Spy chiefs knighted in Queen’s Birthday Honours

The UK’s top spy chiefs both receive knighthoods in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, while the man who oversees the security services is given a higher award.

Head of MI5 Andrew Parker is recognised for public service following a 35-year career with the agency during which he led the response to the July 7 2005 London bombings.

According to the official citation, he has overseen the disruption of 27 attack plots since becoming director-general in 2013 and led the response to the wave of five terror atrocities in 2017.

“For me, although bestowed individually, this award recognises from the highest level the tireless work of all those at MI5 who strive every day to keep this country safe. MI5 is its people,” he said.

“Like me, they are passionate about our mission and derive enormous satisfaction from knowing that they regularly save lives and help safeguard our country.

“I am extremely proud to represent them as the public face of the organisation, and in receiving this honour.”

Alex Younger MI6 speech
Alex Younger MI6 speech

Alex Younger, the head of MI6, also receives a knighthood for services to national security.

He has been Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) – a position known as “M” – since November 2014 after a career of more than 20 years as an MI6 officer.

Earlier this year it was reported that the former Army officer was expected to stay in the post beyond his November retirement date in the interest of security stability in the post-Brexit period, which would make him the longest-serving MI6 chief since the 1960s.

Sir Michael Burton, head of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal – the body which keeps an eye on the spies – receives an upgrade on his honour, becoming a GBE.

Sajid Javid meets with chief constables
Sajid Javid meets with chief constables

Top police officers are also well represented on the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list, with Sara Thornton, former chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), made a Dame.

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Ms Thornton, who is a former chief constable of Thames Valley Police, said: “I am absolutely delighted and humbled to receive a DBE for services to policing.

“It was a privilege to serve the public as a police officer for over 30 years, often challenging but always rewarding.

“I have worked with officers and staff from all forces in my national role and never failed to be impressed by their commitment, courage and good humour.

“They protect the public and keep communities safe and it was an honour to lead them.”

Current NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “On behalf of all chiefs, I extend my warm congratulations to the NPCC’s first chair, Sara Thornton – who has received a DBE for her services to policing.

“She has dedicated her career to public service and provided strong leadership during a time of change for our profession.”

Outgoing Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton is knighted, while Durham Police Chief Constable Mike Barton, who has been an outspoken critic of national drugs policy, is awarded a CBE following the announcement of his retirement earlier this year.