back to article NCSC's London HQ was chosen because GCHQ spies panicked at the prospect of grubby Shoreditch offices

The National Cyber Security Centre picked its London HQ building not because it was the best or most cost-efficient location – but because the agency "prioritised image over cost", a Parliamentary committee has said. NCSC's HQ in the English capital's Nova South development, a glitzy commercial building near Westminster, was …

  1. Paul Herber Silver badge

    mandarin-friendly Victoria

    'mandarin-friendly Victoria'

    Just who are running GCHQ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: mandarin-friendly Victoria

      "Just who are [sic] running GCHQ?"

      Whitehall mandarins, the same as run the rest of Government.

      I must re-read the Yes Minister books again. There was an episode about trying to move Government out of London where Sir Humphrey listed the essential reasons why the Civil Service needed to be in Central London. Cricket at Lords was one, and I think proximity to Fortnum & Masons another. "We may all be on a diet of Lossiemouth" was a quote I (probably mis-) remember from it.

      Getting put in charge of a nice shiny new Government department, only to find your desk is in Canary Wharf ("simply miles from my club!") would be a fate worse than death for Sir Humphrey.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: mandarin-friendly Victoria

        "I must re-read the Yes Minister books again."

        One or other of them should be a set book for GCSE English. Every year. They're now sufficiently old to be considered classics (which they always were, of course) and far more relevant than the classics Dickens and Jane Austen were in my day.

        BTW Lossiemouth was a warning to Bernard that it might be his diet.

        The first two episodes of YPM were on BBC4 the other evening. It doesn't seem to be part of a plan to rebroadcast the lot.

        1. Paul Herber Silver badge

          Re: mandarin-friendly Victoria

          The year 2020 was mentioned in the episode I saw.

        2. Extreme Aged Parent

          Re: mandarin-friendly Victoria

          Thanks for that info, will watch and enjoy

      2. Nugry Horace

        Re: mandarin-friendly Victoria

        There's another one where Humphrey suggests Hacker's political advisor should be found an office in Walthamstow: "It's a very nice part of Walthamstow." "And Walthamstow is a very nice place... so I gather."

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: mandarin-friendly Victoria

        "Schools" was cited as another reason. Hacker expressed surprise that there were no "schools" in the North and Bernard had to point out that Humphrey probably wasn't counting the state sector.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: mandarin-friendly Victoria

      The Chinese, obviously. Or the Lord of the Tangerines. Or both.

  2. Donk

    Shoreditch would have been a poor choice of location for anyone travelling between Cheltenham and London. From Paddington the nearest they can get on a single tube line would be Moorgate or Liverpool Street, whereas Victoria is a single trip on the Circle or District line.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They knew, being spies, how late the Elizabeth Line would be. That promises a direct higher speed link to Moorage, which as you know is 5mins walk away from Shoreditch.

      Victoria is only a single trip on the Circle line, but wait times can be 10mins + 13mins for the journey - even at peak time. The District line does not run directly from Paddington to Victoria.

      1. Majikthise

        Mornington Crescent!

        A bold move by NCSC to win this year's HM Government inter-departmental MC title.

      2. therealmav

        Wait time from Paddington on the circle line is rubbish. But Bakerloo to Oxford Circus, through the connecting tunnel and you’re on the. Vitoria Line. Much better route

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Has GCHQ heard of the telephone?

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Telephone? But you never know who might be listening in!

  3. K

    being assigned to Canary Wharf

    WTF? My wife's agency got shifted from Victoria to Canary Wharf last year, as it was "Too expensive".

    Talk about double frikkin standards..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: being assigned to Canary Wharf

      Does your wife's agency have the ability to secretly access the personal communications of the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

      No double standards to see here, move along.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: being assigned to Canary Wharf

        For "access" read "edit".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: being assigned to Canary Wharf

      *cough* NHSX *cough*

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: being assigned to Canary Wharf

        "*cough* NHSX *cough*"

        Nasty cough you've got there, is it a new and persistent one? High fever? Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nul point as they are all WFH


    1. TRT Silver badge

      *bad accent*

      Most of vork of agency, done in Moscow.

      1. Kane Silver badge

        "Most of vork of agency, done in Moscow."

        In Russia, vork of agency does you!

    2. Hirotori

      Once the restrictions are removed, most public sectors will return to the office. The public sector is built on a culture of face time.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Does such a Take Make Sense?

