GCHQ pavement ads breach council rules in graffiti gaffe

GCHQ hipster recruit shoredtich

I spy: recruitment adverts designed to attract Shoreditch tech-heads. Photograph: James Cook

A recruitment campaign by GCHQ that painted adverts across Shoreditch pavements breaches Hackney Council’s graffiti policy, the Hackney Citizen can reveal.

The security agency GCHQ launched a recruitment drive this month for new talent in the heart of London’s Tech City, renowned for its tech-savvy workers.

James Cook, technology editor at Business Insider Europe, took a photograph on Great Eastern Street of some of the adverts:

The spy agency told the Hackney Citizen the council approved its graffiti campaign back in June.

“GCHQ can confirm that permission was granted by Hackney Borough Council for the clean graffiti campaign,” a spokesperson for the security organisation said.

The council’s graffiti policy demands “express permission” be obtained prior to any painting or marking on its property, including footways.

But the council denies having received a request for the campaign from either GCHQ or any agency acting on its behalf.

“They did not apply for advertising consent to do this,” said a Town Hall spokesperson.

“Neither environmental enforcement, communications nor regeneration and planning – no one in the council was asked for permission.”

The council said it would look to fine the responsible party should it find them in breach of its graffiti policy.

A Town Hall spokesperson said: “If we get evidence that any of these adverts are definitely in Hackney we will take enforcement action, which can include forcing the company to clean it up and fining them.

“This is something we have done in the past and will continue to do.”



Real news stories don't come cheap.

The Hackney Citizen is the borough’s only independent newspaper, and is now in its tenth year.

Our hard-hitting journalism has uncovered fire safety failures in tower blocks, revealed plans to criminalise rough sleepers, exposed dodgy letting agents and reported on many other issues of public concern.

We’ve always been totally free in print and online, but advertising revenues are falling.

That’s why we’re asking for your help.

Hackney Citizen’s high quality journalism is produced by a small team on a shoestring budget, so we’re asking you to make a monthly contribution to fund our work, enabling the paper to survive and thrive.

Support the Hackney Citizen from as little as £2 per month.

Can you spare £4 a month or more? Get the paper delivered direct to your door each month! (UK only)