Antony Duff

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The Right Honourable
Sir Antony Duff
Allegiance United Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Service MI5
Active 1985–1988
Rank Director-General of MI5
Award(s) Privy Councillor
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

Born (1920-02-25)25 February 1920
Died 13 August 2000(2000-08-13) (aged 80)
Nationality British
Spouse Pauline Sword
Occupation Intelligence officer, Diplomat

Sir Arthur Antony Duff, PC, GCMG, CVO, DSO, DSC (25 February 1920 – 13 August 2000) was a senior British diplomat and Director General of MI5.

Early life and naval service[edit]

Educated at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Duff started his career in the Royal Navy where he was a submarine commander during World War II: he briefly commanded HMS Otway and HMS L23 in 1942 before commanding HMS Stubborn from December 1942 to July 1944.[1]

Diplomatic career[edit]

After the war Duff joined the Diplomatic Service in 1946. He was Counsellor and Head of the Chancery of the United Kingdom Embassy in West Germany from 1962 to 1964, the British Ambassador to Nepal from 1964 to 1965, the Head of the South Asia Department of the Foreign Office from 1965 to 1969, the Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia from 1969 to 1972, and the British Ambassador to Kenya from 1972 to 1975.

Duff was the Deputy Under Secretary for Middle East and Africa from 1975 to 1977 and the Deputy Under Secretary for Defence and Intelligence from 1977 to 1990 including serving concurrently as the Senior Deputy Under Secretary from 1976 to 1979. Having led the British official delegation to the Lancaster House talks, he became Deputy Governor of Southern Rhodesia under Lord Soames from 1979 to 1980.

Cabinet Office and MI5[edit]

Duff was sworn of the Privy Council in 1980, the first diplomat to be so honoured since Sir Alexander Cadogan in 1940. Duff was Deputy Secretary (Intelligence and Security Co-ordinator) at the Cabinet Office with responsibility for security matters from 1980 to 1984. He was then Director General of the Security Service (MI5) from 1985 to 1988.[2]

Later life[edit]

After his retirement Duff worked as a volunteer in a centre for the homeless and was a board member of Homeless Network in London.[3]


  • Andrew, Christopher (2010). Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-102330-4. 
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Guy Clarke
Ambassador to Nepal
Succeeded by
Arthur Kellas
Preceded by
Sir Eric Norris
High Commissioner to Kenya
Succeeded by
Sir Stanley Fingland
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Jones
Director General of MI5
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Walker