    Its location is handy for a straight run down the road to MI6 just over the Thames and Vauxhall Bridge. Was that a consideration re prime office satellite operation location?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Does such a Take Make Sense?

      If only optical fibres could go round corners

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Does such a Take Make Sense?

        But then you couldn't see them. They wouldn't be optical any more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does such a Take Make Sense?

      "Its location is handy for a straight run down the road to MI6"

      Not as handy as the somewhat less spy-friendly ONS offices.

  6. Wolfclaw

    Simple solution, the difference in rent between the two sites should be made up from the spies bonus and pay awards, see how long they like that, just another bunch of top knob mandarins fleecing the public purse !

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      No, dock it from George Osborne's 13 salaries(*) and pension fund.

      (*) Or has he got even more jobs now?

    2. therealmav

      I think you’ll find that they - like all civil servants - would’ve been on one of the many pay freezes at around the time the NCSc was set up. As a civil servant, I’d have been happy to give them my pay rise and bonus as a contribution.

  7. Katy_B

    Arse end of Victoria

    I once tried the new Shake Shack in the next door building. Felt queasy all afternoon from the shockingly high level of heart-stopping fats in the burger and the shake.

    I think of Victoria street as a little bit of 60s Birmingham dropped into London. Beards or no, at least the food is better in Shoreditch. Mien Tay - Yum!

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Arse end of Victoria

      A Brit can't eat American fast food without proper training, and if you want to eat Shake Shack you have to work your way up to it through (slightly) less unhealthy stuff like McDonalds. Good thing you didn't have a Popeyes there or you'd have dropped dead from cardiac arrest on the spot!

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    He also said "lessons will be learned", for what it's worth.

    Pure reflex action.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Yes next time make sure that any statements like this are classified

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Lessons learned

        Do any esteemed readers of the Register have any examples of when a lesson has actually been learned by HMG to the extent that it noticeably changed later decisions or behaviour?

        The only thing I can think of is troops breaking step when the march over a bridge due to an unfortunate event in 1831 crossing Broughton suspension bridge:

        Although that didn't stop the London Millennium bridge needing to be closed and amended shortly after opening due to unfortunate swaying.

        Any other examples?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lessons learned

          When the HMRC IT outsourcing contracts last came up for renewal they weren’t put out for tender again, but were renationalised in an arms-length sort of way into a newly minted wholly government owned company called RCDTS. An expensive lesson that took two decades to learn, but they got there eventually.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Lessons learned

            I went to HMRC to discuss ISO27001 compliance and certification many years ago just after a 'Minister' (a Rt. Hon. J Hacker, MP, I think) had promised that government departments and agencies would all be certified to the standard in a House of Commons speech.

            HMRC had identified 24 core IT systems, and eventually decided to do their own thing, as it were. This was around the time they had got all of our income tax returns typed up by people in India, but HAD DEFINITELY NOT SENT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION TO INDIA AS THE PEOPLE DOING THE TYPING DID NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. At least that is what the then Information Commissioner agreed to.

            (Eat that Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, even YOU couldn't make that one up!)

        2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Lessons learned

          Nope but can underline your own&only example:

          Both ends of Chelsea Bridge have 19C tin signs nailed into them embossedly requiring all troops to break step.

        3. therealmav

          Re: Lessons learned

          Not sure if it counts... but Boris learned to ‘never knowingly tell the truth’ after that time he got away with lying on the side off a bus

      2. Hirotori

        No need to classify. It is standard excuse number 1.

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      'He also said "lessons will be learned", for what it's worth.

      Pure reflex action.'

      Ahh, those will be the lessons about sweeping bullying under the carpet during Anti Bullying Week and when his principal adviser on the ministerial code of conduct resigns after publishing a report into a key minister's bullying behaviour?

      1. Extreme Aged Parent

        re Bullying

        I was bullied several times throughout my school and professional life and see one bully boy excusing another...

  9. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    It sounds as though the choice was made by Osborne rather than a spy. So maybe he should pay.

    I can understand not wanting to work in Canary Wharf. Dire place. Dire people. Only the City is worse.

    The original backstreet location seemed far more appropriate for spies really.

    A posh new building smacks far too much of that riverside location Bond flew a speedboat out of.

    1. monty75

      If they made Osborne pay for all the things he ballsed up in office he’d really need all those jobs he got when he left politics.

