Deadhead who took top intelligence job
Friday, 4 July 2008
Alex Allan was appointed head of the Joint Intelligence Committee
(JIC) last November.
At the time, he was permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice.
He has spent most of his professional life in the Civil Service,
joining from Cambridge University in 1973 after schooling at Harrow.
He is seen as something of an eccentric, and, lacking a background in
intelligence, was a slightly unusual choice for the role.
His selection may have been prompted in part by the desire to
distance the JIC from its recent difficulties.
The committee was at the centre of the political storm over its 2003
dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
On his appointment, headlines referred to his interest in the
Grateful Dead, a 1960s Californian counter-culture band.
Mr Allan runs a website for fans of the group, known as Deadheads.
His website lists the band's records and fan trivia and says his
hobbies are windsurfing and cycling.
During a train strike in the 1980s he windsurfed to work down the
Thames wearing his work suit and a bowler hat and carrying a
briefcase and umbrella.
The stunt backfired when he fell in the river near Big Ben.
After working for the Customs and Excise department on joining the
Civil Service, Mr Allan moved to the Treasury, and was principal
private secretary to Nigel Lawson when he was chancellor.
He was High Commissioner in Australia for two years from 1997 and was
principal private secretary to John Major in Downing Street.
Tony Blair made him his e-envoy, with the task of improving internet
use in the Civil Service.
The job of JIC chairman carries a reported £185,000 salary.
Top intelligence adviser seriously ill
Jul 4, 2008
LONDON (AFP) Britain's top intelligence adviser is seriously ill in
hospital, the government and police said Friday, but dismissed
reports of foul play.
"We can confirm that Alex Allan was taken ill on Monday and
transferred to a London hospital," a Cabinet Office spokeswoman said.
"We cannot discuss his condition as it is a private matter."
Allan, 57, was appointed as head of the Joint Intelligence Committee
(JIC) last November. The JIC provides the prime minister and senior
ministers with the latest assessments from Britain's security services.
The Sun tabloid suggested he may have been poisoned, but unnamed
government sources quoted elsewhere in the British media rejected the
theory out of hand.
The Metropolitan Police said: "He remains in a serious condition.
This is being treated as non-suspicious."
No further details were released.
Allan began his civil service career in 1973, working in Customs and
Excise and the Treasury finance department. From 1992 to 1997 he was
principal private secretary to prime minister John Major and then
briefly Tony Blair.
He has also been Britain's high commissioner (ambassador) to
Australia and the government's so-called "e-envoy", responsible for
ensuring the availability of government services on-line.
Allan took a career break between 2001 and 2004 to live in Western Australia.
His appointment last year raised eyebrows after colourful and
indiscreet details of his personal life, including his address and
late wife's mobile phone number, were revealed on his own website but
Photographs also showed Allan, a fan of cult US band the Grateful
Dead, as a guitar-strumming hippy in the 1960s and wind-surfing up
the River Thames in London during a train strike in the 1980s.