Daphne Park

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The Baroness Park of Monmouth
Baroness Park of Monmouth 2010.png
Born(1921-09-01)1 September 1921
Surrey, England, UK
Died24 March 2010(2010-03-24) (aged 88)
TitleBaroness Park of Monmouth
Known forSIS 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 as a clandestine senior controller in MI6 (1943-1993) she was stationed in Moscow (1954-1956), Austria (1946-1948), the Congo (1959-1961), Zambia (1964-1967) and Hanoi (1969-1971).[2]

Early life and education[edit]

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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3] 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 Léopoldville now Kinshasa, which in practice (this was subsequently acknowledged) meant head of MI6 there. David Lea, Baron Lea of Crondall, wrote that, shortly before she died, she privately acknowledged organising the abduction and murder of Patrice Lumumba during this period. Park said: ‘We did,’ and ‘I organised it.’ Her assertion was that the high-value Katangese uranium (Shinkolobwe) deposits as well as the diamonds and other important minerals largely located in the secessionist eastern state of Katanga were British interests.[4] The Shinkolobwe uranium mine provided the uranium used by the Manhattan Project, including in atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.[5] 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.[3]


Honours and awards[edit]

In 1960, Park was invested as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her service as Consul to Leopoldville.[6] In 1971 she was invested as a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for her service as Consul-General to Hanoi.[7] On 27 February 1990, she was created a life peer Baroness Park of Monmouth, of Broadway in the County of Hereford and Worcester,[8][9] 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.[10] She was an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, and a Fellow of Chatham House (RIIA) and of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Personal life[edit]

Park was unmarried and had no children. She died after a long illness on 24 March 2010, aged 88.[11][12] A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of Baroness Park was held on Tuesday 26 October 2010 and the eulogy was given by fellow ex-spy Sir Mark Allen, CMG.[13]


  1. ^ "Heroes and Villains". MI6: A Century in the Shadows. Episode 2. 3 August 2009. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Park Daphne Margaret Sybil Désiree". NameBase. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Obituary: Baroness Park of Monmouth". The Daily Telegraph. London. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  4. ^ Letters, We did it, London Review of Books, Vol. 35 No. 7, 11 April 2013
  5. ^ Compare:McCrummen, Stephanie (4 August 2009). "Nearly Forgotten Forces of WWII". The Washington Post. Washington Post Foreign Service.
  6. ^ "No. 42231". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 December 1960. p. 8908.
  7. ^ "No. 45262". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1970. p. 4.
  8. ^ "No. 51981". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1989. p. 1.
  9. ^ "No. 52064". The London Gazette. 2 March 1990. p. 2841.
  10. ^ "Baroness Park of Monmouth". The Times. 8 November 2010. p. 57.
  11. ^ Evans, Michael (26 March 2010). "Daphne Park MI6 woman with a 30year secret career dies at 88". The Times. London.
  12. ^ "Obituary: Daphne Park, Baroness Park of Monmouth, MI6 Spy". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 29 March 2010.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • "DodOnline". Archived from the original on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
  • Paddy Hayes: Queen of spies, The autobiography of Daphne Park. Duckworth Publishers, 2015.
  • Susan Williams: Spies in the Congo: The Race for the Ore that Built the Atomic Bomb. Hurst, June 2016, ISBN 9781849046381

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Barbara Craig
Somerville College, Oxford

Succeeded by
Catherine Pestell