  10. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    They have Cyber in their name

    So they can be anywhere. Off to the northern powerhouse with them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They have Cyber in their name

      What northern powerhouse?

      1. You aint sin me, roit

        Re: They have Cyber in their name


        1. TimMaher Silver badge

          Re: They have Cyber in their name

          Watford... and The North.

          1. EricPodeOfCroydon

            Re: They have Cyber in their name

            Hatfield and the North, surely?

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: They have Cyber in their name


          That would focus a few minds in the cabinet, and yet ... why the fuck not?

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: They have Cyber in their name

      Come to think, letting the Cybermen into Canary Wharf was a bad mistake the last time.

  11. FlamingDeath Silver badge


    Don’t forget your nose peg, that place stinks from memory, as soon as I stepped out of the station all I could smell was a mixture of shit and fatbergs

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shoreditch

      Mandarins in Shoreditch as well?

  12. Velv


    In this day and age why does it need to be in London? I'd have thought there would be distinct advantages to it being anywhere that wasn't London.

    I'm guessing the bosses have their favourite bars and restaurants...

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: London?

      Why, oh why, oh why the fuck in London.

      Every time something new like this is set up **IT’S ALWAYS THE FUCK IN London**. London-centric/first as ever.

      By it’s nature IT, comms etc can be anywhere.

      NCSC could have been anywhere from Carlisle to Weymouth, Inverness to Swansea.

      Alight with a good tech University , GCHQ?

      1. I am the liquor

        Re: London?

        Or Cheltenham even.

        I suppose the risk would be that the NCSC bods might get too good at their jobs if they could hob-nob with the opposition in the canteen.

      2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: London?

        For the same reason that public enquiries are always headed by a (sometimes retired) judge*. Keep it all nice and 'in the family'. Don't want any unpredictable outsiders doing anything like actually deciding things rationally. Of course the lawyers reckon they are the best at asking questions, but honestly, Dorothy Hodgkin, Mary Beard, Paul Nurse, Harry Kroto are / were just as good, if not better, and are interested in reality, rather than 'the best argument'.**

        The problem is that senior people in government like to be able to talk in person to senior people. And while some senior people are in London, the others want to be there too. The Northern Powerhouse would only really happen if the House of Commons moved to Barnsley.

        *Like it or not, all senior judges have succeeded and risen through the ranks in a system of justice that still discriminates significantly against non-male, non-white, non-upper or middle class non-CofE brits, and strongly against non-public school and Oxbridge educated elite. The majority of judges were educated in private schools and went to Oxbridge, and are white, male and privileged, Lady Hale notwithstanding.

        **My mother was a lay magistrate ('muppet' in the Police slang). Her training included a stern instruction that they were not there to decide on what had actually happened, but on which was the best argument from the prosecution or the defence.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: London?

      I agree. Even if they do need to be in London, there is plenty of office space in the fringes. TfL moved to North Greenwich a few years back and a few departments have moved to Canary Wharf.

      The departments will always make noise about accessibility and staff retention but it’s just that - noise. People adjust. Some move on. Life goes on

  13. Just an old bloke

    Shoreditch may be a tech hub but it is still a cr@p hole surrounded by very unpleasant parts of London. This does not make it bad. Worked there on a DR site for years, good pubs, decent caffs and real Londoners. This was before the beardie weardies took over and up-hipped it.

  14. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

    Shoreditch would be great...

    ...if the NCSC was happy to get by on 4Mb/sec. Tech was attracted there by the low rents, not the comms infrastructure. Still, just think of all those tattoo parlours they're missing out on.

  15. Efer Brick

    Sounds discriminatory ...

    against Satsumas and Tangerines

  16. Jim Whitaker

    Why does this body have any significant office presence in London at all?

  17. evadnos nibor

    It's near the Star

    Which was (1990s) and maybe still is a decent FS&T pub - can anyone provide more recent info?

    Got to take care of your mental health - a couple of lunchtime ESBs should sustain a spook through reading all the mundane stuff we put in our emails.

    1. Lotaresco

      Re: It's near the Star

      It's near The Star if by "near" you mean "not near". It's handier for Sainsbury's than The Star.

  18. Reneige


    Meanwhile on those muppets' watch Hackney Council was hit by a devastating cyber attack.

  19. CPU

    Lessons learn.... LMAO, this Government learns nothing because it's all one big boys club.

  20. Lotaresco


    NCSC are spies? Yeah right, I'm convinced. Not.

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