Monday, November 19, 2007

Grateful Dead fan is security chief

Source: Guardian Unlimited

A Whitehall high flyer chosen by Gordon Brown to oversee the security and intelligence agencies is a cycling fan with a passion for the Grateful Dead.

Alex Allen, 56, was yesterday made chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, responsible for assessing reports from MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

But his private interests are available for all to view on his personal website, with photos of him windsurfing to work up the Thames, in a bowler hat and pinstripe suit, during a transport strike in the 1980s. The site shows Allen sporting a skin-tight cycling outfit, playing guitar, and celebrating his 50th birthday with family and friends.

Extolling his favourite band, he says: "I first saw the Dead in the mud at Bickershawe in 1972 and was so knocked out ... I have been a Deadhead ever since." Beside listing computers and bridge as among his interests, the site reveals his west London address as well as home and mobile phone numbers.

Allen, currently the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, was the principal private secretary to John Major and Tony Blair (he says, "It's the same job as Bernard in Yes Prime Minister for those who watched that!") before becoming British high commissioner for Australia.

The JIC became notorious in the controversy over the Iraq weapons dossier published in the build-up to the Iraq war. The resulting Butler inquiry said the JIC chairman should be "someone with experience of dealing with ministers in a very senior role and who is demonstrably beyond influence and thus probably in his last post".

Source: Guardian Unlimited
Date Published: November 16, 2007

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