John Sawers

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Sir John Sawers
KCMG
Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 November 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
David Cameron
Preceded by Sir John Scarlett
Permanent Representative to the United Nations
In office
1 August 2007 – 1 November 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Sir Emyr Jones Parry
Succeeded by Sir Mark Lyall Grant
Director-General for Political Affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
In office
2003–2007
Preceded by Sir Peter Ricketts
Succeeded by Sir Mark Lyall Grant
Ambassador to Egypt
In office
2001–2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Sir Graham Boyce
Succeeded by Derek Plumbly
Personal details
Born 26 July 1955 (age 58)
Warwick, England
Nationality British
Alma mater University of St Andrews
University of Nottingham
Occupation Intelligence officer
Profession Diplomat
Nickname(s) C[1]

Sir Robert John Sawers KCMG (born 26 July 1955), also known as C,[1] is a British diplomat and senior civil servant. He is the current Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).[2] He was previously the British Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 2007 to November 2009.[3][4]

Background[edit]

Born in Warwick,[5] Sawers was brought up in a family of five children in Bath and educated at the City of Bath Boys' School (which became Beechen Cliff School before he left), where he still holds the 440-yard hurdles school record.[6] He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Nottingham, and spent periods at the Universities of St Andrews, Witwatersrand and Harvard. During his time at Nottingham he took a year out of his studies to serve in the students' union committee. His interests include theatre, hiking and sport, especially tennis and cycling. His wife Shelley is a teacher. They have three grown-up children.

Career[edit]

Sawers joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1977.[7] In his early career, Sawers worked in Yemen and Syria, on behalf of MI6.[8][2] He became Political Officer in Damascus in 1982 and then returned to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to take up the roles of Desk Officer in the European Union Department in 1984 and Private Secretary to the Minister of State in 1986.[7]

He was based in Pretoria and then Cape Town in South Africa from 1988 to 1991[7] during the first part of the transition from apartheid.[9] He returned to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office yet again to take up the roles of Head of European Union Presidency Planning Unit in 1991 and Principal Private Secretary to Douglas Hurd in 1993.[7] The period was dominated by war in Bosnia, crises in the Middle East, and the debate in Britain on the European Union.

From 1995 to 1998 he was in the United States and spent a year as an International Fellow at Harvard University[7] and later working at the British Embassy in Washington D. C., where he headed the Foreign and Defence Policy team.[7]

From January 1999 to summer 2001 he was Foreign Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair,[7] dealing with all aspects of Foreign and Defence Policy and working closely with international counterparts.[10] The period included the Kosovo War. He also worked on the Northern Ireland peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. He reviewed the Iraq sanctions policy during this period and issued a document that included consideration of regime change.[11]

He served two years in the Middle East as Ambassador to Egypt from 2001 to 2003,[7] and for three months was the British Government's Special Representative in Baghdad[7] assisting in the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority as the transitional government during the Occupation of Iraq.

In August 2003 Sawers was appointed Director General for Political Affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In this post he advised the Foreign Secretary on political and security issues worldwide and negotiated on behalf of the Foreign Secretary with international partners in the G8, EU and the UN. He was particularly closely involved in policy on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. Sawers headed the British team in the EU-3 negotiations over Iran's nuclear program in 2006,[12] utilising his scientific background on nuclear matters.[13]

In 2007 he became British Permanent Representative to the United Nations.[7]

Sawers was announced as the new chief of the Secret Intelligence Service on 16 June 2009, succeeding Sir John Scarlett. He took up his new appointment in November 2009.[2] In July 2009 his family details were removed from the social networking site Facebook following media interest in the contents.[14][15]

Sawers is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation, which aims to promote international, especially Anglo-American, relations.[16]

On 10 and 16 December 2009 Sawers gave evidence to The Iraq Inquiry.[11][17]

In July 2010 his salary was revealed to the public to be in the range of £160,000 to £169,999.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "UK intelligence chiefs to be quizzed by MPs". BBC News. 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2013-11-07. "Sir John Sawers: Often known as "C". Has spent most of his career in the Foreign Office" 
  2. ^ a b c Michael Evans (June 16, 2009). "Outsider Sir John Sawers appointed new head of MI6". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  3. ^ "Permanent Representative — Sir John Sawers". United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Archived from the original on 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  4. ^ A & C Black (2012). "SAWERS, Sir (Robert) John". Who's Who 2012, online edition. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  5. ^ "The 'James Bond' taking top job at MI6". BBC. 1 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Ex-Bath pupil to head M16". Bath Chronicle. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Beckett: Senior Diplomatic Service Appointments". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2006-12-10. Archived from the original on 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  8. ^ "SIS - The Chief". Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  9. ^ "Sir John Sawers". telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Sir John Sawers". Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Michael Savage (1 February 2010). "Plan to oust Saddam drawn up two years before the invasion". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  12. ^ Kaveh L Afrasiabi (1 Apr 2006). "Iran: Options for a face-saving solution". Asia Times. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  13. ^ Laura Trevelyan (16 June 2009). "New MI6 boss is 'excellent dancer'". BBC. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  14. ^ "MI6 chief's Facebook details cut". BBC News (BBC). 2009-07-05. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  15. ^ Jason Lewis (5 July 2009). "MI6 chief blows his cover as wife's Facebook account reveals family holidays, showbiz friends and links to David Irving". The Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  16. ^ "The Governors". Ditchley Foundation. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "Iraq violence 'may have prompted UK rethink'". BBC News (BBC). 17 December 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  18. ^ "Quango chiefs' salaries revealed". BBC News. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 

Offices held[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Richard Gozney
Principal Private Secretary
to the Foreign Secretary

1993–1995
Succeeded by
Sir William Ehrman
Preceded by
Sir John Holmes
Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs
to the Prime Minister

1999–2001
Succeeded by
Francis Campbell
Preceded by
Sir Graham Boyce
British Ambassador to
Egypt

2001–2003
Succeeded by
Sir Derek Plumbly
Preceded by
Sir Peter Ricketts
Director-General, Political of the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

2003–2007
Succeeded by
Sir Mark Lyall Grant
Preceded by
Sir Emyr Jones Parry
Permanent Representative of the
United Kingdom to the United Nations

2007–2009
Succeeded by
Sir Mark Lyall Grant
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Scarlett
Chief of the SIS
2009–
Incumbent