GCHQ put ‘image before cost’ with new building

By Gordon Corera
Security correspondent

Publishedduration1 hour agoimage copyrightGCHQimage captionNova South was selected as the new home for the UK's cyber security effort

The intelligence agency GCHQ – and former Chancellor George Osborne – have been heavily criticised for emphasising "image rather than cost" in the choice of a new headquarters for the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

A report from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) described the 2016 process as "unacceptable".

The committee said Mr Osborne over-ruled the government's national security adviser's very strong advice to reject Nova South, near Westminster, in central London.

The shortfall of money that resulted – almost £3m per year – has had to be taken out of GCHQ's budget and could have been used for operations, the committee added.

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In November 2015, Mr Osborne announced plans for what would become the NCSC, which was launched the following October.

Formed out of GCHQ, its mission was to protect the country in cyberspace.

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