1 September 1921|
Surrey, England, UK
|Died||24 March 2010(aged 88)|
|Title||Baroness Park of Monmouth|
|Known for||SIS officer|
Daphne Margaret Sybil Désirée Park, Baroness Park of Monmouth CMG, OBE, FRSA (1 September 1921 – 24 March 2010) was a British spy. During her career she was a clandestine senior controller in MI6 in Hanoi, Moscow, the Congo, and Zambia.
Early life and education
Daphne Park was born to John Alexander and Doreen Gwynneth Park. Her father had contracted tuberculosis as a young man and was sent to Africa for rest and recuperation. He moved from South Africa to Nyasaland (now Malawi), and served as an intelligence officer during World War I. Thereafter he worked as a tobacco farmer and as an alluvial gold prospector in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). When Daphne was six months old she travelled to Africa with her mother to join him there. Park had a brother, David who died aged 14.
When she was 11, Daphne Park returned to England and was educated at Rosa Bassett School in Streatham and at Somerville College, Oxford, where she graduated with a B.A. in modern languages in 1943. She was further educated at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she received a Certificate of Competent Knowledge in Russian in 1952.
On graduating in 1943, Park turned down jobs in the Treasury and the Foreign Office to make a direct contribution to the war effort. She then joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). During the selection process for FANY, she came to the attention of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), due to her understanding of ciphers. Park was promoted to the rank of sergeant and trained groups of operatives for Operation Jedburgh whose task was to support the Resistance in Europe. In 1945 Park went to work as a briefing and dispatching officer in North Africa. On her return in 1946 she was sent to Vienna to establish an office for the Field Intelligence Agency Technical (FIAT), a unit of the Allied Commission responsible for tracking down former Axis scientists.
In 1948, she was attached to the Foreign Office, while actually working for the Secret Intelligence Service (aka SIS/MI6), becoming Third Secretary of the United Kingdom's delegation to NATO in 1952. She then became Second Secretary of the British Embassy in Moscow between 1954 and 1956. From 1959 to 1961 she was Consul and First Secretary to Leopoldville. David Lea, Baron Lea of Crondall, claimed that, shortly before she died, she privately acknowledged organising the assassination of Patrice Lumumba during this period. She rose further through the ranks of the Foreign Office to be High Commissioner to Lusaka from 1964 to 1967 and then Consul-General to Hanoi from 1969 to 1970. In 1972 she was named as Chargé d'Affaires of the British Embassy of Ulan Bator for several months. From 1973 onwards she served in the Foreign Office then retired two years early in 1979 to become Principal of Somerville College, Oxford.
- 1971–72, Honourable Research Fellow at the University of Kent
- 1980–89, Principal of Somerville College
- 1982–87, Governor of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
- 1983–89, Member, British Library Board
- 1984–90, Chairman, Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Aid
- 1985–89, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford
- 1989–90, director, Zoo Development Trust
- 1989–94, Chairman, Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England
- 1991–92, Trustee, Royal Armouries Development Trust
- 1994–96, Member, Forum UK
- 1994–2010, President, Society for the Promotion of the Training of Women
- 2003, Patron, Action Congo
- Member, Royal Asiatic Society
- Governor, Ditchley Foundation
- Trustee/Patron, Great Britain-Sasakawa Foundation
- Trustee, Jardine Educational Trust
- Trustee, Lucy Faithfull Travel Scholarship Fund
Honours and awards
In 1960, Park was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her service as Consul to Leopoldville. In 1971 she was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for her service as Consul-General to Hanoi. On 27 February 1990, she was created a life peer Baroness Park of Monmouth, of Broadway in the County of Hereford and Worcester, and served as SIS's semi-official spokesperson in the House of Lords. According to Lord Rooker, Park told him that her choice of 'Monmouth' in her title was unconnected with the market town of Monmouth but chosen to honour Monmouth House, a building in which her friends in the Secret Intelligence Service worked. She was an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, and a Fellow of Chatham House (RIIA) and of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).
Park was unmarried and had no children. She died after a long illness on 24 March 2010, aged 88. A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of Baroness Park was held on Tuesday 26 October 2010 and the eulogy was made by fellow ex-spy Sir Mark Allen, CMG.
- "Heroes and Villains". MI6: A Century in the Shadows. Episode 2. 3 August 2009. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- "PARK DAPHNE MARGARET SYBIL DESIREE". NameBase. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- "Obituary: Baroness Park of Monmouth". London: The Daily Telegraph. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 27 December 1960. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 1970. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 29 December 1989. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 2 March 1990.
- "Baroness Park of Monmouth". The Times. 8 November 2010. p. 57.
- Evans, Michael (26 March 2010). "Daphne Park MI6 woman with a 30year secret career dies at 88". The Times. London.
- "Obituary: Daphne Park, Baroness Park of Monmouth, MI6 Spy". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 29 March 2010.
- "DodOnline". Retrieved 14 February 2007.
- Queen of spies, The autobiography of Daphne Park. Paddy Hayes 2015. Published by Duckworth Publishers 2015.
Somerville College, Oxford