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Northumbria appoints former MI5 Director General as Visiting Professor

16th August 2020

Sir Andrew Parker KCB has accepted the role of visiting professor at Northumbria Law School, offering students the opportunity to meet and debate with the former Director General of the UK’s Security Service.

The appointment strengthens Northumbria’s global reputation for research and teaching in disciplines including international criminal justice, counter terrorism, forensics and the interaction between law and digital technology. Sir Andrew retired as Director General of MI5 in April and will take up his visiting Professorship role at Northumbria Law School this Autumn. As well as enhancing the student learning experience, Sir Andrew is also keen to offer his insights and experiences in national security to the wider community by delivering one of Northumbria’s popular public lectures.

Having grown up in Newcastle, Sir Andrew joined MI5 in 1983. Before becoming Director General, he amassed a 37-year career in a wide range of national security and intelligence roles, including postings in the fields of international terrorism, counter espionage, Northern Ireland terrorism, serious and organised crime, protective security and policy. Sir Andrew spent three years on secondment to HM Customs & Excise as Director Intelligence before returning to MI5 in 2002 to join the Board as Director for Northern Ireland terrorism, Protective Security and Serious Crime. He was appointed Director International Terrorism in February 2005 and led MI5's response to the 2005 terrorist attacks in London, overseeing the significant expansion in counter-terrorism capability and the development of MI5's regional network. In 2006, his team played the lead role in the disruption of Al Qaida's attempt to attack multiple airliners with bombs hidden in drinks bottles.

Commenting on his forthcoming role at Northumbria, Sir Andrew said: “As someone who is from the North East I am delighted to be returning to my roots and to have this opportunity to engage with Northumbria’s law students. It will be a learning experience for me – and hopefully offer a beneficial learning experience for them.

“Counter terrorism and counter espionage are becoming progressively more challenging as the nature of threats we face evolves and technologies advance at pace.  Tackling these threats is complex, but whether it’s through tried and tested methods, such as the use of agents as informants , or new ways of using technology, for example for surveillance, judicial oversight and understanding the law will play a crucial role. These are some of the issues I am looking forward to discussing and debating at Northumbria.”

Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, added: “I am delighted to welcome Sir Andrew to the University as a Visiting Professor.  He will further strengthen Northumbria University’s work and reputation in Law and his arrival marks a superb opportunity for our students to engage in discussion and debate.  We also look forward to the wider contribution he will make in the University and to a public lecture that he has kindly agreed to deliver in the near future”.

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