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Christopher Ewart-Biggs, CMG, OBE (1921 – 21 July 1976) was the British Ambassador to Ireland, an author and senior Foreign Office liaison officer with MI6. He was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Sandyford, Dublin.
His widow, Jane Ewart-Biggs (died 8 October 1992), became a Life Peer in the House of Lords, campaigned to improve Anglo-Irish relations and established the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize for literature.
Christopher Thomas Ewart Biggs was born in the Thanet district of Kent to Captain Henry Ewart Biggs of the Royal Engineers and his wife Mollie Brice. He was educated at Wellington College and University College, Oxford and served in the Royal West Kent Regiment of the British Army during the Second World War. At the battle of El Alamein in 1942 he lost his right eye and as a result he wore a smoked-glass monocle over an artificial eye. Also, as a British consul in Algiers in 1961 (before the French withdrawal), he had been a potential target for assassination by diehard French colonialists.
Ewart-Biggs was 55 when he was killed by a land mine planted by the IRA on 21 July 1976. He had been taking precautions to avoid such an incident since coming to Dublin only two weeks before the incident. Among the measures he employed was to vary his route many times a week but, at a vulnerable spot on the road connecting his residence to the main road, there was only a choice between left or right. He chose right, and approximately 150 yards from the residence, hit a land mine that was later judged to contain hundreds of pounds of explosives. Ewart-Biggs and fellow passenger and civil servant Judith Cooke (aged 26) were killed. Driver Brian O'Driscoll and third passenger Brian Cubbon (aged 57, the highest-ranking civil servant in Northern Ireland at the time) were injured.
The Irish state launched a manhunt involving 4,000 Gardaí and 2,000 soldiers. Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave declared that "this atrocity fills all decent Irish people with a sense of shame." In London, Prime Minister James Callaghan condemned the assassins as a "common enemy whom we must destroy or be destroyed by". Thirteen suspected members of the IRA were arrested during raids as the British and Irish governments attempted to apprehend the criminals, but no one was ever convicted of the killings. In 2006 released Foreign and Commonwealth Office files revealed that Irish police had matched a partial fingerprint at the scene to Martin Taylor, an IRA member suspected of gun running from the USA.
|UK Ambassador to Ireland
Walter Robert Haydon