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Francis Richards (diplomat)

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Sir Francis Richards
Sir Francis Richards at the Ceremony of the Keys, Gibraltar
Governor of Gibraltar
In office
27 May 2003 – 17 July 2006
MonarchElizabeth II
Chief MinisterPeter Caruana
Preceded bySir David Durie
Succeeded bySir Robert Fulton
Director of the Government Communications Headquarters
In office
July 1998 – April 2003
Preceded bySir Kevin Tebbit
Succeeded bySir David Pepper
Personal details
Born1945 (age 78–79)
Alma materKing's College, Cambridge
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army
Years of service1967–69
UnitRoyal Green Jackets
Battles/warsUnited Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
Viceregal styles of
Sir Francis Richards
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency

Sir Francis Neville Richards KCMG CVO KStJ DL (born 1945) is a former British civil servant and diplomat who was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar from 2003 to 2006, and the director of the Government Communications Headquarters from 1998 to 2003.


Sir Francis Richards leaving Gibraltar on HMS Monmouth

Richards is the son of Sir Brooks Richards, who served in Gibraltar with the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, and was later the Cabinet Office's Coordinator of Intelligence in the late 1970s.[1] Francis Richards was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge and then commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets, serving with the United Nations Force in Cyprus.[2]

After Richards' army career was cut short by injury, he entered the Diplomatic Service, serving in New Delhi and Namibia and holding a number of senior posts at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.[2] He was the first High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Namibia.[3]

He was director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham from 1998 to 2003. On his departure from GCHQ Richards said that the role was "... the best job I have ever had or ever expect to have... but you need to keep things fresh."[4] Richards would later criticise Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, saying that it was "not a very good idea" for any former senior minister of the ruling party to chair the committee.[5] Richards questioned whether Rifkind was therefore "well-placed to command confidence" when holding the agencies to account.[5] Richards was the chairman of the trustees of Bletchley Park from 2006 to 2011 and the chairman of the Imperial War Museum from December 2011.[6]

Richards served as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar from 2003 to 2006.[7]

At the end of his term in Gibraltar on 17 July 2006, Richards handed-over the keys to the fortress of Gibraltar, in the traditional 'Ceremony of the Keys', and departed on HMS Monmouth. He was succeeded as governor in September 2006 by Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fulton, a former Commandant General Royal Marines.[8]

An honorary senior fellow at the University of Birmingham, Richards was appointed director of its Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy in April 2007.[9] He currently sits on the board of governors at Rendcomb College.[10]


  1. ^ Aldrich 2011, p. 504
  2. ^ a b The Governor 11 March 2003
  3. ^ "High Commission history". British High Commission in Windhoek. 3 August 2011. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  4. ^ "New chief for GCHQ". BBC News. 19 December 2002. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Snowden leaks: Rifkind's spy scrutiny role questioned". BBC News. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Sir Francis Richards Appointed New Chairman of Imperial War Museum" (PDF). Imperial War Museum. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  7. ^ "Gibraltar Governor takes NSI chair". IFSEC Global. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Friends of Gibraltar -Welcome" (PDF). Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  9. ^ "School of Government and Society". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Governors". Rendcomb College. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.

Further reading

Government offices
Preceded by Director of the Government Communications Headquarters
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Gibraltar
Succeeded by