Francis Campbell

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Francis Campbell
Francis Campbell.jpg
Vice Chancellor of St Mary's University, Twickenham
Assumed office
Chancellor Vincent Nichols
Succeeded by Philip Barton
Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan
In office
Prime Minister David Cameron
British Ambassador to the
Holy See
In office
December 2005 – January 2011
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
David Cameron
Preceded by Kathryn Colvin, CVO
Succeeded by Nigel Baker
Personal details
Born Francis Martin-Xavier Campbell
(1970-04-20) 20 April 1970 (age 47)
Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland
Alma mater

Queens University Belfast

KU Leuven

Francis Martin-Xavier Campbell (born 20 April 1970) is a British diplomat and academic. Since 2014, he has been Vice-Chancellor of St Mary's University, Twickenham, London. From 2005 to 2011, he was the British Ambassador to the Holy See.

Early life[edit]

Campbell was born on a farm at Rathfriland, near Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland, and was the youngest of four boys. Campbell was educated at St Colman's College, Newry. After St Colman's he attended St Joseph's Seminary in Belfast, part of the philosophy faculty at Queen's University Belfast and attended postgraduate studies at the KU Leuven, where he considered the priesthood. He attended the University of Pennsylvania on a Thouron Award Fellowship.

He was a lector at Westminster Cathedral, and, at one time, was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. In 2010, “The Tablet” named him as one of Britain’s most influential Roman Catholics.[1]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Campbell joined the British Diplomatic Service in 1997, aged 27. His early career focused on Europe with postings to the European Enlargement Unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and secondment to the European Commission, as part of its Delegation to the United Nations in New York.

From 1999–2003 he worked at 10 Downing Street, appointed first as Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister (1999–2001) and then Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (2001–2003).[2] From 2003–2005, he was First Secretary at the British Embassy in Rome and, subsequently, on sabbatical, Senior Policy Director with Amnesty International in London. He was Ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2011 and was then appointed Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, based in Karachi.[3] In 2013 Campbell was appointed Head of the Policy unit for the FCO and also Head of Innovation for UKTI. In 2014 he became Vice-Chancellor of St Mary's University, Twickenham, London.

In August 2014 in light of attacks in Iraq, Campbell, criticised the Government for its failure to speak out over what he described as ethnic cleansing. “A culture and civilisation is being destroyed and our political leaders are silent,” he said, asking Prime Minister David Cameron via the social networking site Twitter: “Why is the UK silent on the ethnic cleansing of Christians from Mosul?” A Foreign Office spokesman told The Tablet: “The threat to Christians in the Mosul area is a particular tragedy, given that it has one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. We will work with the new Baghdad Government to raise these matters further.”[4]


Airing in February and March 2010, a 3-part documentary by BBC Northern Ireland called Our Man In The Vatican, focused on a year in the life of Ambassador Campbell. Contributors to the programme included Tony Blair, the Prime Minister during Campbell's role as Private Secretary.

Personal life[edit]

Campbell has stated that he is both "British and Irish" and that he is not "going to exaggerate one identity at the expense of the other."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Tablet's Top 100". Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. 
  2. ^ "First Catholic to represent UK at Holy See defies all stereotypes". 2 February 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2010. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Our Deputy High Commissioner British High Commission Islamabad
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ So, how did a farmer’s son from Co Down become a key figure inside the Vatican? Belfast Telegraph, 17 February 2010

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Sawers
Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs
to the Prime Minister

Succeeded by
Matthew Rycroft
Preceded by
Kathryn Colvin
Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Holy See
Succeeded by
Nigel Baker