David Omand

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David Omand

Professor Sir David Omand at Chatham House, September 2013
Born (1947-04-15) April 15, 1947 (age 76)
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Cambridge

Sir David Bruce Omand GCB (born 15 April 1947) is a British former senior civil servant who served as the Director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) from 1996 to 1997.


Omand was born on 15 April 1947. His father, Bruce, was a Justice of the Peace. Omand was educated at Glasgow Academy and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, receiving an economics degree.[1]


Omand began his career at GCHQ.[2] After working for the Ministry of Defence for a number of years, Omand was appointed Director of GCHQ from 1996 to 1997.[3] His next post was Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office.[3]

Omand was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2000 New Year Honours.[4] In 2002 he became the first Permanent Secretary and Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office. Omand was among those who decided that David Kelly should be pursued for talking to the media about the Government's dossier on Iraq's alleged WMD.[5] Omand and Kevin Tebbit, then permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, recommended to Jack Straw and Tony Blair that John Scarlett become the new head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).[5]

In 2003 Omand participated in the development of the United Kingdom's general counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST.[3]

Omand was promoted to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 2004 Birthday Honours.[6] He retired from the Cabinet Office in April 2005.[3]

In 2007, he obtained Maths and Physics degrees from the Open University.[7]

In 2009 he was asked by the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, to carry out a review into the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to "satisfy ministers" that the council is "discharging the functions" that it is supposed to.[8]

On 20 January 2010, Omand gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry.[9]

In 2013 he defended the closeness of Britain's intelligence relationship with the US, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have the brains. They have the money. It's a collaboration that's worked very well."[10]

Since leaving the government, Omand has landed jobs with several military-related companies. He has been a non-executive director at UK arms company Babcock International and Italian arms company Leonardo-Finmeccanica and has also worked as an adviser to the Society of British Aerospace Companies.[11]

In October 2020, he authored a book titled How Spies Think: Ten Lessons in Intelligence covering his views on long-term intelligence analysis gained from his experience working with British governments from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair.[12]

Links with academia[edit]

Omand is currently a visiting professor at King's College London and is a vice-president of the Royal United Services Institute.[7][13] Omand's second book applies the idea of Just War theory to intelligence.[14]

In COMEC Occasional Papers Omand wrote about civil-military relationships in 2018.[15]

Omand participated in TEDxLambeth, a conference based in Lambeth, where he spoke about ideas from his book, How Spies Think: Ten Lessons in Intelligence, in October 2020.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Omand married Elizabeth Wales in 1971; they have two children. He is a member of the Reform Club. He served a four-year term on the board of the Natural History Museum, London, starting in 2006. He remains a trustee.[7]


  1. ^ "Sir David Omand GCB". University of Exeter. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  2. ^ Aldrich, David, GCHQ, Harper Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-00-727847-3, p.495
  3. ^ a b c d Van Puyvelde, Damien (23 February 2020). "Profiles in intelligence: an interview with Sir David Omand". Intelligence and National Security. 35 (2): 171–178. doi:10.1080/02684527.2019.1706875. ISSN 0268-4527. S2CID 213458342.
  4. ^ "No. 55710". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1999. p. 3.
  5. ^ a b Waugh, Paul (2 November 2005). "Key Kelly pair helped appoint MI6 chief". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  6. ^ "No. 57315". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2004. p. 2.
  7. ^ a b c "Omand, Sir David (Bruce), (born 15 April 1947), Visiting Professor, King's College London, since 2006; Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, 2002–05". Who's Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.28884.
  8. ^ Travis, Alan; Summers, Deborah (2 November 2009). "Alan Johnson orders swift review of drugs advice body". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Iraq inquiry: 45-minute claim 'asking for trouble'". BBC News. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  10. ^ "UK intelligence work defends freedom, say spy chiefs". BBC News. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Resources - Influence - Person - 2614 - David Omand". CAAT. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  12. ^ Omand, David (2020). "Book Release - "How Spies Think: Ten Lessons in Intelligence"". Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Editorial Team". Royal United Services Institute. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  14. ^ "Principled Spying: The Ethics of Secret Intelligence, by David Omand and Mark Phythian". Ethics & International Affairs. 7 December 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  15. ^ Omand, David (2018). "National Resilience and the Developing Civil-Military Relationship" (PDF). COMEC Occasional Papers (11): 11–18.
  16. ^ "TEDxLambeth | TED". ted.com. Retrieved 16 August 2020.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Director of GCHQ
July 1996 – December 1997
Succeeded by
Preceded by Permanent Secretary of the Home Office
Succeeded by
Preceded by Permanent Secretary at the
Cabinet Office

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Cabinet Office Intelligence and Security Coordinator
Succeeded by
Sir Bill Jeffrey
as Permanent Secretary,
Intelligence, Security and Resilience, Cabinet Office