Ex-national security and anti-terror chiefs approved for consulting gigs with BT and Deloitte

Appointments watchdog signs off roles for Dominic Fortescue and Tom Hurd

Credit: Mohamed Hassan/PxHere     Image has been cropped

Two former civil servants who were, until recently, among the country’s most senior national security and anti-terrorism officials have been approved to take on consulting work for BT and Deloitte.

Newly published rulings from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments reveal that the government anti-corruption watchdog recently approved private-sector roles for Dominic Fortescue and Tom Hurd, who last year departed their respective posts as government chief security officer and director general of the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism.  

Fortescue had applied to the committee seeking approval for what he described as a “short-term piece of work leading a review for BT Group”.

In its decision, the committee noted that his prior role as government’s security chief sat within the Cabinet Office, while telecoms policy and regulation is the remit of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“The Cabinet Office confirmed there was one specific contract for work on an IT system in June 2021, for which [Fortescue] was not responsible,” the decision document said. “In the circumstances, the committee considered there is no reason it might be perceived this short-term appointment is a reward for decisions made or actions taken from his time in office.”

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Acoba found there were some risks “associated with his access to information in office, including some sensitive security matters… [and with his] network gained in government service which could lead to the perception his influence might assist BT unfairly”. 

But, in both cases, these risks were considered to be “limited”.

Fortescue was thus approved to take on the appointment to lead the review – subject to three standard conditions: that he must not use or disclose “any privileged information” gained during his time in government; that he cannot conduct lobbying on behalf of BT; and that he cannot advise the telecoms firm on any bids or contracts for government work.

Tom Hurd, who until last year led the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism within the Home Office, sought the committee’s approval to conduct consultancy work for the operations in the Middle East of professional services firm Deloitte.

The former counter-terror chief told Acoba that the independent consultancy he set up after leaving government exists to help “private companies in their approach to risk management and analysis, in particular how to derive insight from data and act on it”.

The committee advised Hurd that “the Home Office confirmed there is only one contract related to your former department – you had no involvement in that and it has now expired”.

But risks were identified elsewhere.

“Given the focus of the role – security in the Middle East – the committee considered there remained risks associated with your network of contacts within the UK government and internationally, as the former director general at the OSCT,” the decision notice said. “The committee also noted there may be potential risks associated with the unknown nature of DME’s clients. Specifically, should there be a client or piece of work you are asked to advise on where you had specific insight or influence as a result of your time in office. This is heightened given the broad area of work proposed with DME which could certainly overlap with matters you had direct responsibility for or advised on in government service.”

Acoba approved Hurd to take on the Deloitte engagement subject to the standard conditions that prohibit the use of privileged information, lobbying on behalf of firm, or assisting with any its bids or ongoing contracts with the government.

An additional stipulation was added in this case that, until a period of two years has passed since his last day in the employ of the Home Office, Hurd must not “advise [Deloitte] or its clients on work with regard to any policy or operational matter you had specific involvement or responsibility for… or where you had a relationship with the company or organisation during your time as director general at the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism”.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this includes the UK’s approach to counter-terrorism in the Middle East,” the advice added.


Sam Trendall

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