David Ford (civil servant)

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Sir David Ford

David Robert Ford.jpg
Chief Secretary of Hong Kong
In office
12 February 1987[1] – 28 November 1993
GovernorSir David Wilson
Chris Patten
Preceded bySir David Akers-Jones
Succeeded byAnson Chan
Secretary for the Civil Service
In office
August 1985 – December 1986
GovernorSir Edward Youde
Preceded byJohn Martin Rowlands
Succeeded byHarnam Singh Grewal
Personal details
Born(1935-02-22)22 February 1935
United Kingdom
Died10 September 2017(2017-09-10) (aged 82)
London, England
Elspbeth Anne Mucker
(m. 1958; div. 1987)

Gillian Petersen
(m. 1987)
Alma materRoyal College of Defence Studies
OccupationArmy officer, civil servant

Sir David Robert Ford, KBE, LVO (Chinese: 霍德; 22 February 1935 – 10 September 2017) was the fifth and the last non-ethnic Chinese Chief Secretary of Hong Kong and Deputy Governor of Hong Kong from 1987 to 1993 and was Hong Kong Commissioner in London until 1997.


Ford was born on 22 February 1935 and educated at the Taunton School in southwest England. He joined the military service at 20 as a regular army officer in the Royal Artillery, serving in 17 different countries on five different continents. In his last five years of service, he served in Aden and Borneo with the Commando Brigade. During the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist riots, Ford was seconded to the Hong Kong government. The riots instigated by the local communists left 51 people dead.[2]

Ford left the army in 1972 and began working in the Hong Kong government, holding a number of appointments as a senior civil servant . He became the Director of the Information Services Department in 1974 where he engaged in propaganda warfare with the communists in Hong Kong. He was Under Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office between 1977 and 1979 during the resurgence of the Irish Republican Army in the period known as The Troubles. Pro-Beijing newspapers believed Ford was an MI6 agent due to his portfolio.[2]

Ford returned to Hong Kong in 1979 and studied at the Royal College of Defence Studies between 1980 and 1983 before he became Hong Kong Commissioner in London. He was the Secretary for the Civil Service from 1985 and 1986. He became the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong and Deputy Governor of Hong Kong in 1986, serving as the most senior civil servant with the highest position in the civil service. During this period, he initiated the planning for Hong Kong's new international airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1989. He was the acting Governor of Hong Kong for a week before Chris Patten reported for duty on 9 July 1992.[3] He held the position until 1993 when he retired and took the position of Hong Kong Commissioner in London for the second time.[2]

Ford retired from public service in 1997, focusing on breeding rare cattle and sheep in Devon. He was a director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England between 2001 and 2003. In 2002, he became a non-executive director at PCCW Limited. From 2003 to May 2017 he was chairman of UK Broadband Limited, a subsidiary of PCCW. UK Broadband was sold to Three UK in May 2017.[4] He visited Hong Kong several times after his departure, attracting interest from the pro-Beijing media which speculated on his strategising with pan-democrat opposition and "meddling" in Hong Kong's internal affairs.[5]

Ford died on 10 September 2017, at the age of 82.[6] Lady Gillian Ford, his wife, was a founder and subsequently patron of the Hong Kong Children's Cancer Foundation from 1988 to 1992.[7]


  1. ^ "G.N. 440 of 1987". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 129: 667. 13 February 1987.
  2. ^ a b c "David Ford, the last British chief secretary in Hong Kong, dies aged 82". South China Morning Post. 11 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Former chief secretary David Ford passes away at age 82". ejinsight. 11 September 2017.
  4. ^ "David Robert FORD – Personal Appointments". Companies House. HM Government. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  5. ^ "'Progressive on democracy' but 'colonial and aloof': officials, lawmakers reflect on life of Hong Kong's last British chief secretary". South China Morning Post. 11 September 2017.
  6. ^ FORD, Sir David Robert, KBE, LVO
  7. ^ Lo, Wei (18 November 2012). "Gloria's so grateful for charity that saved her life". South China Morning Post.
Government offices
Preceded by
Nigel John Vale Watt
Director of Information Services
Succeeded by
Richard Lai Ming
Preceded by
Denis Bray
Hong Kong Commissioner in London
Succeeded by
Sir Jack Cater
Preceded by
Bernard Williams
Director of Housing
Succeeded by
Y. L. Pang
Preceded by
Donald Liao
Secretary for Housing
Succeeded by
John Rawling Todd
Preceded by
John Martin Rowlands
Secretary for the Civil Service
Succeeded by
Harnam Singh Grewal
Preceded by
Sir David Akers-Jones
Chief Secretary of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Anson Chan
Preceded by
John Francis Yaxley
Hong Kong Commissioner in London
Succeeded by
John Tsang Chun-wah
Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London