray
Clive Ponting
Those of us who have been in the belly of the beast and have worked closely with the intelligence services, really do know what they and the British government are capable of. They are not “white knights”.


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