EXCLUSIVE: Theresa May in cover-up row as it emerges GCHQ spy chief who ‘was allowed to resign for family reasons’ actually quit after he helped a paedophile Catholic priest avoid jail
NEW Robert Hannigan (left), who was lauded for his role in striking peace in Northern Ireland, stunned Whitehall with his exit after just two years in charge of GCHQ (inset). The Mail on Sunday has learned he stepped down after the National Crime Agency discovered that he helped a close family friend avoid a custodial sentence for possessing 174 child pornography images. After Mr Hannigan provided a character reference for Father Edmund Higgins (right) at his 2013 trial, the priest’s eight-month sentence was suspended. The judge said Higgins had ‘struggled with his sexuality’. But Higgins went on to reoffend, and during an NCA probe his links to Mr Hannigan were discovered and No 10 was alerted.