Howard Smith (diplomat)

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Sir Howard Smith
Allegiance United Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Service MI5
Active 1979–1981
Rank Director-General of MI5
Award(s) GCMG

Born 15 October 1919
Died 7 May 1996(1996-05-07) (aged 76)
Nationality British
Occupation Intelligence officer, Diplomat
Alma mater Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Sir Howard Frank Trayton Smith, GCMG (15 October 1919 – 7 May 1996) was a British diplomat.


Educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge,[1] Smith worked at Bletchley Park during World War II and later became the British ambassador to Moscow.[2] At college in Cambridge, Smith was a contemporary of Asa Briggs, playing chess with him and recommending Briggs to fellow Cambridge mathematician Gordon Welchman for service in Hut 6.[3]

In 1979 Smith was unexpectedly[1] appointed Director General (DG) of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, by Prime Minister James Callaghan, serving until 1981.


  1. ^ a b Obituary: Sir Howard Smith The Independent, 10 May 1996
  2. ^ Derek Taunt, "Breaking German Naval Enigma", p. 111 in Action this Day, edited by Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith, 2001, ISBN 0-593-04982-9.
  3. ^ Jones, Nigel (15 March 2016). "Asa Briggs obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Michael Hanley
Director-General of MI5
1979 – 1981
Succeeded by
Sir John Jones